48-Hours in Paris: The Ultimate Foodie GuideBy Kate Young
Paris travel guide: the foodie way. With trips over the Channel taking little more than a couple of hours, there’s no better city than Paris for a weekend mini-break. Perfect for a foodie holiday with a friend, partner or on your own, you’ll be spoilt for restaurants, bars, courses, markets and last-minute gift buying opportunities. Here’s 5 ways to do a foodie trip in style:
#1 Sample the Local Cuisine
If you’re anything like us, a fear of menu envy will grip you at each new restaurant, and the thought of committing to only one dish will be too much to bear. Head instead for the small plates at Au Passage – we can recommend the salt cod and chicory, and the fried green tomatoes with saffron mayonnaise – or for the five course brunch at Chez Casimir, an extensive array of salads and charcuterie, mussels, omelette, boeuf bourguignon and a dessert buffet (we may have gone back for seconds on this one).
Alternatively, embrace the simplicity of sticking with the house dish. Take a stroll up to Montmartre and head to Creperie Broceliande for crisp, generously filled buckwheat crepes – the blood sausage and apple was a winner, as was the dark chocolate and crystallised orange (yes, we went for the two course option). Or order a couple of dozen oysters at Le Baron Rouge – perfect with a few bottles of their best white. We got through three dozen (and three bottles) before finally admitting defeat. Score yourself a table by arriving in the late afternoon – by six thirty, the bar was heaving – and settle in for the night.
#2 Foodie Christmas Gifts
In search of Christmas gifts to take home, we scoured cookware and ingredient shops in Les Halles, once the market centre of Paris. Keep your eyes peeled for the unique sets of tinned sardines, beautiful pots of French mustard and vast array of oils that line the crowded shelves of G. Detou. Wander around the corner to MORA and E. Dehillerin for essential pâtisserie equipment – whisks, dough scrapers, and roll-top tart tins – perfect for friends or family missing their weekly Great British Bake Off fix.
Finally, stop off for some handmade chocolates and a pink praline brioche at Pralus (the only chocolaterie in Paris to roast their own cocoa beans), and try really hard not to eat your purchases before getting them back home.
#3 Food Markets to Explore
When in London, we spend most of our weekends wandering the many food markets, and couldn’t think of a better way to spend a crisp blue day in Paris. Marché Bastille was our favourite – a perfect mix of fresh market produce and stalls offering lunch options. If you’re staying somewhere with access to a hob, pick up a handful or two of mussels, along with a shallot, a bunch of parsley, a baguette, some butter and a bottle of wine; you’ll have the makings of a perfect French supper. On a rainy day, stop in instead at Marché Couvert Saint Quentin; it’s much smaller, but with bar stools at every second stall, you can take a break from the rain while sampling the produce.
#4 Mastering the Art of French Croissants
We spent a blissful Saturday covered in flour and dough in the basement kitchens of La Cuisine Paris, learning how to make pastry. If you enjoy mornings spent munching croissants as much as we do, take our advice and schedule some time to learn the art yourself. Eric was on hand to impart his expert knowledge – guiding us through the ins and outs of croissant dough.
We worked an indecent amount of butter into yeasted dough, then shaped croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, pinwheels and baskets, as well as turning our offcuts into mini cinnamon buns. We watched our dough rise and crisp in the oven, and then ate the (very successful) products dipped into our coffees, before taking a large bag of leftovers goodies out into the streets with us. This classic art now demystified, we’ll be whipping up a batch at home this weekend.
#5 Recreating French Pâtisserie Back Home
After taking in the stunning eclairs at L’Eclair de Genie, and the macarons at Pierre Herme, we returned home ready to pack in our day jobs for life as a pâtissier. If you find yourself in this position too, start working your way through Edd Kimber’s brilliant Patisserie Made Simpe – his madelines and tarts are not only beautiful but, just as importantly, accessible. Alternatively, give our twist on the classic Baked Alaska a whirl; filled with brandy ice-cream and individually portioned, they’re perfect for an intimate Christmas Day.
Words by Kate Young