Rock-bottom prices and hearty, home-style fare: Welcome to Paris' 'bouillon' restaurants

Le Petit Bouillon Vavin is situated on Paris's Left Bank ― or Rive Gauche ― on the Boulevard du Montparnasse. ― Picture courtesy of Petit Bouillon Vavin
Le Petit Bouillon Vavin is situated on Paris's Left Bank ― or Rive Gauche ― on the Boulevard du Montparnasse. ― Picture courtesy of Petit Bouillon Vavin

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PARIS, Sept 18 ― Dishes of yesteryear, rock-bottom prices and all in pleasant surroundings, that's what's on offer at Paris's famous bouillon restaurants. These relics of another age are now firmly back in fashion, filling foodies with joy and hearty food thanks to the tasty traditional cuisine they're known for serving. Here are three bouillon restaurants to try in Paris, including the new Bouillon Pigalle outpost near République.

Until recently, Paris's legendary bouillon restaurants were only just clinging on to a place in the French capital's food scene. Highly fashionable in the 19th century, when there were 250 of them, Chartier was pretty much the only one left in town until a few years ago. But since the opening of Bouillon Pigalle, the trend is back in a big way ― and for good reason. With prices defying all competition, homemade dishes and classic desserts, what's not to love?

Left Bank style

Le Petit Bouillon Vavin is situated on Paris's Left Bank ― or Rive Gauche ― on the Boulevard du Montparnasse. It's open to hungry diners seven days a week, with seating inside or on a large terrace. On the menu are eggs mayonnaise at €2.10 (RM10.27) ― with a drizzle of truffle oil for a sophisticated touch ― bone marrow at €3.90 or a gratin of andouille with sweet cider at €4.60. Next comes veal blanquette for under €12, or calf's liver with gravy and persillade, accompanied by homemade mashed potato, for €14.50. For dessert, there's rum baba (€4.20), floating island (€3.10), clafoutis (€3.10) or strawberry melba (€6.10).

119, Boulevard du Montparnasse, 6th arrondissement, Paris

A ‘bistronomie’ flavour

By bringing a gastro-bistro twist to bouillon classics, Bouillon 47 has succeeded in modernizing the dishes of yesteryear. Sit down to a first course of pâté in potato crust (€8), fried chanterelle mushrooms with gravy, cherry tomatoes, coriander and poppy seeds (€17), or the traditional herring filet with potatoes in oil and peppered ventrèche (€11). Then, continue with caramelized veal sweetbread with potato mousseline and herb salad (€36), vegetarian stuffed tomato with artichoke cream and caper emulsion, or the fish of the day with Coco de Paimpol beans cooked with tomato, and a horseradish emulsion (€36). This fresh take on the classic concept has earned this upscale bouillon a place in the Michelin Guide.

47, Rue de Rochechouart, 9th arrondissement, Paris

The trendy option

Open since 2017, Bouillon Pigalle has conquered the Pigalle district in the French capital's 18th arrondissement. Now, watch out for its big brother, Bouillon République. Located in the former premises of the Alsacian restaurant Chez Jenny, this new restaurant offers 450 covers in 1,800 square meters. As in Pigalle, this latest outpost serves the famous eggs mayo starter at €1.90 ― the cheapest in Paris. You can also sample Royans ravioli, braised leeks, knife-cut sausage with mashed potato and gravy and, of course, profiteroles drizzled with warm, melted chocolate.

39, Boulevard du Temple, 3rd arrondissement, Paris ― ETX Studio

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