You know you’ve made a wise choice when a flavor burst of fresh black currant jam hits your tongue in the morning as you people watch traffic move in and out of a small bustling boulangerie. I like to be as close to the local culture as possible when I travel. As France is known for culinary delights, I like to think I’m known as a traveler who immerses myself in the local cuisine and food scenes. I also have a habit of wanting to eat a lot – but in a unique way. I want to taste “it all” but small quantities and bites of a lot of options. Original Food Tours Paris satisfied my every need.
It’s a tour for the senses: an edible Paris by mouth tour that’s a feast for sight, smell and touch though, of course, taste was first and foremost. We tasted fresh brioche, aged cheese and delightful rich coffee. And through it all we gained the knowledge of what helps makes Paris one of the culinary capitals of the world.
Secrets Sweet and Savory: What to Know Touring Paris by Mouth
The key to a good tour is a great tour guide. Without this you’ll be left wondering why you paid for expert guidance in the first place. We met Camille, our guide who is fluent in English and French, on the designated street and store number at 10:00am. We said hellos (or bonjours!) and introduced ourselves.
I was anxious to get to know Camille’s background, which blew me away! She studied culinary arts and formally operated a food blog. (A woman after my own heart!) She planned various events surrounding Parisian cuisine and chefs and, in this fashion, was able to become familiar with many reputable industry professionals. I was instantly confident that she was going to educate us in this edible Paris by mouth tour and also be able to answer any questions we had.
She expertly ordered us breakfast of an assortment of pastries at the shop we started our tour, run by an award-winning pastry chef. We tasted a croissant laden with buttery orange rind zest and the two-toned brioche swirl seen below with black currant jam. As our tastebuds virtually smiled Camille educated us on two important things: 1) what constitutes a “boulangerie” in Paris and, 2) how to spot award-winning pastry shops from the sidewalk without ever having to go in. (I could tell you, but you’ll have to take the tour to find out!)
Outdoor Food Market
We merrily walked a few blocks to the food market. They had both outdoor and indoor stalls and Camille pointed out some specialities as we walked to our next destination. The thing I loved about the tour was it was immersing us in local life. It wasn’t a tour for tourists – it was as if we were being taken on a journey preparing us for life in Paris, not vacation in Paris. It’s nice to eat out day after day at fabulous restaurants but, as is the case anywhere, locals don’t live like that. They go out to eat sometimes but not all the time. They cook at home, entertain friends at their houses or apartments, and certainly shop at markets for ingredients.
I could envision myself as a customer in the market and stopping at the local coffee bean shop she took us to, to get my daily java fill. They roast their own beans, on property, and the machine wasn’t the only cool thing to see and sip an espresso next time. It was also the camaraderie and banter between customers and store workers that was heart-warming to be a part of.
**We learned there are less than ten places in Paris that roast their own beans. It was truly extraordinary to be taken to one of them.**
Paris is famous for some of the best foie gras and pates in the world. (Goose liver and the like.) We stopped by a lovely L’epicier shop whose shelves were filled with beautiful jars organized by regional speciality, whether salt, sugars, spices or pates. It was incredible to learn that some of what makes regions in France so unique are what food exports they offer. (A lot of shops in Paris are centered around a specialty of some sort.)
Furthermore, France honors certified regional products that cannot, by law, be produced in other regions. We sat at a table in the back of the shop as Camille explained a bit more about this, and how to identify the official symbol showcasing certification, as we tasted delicious snacks provided by the friendly store owner.
Area History through Old Shops and Photographs
The history of the Marche D’Aligre area we were in is rich and long, as is the background of a lot of the city’s food spots whether restaurants or markets. Camille was certain to provide historical context about the area as we walked within its blocks.
We stopped at a unique specialty shop unlike any I’ve ever seen: a tiny, quaint store where you could purchase all sorts of specialty flours and beans by the kilo. The store also had historic photos of the area on display where we could see how the area really withstood the test of time. It was a visual bridging of the gap between decades ago and today.
A Paris Food Tour is Incomplete without Sugar
What food tour is complete without a true, pure sugary sweet? We stopped for one of these mounds of sugary goodness! I was happy we did because I’ve seen them around Paris wondering what they are. They’re actually very delicate and airy like a soft meringue. It was a nice sweet to break up the savory delights were were indulging in.
