In 1995 when I first moved to Paris, I unwittingly moved myself into into the thick of Emile Zola’s “Belly of Paris” very close to Les Halles in the 2ième arrondissement near the rue Montorgueil (definitely not as trendy back then as it is now). Perhaps this was my attempt to be at one with the working class protagonists from the 19th Century French novels I was studying at the time or perhaps this was my subconscious trying to tell me something about my future as a food blogger, but what I discovered in over 5 years living in the neighbourhood was a very big focus on food and cooking.
The area is a food lover’s dream – growing out of the market “les Halles” which has been around since 1183 – Paris’ original central market and one of Europe’s oldest – and developing today into quite the “must” for serious foodie tourists. As the smart folks at La Cuisine Paris who have developed a genius foodie walking tour of the Les Halles area say, the area really does have something for everyone – “from fromage, to foie gras, from sweets to meats!”
If you believe culture and cuisine go hand in hand and filling your belly is as important as feeding your brain then you definitely need to check out La Cuisine Paris’ Bellies on Foot tour. I was fortunate enough to tag along on a tour one afternoon when I was there this past summer and even though I know the area very well, I learned a lot about the history of the “belly” and even discovered some gems of stores I’d always walked by but never been into.
Throughout the 3 hour tour, the group visits approximately 6 stores, collecting goodies to enjoy once back at the school with a glass of wine (now THAT’S civilised!) and there’s plenty of time for your own window shopping if you want to scope out places to go back and visit on your own.
The tour is a lovely balance of information and fun facts and takes in everything from a famous cooking supplies store (Hide your credit cards! Just kidding. Not really.) to foie gras, And of course there are the usual “musts” – fromage, charcuterie, bread and pastries plus as a bonus, you’ll be taking all this in around what I believe is one of Paris’ prettiest ‘hoods (of course I am biased…)
To make the most of your trip to Paris, especially if your trip involves a lot of “tasting” you’ll definitely appreciate a tour that has you up and on your feet – you know, to offset the tastings at the end! La Cuisine’s tour is the perfect length and combines food, fun and history (what could be more perfect?) but don’t make dinner plans too soon afterwards – you’ll be full!
For more information on food tours at La Cuisine Paris, check out their website. La Cuisine Paris also offers French cooking and pastry classes (in English).
Disclosure: I was a guest of La Cuisine Paris for this tour and was working part-time for them in July 2012 when I took the tour. I was not required to write this post, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.
* Canadian readers – enter to win a $50 Chez Cora gift certificate to celebrate World Egg Month!