As someone who loves her food and wine, I searched for a way to become better acquainted with the food of Paris specifically in the arrondisements near where I was staying on the right bank. So when I discovered Paris by Mouth and their list of food and wine tours, I had an inkling I had just found exactly what I was looking for.
A few months prior to embarking on my trip, I reserved a spot in the Taste of Marais food tour (something I would highly suggest as the groups are small and the spots go quickly). However, there are tours for a variety of different locations throughout the city as well as tours focusing specifically on chocolate, cheese, pastries and wine. So pick your pleasure and locale.
First, a bit about the founder Meg Zimbeck. Having contributed to “Food & Wine, SAVEUR, the Wall Street Journal, AFAR, Gridskipper, the BBC’s Olive magazine, and the seat-pocket magazines of United, Virgin Trains, and Gulf Air. She also hosted a program on Paris Street Eats for the Travel Channel (USA). Also, Meg’s food photography has been featured in T Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine,and Libération.” Needless to say, she knows her way around food and Paris, and has created a tour guide business that is a gem for foreigners and foodies who want to explore the culinary pleasures of Paris.
Now, let me show you where the Taste of Marais tour took me. If only I could share the food along with the images. Wouldn’t that be parfait?
Our small group consisted of three couples from Australia and New Zealand along with myself, and the tour guide was a recent graduate from Le Cordon Bleu’s wine program, named Stephanie. Knowledgeable and approachable, she was at complete ease leading us around the Marais talking about food and the history of the city which contributed to the group being able to relax and simply enjoy the scrumptious food in a beautiful Marais.
The tour met and began at Poilâne bakery (38 rue Debelleyme, 75003) where we not only tasted the famed sourdough rounds (learn more about the bakery here), but also were treated to a pastry of our choice (the pain aux chocolat was intoxicatingly delicious – a must try) and a “punishment cookie” to top off the commencement of the tour.
With our palettes whetted and knowing we were just getting started, we stopped by a non-descript patisserie in the 3rd arrondisement to taste a top quality baguette. Earning top baguette of Paris in 2008, the 59 RdS bakery (named after its street address, 59 rue de Saintonge), the baker also has another patisserie nearby 134 RdT located at 134 rue de Turenne.
Next, it was off to a charcuterie – Ramella Charcuterie at 38 rue de Bretagne which is located on one of the lovely bustling streets in the Marais across the street from Marché des Enfants Rouges where Stephanie selected a few meats for us to try.
And then to one of my favorite destinations in Paris – a fromagerie. The Jouannault cheese shop located at 39 rue de Bretagne directly across the street from the above charcuterie served up some in-house cheeses that intensified my appreciation for French cheese. Specifically, the 30 month aged Comte (the focus of the 3rd image below) that Stephanie invited us to try was exquisite with a variety of textures and subtle, yet full flavor.
Then we stepped inside the Marché des Enfants Rouges which was full of food vendors, freshly cut flowers, as well as brick and mortar shops such as the Premiere Pression Provence (located at 35 rue Charlot) which sells endless options of olive oils. Selling only products from Provence, the charming shop owner allowed us to taste many of the oils and taught us a bit about which oils to use for particular purposes. I couldn’t help picking up olive oil infused with basil as well as olive oil infused with black truffle.
Tucked away in a small public garden under a fig tree, we took a brief respite for a lunchtime snack as we dined on the bread, meats and cheese we had gathered so far along our journey.
With lunch behind us, it was now time for dessert. And the expertise and artistry of Jacques Genin at his chocolate shop located at 133 rue de Turenne was a haven for chocolate lovers.
Last but not least, Pain de Sucre pastry shop at 14 rue Rambuteau was a superb last taste of the Marais as we were offered a macaron of our choice.
For three hours, to tour a small, intimate part of Paris with an expert of the food and the area was a wonderful way to get a feel of my temporary home away from home. Upon paying for your spot in the tour, all the food you enjoy is free (oh, the tour guide speaks English) and the experience is priceless.
I highly recommend taking a few hours out of your trip to Paris to dive a little deeper into the food and wine that is hard to find anywhere else.