In Paris, food is as much a part of the urban character as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre.
The romance of Paris is best reflected between June and August, when summer caresses the senses with the glow of a bright orange sunset or the warmth of a light summer breeze.
On one corner, the air may be filled with the sweet fragrance of a flower garden. Turn the corner and a ritzy night club magically infuses the air with a dusky perfume. Continue on and you’ll find the tempting aromas emanating from a French café or bistro, where you’re drawn to the wafting scent of rich, dark coffee and fresh baked breads and pastries – all magnificent Paris treats to delight.
Paris after all, is a city filled with temptation, but here it’s the food (and perhaps the champagne) that makes life all the more delightful.
The Paris café scene
In just the last decade, coffee culture has exploded in Paris. While Parisians have for decades enjoyed their daily cup of java, they have only recently embraced the drink as they would a fine wine.
Paris revolves around the café scene, and once you have that perfect cup of coffee, you can enjoy the magical French atmosphere of the classic French coffee house. Or take a seat outside on one of the familiar wicker style chairs found at every Paris sidewalk café, and simply watch the world go by.
For lunch try the French specialty, croque-monsieur, an open-faced, pan fried ham and cheese topped with a rich Béchamel sauce. There is usually a small fee associated with table service, both indoor and outside.
All of Paris is a breadbasket
Nothing personifies the French way of life more than the boulangerie or patisserie. Today, the lines are blurred as to what is found in a boulangerie and patisserie, but generally, the former makes and serves baguettes, croissants and other breads, while the latter, the patisserie, makes custard filled pastries and sweet rolls.
Adding to the mix, the artisanal boulangerie is a place where bread is baked fresh on the premises. Most establishments offer freshly made sandwiches that are perfect for take-away or an impromptu picnic in the park or on a river side bench. A Parisian favourite is the jambon-beurre, a ham and baguette sandwich with all of the fixings.
Savour fine French delicacies
Paris is more than bakeries and cafes. It’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world, where the fine dishes that make up French cuisine can be savoured.
Whether it’s haute cuisine in a Michelin Star restaurant or a casual dinner at a trendy bistro, you’ll find plenty of mouth-watering dishes to enjoy. Try a simple duck confit with crispy, golden skin and potatoes sautéed in duck fat, or a scallop mousse with mushrooms.
The menu selections are as diverse as the restaurants themselves. One thing is certain, as the breadbasket of Europe, France supplies Parisian restaurants with the freshest of ingredients. Whether its veggies and herbs, flavourful truffles, or fresh seafood, this is a country that offers quality dining.
Walk around Paris and you’ll find independent sellers making made-to-order crêpes from their stands. Morning, noon or night, this popular street food is the perfect snack after hours spent exploring the sights of Paris.
For a real Paris experience, stick with the traditional butter and sugar, or Nutella filled crêpe. The cost ranges between €3 and €6 for street vendor crêpes, while savoury selections at a café or restaurant can cost you up to €10, or even €15.
Cheese and wine is just divine
What would a trip to Paris be without an occasional cheese plate and bottle of wine? Head to a fromagerie like L’Affineur Affiné in the 9th Arrondissement, not far from the base of Montmartre, where you can choose from over 120 varieties of cheese.
Select a two cheese platter, or share in the joy with a selection of 10 or 15 cheeses. Also serving lunch, this popular restaurant serves homemade soups, a scrumptious croque-monsieur and homemade cheesecake with raspberry sauce. Don’t forget the wine. At L’Affineur Affiné you can match your cheese with the finest French drop.
Parisian food not to be missed
A popular Parisian delicacy (snails), you’ll want to sample a plate of escargot in garlic and parsley butter sauce.
It may have originated in the Middle East, but this deep-fried chickpea ball has become one of the most popular snacks in Paris. In fact you’ll find some of the world’s best here.
You’d have to be in a trance not to notice the colourful rows of delicate macaron pastries in the window of every Parisian bakery, café or patisserie. Still, it’s said that the best can be found at Pierre Hermé in Saint Germain.
From salted caramel to passionfruit and lime-raspberry, this high-end pastry shop is an institution.
Wherever you are in Paris, you’ll bound to satisfy those hunger pains!