Trader Joe’s, in Paris?!
I was in Colmar for a few days before I traveled to Paris. Colmar is in the Alsace region of France, just next to Germany. There’s a lot of German influence on food in the region because of it. I felt a kind of recent familiarity when we walked into our next destination, focused on Alsace foods.
A warm Flammekeuche “pizza” was awaiting our arrival. This thin dough is topped with a brushing of a light cream and baked onions and bacon. It seems like it would be heavy but it is surprisingly light.
We learned that Trader Joe’s, the well known small American grocery store chain and personal favorite food shop, licensed the recipe for this from a man in the Alsace region and you can buy a version of the regional delight in America. Woohoo!
The area’s really interesting because there are three distinct areas to explore:
- The temporary street stands in front of the indoor market area. These stands consist of home-grade quality ingredients including many fruits and vegetables. These are more so for your everyday kitchen refrigetor and recipes, not necessarily restaurant grade.
- The permanent small shops around the perimeter of the street stands. These are not temporary (in other words, then aren’t broken down and packed into a car at the end of the day) and it’s where we visited the coffee shop and L’epicier, for instance.
- The indoor market. This is the market that has higher quality ingredients and people working at the stalls whose families have been in the industry for generations.
This was our next stop. I loved that we had a few minutes of free time to walk around on our own and explore the market as Camille waited in line for cheese for us. There’s so much to take in and photograph there! From a flower stall, to cheese counter, meats and more it’s a lot to take in. I learned there’s a poultry counter separate from the beef counter, something I either never noticed or experienced before. Camille was able to share interesting information about all the vendors there, which really added to our experience.
We finished the tour up with two delectable stops: at a local bottle shop where the beer abounds and at a wine store with 45 different wines to choose from.
The beer shop provided local brews for us to try to the different cheeses Camille carefully selected from the indoor market. She expertly sliced up the baguette she purchased that morning at the boulangerie for us to enjoy with the varieties of cheese. She answered questions we had, like “How and when can you tell if the cheese rind is edible or not?” and explained a bit about “good to know” cheese info I never knew.
Our last stop on our wonderful edible Paris by mouth tour with Camille of Original Food Tours was at a very traditional wine bar, packed with locals! We toasted to a great morning with our Loire Valley wine as we neared the 1:00pm hour.
- How long is the tour?
- The March D’Aligre tour is approximately three hours, from 10:00am to 1:00pm.
- What do we need to bring?
- Bring some money in case you want to buy anything on the tour and wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be on your feet for most of the tour and walking quite a bit. Camille brought water, however, so a drink is provided for you.
- What market do we see, again?
- You’ll be visiting various shops in the area in and around Marche D’Aligre.
- How much does the tour cost?
- The tour is currently 65 Euros per person. Considering the expert guide and plenty of food you get to try it’s a steal. Don’t forget to bring extra cash to tip your guide!
- Is the tour good for vegetarians?
- There were only two stops we ate meat: the gourmet L’epicier and the wine store. While a replacement for meat may be difficult to find at the L’epicier it wasn’t really the focus of that stop (the education of the “regional specialties” was). It’s certainly simple to avoid meat at the wine shop too – I am certain she’d be happy to ask for the pickles and meat to be provided on separate plates. And, as we all know, wine’s already vegetarian friendly! (I do think it would be difficult to take the tour if you are vegan, however, as eggs are in brioche bread, butter in croissants and cheese was a highlight of the tour too.)
- Is this tour appropriate for children?
- I am inclined to say no, however if your “child” is age 16 or up – I say yes! Be okay with them being in Europe and having tastes of beer and wine as part of the cultural experience if they’d like to try it. As they say, “When in Rome…” (Do as the Romans do!) However, if your child is perhaps younger and it’s harder to hold his or her attention with historic information and education on ingredients that fascinates adults, it is unlikely it will be a great fit for them.
Please note: we thank Original Food Tours for generously hosting us. All the opinions in the post are ours and we bring you genuine content with real facts, photos and thoughts. Always.
Interested in more European adventures? Also check out:
- Eat Your Way Through Seville
- 8 Reasons Why January is the Best Time to Visit Norway
- Amazing Day Trip from Lisbon to Tomar Portugal
Do you love Paris foods? Comment below and let us know your favorite!