If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you will know that food tours are something I actively seek out wherever I go. In Paris alone, I’ve taken a fair number of them (you can find them here) and a lot of people wonder why, since I know the city pretty well but really, in a city with such an ever-changing culinary landscape, how can one ever possibly say they have finished learning everything there is to learn? Also, even if some of the tours I take overlap a little in their content, what you learn on a tour is dictated by the interests of the guides who lead them and each guide will have a slightly different “take” on a store, restaurant or area and so will each group – a good guide will learn to “read” a group and tailor the information they are giving to the interest and knowledge level they are dealing with. So in short, I take food tours because there is always something different to learn!
That’s right – these guys have won a fair number of prizes in Paris’ best baguette competition - le Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition française de la Ville de Paris(Meg of Paris by Mouth has been a judge at this prestigious contest!).
You can find a list of Paris’ top baguettes for 2014 (and back to 2011) on Paris by Mouth – a useful guide no matter what neighbourhood you find yourself in!
We also tasted their croissants, named Best in Paris in 2013 at the Concours du Meilleur Croissant au Beurre AOC Charentes-Poitou - that would be croissants made with Beurre AOC Charantes-Poitou (AOC protected butter!).
The tour continued with a stop in at Jacques Genin, just over the road. A truly gorgeous chocolate store…
Last year, Genin (who was famous for his pastries and cakes) stopped making pastries, claiming that “chocolate is my first love” (paraphrased here by Paris by Mouth). It is still possible to special order a millefeuille in the salon de thé or a large dessert (for more than four people, to take away) in advance – I’d HIGHLY recommend doing this – but today, Genin’s focus is chocolate and pâte de fruits.
133 rue de Turenne,
Sunday – Friday: 11am – 7pm
Saturday: 11am – 8pm
Our next stop wasn’t a tasting but a fabulous spice store, Goumanyat. If you’re into interesting spices or looking for a hard-to-find ingredient, this is the store. It’s also a good place to pick up some gifts and/ or souvenirs! And yes, they let you sniff before you buy!
Goumanyat et son Royaume
3 rue Charles-Francois Dupuis,
Tuesday – Saturday: 11am – 7pm
We stopped in at a traiteur where we picked up some rillettes and pâté. Jennifer explained what a traiteur is – it’s a version of French “fast food” – with prepared meals of excellent quality (they also cater events). When I lived in Paris, I’d often buy things at the traiteur if I wanted to impress guests
Next stop was the Fromagerie Jouannault in the rue de Bretagne, just on the edge of the Marché des Enfants Rouges. Now Jennifer is quite the cheese expert and has tasted (and written about) over 200 of France’s cheeses (you can read her cheesy musings on her blog) so it was quite a treat to be in a cheese store with so much knowledge. I get the feeling she could talk about cheese forever!
The folks at Jonnault don’t just sell the cheeses – they are also “affineurs” which basically means they look after the cheeses they produce – washing, brushing, flipping, patting and turning (for a brief overview of what affinage involves, there’s a nice article on The Kitchn) and Jennifer gave us a detailed explanation of what to me sounds like a pretty dreamy job! It’s also something many visitors to Paris cheese stores don’t know to look for but if you see that a cheese store is also an affineur, you pretty much know you are in good hands!
Jonnault sells cheese, but also other “crèmerie” products…
Rocamadour (goat, Midi-Pyrénées, aged for 1-3 weeks)
Valençay AOC (goat, Loire Valley, 3-5 weeks)
Comté AOC (cow, Jura, 36 months)
Brie de Melun AOC (cow, Ile-de-France, 7-8 weeks)
Abbaye de Belloc (sheep, Basque Pyrénées, 3 months)
Roquefort AOC (sheep, Languedoc-Roussillon, usually 3 months but can go up to 10 months)
I won’s share the excellent tasting notes Jennifer gave us here – you can head on over to her site to read about all the cheeses!
39 Rue de Bretagne,
Tel: 01 42 78 52 61
Tuesday: Friday: 9am – 1pm; 3pm – 8pm
Saturday: 9am – 8pm
Sunday: 9am – 1.30pm
Our last stop was something that’s a little different from most Paris food tours I have been on – a wine store but one where we got to sit down and enjoy the wine as well as the spoils from our shopping trip! But not just any wine bar – a “BiB” (Bag in Box” wine bar/ store!
BiBoViNo is a bar and a store offering premium wines packaged in Bag In Box ™ – wines from high quality, smaller producers by the glass, carafe or box. The BiB concept is well-known in the south of France (and in other countries – I remember BiB wines long ago in Australia!) but not so common in Paris. BioiViNo aims to change that with its bright, inviting space (you can enjoy your wine at a long table overlooking the Marché des Enfants Rouges if you choose) and cool packaging.
Marché des Enfants Rouges
35 rue Charlot
Tel: 01 42 71 14 08
Tuesday – Thursday: 11am – 2.30pm 4pm – 8pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 8pm
Sunday: 10.30am – 6.30pm
It was a lovely end to the tour – many of the tours I’ve taken have you taste your food along the way which is fine but it was a really nice touch to be able to sit and break bread (and enjoy cheese, charcuterie, pâté, rillettes and Jacques Genin’s caramels) with new friends. It was also a time for Jennifer to answer questions or talk some more about the cheese she loves A really well-thought-out piece of the tour.
Of all the Paris food tours I’ve been on, this one has the least amount of walking (and the most sitting down!) so if that is something you need to keep in mind, it’s an ideal “taster” of the Marais food scene for you (pun intended!). If you’ve only got an afternoon to explore an area you may not know so well, this is a great option too. Or, as one couple on my tour were doing – take this tour on the day you arrive, take advantage of Jennifer’s knowledge and expertise and make copious notes for places you need to return to during your stay!
A tour is only as good as its guide and I can’t recommend Jennifer highly enough. Full disclosure – Jennifer is also a friend of mine but she really did an excellent job of balancing “must know” information with fun facts and personal stories and obviously was able to “read” the group and tailor the information she was providing to us based on what she saw we thought was interesting. She’s also easy to chat to so if you are new to Paris and have “silly questions”, she’s a great place to start!
Check out all of Paris by Mouth’s Paris Food Tours here.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Paris by Mouth on the Taste of the Marais tour. I was not asked to write about this, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.
WORLDWIDE giveaway – Win a copy of The Paris Journal. Ends Sunday July 20th, 6pm EST. Details here.
Many of you will know I’m in France for most of the summer. While I will be slowly blogging about things I do here, the best way to keep up with me will be by following my photos which you can do on my Summer 2014 set on Flickr or Instagram where I am @eatlivtravwrite (if you don’t have the app on your phone you can still check out the photos online.
I’m submitting this post to Paris in July over at Thyme for Tea.