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The People’s Dish That Rules Soup-reme
With all the amazing food in Paris, choosing meals can be challenging. But while you’re in town, make sure to hit at least one of our picks for the best french onion soup spots in Paris.
Praised as the supreme hangover elixir of France, French onion soup (soupe à l’oignon) is a true ‘People’s Dish.’
Many French folks prefer this as their first meal after a night out, or at the end of a big wedding. Personally, I’ll take it for a cozy lunch or easy dinner any day of the week. Throw in a good glass of Côtes du Rhône (or even better, Champagne) and I’m one happy foodie.
You may smell it oozing out of a modest Paris bistro kitchen, just as likely as you’ll pay the big bucks for a tiny bowl of it at a Michelin-rated restaurant.
A Brief History of French Onion Soup
While there are kingly legends about this pungent and steamy sensation, food historians think it has humble origins.
If we trace back just a few hundred years ago, we find French onion soup in the historic, bustling Les Halles market.
There in Les Halles, servants sold the scraps from banquets to the poor.
Eventually, some historians think, this soup re-emerged from the onion scraps. (Although, it was definitely more watery back then.)
If you peel back even more layers, to the Antiquity period, Rome’s slaves and poor ate a very similar onion soup topped with bread.
In the Middle Ages, French onion soup found its way into French cookbooks.
Some still swear it came mystically to France, out of King Louis XV’s barren cupboards.
Either way, we know the people of modern-day France have loved soupe à l’oignon for quite some time.
Great French Onion Soup Today
Parisian chefs have now elevated this soup from its humble beginnings by adding a few quality ingredients and extra steps to highlight and complement the flavors.
They sweeten it by caramelizing the onions and adding wine to the stock. Then, it’s endowed with a beaucoup layer of grated cheese (usually gruyere) and slid under the broiler to crisp.
This staple won’t be going away anytime soon, and folks are still finding ways to make it better.
For me, a delicious French onion soup uses high-quality, homemade beef stock, organic onions, raw gruyère cheese (to get that extra creamy molten cheese layer on the top), and the white wine boiled in for some tartness.
Also, let’s not forget a healthy proportion of French bread on the top. Few things in this life are better than crispy bread with butter— the perfect vehicle to sop up that steaming beef broth.
Depending on the quality of these extras and the restaurant’s Michelin status, you’ll pay a premium compared to the old days of soupe à l’oignon, but to experience the best version of this dish is an experience not to be missed while you’re in Paris.
Unfortunately, there are some not-so-great onion soups in Paris as well – and if you’re like me you definitely don’t want to waste a meal on a sad soup. So now that I’ve got your mouth watering, I’ve cooked up my own list of the best French onion soups in Paris.
Finding the Best French Onion Soup in Paris
#1: La Jacobine: Latin Quarter
Tuesday—Sunday: 12PM—11PM; Monday: Closed.
59-61 Rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006
+33 1 46 34 15 95
Why We Love It
Other than its French onion soup, we love La Jacobine for its homey atmosphere and value.
Here, you can sip on house-made wine and relax.
To go with your onion soup, you’ll have a choice from some other outstanding French classics.
We recommend the escargots and duck confit, but La Jacobine is an overall people-pleaser.
Also, this place offers terrific value and service for its prices, unlike the many tourist traps in Paris.
If you want to unwind and escape the pretensions of the culinary scene, you should definitely get your onion soup from La Jacobine.
#2 Brasserie Flottes: Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde
2 Rue Cambon, 75001
+33 1 42 60 80 89
Why We Love It
Flottes grants a slightly more upscale, yet still cool and casual, experience. While Parisians love its French onion soup, it’s also known for stellar seafood and ambience.
In fact, their menu calls the French onion soup “famous.”
If not for the onion soup, people come for the fish and lobster.
However, they also cook up some delicious beef and chicken specialties, such as the Châteaubriand beef filet and the farmer’s “red label” roast chicken.
This is an ideal place to bring the family or your co-workers, since the menu includes several sharing platters.
As far as the look and feel, they’ve put in just enough lighting, with the right amount of deep colors and comfortable furniture.
At Flottes, you can come in either your semi-formal wear, straight from sightseeing, or for a business gathering. It’s not so formal that you’ll feel out of place in some comfortable walking clothes, or vice versa. Try not to show up looking sloppy though – you can get the vibe from the photo above.
For stellar onion soup alongside a gourmet meal, definitely try out Flottes.
#3: La Poule Au Pot (Michelin-Rated): Les Halles
Tuesday—Saturday: 12PM—2PM, 7PM—11PM; Sunday & Monday: Closed
9 rue Vauvilliers 75001 Paris
+33 1 42 36 32 96
Why We Love It
Translating to “The Chicken in the Pot,” this Michelin-rated restaurant didn’t rise to celebrity status overnight. This gem has stood for 80 years in the Les Halles neighborhood.
Owners Chef Jean-François Piège and his spouse made their menu with a goal in mind: to showcase the best of the best of French cuisine.
Sinya Usami, the executive chef, has modernized the menu items while keeping the original, rustic charm.
When you walk in, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve gone back in time. The vintage wallpapers, soft pink table covers, and delicate decorations reflect 1930s Paris, when the restaurant originated.
If you want to enjoy your French onion soup in an old fashioned setting, definitely consider here.
#4: Les Philosophes: Le Marais
Wednesday—Sunday: 12PM—1AM; Monday & Tuesday: Closed
28 Rue Vieille du Temple 75004
+33 1 48 87 49 64
Why We Love It
This next stop in Le Marais neighborhood is recommended by many critics.
This is the classic Parisian bistro, including street corner position, raw, organic ingredients, white-shirt-and-black-vested wait staff, and French favorites.
The owner, Xavier Danamur, keeps transparent about his cuisine and the ingredient sources. That’s why he makes sure to put the suppliers’ names down on the back of the menu, as well as on the website.
When you come, you should definitely try their house-made wine or their organic barrel beers. Either would make a lovely compliment to their popular French onion soup.
If you’re extra hungry, their salmon and creme brulee draw in folks from all over the capital and country.
It’s atmosphere— formed by its large-stoned walls and spiraling stairwell— is reminiscent of Old Paris.
We definitely recommend you see for yourself after all those hours of shopping in the Marais neighborhood.
#5: Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie: Les Halles
Monday—Saturday: 10AM—10:30PM; Sunday: 10AM—6PM
34 Rue Montmartre, 75001
+33 1 42 33 31 32
This is a terrace restaurant that makes their own cheese, cold-cuts, and other impressive specialities.
It’s located adjacent to their own gastronomie boutique, and we just need to say this— come here if you love meat and cheese.
While they do have vegan and vegetarian options, this is a beer-meat-and-cheese lover paradise above else.
Their homemade sandwiches go great with a craft beer and a bowl of…French onion soup, of course!
If you’ve just had one too many drinks the night before, this place is perfect to let French onion soup do, well, its job— cure your hangover. Sandwiches stuffed with high quality meats and cheeses don’t hurt when you’re in that state, either.
Right now they have limited-hour specials (5PM—9PM only): Duck Foie Gras, Scottish smoked salmon, and more!
Bottom line: always exploring
As modern travelers, we know that restaurants pop up, improve, and decline over time. If you find a better French onion soup while you’re in Paris, please reach out and let us know so we can update our guide.