Personalized gourmet itineraries
Suppose chocolate is your passion. Drawing on my fourteen years' experience as a Paris restaurant critic and food expert, I will not only point you to the best chocolatiers in town, but will tell you which creations (Jacques Genin's fresh mint ganache, for instance) you must not miss. Or say you can't get enough of cheese. I'll take you by the hand—virtually, since you enjoy your independence while on holiday—and lead you into the cellars of the fromagers who supply the city's best restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, I have in-depth knowledge of Paris dining, having edited five editions of the Time Out Eating and Drinking in Paris guide and written about restaurants for the Paris Notes newsletter for the past ten years. Traditional bistros, buzzy brasseries, luxe de luxe restaurants, and the latest hot spots—I know them all and will find the ones that are just right for you.
Unlike a guidebook, which is written several months before it’s published, an Edible Paris itinerary will always be up-to-date when you buy it.
All you need to do is send me an e-mail telling me about yourself—your food likes and dislikes (if any), the kinds of restaurants where you feel at home, any obsessions (such as kitchen shops, mustard, apple tarts, steak tartare, onion soup, pain au chocolat, you name it), and specific places you have heard of and would like to try. If you prefer, I will send you a questionnaire to help define your food personality. I will then write back asking for any more information I might need to custom-design your food itinerary for one or more days. I do not use set itineraries—yours will be specially designed for you and no-one else—and I visit every shop, market, restaurant and café that I recommend. You will receive an itinerary along with a map locating the shops and restaurants, and you will be free to discover all the incredible food Paris has to offer on your own.
This itinerary dates from May 2006. Things change quickly in Paris and I am always keeping an eye out for new food shops to include. I call the shops at least once a month to double-check the opening hours.
This is our first trip to Paris and we are so excited about seeing some of the popular, large “tourist-y” sites, but we also enjoy discovering small, quaint, friendly, off-the-beaten-path venues. I see our “Edible Paris day” as being low-key and casual, yet also experiencing restaurants and visiting shops that insiders know and respect. I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but it appears our Edible Paris day will be on Friday, May 5th.
Mike and I love cheeses, wine tasting, sight-seeing, and shopping. I have a passion for cooking and want to know the secrets of making French sauces – everything from béarnaise to velouté – but I’m happy to experience the authentic “real deal”! We love all foods, really – but French-Asian cuisine is probably our favorite. We are not chocaholics – but I must say – we are intrigued with the cheese-filled chocolates that you mention on your website.
We would like our Edible Paris Day to include a couple of neighborhoods in the Left Bank, but certainly don’t mind traveling by taxi to one or two other neighborhoods to fit everything in. By the way, we are staying at the Hotel De Vendôme.
I think the ideal day would begin with a short walk to a nearby outdoor café, waking up over a baguette or croissant with fresh fruit, and coffee.
From there, Mike and I thought we could do a little shopping after breakfast. We cannot miss Jean-Paul Hevin’s cheese-filled chocolates and definitely a visit to a kitchenware shop.
Shopping will probably make us hungry, so if we were to stroll through a market place on the way to lunch, that would be a good thing! Lunch will be the main meal of the day. To give you an idea of what we’re thinking about – on weekends here at home, Mike and I look forward to having a glass of wine and sharing a variety of small plates/tapas or appetizers that really highlight the restaurant’s menu.
After lunch, perhaps an open air bus tour or boat ride on the Seine. We will probably want to go back to the hotel for a nap before dinner. Dinner would be a light meal, within walking distance of the hotel. This may be a bistro with an oyster bar or wine-and-cheese bar … something along those lines.
What do you think? Is this too much to fit in a day? If anything is unclear, I am happy to clarify.
Thank you again, Rosa … we are so looking forward to hearing from you!
Mike and Joy
Dear Mike and Joy,
The day you outlined sounded perfectly reasonable in terms of the amount you’d like to do, so I’ve stuck fairly closely to your suggestions. Your itinerary will start near your hotel and take you to the area around Les Halles before crossing the river to Saint-Germain and the Latin Quarter. I’ve planned for you to return to your hotel by boat using the Batobus, a cross between a Seine cruise and public transport. Except for the last leg of your itinerary, you can do all of it quite easily on foot, seeing some major sights along the way. The opening hours listed here are for Friday, May 5th, but most of the shops are open from Tuesday-Saturday.
The French don’t put a big emphasis on breakfast, usually contenting themselves with coffee and perhaps a croissant or tartine (baguette thickly slathered with butter). If you decide not to have breakfast at your hotel, I suggest you start the day at Le Pain Quotidien (18 place du Marché Saint-Honoré, 1st/01.42.96.31.70/Open 7am-6pm). Part of a small Belgian chain, this café serves somewhat more substantial breakfasts with delicious praline spreads and jams, several types of breads and pastries, yogurt and fresh-squeezed fruit juices. Prices are reasonable and the terrace looks onto a peaceful pedestrian square (the glass building houses furniture shops, in case you’re wondering!).
