Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gastronomic Tour of Paris

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Paris...and what did we do whilst we were there? Eating, eating and more eating! This seems to be a common theme of my recent holidays! Our trip was certainly more gastronomic than cultural. I thought I would share with you my foodie ramblings here...
It all started at Searcy's at St.Pancras where we headed for a pre-Eurostar breakfast. It's a glamorous start to a trip to Paris and I had a very tasty bacon roll with a fried egg...although the fried egg on the side cost an extra £2...I could buy a box of eggs for that!
If you're heading to Paris and it's past breakfast time...there's always the champagne bar at St.Pancras to set you off on the right foot! ;-)
Having arrived in Paris our first stop was a dinner at A la Biche au Bois which is a traditional French restaurant. It's a little unassuming but perhaps these are the best kinds of restaurant. It came highly recommended online and served a number of French classics.
I opted for the special of the day, Pheasant and my companions had the house special...Coq au Vin. To finish it was Creme Caramel. It was certainly a good meal and A la Biche au Bois fitted the recommendation earlier from a French local who suggested that to pick a good restaurant, it shouldn't have an English menu, it should be full of locals and you shouldn't arrive before around 8.30pm!
The next morning we woke up early and walked around an hour and fifteen minutes to work up an appetite for our next gastronomic experience...a French cookery class in a Parisien appartment. I was a little unsure whether this would just be a bit touristy and underwhelming as we booked it on trip website Viator but in fact it was a most amazing experience.
We really were cooking in someone's home and our host Marthe and her partner had run a French restaurant for the previous 25 years. There were only 4 of us on the course. We begun by making a rather unusual starter of avocado and kiwi salad with goats cheese and sun dried tomatoes. The dressing was just lemon juice and honey. I really didn't think I'd like this but it tasted soooo good!
The main was a duck breast with a shallot, cider vinegar and honey sauce. We also produced glazed carrots to go with the duck.
For dessert we made an Apple Flognarde which is a traditional Limousin dessert and is similar to a Clafoutis. This was really delicious as it also contained dried plums and the finished dessert was a little flan like.
Just before we sat down to eat Marthe took us to her local bakery which was literally just around the corner about 30 seconds away. There were even views of the Eiffel Tower to be had! And how I wish my local bakery was like this one....Des Gateaux et Du Pain. We picked up some fresh bread and then returned to enjoy the fruits of our labour.
To wash down the meal we tried two different wines... my favourite was the Minervois wine from the Languedoc region of France. I would certainly recommend a bottle or two of this.

Another company which we investigated for cookery courses in Paris was La Cuisine Paris who offer a range of courses including making French pastries. They appear to be well recommended and I'd definitely give them a go next time I'm in Paris.
Following our delicious lunch we thought we ought to try and squeeze in at least a little culture so we headed to the Musee D'Orsay ...and what did we find that but yet more food! Behind one of the clocks of the Musee D'Orsay is a cafe which is on the fifth floor. It's rather stylish and the speciality seemed to be foot long eclairs which most people seemed to be eating, so it would have been rude not to join in! I tried the pistachio one and although it was nice it didn't blow me away...although I'd go back just for the location. You could even see the Sacre Coeur through the glass in the clock.
On our way to the Musee D'Orsay we went to La Patisserie des Reves as recommended by Eric Lanlard when I asked him what his favourite patiserie was in Paris at the recent Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Masterclass. Patisserie des Reves was also recommended by Frank Hiss, Head Chef of Laduree UK...but only after having visited Laduree of course! There is only one of each pastry on display here, each under it's own individual glass dome. The pastries were amazing although I was a little disappointed that there was nowhere to sit down and enjoy them but apparently there is at the other Patisserie des Reves bakery.
Finally, to round off a great day we took a little trip on a bateau mouche to see Paris by night!

The next day after all this eating we had to loosen our belts before heading out to yet another foodie destination....we had booked in for a Boulangerie tour. Again when we booked I wasn't quite sure how this would go but again it was such a great experience...more on this to follow in a future blog post. If you're doing Paris on a budget this is still affordable too at only £16.
We then headed up the Champs Elysees in search of Laduree. Now this is a little touristy as there was a queue of distinctly un-French tourists lined up out the door...I'm sure none of the locals come here for their baked goods. However, it is a quintessential foodie destination, so we joined the queue and waited patiently for our table. Once there we enjoyed a lovely cup of tea along with the following delights:
My Laduree pastry of choice...the Divin which is a cross between a macaroon and a meringue. Inside is a nougat creme mousseline, fresh raspberries and a raspberry compote/jelly. It's got a lovely bite to it and is something a little bit different.
After a late afternoon nap we went out for dinner at Kong restaurant. Kong has been around for a few years and Sarah Jessica Parker even visited in and episode of Sex in the City (as you can see on the video below). There is an uber-trendy bar where you can enjoy a few drinks or cocktails and then it's up to the glass domed restaurant which overlooks the Seine. At night the restaurant has a really great vibe and you can see Paris at night through the dome which surrounds you. If you want amazing food then this isn't the place for you...the food was nice and they even do Pierre Herme desserts but it's really the buzzy amibience which is the draw.
Whilst at Kong our waitress recommended L'Arc restaurant and nightclub which overlooks L'Arc de Triomphe. We didn't visit but apparently it's a draw for celebs if that's your thing. However, the online reviews of the food didn't look too favourable.
On our final day before heading back to catch the Eurostar we decided to visit a few patisseries in amongst some shopping in order to stock up on some final goodies.
Our first stop was Stohrer which is the oldest pastry shop in Paris and has been open since 1730. It was certainly impressive and came complete with chandeliers!
We also took the time to visit Dehillerin which was recommended by Marthe our French cookery teacher...it really is a quite incredible kitchen paraphenalia shop. It's enormous...and you might imagine that there would be one or two people in there but it was in fact elbow to elbow! You can purchase everything under the sun...there was even a cooking pan/saucepan that I could have quite happily fitted into...although I didn't try! ;-) Worth a visit and it seems that many professional chefs often visit too.
Finally, we visited the Galeries Lafayette foodhall...not a patch on the Harrods foodhall but still worth a visit. I managed to buy a bottle of the Minervois wine we had for lunch at Marthe's and also some Pierre Herme macaroons.
Then last but not least it was off to Le Marche au Enfants Rouges which has a range of food stalls and we picked up some cheese from the Fromagerie just by the entrance.
You can also enjoy a meal in the market with a number of market restaurants offering Bento boxes, Italian and even Jamacian amongst others. It can be a little crowded but certainly a pleasant experience which provides a change from your usual restaurant.
So I probably came home about half a stone heavier but I really enjoyed this gastronomic experience. C'etait magnifique! My favourite thing... it has to be the quintessential Parisien cooking class...really a thing to remember!
So what did we do on the train home....eat? After all that...we slept! As per usual this has turned into a very long culinary ramble but if you are a planning a trip to Paris I hope it has given you some ideas of great gastronomic places to visit. Bon Appetit!


  1. Great post Laura! Would love to try some of these places. I really want to go to Dehillerin - Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) also talks about it as one of her favourite shops and I'm a complete sucker for a great kitchenware shop! The pastries look amazing, too. ;)

  2. What an amazing trip you had! It all sounds completely perfect and I'm green with envy at all the gorgeous eating places you visited - lucky you! Glad you had a lovely time.

  3. Paris!!!!!!!! A city I would love to visit!

  4. Everything looks fab. I am off to Paris next year and so these recommendations will come in really useful.


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