Parisians and tourists alike have a love affair with the Ile Saint-Louis, the tiny sister island and next-door neighbor to the larger Ile de la Cite in the Seine River that marks the geographic center of Paris.
The tiny island that’s packed with restaurants, galleries, shops and boutiques is a must-see destination for visitors to the City of Light, but is equally popular with Paris residents, according to oenophile Olivier Magny in his book “Stuff Parisians Like: Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi.” Magny, owner and operator of wine bar O Chateau, says Parisians rhapsodize asbout potentially living on the island and consider an Ile Saint-Louis stroll to be one of the Paris’s most romantic undertakings.
So, resident or tourist, chances are you’re going to find yourself on the Ile Saint-Louis sooner or later.
And to add to your quintessentially Parisian experience while there, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at the charming French bistro L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche (translation: Inn of the White Queen.)
Chef Michel Puren serves up an array of traditional French cuisine, including escargots, foie gras, coq au vin and beef bourguignon, at this quaint eatery that looks every bit as a Parisian bistro should—timeworn tables packed tightly together, oil paintings and copper cookware hanging on the walls, romantic lighting overhead and a gorgeous antique oak bar overlooking the entire scene.
For €19.50 for two courses or €25 for three, guests can choose from such starters as artichoke salad with mint, frog legs Provencale and escargot vol-au-vent. Main plate options include roasted chicken breast with mushrooms, lamb stew and salmon with pesto sauce, while delicious dessert offerings are chocolate profiteroles, creme brulee and apple tart.
But there’s much more than just traditional bistro fare on tap at L’Auberge. Puren is constantly introducing new, inventive dishes, like salmon tartare with citrus fruit emulsion, duck breast with Middle Eastern spices and a to-die-for strawberry, balsamic and caramel crumble dessert.
The Michelin restaurant guide even writes, “For gourmets, L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche is the idea stopover.” And Puren’s inventiveness has resulted in his being included since 2009 in the prestigious culinary group Confereie Gastronomique de la Marmite d’Or.
But, whether you opt for Puren’s classic French bistro cuisine or for his inventive newer recipes, one dish guests at L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche should not miss is the restaurant’s soupe a l’oignon. It’s rich, cheesy and chock full of sweet onions. And although this is a very bold statement, I’m quite comfortable making it – L’Auberge’s French onion soup is the best you’ll find anywhere in Paris. Seriously.
It is not to be missed.Auberge de la Reine-Blanche
30 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile
Metro: Pont Marie
Hours: Daily, noon-2:30 p.m. and 6-10:30 p.m.