No Paris trip is complete without sampling some of the best food the French capital has to offer. With its plethora of cafes, restaurants, bars and markets, where to eat and which wine to savor? Paris boasts of 70 Michelin-star restaurants and is home to the revolutionary bistronomy movement – food with flair cooked with quality, locally sourced ingredients at affordable prices. We took a food tour with the experts at Hidden Paris – who better to guide us than the expert guides who call Paris their home?
Tour review: Hidden Paris Gourmet Tour
Our friendly guide, Louis, has lived between the Louvre and Palais Royal for several years, and is extremely knowledgeable about the historical heart of Paris. Also, his love for gastronomy shines through the tour as he answers the endless questions we have about French food.
The Hidden Paris Gourmet tour is designed to showcase the best of Saint Germain des Prés – a foodie’s paradise. The legendary Saint Germain, in the chic 6th arrondissement, is equally popular with students and those with an eye on luxe with its upscale boutiques and luxury stores.
This is where Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Picasso and the intellectual mafia hung out. Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots are two atmospheric spots where you can savor the vibe even today.
At the St Germain market, Louis is at his animated best. We are surrounded by French cheese and wine, fresh food and a variety of international food. This is a foodie haven, and one you can’t miss on your Paris trip.
When faced with a bewildering variety at the Michel Sanders cheese shop, Louis explains that he gets a lot of questions about the lavish spread laid out in front of us. Which is the best cheese? Is the smelliest cheese the best? What’s the best pairing for different cheese?
Naturally, the French are proud of their fromages and each region has its own specialities. Here you can find cheese that has been aged for as long as two years. From crumbly to fruity, from the most famous to regional specialties, the spread is vast and welcoming.
Louis helps us select cheese we want according to our taste. We aren’t brave enough to go for the really smelly variety. When we ask if cheese travels well on the Eurostar, the merchant references the age-old rivalry with England as he jokes, “Oh you’re going to London? Take the smelliest cheese!”
Having established a great relationship with the vendors, Louis helps us sample a few tasty treats (though sampling is not a part of the tour). We end up at the wine merchant who travels around France for the best wine (talk about a great job!) The French take great pride in the fact that their wine is the best, and why not – after all, the strictest quality control is in place here.
It’s no surprise that Bordeaux is the largest wine-producing region in France with its family-run estates and highly-prized vineyards. We learn that you could pick up a good bottle of Rhone wine for a reasonable price – and it tends to be strong! Burgundy wines feature only Pinot Noir varieties. Even the bottle shapes are different for different wines. Louis also has a lot of handy tips on how to pick a good, affordable wine at the supermarket.
We end the tour at a bakery where we learn to ask for the traditional baguette the right way. It’s incredibly hard to take your eyes off the mouth-watering desserts. How do the French stay slim with such incredible food on offer?
Our tour ends with Louis pointing to out to places worth trying for lunch (no chains, thank you very much). Overall, it was a wonderful experience as the focus was on the practical rather than the pretentious. The group size was intimate and there was a real passion and love for an authentic Paris food and drink experience on display here. We would highly recommend the Hidden Paris gourmet tour for your Paris trip.
To learn more, visit the Hidden Paris Gourmet tour page.