Les Climats in Paris

Les Climats in Paris

This handsome limestone Belle Époque building, which is situated just behind the Musée d’Orsay on the Left Bank, was originally built as a dormitory for young women who worked in switchboard jobs at the nearby offices of the PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones). Generous paternal instincts were behind the construction of these lodgings, as the residents enjoyed a handsome lounge and dining room with large windows, plus the luxury of a private ‘vest pocket’ garden.

After the building was de-commissioned by the PTT, during the 1980s, a very stylish restaurant named Le Télégraphe occupied the public rooms for a while. Though good for people-watching, it was never particularly distinguished, in terms of the modish menu they served, and subsequent restaurants in the same handsome quarters perpetuated this unfortunate state of affairs. However, this special setting has now become the venue of an excellent new restaurant, Les Climats, which takes its name from the distinctive microclimates of the individual vineyards in one of the world’s finest wine regions: Burgundy. Happily, the food served with the restaurant’s spectacular list of Burgundy wines is as good as the drinking. Young Franco-Vietnamese chef Phan Chi Tam, who most recently cooked with two-star chef Thierry Marx at Sur Mesure at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris, has created a delicate and intriguing menu designed to flatter the great Burgundy wines which are served here.

Chi Tam’s menu evolves regularly, but dining here with a Parisian friend whose family owns a vineyard in Aloxe-Corton, we were both impressed with the finesse of our starters. “This is a very elegant alliance,” observed Claire, referring to the sea bream carpaccio on a bed of razor-sliced cucumber slices with amber-coloured cubes of Xerez vinegar aspic that she enjoyed as a first course, accompanied by a glass of Puligny-Montrachet. My Opéra de Foie Gras, a fine parfait on a base of spicebread with Gewürtztraminer gelée, was beautifully made and paired perfectly with a glass of Saint Romain. The main courses were also excellent – a chunky veal tartare with a generous pour of Haute Côtes du Beaune for me, and steamed turbot with baby clams in dashi broth for Claire, who stuck to the Puligny-Montrachet.

Since they only serve in the lovely garden outside at noon, in deference to the neighbours, we dined in the terrazzo-floored conservatory room, which fashionable interior decorator Bambi Sloan had fitted out with a sort of ‘last days of the Raj’ décor that contrasted with the lush main dining room’s Jugendstil look – red velvet- upholstered chairs and magnificent re-editions of period piece brass ceiling lamps. The eminently bourgeois crowd of Parisians on the night we came appeared to be enjoying themselves as much as we did and the young staff  exhibited a blushingly eager desire to please that is all too rare in the restaurants of Paris. This worldly and well-conceived address is a perfect choice for both Burgundy lovers and anyone who wants a really good meal on the Left Bank in an original and very handsome setting – it’s open daily, too.

Les Climats, 41 Rue de Lille, 75007 Paris +33 1 58 62 10 08. Open daily. Lunch menus €36 and €45. Average à la carte dinner €120.

Originally published in the August-September 2013 issue of France Today

Alexander Lobrano’s book Hungry for Paris is published by Random House. Find Hungry for Paris and more in our bookstore.



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