Longtime readers won’t be surprised to see another Paris food tour here on the blog – many of you know food tours are something I actively seek out wherever I go. I’m a huge fan of Context tours because they offer something a little different – claiming to be “committed to the character of the city”, Context is not a “tour company” per se but rather, a “network of scholars and specialists – in disciplines including archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, history, environmental science, and classics – who, in addition to their normal work, design and lead in-depth walking seminars for small groups of intellectually curious travellers”. So they don’t just offer food-related tours – perfect if you are travelling in a group of people whose interests vary. I’ve already taken three Context Paris tours over the past couple of years (Baguette to Bistro, Bobo Palate and the Chocolate Walk) and have been very impressed so I was thrilled to accept their generous offer of a spot on the Aligre Market tour this summer.
The Marché d’Aligre is a neighborhood market in the 12th arrondissement – and although I know it quite well (I had friends who lived next door when I lived in Paris so we were often there – the prices were right for our meagre student/ teacher budgets!) it is not so well known by tourists yet well-frequented by locals. The tour promised a stroll through the market during which we would learn about “how the market functions, food provenance and the concept of terrior, how Parisians shop for their food and the impact of this on the French diet and gastronomic philosophy.” Sign me up then! Led by one of a number of “docents” (a chef, cookbook author, food journalist, or Parisian epicure), your experience will vary depending on who is your guide. But that is the beauty of these walking tours – different points of view! It’s why, even though I “know” the market” I am always happy to go with someone else – there’s always more to learn!
In particular, this tour is one you should aim to take at the beginning of a trip to Paris because it offers so many ideas and suggestions of things to go back to the market to explore in much greater depth. If you’ve never been to a market in Paris before, they can be intimidating places – not knowing how to shop (can I touch the produce or not) and the market customs can be overwhelming. A market tour is a great way to ease yourself in and help you feel more confident on your own.
This particular tour was a revelation for me as I discovered the tiny, tucked-away-in-an-actual-store-behind-the-market-stalls Le Garde Manger…
At first I was just happy to see the lovely array of Alsacian products including my favourite Christine Ferber jams but then I spied the flammekueche (tarte flambée). Not only did we get to taste a slice (heavenly) but we learned that these tartes are made in Alsace, then exported to Trader Joe’s in the US where they are sold as Tarte d’Alsace. Who knew (and boo for there not being a Trader Joe’s in Canada).
Our tour ended in Le Baron Rouge – a bar David Lebovitz classifies as one of his favourites in Paris – picking up some wine “en vrac” to enjoy at the parc nearby…
I’d definitely recommend this tour for anyone who wants to discover a market through a local’s eyes and learn how to nagivate the Parisian market scene. If you take this tour at the beginning of a trip to Paris, I am sure you will discover some places you want to re-visit (Le Baron Rouge, Le Garde Manger) and this is a lovely way to ease into learning about what might be a new Paris neighbourhood for you. As for me, I thouroughly enjoyed getting to know a neighbourhood I already knew from a different perspective 🙂
Other Context Paris tours I have taken and enjoyed:
Check out all of the Context Paris tours here.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Context Paris on the Aligre market tour. I was not asked to write about this, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.