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Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris (a Context Paris walking tour of the Left Bank)

St Germain on Context Paris walking tour on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Those of you who follow this blog will know that one of my favourite things to do when I visit another country (even one I know really well) is to take walking tours, especially those centred around food.  I like the fact that on a tour, you can share your desires to do/ see/ eat everything with other like-minded folks which makes it feel a little less indulgent – you know, sharing the love a little! This year before I came to Paris, I spent a fair bit of time on the Context website – after the fabulous Chocolate Walk last summer, I booked myself on the “Bobo Palate: New Trends in Parisian Cuisine” tour and was honoured when the good folks of Context invited me to check out the “Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris” tour (€75 per person) as well.

St Germain Paris on earlivetravelwrite.com

According to the tour description, “Paris is synonymous for gastronomic refinement and elegance firmly built on its traditions. From les grands restaurants to the thousands of exquisite specialty shops to the neighborhood boulangerie, Parisians make food an art. On this 2.5-hour walk we will delve into the fascinating and delectable world of Parisian culinary traditions in the company of a true food expert.

Well ok then!

The walk takes place on the Left Bank and focuses on visiting fine food shops. Our docent, Parisian resident for the past 15 years and a baker herself, Laurel Sanderson, taught us about some of the basic concepts of French cuisine, starting with that staple in any French diet: la baguette. Though they may look similar, all baguettes are not equal.  Laurel gave us the lowdown on how to choose, what to ask for and where to buy. We also stopped into a new-to-me bakery, Josephine Bakery.

Josephine Bakery Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.comAt Josephine Bakery in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Yes, we collected little samples of various foods along the way as this tour includes a tasting (with wine!) at the end (tip: don’t make lunch plans – you won’t need them!).

We checked out some spectacular chocolates and caramels at Henri Le Roux

Henri Le Roux Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.comAt Henri LeRoux in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

And what’s a food tour of Paris without a macaron sampling? On this tour we sampled from Ladurée.

Laduree Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

What to choose, what to choose?

Flavours of macarons at Laduree on eatlivetravelwrite.com

The packaging at Ladurée is just as good as what’s inside!

Laduree packaging on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Along the way, we passed by some quintessential Parisian scenes – like this one. Le Café.

Cafe in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.comLaurel shared a lot of information on French food/ eating habits and the French philosophy of eating along the way too.  She talked us through a trip to the butchers, which, for the uninitiated, can be a little intimidating. Her lesson on just what is on offer at the butchers (not just meat) and how you can not just order your meat tailored exactly to how you want it but also discuss with the butcher the best way to cook, and with which ingredients was one I wished I had known about when I first moved to France, back in the mid 1990s when the intimidation factor of the whole butcher shop experience (“What’s the word for XYZ again?” “What’s the protocol and etiquette in this store?) nearly drove me to complete vegetarianism!

Charcuterie and foie gras in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Towards the end of the tour, we made a stop in the Marché St Germain where we learned about market etiquette…

Marche St Germain on eatlivetravelwrite.com

and cheese…

Cheese at the Marche St Germain in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Right before the “sampling” part of the tour, we stopped in at a quaint wine store/ bar to pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy with our goodies…

Bacchus et Ariane in Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Let the feasting begin!

Tasting time on Context Paris tour on eatlivetravelwrite.com

I’m actually sad to admit that I barely tasted any of these goodies as I was hit by a migraine right before the tour ended but hey, all the more reason to go back and visit the stores from the tour and recreate my own “sample platter”, right? Laurel gave a lot of information about the ingredients as the group was tasting them – how to eat certain foods, what to drink with them etc…. So very informative for the French food novice (and even for those of us who are, shall we say, a little more knowledgeable, there’s always something to learn/about).

Food sampling on Context Paris tour on eatlivetravelwrite.com

From what I understand, this tour does not follow a set itinerary or visit the exact same stores each time. Where you go will depend on a lot of factors (especially in the summer when opening hours can be a little erratic) so take the itinerary that I followed here as an example of the type of experience you will be having.

All in all, a tasty, informative tour of an area I am starting to learn more about thanks to all the tours I have taken! Along the way, Laurel pointed out many places to add to our “to do/ see/ eat” list – for this trip or another one. Sigh, that neverending list doesn’t look like it’s getting shorter anytime soon!  It’s one of the reasons I love these tours so much – they give you a taste (literally and figuratively) of an area that you can go back on your own to explore.

This tour? Like the Chocolate Walk and the “Bobo Paris” tours, HIGHLY recommended.

Check out all of Context Paris’ food tours here.
Check out all of Context Paris’ other tours (architecture, art history and excursions to Normandy) here.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Context Paris on the “Baguette to Bistro” tour.  I was not asked to write about this, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.

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14 Responses to Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris (a Context Paris walking tour of the Left Bank)

  1. The Travelling Chopsticks July 30, 2013 at 10:10 #

    I LOVE looking and reading your Paris posts….they are making me super excited about my trip there this week!! You are giving me so many ideas of places to go and things I need to eat! Beautiful photos!

    • Lily August 12, 2013 at 08:39 #

      Dear Mardi – Thanks for the nice article on our Baguette to Bistro walk! We are so glad you enjoyed this walk as well.

      Travelling Chopsticks – we’d love to give you some advice about our walks or more regarding your trip to Paris! Feel free to drop us a line!

      • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:55 #

        Lily it’s always a pleasure :)

        • Lily Context November 14, 2013 at 09:48 #

          Great! We look forward to having you back on your next trip :)

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:57 #

      Paris is SO full of fun things to see, eat and do!

  2. Mary F July 30, 2013 at 12:10 #

    Thank you for this post! I am a huge fan of Context Tours. We use them on all of our trips to Italy. I am in the middle of scheduling a fall trip to Paris. I had been waffling on which tours to take. You photos and write up tips the balance. It is now on the schedule!

  3. Bernice July 30, 2013 at 17:11 #

    Wow, that walking tour sounds lovely! I wish I would have known about them when we visited Paris in May. We did do some of our own walking ‘tours’ of course, it’s the best way to discover the city.

  4. Geoff July 30, 2013 at 19:14 #

    Oh boy, the French Tourist people should be paying you for posts like this.
    Great French flavour, colours and context.
    Lovely post

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:56 #

      Thanks – I’d LOVE to work for the French Tourism folks!

  5. Pamela July 31, 2013 at 22:29 #

    I enjoy all of the Walking Tours you joined everywhere. This tour seems informative, delicious and fun! I will hope to join this tour in Paris.

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 18:56 #

      It’s a great choice for seeing and learning a lot in a short amount of time!

  6. Coco in the kitchen August 5, 2013 at 16:37 #

    What a lovely tour of Paris. Wish I were there w you!

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