From here, walk along rue Saint-Honoré to visit a couple of food highlights, admiring the luxury clothing and jewelry shops along the way. In this street you’ll find one of four Paris branches of Jean-Paul Hévin (231 rue Saint-Honoré, 1st/01.43.54.09.85/Open 10am-7pm). This is the only one with its own tea room, but some people find the atmosphere a little cold, so it might be best to stick to the chocolates – including his famous cheese-filled creations, best enjoyed with a glass of red wine. Hévin prides himself on the fact that none of his chocolates sits on the shelf for more than three days – they keep for up to two weeks but should be savored at room temperature.
Now turn around and continue along rue Saint-Honoré until you reach the wonderful coffee shop Torréfacteur Verlet (256 rue St-Honoré, 1st/01.42.60.67.39/Open 9.30am-7pm). This is my favorite place in the city to inhale the aroma of freshly roasted coffee and forget that Starbucks is multiplying by the day – the owner seeks out the finest coffee beans from places such as Rwanda. Across the street, Astier de Villatte (173 rue Saint-Honoré, 1st/01.42.60.74.13/Open 10am-7.30am with a lunch closing that varies from day to day) sells beautiful white-glazed earthenware plates based on 18th and 19th century French and Italian designs and handmade in its Paris workshop.
This street becomes more down-to-earth as it approaches Les Halles, the site of the city’s wholesale market until this was moved to the Paris suburb of Rungis in the late 1960s. Julien (75 rue St-Honoré, 1st/01.42.36.24.83/Open 6.30am-8pm) has twice won the prize for the city’s best baguette, and there is nearly always a line. Now cross in front of the hideous Les Halles shopping center towards Saint-Eustache church. Near this church is a kitchen shop that draws professional and amateur cooks from all over the world. Dehillerin (18 rue Coquillière, 1st/01.42.36.53.13/Open 9am-6pm Tue-Sat) is a quirky, concrete-floored warehouse stocking everything from razor blades for slashing baguette dough to gargantuan stockpots. You might pick up a super-sharp carbon-steel knife, a silicone baking sheet or a plastic pastry scraper bearing Dehillerin’s name. Staff speak good English and can be quite helpful, though they are sometimes rushed – don’t miss the basement with its Le Creuset pots and giant restaurant saucepans. (If you decide to make any major purchases, they can ship.)
A couple of doors down from Dehillerin is the historic brasserie Au Pied de Cochon (6 rue Coquillière, 1st/01.40.13.77.00/Open 24hrs), which once served restorative French onion soup at all hours of the day and night to vendors at the Les Halles market and now serves the same soup, along with pig’s ears, trotters and tails, to late-night revellers (onion soup is said to combat the effects of too much alcohol).
Though Dehillerin is the best known, there are other kitchen shops to see in this area. Around the corner, Mora (13-15 rue Montmartre, 1st, 01.45.08.19.24/Open 9am-6.15pm) targets professional bakers and pastry chefs. This is where I bought all the tools I needed to bake a wedding cake for a friend, and staff were especially helpful. Also in this street is a wonderful luxury food shop, Foie Gras de Luxe (26 rue Montmartre, 1st/01.42.36.14.73/Open 6am-noon/1.30-5.30pm) – the place where chefs go to buy whole lobes of foie gras.
Nearby, A. Simon (48 and 52 rue Montmartre, 2nd/01.42.33.71.65/Open 9am-6.30pm) also has a professional selection of cooking supplies, though at slightly higher prices than Dehillerin. Pastry chefs buy their ingredients in bulk from Detou (58 rue Tiquetonne, 2nd/01.42.36.54.67/Open 8.30am-6.30pm), whose name appropriately means “everything.” This is the place to buy 3-kilo bags of Valrhona chocolate or a tub of pistachio paste.
To work up an appetite for lunch, stroll along the rue Montorgueil street market (8am-1.30pm, 4-7.30pm), one of the few remnants of the wholesale market. If you’re running ahead of time you could stop for a coffee at Sega Café (55 rue Montorgueil, 2nd/01.40.41.99.79), which is well-placed for people-watching. The street’s most famous shop is Stohrer (51 rue Montorgueil, 2nd/01.42.33.38.20/Open 7.30am-8.30pm), a pâtissier/traiteur founded in 1730. The baba au rhum, a boozy cake that is back in vogue in French restaurants, is said to have been invented by the pastry chef who founded this shop. There are also two very good cheese shops in this street and a popular fish shop, among other highlights.
At the end of the street market, take a left on rue Réaumur to walk to your lunch destination, Le Mesturet (77 rue de Richelieu, 2nd/01.42.97.40.68). Though it has been open under the current ownership for only about three years, this restaurant feels like a fantasy French bistro with its tile floors, wooden tables and chairs, and bric-a-brac decor. The focus is on southwest France with an emphasis on vegetables from small producers, so look for unusual vegetable terrines and salads alongside meatier dishes. This is an area with a lot of food-loving office workers (bankers and journalists mainly!), so it would be best to show up before 1pm or to reserve – please let me know if you’d like me to make the reservation.
