Macarons, mille-feuille, pain perdu, croissants, caramels, traditionally aged cheeses, butter and baguettes are all part of any Parisian foodie experience. Eat your way around this exquisite and historic city using this handy guide. Just make sure to leave enough space in your suitcase to take back edible memoirs from your time in France.
FOODIE SHOPS FOR EVERYTHING
If you’re looking to find the best French food products and world food under one roof, your one-stop shop is La Grande Épicerie on the ground floor of Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche. It’s a feast for the senses and many items are either exclusive or made on the premises.
The relatively new gourmet food hall in the historic Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann spans two floors and has a number of well-appointed food stands and enclaves with shelves stocked with beautiful fare. It also has a delightful terrace with incredible Eiffel Tower views. Just across the street is Galeries Lafayette Haussmann with 25 restaurants as well as a premium
With hundreds of different types of cheese available, buying fromage in Paris, or France for that matter, can be a daunting affair. A good place to start is Monbleu – a collaboration between restaurateur Damien Richardot and the talented Pierre Gay, a cheesemonger from Annecy who holds the much coveted title of master craftsman or Meilleur Ouvrier de France. You’ll find a restaurant upstairs – order a cheese platter, or, if you’re hungry the Mega Fondant (a classy French version of mac and cheese covered in aged Comté), then head to the shop on your way out. We say try the black brie and definitely pick up some Morbier and beautifully
To visit a working, artisanal dairy/creamery in the heart of the French capital, Laiterie La Chapelle offers visitors a unique experience and delicious products. Owner and cheesemonger Paul Zindy makes fruity tommes and melt-in-your-mouth dormoy cheeses by hand using lait cru or raw milk from a herd of free-range cows that graze on pastures just 35km from the city. Paul believes in the importance of the provenance of his products, and is transparent about his process. So much so, that you can see into his production room and cheese ‘cave’ from the street. He also makes pots of creamy yoghurts (using pasteurised milk) flavoured with all-natural ingredients like ginger and turmeric; fromage blanc, which is great to spread on crackers or use as a dip and crème renversée – like a crème caramel.
If you’re looking to learn more about the intricacies of French cooking and eating, there’s an abundance of classes available in Paris. We recommend 750g l'Atelier that runs hands-on masterclasses with chefs. Its studio kitchen is spacious enough for a good-sized group and you can pick a theme, style or specific ingredients with which you’d like to experiment. You also get to enjoy the fruits of your labour after the lesson. For a fitting choice, why not try working with butter? You’re in France – home to arguably the world’s best beurre – after all. In approximately three hours, well-known chef Christophe Dovergne taught us all sorts of techniques and recipes including saffron-glazed carrots, which simmer in their own fragrant jus, the dreamiest, but probably most calorific mashed potatoes that are baked to ensure a crusty top, salmon poached in orange butter that fell apart and was light and citrusy and a puff-pastry strawberry tart with crème patissiere, almond cream, and a fruity caramel.
WHERE TO STAY
Opened in 1925, Le Bristol Paris on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, is known for its grandeur and gastronomic excellence. This hotel’s palatial interiors feature polished marble floors, crystal chandeliers, plush flower arrangements, Versailles-style furniture and 17th-century antique tapestries. Dining there, is also quite the affair. Renowned executive chef, Eric Frechon, has accrued four Michelin stars since arriving at Le Bristol. Three belong to the exclusive Epicure, a fine-dining experience and the less formal Le 114 Faubourg, has one.
The historic and elegant Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, is about as central as you can get – on the north side of the Place de la Concorde, round the corner from the Elysée Palace, the Tuileries Garden and the Champs-Élysées. Even if you don’t stay here, do make a booking for an opulent breakfast at the onsite Brasserie d’Aumont. The Petit Déjeuner Complet for EUR 65 offers a world of crispy croissants and freshly baked breads (best eaten with lashings of Bordier artisan butter), fresh fruit, eggs every-which-way, delicious sides like paprika veal sausage and garlicky sautéed spinach, pain perdu (lip-smackingly-good French toast) and some of the best coffee you’ll taste in Paris. The restaurant’s head pastry chef is Pablo Gicquel – don’t leave without trying his brioche au sucre (a delicate sugary cake) that is as light as air.
For a quainter, but no less comfortable stay, Maison Malesherbes, located in the heart of the Saint-Augustin area, is set in a 19th-century bourgeois house and it’s cosy, romantic and has a bohemian spirit. Hide away in its charming lounge with a cup of tea, before or after a day of shopping on Boulevard Haussmann, which is nearby.
Parisian food and pastry specialist Michel Tanguy writes for a number of magazines and is also the author of three books. Here are a few of his favourite local spots…
Head to KL Pâtisserie Paris, by Kevin Lacote for a made-to-order vanilla mille-feuille that’s crispy and light. Pierre Hermé on the Champs-Élysées, is good for breakfast, lunch or teatime, but I go there for his fabulous, sweet and buttery Ispahan croissant, the amazing pains au chocolat et pistaches and his vanilla tarts. Tea Time by Quentin Lechat at the Novotel, has a magnificent lemon tart. Laurent Duchênes makes a fragrant and buttery praliné croissant and a cream tart at Benoît Castel Ménilmontant, a pastry shop and bakery in the 20th arrondissement, is the perfect mix of cream, sugar and crunch.
For ice cream:
July and August are the months to try as much ice cream as you like! Chef, cookery book author and well-known chocolate and caramel maker Jacques Génin has just transformed his tea room on Rue de Turenne into a gelateria. He makes arguably the best ice cream in Paris, freshly prepared to order. But please try his caramels, too! Une Glace à Paris by Emmanuel Ryon – a Meilleur Ouvrier de France – is also excellent. Glace Bachir has 100% organic Lebanese-style ice cream. Choose the mastic flavour.
For an outdoor picnic:
We have so many parks in Paris, and what better way to enjoy the summer sun at lunch time? Pack a picnic and pick a spot at the Tuileries Garden or try the Luxembourg Gardens. It’s also so Parisian to have a drink near the Canal Saint-Martin.
Follow Michel’s sweet escapades @micheltanguy on Instagram and micheltanguy.com