An Afternoon At Two Michelin Starred Le Clarence, Paris
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An Afternoon At Two Michelin Starred Le Clarence, Paris

How much is too much?

Le Clarence is almost too good. An afternoon or evening spent at this Parisian institution is all about decadence. The finest food (double Michelin star quality, to be precise) served alongside the finest wine, in one of the finest settings in the city. Fine, fine, fine, but is it worth actually shelling out for a visit? In short, yes, says Rebecca Cox.  

Review: Le Clarence Restaurant, Paris

Paris is for lovers, and Le Clarence is for lovers of Paris. If, like me, your dream life involves you living in a grand Parisian mansion, with old-world maximalist interiors, velvet, more velvet, rich jewel tones and gold detailing, sipping champagne and receiving guests, your journey at Le Clarence will not disappoint. The main reception room is the setting for champagne and canapes, a warm welcome in comfortable (and distinctly French) surroundings. H.R.H. Prince Robert of Luxemburg hand selected paintings, vases and antique furniture from antique dealerships and flea markets for the space: there is something of interest everywhere you look, and wandering around this grand room, champagne in hand, basking in the weak winter light of a Paris afternoon through the west-facing windows sets the right tone for the dining experience to follow. 

Le Clarence Restaurant, Paris

The Grand Salon at Le Clarence, Paris


What’s on the menu? Well, nothing, actually, there is no set menu only a daily selection of dishes based on the best seasonal ingredients. So let’s start with the wine, shall we? Firstly, it is possible to visit Le Clarence and not drink. Possible, but unwise. This legendary French restaurant is owned by wine dynasty Domaine Clarence Dillon, headed by H.R.H. Prince Robert of Luxemburg, and thus the wine is treated with equal importance to the food. Wine enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy perusing not one but two extensive wine lists featuring 1,400 wine references from 250 winegrowers across France and hand selecting each of their pours, while novices (like myself) will place their drink destiny into the incredibly capable hands of the sommelier. 

In fact, arriving at Le Clarence and placing your destiny into the hands of the excellent staff is entirely the best way to get the most out of your afternoon. Control is futile. What am I drinking? Who knows, it’s superb! What am I eating? Don’t care, it’s delicious! What time is it? Time no longer exists!      

Le Clarence Restaurant, Paris

Le Clarence, Paris


Speaking of time, it’s time to dine. Head Chef Christophe Pelé has been awarded and maintained two stars by the Michelin Guide for Le Clarence since 2017 and for three consecutive years, the Paris favourite has been ranked on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. But stars, awards, and astronomical menu prices are of little importance without food good enough to draw crowds and create lasting memories. Velvet sofas and great wines go a long way in making a Parisian restaurant stand out, but for most, it all rests on the flavours. And each and every one (of several thousand) trialled during my visit was superlative. 

The brioche feuilletée at Le Clarence, Paris

How it started: the brioche feuilletée

I’ve had enough tasting menu experiences to proceed with caution. Dish after dish, endless plates and a flavour buffet so rich that hunger is replaced with discomfort and, eventually, fear, that it will never end. But that genuinely isn’t the case at Le Clarence, even if you’re opting for the six or seven ‘sequence’ meal. Each serving is distinctly different, perfectly-balanced plates seamlessly brought together with mini bites and washed down with expertly-paired wines. ‘Don’t touch the brioche feuilletée!’ I tell myself as I prepare for the eatathon ahead, only to find myself going back for bite after bite of the rich buttery pastry until the plate is empty, scattered with crumbs. ‘Don’t finish the red mullet, there’s more to come!’ I remind myself, as I use the largest pastry crumb to mop up the last drop of accompanying sauce. Miraculously more room appears, as the fourth fish course arrives and later, yet more still, for the chocolate and truffle soufflé and even the entirely optional sweets served alongside an espresso, and a last sip of wine. 

The key here is time, and space. There is no rush at Le Clarence. Taking one’s time is encouraged. Savouring each bite, having one more glass. The impeccably decorated dining rooms are spacious and tables set apart, again adding to the effect of having been invited to a leisurely lunch or supper at an incredibly grand private home, rather than a working restaurant. It’s not a meal out, it’s a day trip, a mini break, a Parisian food fling. As mentioned, Paris is, after all, for lovers.    

The chocolate and truffle soufflé at Le Clarence, Paris

How it ended: the chocolate and truffle soufflé


As I said, it’s almost too good. The dining experience at Le Clarence teeters perilously close to being too indulgent, too pricey, too rich, too…well, too much. But it toes the line perfectly and delivers, instead, the exact right level of decadence. C’est si bon. 


Lunch starts at €150 for three sequences | 


Le Clarence, 31, avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, 75008 Paris | +33 1 82 82 10 10 |