After lunch I’m anticipating that you’ll be ready for a pleasant walk across the Palais-Royal gardens and through the Louvre’s courtyard to the Left Bank. When you see the Louvre’s pyramid, veer left into the Cour Carrée, then take the pedestrian bridge across the Seine. As you walk along rue de Seine, it becomes a market street (along with rue de Buci, which runs perpendicular to it). This street market has changed a great deal in recent years, becoming less of a market and more of a modern shopping street, but some of the new shops are worth seeing. Before heading into the thick of rue de Seine, take a detour to visit Huilerie Leblanc (6 rue Jacob, 6th/01.46.34.61.55/Open 11am-7pm), a fascinating shop dedicated mainly to nut oils from the family’s Burgundy estate. The family has been in the oil business since 1878!
The épicerie Da Rosa (62 rue de Seine, 6th/01.40.51.00.09/Open 10am-10pm) has a limited but fascinating selection of imported ingredients and spices by well-known chefs, as well as an impressive wine cellar — José Da Rosa was a consultant to top chefs before opening this shop. Recently he also opened a tapas-style restaurant on the premises with very good food. Nearby, Fromagerie 31 (64 rue de Seine, 6th/01.43.26.50.31/Open 10am-3pm/5-8pm) is a cheese shop that opened about two years ago, with a serious selection and its own sleek little bar à fromages (cheese bar).
Take a left on boulevard St-Germain to visit a new star on the Paris chocolate scene, Patrick Roger (108 boulevard St-Germain/01.43.29.38.42/Open 10.30am-7.30pm). This young chocolatier, who worked in the suburb of Sceaux before opening this branch in the heart of Paris, could best be described as a chocolate sculptor. His whimsical creations include realistic chocolate hens with a brushed-cocoa finish or tins of chocolate sardines. Ingredients are extremely important to him, too, so the chocolates taste as good as they look.
Continue along boulevard St-Germain, then turn left on rue Dante (just after rue St-Jacques) and walk towards Notre Dame cathedral. If you have time at this point, you could stop for a drink at the lovely Café Panis (21 quai Montebello, 5th/01.43.54.19.71), which should feel terribly touristy with its view of Notre Dame but somehow doesn’t. Cross in front of Notre Dame and continue all the way across the river (you will cross two bridges). Directly in front of you will be the Hôtel de Ville, the French city hall. Now walk down to the quai, at water level, to catch the Batobus (www.batobus.fr) a unique form of public transport that allows you to get around Paris with the freedom to disembark at various points. I suggest that you buy a two-day ticket for €13 (only €2 more than the one-day ticket), which would allow you to take the Batobus again the next day to the Eiffel Tower. There is a ticket stand next to each Batobus stop. Keep in mind that the last boat of the day leaves Hôtel de Ville at 6pm, so if you’re running very late you might need to take a taxi instead. If you take the Batobus, the closest stop to your hotel is Champs-Elysées (it will take about 20 minutes to get there by boat).
If you’re in the mood for a snack with a glass of wine in the evening, I think you would enjoy Le Rubis (10 rue du Marché Saint-Honoré, 1st/01.42.61.03.34), a bastion of French tradition in this increasingly glitzy neighborhood. This old-fashioned wine bar with its zinc bar and formica tables specializes in wines from Beaujolais, serving only charcuterie and cheese “tartines” (open-faced sandwiches, unlike the breakfast tartines) in the evenings and a few hearty hot dishes at lunch. Otherwise, if you’d like something more substantial, a very good modern bistro near your hotel is L’Ardoise (28 rue du Mont-Thabor, 1st/01.42.96.28.18). It’s not exactly undiscovered, so it would be best to reserve – or show up early, around 6.30-7pm (it’s unusual for a Paris bistro to serve dinner this early).
Alternatively, you might treat yourselves to oysters at the fish shop L’Ecume Saint-Honoré (6 rue du Marché Saint-Honoré, 1st/01.42.61.93.87/Tasting 11.30am-10pm), which has a few very basic tables inside the shop allowing customers to slurp some seafood.
I greatly value feedback so I would be happy to offer you 10 per cent off on any future services if you can take a few minutes to send me your comments after the trip, however brief.
I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris!
Consider offering an Edible Paris itinerary as a gift to food-loving friends or as a treat for yourself—something to make your trip to Paris especially memorable.
Price: 100 euros for a half day, 200 euros for one day, 350 euros for two days. Order it now!
Edible Paris has been recommended by the Time Out Paris city guide, The Times newspaper of London, The Daily Telegraph, Intermezzo magazine, BBC Good Food magazine, the MTV guides, the Luxe City Guides, Indagare and the Paris Notes newsletter.
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I thought I'd drop you a quick e-mail to thank you for your restaurant recommendation. The entire experience at Flora was excellent. Just as you said, it was like being entertained in someone's apartment. The service couldn't be faulted, and the food was superb. I'm having difficulty in deciding which of the eight courses I enjoyed the most! However, we both managed to polish everything off before we made our way (very slowly) back to the hotel! I wouldn't hesitate to use your service again, or to visit Flora on our next visit to Paris."
Alistair Auty, Great Britain