These four bistros are like a favourite ex-boyfriend – flawed but still charming. Historic 1990s interiors welcome you to take a seat. These bistros have up-to-date cooking in an atmosphere that makes you feel like you are eating lunch in a history book.

Aux Lyonnais

Perhaps the best bistro in Paris, and certainly the best bouchon Lyonnais (restaurant serving traditional Lyonnais dishes) outside Lyon. Alain Ducasse applied his expertise to this famous establishment in 2002. Already an emblem of Parisian gastronomic history, it would have been easy to rely on its reputation and the undying affection Parisians have for la cuisine lyonnaise to maintain a decent clientele. But although all the classics are right there on the menu (blanquette de veau, quenelles a la Lyonnaise, sauce Nantua), many have been subtly tweaked and lightened. When you go, make sure you’re hungry enough to make it through to dessert. Then, give in to the double pleasure of the ile flottante aux pralines rouges, served with a sliver of outrageously sweet, garishly red-pink tarte.

How to get there: 32, rue Saint-Marc – Paris 2 – Tel. +33 (0) 142966504

Café Jacquemart Andre

Of all Paris’s museum cafes this is my favourite, happily, in one of my favourite buildings. There’s something so soothing about the hushed atmosphere of the Musee Jacquemart Andre – such a contrast to the booming galleries of the hectic Louvre. The café, in one of the most sumptuous dining rooms in Paris, with a Tiepolo ceiling and Belgian tapestries, is equally genteel, although as they don’t take reservations you might have to elbow your way through at lunchtime for their excellent salads. I prefer it, therefore, for the selection of tea and cake or their very good weekend brunch.

How to get there: 158, boulevard Haussmann – Paris 8 – Tel. +33 (0) 145621159

Le Voltaire

Between the chic 6th and very chic 7th, close to Paris’s most prestigious art and antique dealers, this place is always pakced, and is a great favourite during Fashion Week. Voltaire did once live here, adding to one’s sense of consuming a chunk of history with the famous 90-cent oeuf mayonnaise. This dish is really only a sort of in-joke, of course, and dinner for two is likely to hit the 200 euro mark if you are drinking wine (and you should). So brace yourselves, and who knows, as you devour your poached eggs with sorrel, beef fillet au poivre and tarte Tatin, you might be sitting elbow to elbow with Anna Wintour, as she picks at her perfectly steamed asparagus.

How to get there: 27, quai Voltaire – Paris 7 – Tel. +33 (0) 142611749

La Closerie des Lilas

Slightly off the tourist track, at the Port Royal end of the boulevard Montparnasse, this mythical literary haunt has remained a favourite place for writers and intellectuals to gather, and the terrasse is often dotted with big names and faded stars, for whom France always holds a table. There are two spaces, the brasserie and a quieter, more expensive gastronomic restaurant. I would always go for the simpler brasserie fare, especially as the service in both places can be erratic, to say the least. The tartare is the dish to choose, apparently, along with the very well-prepared seafood, but I love the flouncy desserts.

How to get there: 171, boulevard Montparnasse – Paris 6 – Tel. +33 (0) 140513450

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Jules writes for, a super travel blog! Jules is 23 and lives in Phoenix Arizona but spends most of her time wishes she was in Paris.

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