Lunch at Le Bouillon Chartier in Paris!
David Lebovitz was here and he loved it.
No surprise, he is not the only one.
Le Bouillon Chartier is one of the most authentic bouillon type of restaurants in Paris.
It is so popular because of its simple and authentic French cuisine and old fashioned French classics.
In fact there are 3 of them here in Paris!
As we live in Antwerp, Belgium – Paris is quite near for us.
By car it takes about 3 to 4 hours depending on how the traffic is to get to the city centre.
And by Thalys high speed train, it takes roughly about 2 hours: 40 minutes train to Brussels and then 80 minutes of high speed train from there to Paris.
So yes, since it is so easy for us to get here we find ourselves quite often visiting and enjoying lovely Paris as a last minute city trip or just a nice week away.
And a visit to Le Bouillon Chartier is mandatory of course.
By the way: bouillon here doesn’t mean the clear broth, it is also the name for a restaurant selling decently priced if not dirt cheap but classic French comfort food.
And Chartier is the family name of the brothers who started this business years ago.
Lunch in Paris
So where are those 3 Bouillon Chartier restaurants located here?
- Grands Boulevards, 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris (closest metro stop: Grands Boulevards)
- Montparnasse, 59 Bd du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris (closest metro stop: Montparnasse)
- Gare de l’Est, 5 Rue du 8 Mai 1945, 75010 Paris (closest metro stop: Gare de l’Est)
The one we have been to many times is the first one, Grands Boulevards.
This Bouillon Chartier is also located in a very lively neighborhood where you can find the Opéra Garnier, the Galeries Lafayette, the Olympia concert hall, le Passage des Panoramas, the Folies Bergère Cabaret, le Grand Rex Cinéma and much more.
This place opens at 11:30am and stays open throughout the day until midnight.
When is the best time to grab a bite here?
We always avoid the very busy rush hours between 12 and 2pm, and 5:30 to 8:30pm.
Last time we were in Paris for a Jeff Beck concert at the Olympia concert hall at 8pm so we decided to go to le Bouillon Chartier around 5pm for an early dinner.
As we walked in it looked pretty empty, about a fifth of the tables were taken perhaps. But by the time we left at 6:30 it was packed and people started to queue outside to get a table for dinner.
None of the 3 Bouillon Chartier restaurants take reservations: first in – first served.
Larger groups are usually seated on a second floor balcony section overlooking the restaurant.
Le Bouillon Chartier
You can find le Bouillon Chartier Grands Boulevards in a small alleyway on your left when you enter Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, leaving Boulevard Montmartre behind you.
Step inside, and a waiter or the restaurant manager will show you to a table asap.
Once you are seated, enjoy the Belle Époque interior.
Can you believe that this used to be a train station a long time ago?
It is beautiful, and not surprisingly also classified as a historic building.
Classic French cuisine
Le Bouillon Chartier is known for its classic French cuisine.
You can find the full menu here!
Classic starters here for instance are oeuf dur mayonnaise (hard-boiled egg with mayo, €2,00), charcuterie (€4), paté (terrine de campagne, €3,80), leeks with vinaigrette (€3,50), celeriac remoulade (€2,70), plain and simple grated carrots with vinegar, foie gras (€7), garlic butter snails and so on.
Main courses are usually confit duck (€9,80), choucroute (€10,80), steak tartare (€9), pike perch quenelles in creamy nantua bisque sauce, steamed or oven bake fish, roast chicken, sausages and mash, steak and fries…
Vegetable and potato side dishes are not included unless mentioned otherwise, so you have to order them separately. However the main course portions are quite copious already.
And there is also a couple of sweet desserts and a selection of cheeses to finish your meal with.
French classics at Le Bouillon Chartier
We take a look at the menu.
And it sure seems like this is going to be a tough nut to crack here at Le Bouillon Chartier, as always.
It all sounds so delicious!
In the end we go for the eggs mayonnaise (€2) and the ‘museau’ salad (€3,80) for starters.
Followed by steamed sea bass with potatoes (€13,10) and ‘saucisse au couteau’ with mashed potatoes (€9,80) for main courses.
And of course a bottle of French wine to wash it all down.
We go for the wine suggestion: a plain and simple chilled rosé wine for €15 per bottle.
Light, zippy and perfect companion for our early dinner.
If you want water, just ask for a “carafe d’eau” – in France restaurants are obliged by law to serve free tap water.
Some places will immediately put a free bottle of water on your table. In other cases the waiter might ask you if you want ‘still or sparkling?’ and if you don’t say ‘just a carafe, please’ you will usually get a bottle of Evian or any other brand that you will have to pay for.
Not that this is such a problem, just pointing out how ordering water in a restaurant works here in France.
Our starters arrive about 5 minutes later after placing our order.
Which is not a surprise because they are both served cold.
And that is good news because all of that menu browsing has made us extremely hungry.
We are starving!
So here is the egg mayo that we ordered.
Plain and simple hard boiled eggs topped off with a mustard mayonnaise.
Does that sound weird as a restaurant starter?
