Welcome to part II of my 2016 visit to Paris. [You can see part I here.]
While Paris is the capital of France, the capital of fashion, capital of love, capital of sitting rattan chairs on the sidewalks of cafés and musing for hours… it’s actually not the capital of food. That title—at least in France—goes to Lyon, where gastronomy reigns queen. And we could debate all day which city actually holds that title over the whole globe. Copenhagen? Tokyo? New York? London? Chicago? San Francisco? Lima? Absolutely it depends on your definition and maybe what you’re looking for.
But capital of food or not, Paris still has great food and many places and dishes to choose from. Sure, Paris is just like any other major global city: there’s a spectrum of good and bad food, hole-in-the-walls and trendy restos, fast food and Michelin stars, etc. etc. One thing that is striking about Paris is that it is somewhat nameless where signature dishes are concerned. Put “French cuisine” aside for a second (steak frites, baguettes, croque-monsieur) and ask, what is Parisian cuisine? I can pinpoint Provence, Alsatian, Normandy for example, but l’Île de France? Paris? I come up blank. Paris is perhaps known for its pâtisserie (e.g., macarons, Paris-Brest) more than a singular dish. Or maybe it’s just the variety and quality.
One of my favorite things to eat in Paris is a jamon-buerre, which literally means ham-butter. It’s essentially a ham baguette with butter and cornichons and it’s the among the best take-away food in the world. So simple, so portable, so delicious! We ate some in Jardin du Luxembourg after a day of walking around the city.
When we weren’t walking the beautiful streets of Paris, we were likely sitting in a café, rosé or coffee at hand. If a jamon-buerre is my go-to fast food, a café is my go-to slow down time. Parisian cafés are set up in a genius way: looking to the street and your table companions at once to both people watch and chat. It provides hours of entertainment and relaxation and pleasant company. Plus you can sip on a glass of your choice of beverage, which is not terrible.
Among the other things we ate during our time in Paris were cheeses, crêpes, and some tartes from my favorite pâtisserie in all of Paris, Maison Laurent. Keith and I stayed across the street from Maison Laurent the first time we were in Paris many years ago. It’s probably not on any list of places you must visit in Paris out there on the internet, but 1) it is so good and 2) that’s the beauty of Paris that even relatively unknown pâtisseries can be so great. [Below the pictures are more recommendations for places to go in Paris.]
I don’t think I need to sell anyone on the idea of going to Paris. It can seem cliché, absolutely, but it’s one of the most visited, romanticized cities in the world for a reason: it’s awesome. I can’t wait to go back, hopefully very, very soon.
Keith and me outside Notre Dame
A few recommended places:
- Maison Laurent pâtisseries you need to have in Paris (Montmartre)
- West Country Girl great crêpes (Quartier Saint-Ambroise/11th)
- Triplettes cool bar, good burgers in hot spot (Belleville)
- Pain Vin Fromages fun place to get a good cheese plate in a cave (Le Marais/4th)
- La Bellevilloise check it out for cool shows and nightlife, beautiful venue (Belleville)
- Merci shop here for clothing and design
- Macarons at both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé (this probably goes without saying)
- Pâtisserie Gilles Marchal excellent madeleines (Clignancourt/Montmartre)
- E. Dehillerin, La Bovida, Mora, great kitchen supply stores (Les Halles)
- Ten Belles hip coffee bar right near Canal Saint-Martin (Porte Saint-Martin/10th)