7, rue du Faubourg Montmartre, in the 9th Arrondissement.
01 47 70 86 29. Open every day, 11:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Chartier is more than a Paris brasserie; it’s a piece of the city’s history. When Chartier opened in 1896, the idea was to offer local workers a decent, affordable meal. And in more than a century, not much has changed. Today you can get your daily soup for 1 euro, along with French classics such as choucroute or lentils with pork for less than 10 euros.
Like many Parisians and tourists, I love this place for its bustling atmosphere. Located in the heart of the theatre district, Chartier is the perfect stop if you want to have a quick meal before a show, or before climbing up the hill to Montmartre!
What I like most is the restaurant’s 100 percent Parisian atmosphere. Be ready, though—“Parisian atmosphere” might mean a lot of different things depending on the day you come! Some days a lovely waitress will take your order with a smile on her lips; on others, a busy waiter will rush you with rude manners. Chartier is an experience.
In any case, here’s your guide to this Paris brasserie of old.
Come early. You may want to arrive at 6:50 p.m. for dinner, for instance; otherwise you’ll have to queue outside to get a table.
Be flexible. The hostess will ask you, “Combien?” (How many?). If you are a party of two, you may get moved to the front of the line to share a table of four with two Japanese tourists. Lucky you!
Read the menu. If you haven’t done your homework, try some French family classics: hard-boiled-egg mayonnaise, calf’s head sauce gribiche, grilled andouillette or roast chicken.
Open your eyes. Have a look around and enjoy the turn-of-the-century setting. You’ll notice the lovely wooden decor, the antique glass chandeliers and the brasserie mirrors. If you look closely enough, you’ll see the racks where regulars would leave their napkins in 1896.
Food time. A white canteen plate is thrown onto your table. Let’s face it, you’re not at a three-Michelin-star restaurant, but you get fresh, simple food. Enjoy and share your bread basket with your two Japanese neighbors.
The bill. The waitress writes down your ticket on the white paper tablecloth. Try to calculate the total as quickly as she can. If you succeed, you can enter the next world mental arithmetic contest.
Voila! You’ve traveled back in time, experienced a true classic and dealt with a rushed French waiter. And you now have two Japanese friends to visit in Tokyo. This is Chartier.
In a nutshell: If you want to bask in the atmosphere of a circa-1900 bustling Parisian restaurant and imagine yourself back then, head for Chartier!
Price check: With soup for a euro, a main course for 10 euros and dessert for 3 euros (on average), allow 15 euros for your meal. You’ll find a selection of affordable table wines served by the bottle or pichet (pitcher).
If you like the sound of Chartier but would prefer a more intimate atmosphere:
Le Cantine de Quentin
52, rue Bichat, in the 10th.
01 42 02 40 32. Open for lunch Tues–Sun.