Lynda’s Foodie Guide To Paris
Welcome to my first blog post. Over time I aim to cover all sorts of topics of interest to any foodie: recipes, trends, news and sometimes a spotlight on specific ingredients. The hope is that you will have a resource that you can keep dipping back into. I would like each entry to be a bit of a surprise – like opening a parcel with a little excitement, not knowing quite what will be inside.
On a recent trip to Paris it occurred to me that it would have been really helpful to have access to ideas and gems from people who come to the school and read our newsletter. So I put a call out and this is what emerged. If we can keep building on this (and then move on to other cities) a really useful and personal resource could evolve. If you’d like us to add your top Parisian tips to those provided already, please email them through to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was a very close call but I am delighted to announce that the competition for the best set of suggestions was won by Cliodhna Geraghty who gets a prize of two places on a Saturday course of her choice. Congratulations Cliodhna, we look forward to seeing you soon!
I find that one of the best ways to get you in the food mood is to visit one of the many food markets. Everyone has their favourite but it’s worth remembering that each ‘quartier’ is obliged by law to host at least two food markets a week so you’ll always be able to hunt one down somewhere. A couple of people mentioned the market on Boulevard Edgar Quinet (metro – Edgar Quinet).
Photo: Boulevard Edgar Quinet Market
This market is held on Saturday mornings. It starts early but goes on until about 3pm. There’s lots of fresh food stalls, butchers, fish shops, boulangers, cheese sellers etc. Go when you’re hungry and have your breakfast or lunch there. It’s also a great place to go for a wander.
Photo: Jardins du Luxembourg
There’s a butcher about half way up who sells the most incredible duck rillettes – amazing spread on a Parisian baguette! A great way to spend an afternoon is to buy food for a picnic and go and sit in the Jardins du Luxembourg, about a ten minute walk away, or go visit Samuel Beckett in the Cimetière Montparnasse, just across the road.
While you’re in the area, you could go up the Tour Montparnasse, which is just beside the market and unmissable for its sheer ugliness. Having said that, at least there’s never a queue. You can see the Eiffel Tower (and the rest of Paris, of course) from the top, and it has the added benefit of being the only place in Paris from which you can’t see the Tour Montparnasse!
Another great market is Marché d’Aligre which has a covered section as well as outdoor stalls and is open six days a week (closed on Mondays). It’s a very good bet because it’s surrounded by cafés and makes for a great day out. For an organic market, Marché Respail also comes highly recommended.
Photo: Marché d’Aligre
If you want to chat with the local producers and sample their products, then I’d suggest one of the many food tours on offer. There are lots of good options available, most involving quite a lot of tasting, good if you’re hungry but not ideal if you have planned a special dinner for later in the day.
Start out with Promenades Gourmandes and see how you get on. You could move on to something like the Paris Hanoi Laboratoire if you want to learn more about Vietnamese cooking. The Time Out site is a good resource and recommends a number of other gastronomic tours for you to try.
With such a high rate of gluten intolerance in Ireland, Noglu is a must for people looking for delicious gluten-free produce. Noglu provides gluten-free foodies with a great place to visit, where the pastries look and taste just as amazing and delicious as all of the ‘normal’ bakeries.
It can sometimes seem as if everyone is trying to find the same ‘in’ places when it comes to choosing new restaurants in the city. I found Paris by Mouth and David Lebovitz’s ‘My Paris’ Blog entry to be great resources for giving you a broader view of what is going on in the Paris restaurant scene. Mad About Paris is also a good call if you’re looking for something a little bit zanier.
If you want to dine somewhere that the young and cool hipsters (and the occasional celebrity) of Paris hang out, then L’Avenue is well worth considering.
With so many people looking for different things when it comes to finding restaurants in cities that they’re unfamiliar with, it can be a good option to know of a street or two that offer a wide range of choice and cuisines.
