25 Hours in Paris

What a whirlwind of a weekend this as been. I Arrived in Paris on Friday and went to the Arc de Triomphe and had dinner in Momate before crashing in the hotel. I Woke up and was out of the hotel before 8. My food tour didn’t start till 11 so I just wandered down towards the gardens looking for a traditional French outdoor cafe where I could get a breakfast.

Found one that was just what I was looking for, reasonably quiet, shaded and of course looked like you would imagine a Parisian cafe should. I had coffee, orange juice, ham and eggs, a croissant, baguette and strawberry jam. After all this glorious food, I wandered down to the gardens and then and did the food tour.

After the tour I wandered up to the crypt under Notre Dame, spent some time in there, before checking out the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, Then over to the E.Dehillerin kitchen supply store to check out all the amazing kitchen and cooking stuff they have. These these four things should be on your to-do list if visiting paris. See some history, have some amazing food, grab some great books from a Paris landmark and check out the amazing kitchen products.

This time of the afternoon it was really really warming up (around the 30c mark). I Then headed over to the Forum des Halles shopping area where there is a Lego store (not as good as London). Wasn’t really hungry after all the food but was super thirsty. Waked past a McDonalds and grabbed a cold coke and of course “a royal with cheese”, since I’m such a fan of the Pulp Fiction movie. Wandered around a few more shops before heading to the Eurostar terminal at Gare Du Nord. Unfortunately the waiting area at Paris is not as large or as good as the one in London, and it was crowded and hot.  Once on the train, 2.5 hrs later I was back in London, time for a quick cup of tea, some Vegemite toast and off to bed before my trip to Manchester on Sunday.

Secret Latin Quarter Food Tour

My main reason for visiting Paris this year whilst I was in London was to ride on the EuroStar again and go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe as I missed out on doing that last year. Doing the AdT wouldn’t take all day, so I had plenty of spare time to do something else, and searching trip advisor, one of the highly recommended things to do was a food tour. I thought about it, forgot about it, and by the time I remembered to book it (the week before I left Australia) they were all booked out. You can find their website here.

The night before I left for Paris, I doubled checked the site again, and unfortunately two of the tours were still booked out, but there was a new tour available that did the Latin Quarter instead. I quickly booked it.

The meeting point was at the Luxembourg RER entrance near the Jardin du Luxembourg. I was an hour early and it was a cracking day weather wise so I just wandered the gardens for a while and soaked up the morning sun and the Parisian atmosphere.

At 11am Emmanuel was there at the meeting point with his orange umbrella, just as the booking site said he would be. After introductions, we were given a beautiful crossiant freshly baked from a boulangerie. The first thing explained to us was the importance of the boulangerie to French people and some of the rules around what can be called a boulangerie and what can’t.

After a few minutes we headed off. First call was a fromagerie where we sampled some cheeses, Emmanuel purchased some, explained many types of cheeses and formal French processes around their classification, and how many cheeses were preserved before the invention of refrigeration. After this stop it was off to a meat store where we sampled even more cheeses, some drinks, cured meats and foie gras. Everything was phenomenally delicious and the vendors and Emmanuel were more than happy to answer any questions.

The third stop was a pastry store where we had the most delicate and delicious macaroons I’d ever tasted. At the fourth stop the “secret” food was collected. I won’t spoil it for you, if you want to know what we were offered, you will need to do the tour.

The fifth stop was a wine store where we went down into the basement to sit around a small table, eat all the foods collected and discuss the life, universe and everything with Emmanuel. Great opportunity to learn about how quality food, how it’s cooked and served is so central to French culture, and get a French perspective on anything else you want to discuss. Seeing all the sites in Paris is fantastic but it’s equally great to meet a local who is passionate about food and French culture and talk about it. In many respects this part of the tour is even better than the food itself.

I would happily recommend this tour to anyone who has a passing interest in French food and culture and has a few hours spare time.