Le Grand Véfour

17 Rue de Beaujolais, 75001 Paris, France

33 (0)1-42-96-56-27

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This restaurant occupies one of Paris' most beautiful dining rooms: housed in a mirror-clad Belle Époque dining room that overlooks the leafy gardens of the Palais Royal, Le Grand Véfour has red-velvet banquette seating and gorgeous handpainted wall panels and ceilings lit up by gilded chandeliers. The army of waiters—all men, bien sur —is dressed in black suits and bowties, but unlike at some other culinary temples, they are friendly and generous with dining suggestions. The ambience hails from another era—women are given menus without prices and seated, without fail, on the chairs and banquettes with the best views of the room. In 2008, the restaurant famously lost one of its Michelin stars (it retains two), but self-taught chef Guy Martin remains one of France's super stars.

After a nearly four-hour lunch during a recent trip, I left with a card on which the sommelier had dutifully written out the name of the excellent white Burgundy that he had suggested for my fish course. The next day, I took it to the wine store at the Bon Marché’s La Grande Épicerie, hoping to take a few bottles back to the U.S., but the man behind the counter only smiled weakly: “Non, Madame,” he said, “I promise you will not find this anywhere. It is a very small vineyard. Very special.” It seemed like the perfect, bittersweet, conclusion to our meal—and made me want to return on my next trip.

Written by Simone Girner

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