Check out the blog post we wrote about this classic egg mayo to learn more about this classic!
So how was the egg mayo here at Bouillon Chartier by the way?
Simply good, that mustard mayo is so thick and creamy and delicious!
So what is the starter on the other side of the table then?
A classic museau salad.
If you are checking the menu in English, it says ‘pork snout and its vinaigrette’.
It is basically a French type of headcheese (also known as brawn) made with the meaty bits of the pork’s snout and mouth.
Here you get thinly sliced headcheese that is drizzled with vinaigrette and garnished with gherkins.
A delicious classic.
And those are 2 light starters to open your appetite.
Yes, we would say that we are off to a good start here!
Your orders on the table cover
By the way, waiters here love to write down your orders on your paper table cover.
That is how they keep tabs on what you have ordered and what you have already received.
Look at the picture below, this is our order right there.
It says VDM, which means ‘vin de maison’ – the bottle of house wine.
Starters: MUS for museau, OEUF for egg mayonnaise.
Mains: BAR for sea bass and COUT for saucisse au couteau or sausage.
Right, that brings us back to our dinner!
And the delicious main courses that we ordered.
They come flying out of the busy kitchen right around the corner, about 15 minutes after we finished our starters.
The steamed sea bass looks absolutely gorgeous.
The fish is super fresh and perfectly cooked.
Love the plain and simple boiled potatoes drizzled with olive oil and parsley that are served alongside of the fish. The beautiful simplicity of it!
And what a copious portion this is!
But I somehow did manage to finish it nevertheless.
Can’t fault it, this sea bass is just excellent.
And a real bargain for just €13,10.
Let’s take another sneak peak on the other side of the table.
What have we got here?
Sausage and mashed potatoes with au jus sauce!
Man, this looks so good – and it smells even better!
On the menu you will find it under the name of ‘saucisse au couteau’.
It literally means sausage by the knife, and that is because the sausage meat inside isn’t cut using a meat grinder but it is manually chopped up using a knife. Another classic!
And what a delight.
The juicy sausage meat is indeed not as fine as the usual sausages are, which really adds to its texture. This sausage is so full of meat, absolutely delicious!
The mash next to it is creamy, well seasoned and good, nothing more.
And then that au jus sauce, nicely salty and deeply flavored.
Hands down another delight here at le Bouillon Chartier.
By the time we both polish off our plates, we are so full.
Are we really?
We can’t just say no to dessert, can we?
Another look at the menu and we decide to go for one sweet and one savory dessert.
What cheeses are on offer?
A blue cheese (bleu d’Auvergne), camembert, a fresh white cheese, rocamadour goat cheese…
And Luc’s most favorite cheese in the world: Pont l’Évêque (€2,80).
It is served at the right temperature, and is very good.
The sweet dessert section is larger.
How about chocolate mousse, crème brulée, coupe Mont Blanc ice cream, rice pudding or baba au rhum with whipped cream?
In the end we go for a classic again.
One large choux bun filled with ice cream and topped off with a rich dark chocolate sauce and shaved almonds (€4).
Finger licking good.
Fast and efficient
It has been a little over an hour since we set foot in le Bouillon Chartier.
And we are about to wrap up our early dinner here.
Not that we mind because we need a concert to go to.
It was pretty empty when we got here, however almost every table in the room has been taken by now and the place is buzzing. Bottles of wine are being opened, people cheering and tucking into their favorite dinner.
Service here goes pretty fast in le Bouillon Chartier. The waiters are like whirlwinds when it gets busy, they work fast and efficient and will get you your check if you are done ordering.
Some people might be put off by that.
The nice thing about coming in early for dinner is that the staff is more relaxed and finds the time for a quick joke or a chat – and speaking French also helps of course.
Yes, so what about that check?
Your waiter will work his magic again on your paper table cover.
Would we go back to le Bouillon Chartier?
We have been here at least 6 times.
And we will surely be back!
We tried quite a few dishes here at Le Bouillon Chartier, here are some extra pictures:
- celeriac remoulade (€2,70)
- garlic butter snails (€7,50 – truly one of the best we have ever tasted in Paris)
- pike perch quenelle in nantua bisque sauce (€8,50)
- pot au feu stew (€9,50)
- leeks in vinaigrette (€3,50)
- choucroute alsacienne sauerkraut (€10,80)
Do try those garlic butter snails, they are to die for or as the French say: une tuerie!
Do we recommend it?
The food is good and the prices are definitely dirt cheap for Paris standards.
If this is your first time in Paris, then le Bouillon Chartier is a good place to start if you want to know more about traditional and classic French everyday cuisine.
Nothing fancy pants, good old French comfort food for unbeatable prices.
Go for it!
How about you?
Have you been to one of the Bouillon Chartier restaurants before?
What did you think of it?
Leave a message in the comment section below and let us know!
Bouillon Chartier Grands Boulevards
7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre
Bouillon Chartier Montparnasse
59 Bd du Montparnasse
Bouillon Chartier Gare de l’Est
5 Rue du 8 Mai 1945