When most people think of Paris, they think of decadence and elegance. Between the high fashion and timeless landmarks, there’s a reason the City of Love has this reputation. It’s also known for its cuisine, which can basically be described in one word – indulgence. Chocolate, croissants, croque-monsieur, and of course, plenty of cheese. While there are many places you can dine with the quintessential Parisian elegance, sometimes you just want to stuff your face with melted cheese and not want to put your pinky up while doing so. Hence, I give you Le Refuge des Fondus.
Location and Atmosphere
Located in the Clignancourt area near the Sacré-Cœur cathedral, Le Refuge des Fondus (17 Rue des Trois Freres, 75018, Paris, France) is exactly what it sounds like – a mecca for fondue lovers. The food alone is enough to make you want to write about this place in your diary, but it’s the charm and grit of the restaurant that really make it memorable. The entire restaurant fits about 40 people, all of whom are seated family-style at two large tables running up and down each wall of the restaurant. You will certainly get to know your neighbors well! The wait staff has the typical French frostiness and make no efforts to hide it, but hey, what can you expect? It's Paris!
Food and Drinks
With no menus in sight, we were suggested to order “two meats and two cheeses.” Next, we were asked one simple question – red or white? The mix of the language barrier and the crazy atmosphere of the restaurant left us a little confused, and we were certainly shocked when they returned with eight baby bottles filled with wine! Given that space is limited, it actually makes sense from a logistical standpoint – no spillage.
Once the fondues arrived, we were grateful for the waiter’s forcefulness in ordering for us, for he knew exactly what we needed. The cheese fondue was something that will live in my dreams for the rest of eternity. For the meats, we were given a pot of hot oils and bite size pieces of steak to cook in it. The combination of the flavors in the oil and the homemade sauces on the side was to die for.
With its simplistic menu and undeniable charm, it’s no wonder that there’s a line out the door to get in (get there early!). If you find yourself in Paris and in need of some laughter and cheese, make the trip to this restaurant. You will not regret it!
Insider Tip: Try to avoid wearing 5-inch heels, because the people sitting on the benches against the wall are instructed to climb over the table to get to their seat. So, yes, when the waiter reaches out his hand to help you do so, he’s quite serious.
- Abby Rasweiler