I can vouch for Rue du Nil, where I thought the Frenchie Wine Bar was outstanding. But I could as easily have gone down to the Frenchie take away or gone a bit more upmarket and opted for the Frenchie restaurant, all of which are run by chef Gregory Marchand. It’s not the easiest street in the world to find but well worth the effort.
A second street full of possibilities is Rue Paul Bert where you will find another great chef (Bertrand Auboyneau) slowly taking over. The choice is already stunning: Le Bistrot Paul Bert (traditional), 6 Paul Bert (more modern with long communal tables) and L’Ecailler du Bistrot (specialising in seafood).
I wrongly assumed that all the suggestions that we received would be for high-end eateries but we got some great reviews for the growing trend of food trucks in Paris. These mobile kitchens serve great tasting fresh food for all types of global cuisines. Here are four that got special mention:
The first of these is Cantine California. When it launched in March 2012, Cantine California became the first food truck to prepare its food using Paris-based French certified organic products. Their meat, eggs, and flour are all 100% organic and come directly from the producers.
California Cantine is the brainchild of Jordan Feilders, an American originally from San Francisco. His ambition and passion is to bring the high quality ingredients that can be found in France and merge this with the age old traditions he inherited back home in the U.S.
A second favourite is Le Camion Bol, well known for its Vietnamese offering. Watch out for their signature dish called Triple B.
Mozza & Co. on new Pedestrian Berges de Seine has great cheese ideas for a picnic and a stunning panna cotta, all at very reasonable prices.
Our final food truck tip is Caravane Dorée. If you’re looking for the most delicious sandwich that you can eat on the go, then you have to try this place. Very tasty and great value too!
I will hold my hands up and say that the macaroons at Pierre Hermé are the best that Paris has to offer (they have the best pastries too). You could opt for the Pierre Hermé concession in Galeries Lafayette at Place de l’Opera or there are stand-alone stores dotted around the city. Incredibly creative flavours, perfect textures and exceptional service – what more could you ask for? Eating them with a coffee on the banks of the Seine in the shadow of the Tour Eiffel makes for a perfect Parisien moment.
When booking a trip, I always find choosing a hotel a very time consuming and laborious task. In Paris, rooms are often small, with lots of noise from the streets outside and, in my experience, breakfast is usually a bit of a letdown. We are still awaiting a cast-iron recommendation that ticks all of the boxes. One reader mentioned the Pantheon Palace Hotel, a boutique hotel located on Place du Pantheon. Another recommendation was the R. Kipling Hotel in Montmartre but it seems that most people are still on the search for that perfect, as yet, undiscovered retreat.
Citadines Louvre Paris Hotel
Perhaps a more reliable option is to opt for one of the Citadines Apart-hotels which are located all over the city, including the Paris Tour Eiffel Citadines (with some rooms having a window view of the Eiffel Tower). The underground station is right outside the entrance, fresh produce for dinner is available in the markets directly outside the hotel and there are plenty of reasonably priced brasseries within a short walking distance.
A website well worth checking out for some alternative city centre accommodation options at great value is Airbnb -a trusted community marketplace for people to discover and book unique accommodations around the world. Put in your price range, your preferred locations and all sorts of options (with reviews) will be offered. Quite a hefty deposit will be taken from your credit card and returned after you leave.
Some Final Ideas…
Photo: Promenade Plantée
The Promenade Plantée (French for tree-lined walkway) is a 5km long elevated linear park in the 12th arrondissement, following the old Vincennes railway line (metro Bastille). Have a stroll or sit down and do what the locals do best – people watch.
The Fat Tire Bike Company offers leisurely, amusingly informative day and evening tours of the city in English. I would highly recommend this.
Discover Walks are run by French students passionate about their city. There is no charge – you pay what you think it is worth for a one to two hour jaunt around a particular area.
If this inspires you to take a trip to Paris, we’d love you to send us more ideas on your return.
Which city would you like us to review next: Galway, Rome, Belfast, Copenhagen? You choose and email us at email@example.com.
All content is © 2014 by Lynda Booth’s Dublin Cookery School. All rights reserved.