80,000 rooms, 14,000 restaurants, 84 of them with Michelin Star status – Paris is a delicious place to take a gourmet break, a wine and dine wonderland…
If you’re a lover of French cuisine, and let’s face it, most of us are, then Paris is the perfect city to indulge yourself. From traditional brasseries to haute cuisine and everything in between, Paris has something to please everyone.
Traditional Cuisine and wonderful wine bars
A great place to go for a traditional French lunch is the restaurant Bistrotters in the 14th district(9 Rue Decrès). It is a classic 19th century French bistro with a great reputation which it certainly lives up to.
A typical lunch, which definitely requires a walk afterwards is a big slab of foie gras washed down with a glass of Gewürztraminer followed by melt-in-the-mouth belly pork and a dessert of classic “Pain Perdu”, a chunk of bread cooked in butter with chocolate and served with a delectable vanilla ice cream.
Paris is a great city to get lost in and explore on foot but if you fancy taking it easy then you could traverse the streets in a vintage Citroen 2CV (parisauthentic.com). Actually, it’s not the best of rides on a full tummy, go before lunch if you can. With a knowledgeable Parisian driver and clear plastic roof you will see all the main sights, it is well worth seeking out.
Much of Paris is built from local chalky stone that was quarried from beneath the city and left underground caverns such as at the Chemin des Vignes (7 rue Pasquier). At 300 years old it was once used as a mushroom cellar and has been the home to the Legrand family’s wine business for several generations. Wine is sold here to individuals and businesses or stored for future consumption.
Of course you don’t visit a wine cellar without tasting and I managed to try four different wines. Starting with champagne and ending with sweet Sauternes, each glass was accompanied by a different cheese with chocolate mousse at the end.
If you’re in the mood for a cool beer, there’s a small artisan brewery in the heart of the city called bapbap.paris (79 Rue Saint-Maur) that does light lunches and a terrific range of beers.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s most recognisable structures. No matter how many times you see it, it never fails to take your breath away especially at night when it is bathed in golden floodlight and the white strobe lights flash rhythmically, turning it into a giant sparkler, which it does on the hour.
The Eiffel Tower is overlooked by the art deco styled Palais de Challiot in which resides the legendary Cafe de L’Homme (17 Place du Trocadéro) – where the best tables have the fantastic sight of the floodlit tower in front of them.
The menu is fabulous but I can highly recommend the beautifully light tuna carpaccio, a delicate slice of sea bass and a luscious chocolate bombe. Superb quality wines will accompany the meal. One of the owners of the restaurant is the elegant Coco Eiffel, great granddaughter of the legendary Gustave Eiffel, creator of France’s most iconic symbol. Sitting here in this place with a glass of Champagne is a memorably exquisite experience.
Food Tour of Paris
Delicate shortbread cakes in the Patisserie Bontemps, cheese in Fromagerie Jouannauly, wine, salami and ham in the market and eight shops later choux pastry in the choux shop. For a sense of where savvy locals go to buy the best produce, take a foodie tour of Paris, there’s plenty of choice!
Alain Ducasse is one of the great names in French cooking and his restaurant at the Plaza Athenée is quite extraordinary. The hotel itself is amazing, from the Dior spa on the lower ground floor to the very best suites on the 8th with their un-rivalled views of the Eiffel Tower – including one from the bath through a two way window. One night’s stay in these top rooms is three times the price of my first house but it really is the type of place we should all try to stay in once in our lives for that special occasion or anniversary, and besides, it was much more affordable on the sixth floor.
One of the hotel’s gems tucked away discretely is the restaurant Alain Ducasse. Here he has developed a new menu based on much healthier foods and here, gone are meat and poultry, the menu is mostly confined to fish, shellfish, vegetables and grain.
What Ducasse does today the others do tomorrow.
In its simplistic form after two or three tiny amuse bouche appetizers, the meal was caviar, bass, lobster and chocolate pudding with some exceptional wines. However to do full justice it would require a special supplement, it was quite simply magnifique. (Read our full review of Alain Ducasse, Plaza Athenée)
Rungis: Biggest fresh food & flowers market in the world
This is not just any market but the largest fresh food and flower market in the world.
The figures are mind blowing:
The market is larger than Monaco.
There are 12000 employees.
It has a turnover of £8 billion.
Each pavilion is the size of a big supermarket
You have to be up early for a tour here – it starts at around 05.30 and after you’ve been left open mouthed at the sheer size and diversity of gorgeous produce, you’ll end with a huge breakfast including carafes of red and white wine. For those who work here, it is of course lunchtime. Though Rungis market is not open to the general public, (it’s strictly wholesale), tours are available via rungisinternational.com and utterly fascinating.
More on Paris
Discover the heritage of Paris – 5 great historic sites where Paris has a foot in the past…
Amazing Paris at night video: If you’ve never seen Paris at night – this short video shows the city as it really is – simply sublime.
Rue Mouffetard – the oldest street in Paris and oh so pretty…
6 Great family days out in Paris – top trips for all the family