Themed Tours in Paris
Take away the Eiffel Tower, and what is Paris but food? Diet-defying, butter-rich, goose-slaying food. If your goal while in town is to spoil yourself at one of the city's best restaurants, stock up on pâté, or learn to make your own, here is a guide to the best du jour.
Start: Métro to Sèvres Babylone.
This legendary bakery is famous for a reason. So brave the queues, fight your way through, and behold the buttery apple tarts, melt-in-your-mouth croissants and round, organic loaves, miches, made the same way since the shop opened over 70 years ago! The pastries deliver inches to your waist the second you see them, but no matter — this is fuel for your day.
Where: 8 rue du Cherche Midi, 6th.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 4548 4259
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7:15am-8:15pm.
Métro: Sèvres Babylone.
Website: Poliâne Website
Just a 5-minute walk from Poliâne, this chocolatier is a paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth. Test the limits of your willpower at the chocolate counter where row upon row of milk, dark and white chocolates, including some of the best ganaches (cream-filled chocolates) in Paris have caused even the most self-disciplined gourmand to crack. On a sunny day, opt for the delicious home-made ice-creams.
Where: 37 rue Assas, 6th.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 5363 1515
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am-8:30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-8pm. Closed two weeks in Aug.
Métro: Rennes or St-Placide.
Website: Christian Constant Website
From Christian Constant, it's about a 20-minute walk to this much photographed market, so you may wish to take the métro. As authentic French markets go, this is the most beautiful. Its multi-coloured wares are stacked on symmetrical stalls stretching down a steep, narrow street. Marketers compete for the most attractive stall, and you are the beneficiary of their work. Fresh baguettes, croissants, countless cheeses, sausage, fresh-roasted chicken, farm-fresh eggs… all are here in abundance. On a nice day, pick up the makings of a picnic lunch here, and then walk over to the Arènes de Lutèce (an old Roman amphitheatre converted into a public garden) (about a 10-15-min walk) and relax with a good book.
Time to spend: 45 min
Where: The southern end of rue Mouffetard, 5th.
Opening Hours: Open most weekday & Sat mornings.
Métro: Cardinal Lemoine or Censier Daubenton.
Stock up on the latest French kitchen equipment at this foodie favourite. This functional warehouse shop is the business when it comes to cooking. It has been supplying fabulous knives and whisks to great chefs for more than a century. The pots and pans may not be cheap, but a Dehillerin sauté pan is forever.
Where: 18 rue Coquilliére, 1st.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 4236 5313
Opening Hours: Mon 9am-12:30pm & 2pm-6pm; Tue-Sat 9am-6pm.
Métro: Les Halles.
Website: E Dehillerin Website
Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse
If you've booked ahead (and if you're a dedicated chef-wannabe, you have), head here for your own cooking class. Headed by world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse, this cooking school is one of the most respected in the city. It offers a range of classes and demonstrations for cooking fans of all levels and ages. Students learn from talented chefs who take the time to explain everything patiently. Topics range from bisque-making and chocolate to foie gras. Cooking classes in English are available.
Time to spend: 1-4 hours
Where: 64 rue de Ranelagh, 16th.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 44 90 91 00
Opening Hours: Days and times vary according to the season so call to check. Book well in advance, as the most interesting classes fill up quickly.
Cost: Demonstrations from €90-€330.
There is no shortage of wine stores in Paris, and somehow all of them manage to be more interesting than wine stores back home. This is one of the largest in Europe with over 6000 references, spread over three large floors near place de la Madeleine. Stock up on excellent French wines, or spend some time in the tasting bar or lunch-only restaurant where wine is served at the same price as in the shop.
Where: 3-5 bd. de la Madeleine, 1st.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 4297 2020
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8pm.
Website: Lavinia Website
The Restaurant Plaza Athénée
Finally, book yourself in (months in advance) for a late dinner here. A quick stop at the hotel to dress up, and you're ready to throw yourself into the gastronomical embrace of Alain Ducasse, France's most acclaimed chef (and the talent behind the aforementioned cooking school). Smart dress obligatory.
Where: 25 ave de Montaigne, 8th.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 5367 6665
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7:45pm-10:15pm, Thur-Fri 12:45pm-2:15pm
Métro: Métro Franklin Roosevelt or Alma Marceau.
Website: Plaza Athénée Website
If Athénée is a bit challenging for your credit card or your patience for rich cuisine, try this friendly, relaxed brasserie for excellent traditional French cuisine at moderate prices.
Where: 1 place du Châtelet, 1st.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 4236 7403
Opening Hours: Daily 8am-1am.
Métro: Châtelet or Hôtel de Ville.
Website: Brasserie Zimmer Website