Food tour in Paris with a local

Food tour in Paris with a local

France is for many synonymous with food, so what could be more natural than to experience this part of the culture with a local who knows the food scene as her own pocket?

The website WithLocals has gathered residents in several cities all over the world, offering various excursions, meals in private homes, and as I was now about to try; food tours. I previously had good experience from this service, so I was very eager to repeat the success. To be completely honest, this was the first thing I checked after the plane tickets were booked.

I instantly fell for the trip “Paris Favourite Food tour: the 10 Tastings” and thought that it had to be the perfect way to be acquainted with the Parisian food culture.

A few weeks later the time was suddenly there. One of my weaknesses is to underestimate how long it takes to go from one place to another in big cities, but Maria waited patiently outside a bakery right next to Marche d’Aligre. This was also where she bought the classic long French baguette that would accompany us through the streets. The first time was in symphony with lovely tapenade from one of the stalls of the Marche d’Aligre. The variations were many, so we were having a really hard time determining which one to choose before we decided to rely on Maria’s taste buds and went for her favorite; Tapenade with basil. We did not regret, and consumed pieces of baguette dipped in tapenade while Maria knowledgeable told us about this historical place. Marche d’Aligre is dating back to the 1700 ‘s, but since it is a wooden construction, parts of it has burned many times. The market hall is a historic building, and therefore has to be rebuilt the same way as the original.

Wide selection of tapenade at Marche d'Aligre. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Wide selection of tapenade at Marche d’Aligre.

Marche d’Aligre is the local market in District 12. All districts have their own market, but this is the only one in Paris being open throughout the week. Here you will find all kinds of fresh produce from the countryside, depending on the season.

We went for a walk around and looked at all the delights while working up the appetite. Fortunately, next stop was not far away.

Right across the street from the market, we sat down at Charolais, a popular bar among the people working at the market. It is the only place in Paris open for breakfast as early as 06.00. We were way passed that hour now though, and oysters were next on the menu. According to Maria, are these the best oysters in Paris, and are delivered from the market. I have to admit that oysters are not a part of my everyday food, but we enjoyed a few pieces each with a little bit of lemon squeezed on top. Super fresh and delicious!

Delicious fresh oysters at Charolais. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Delicious fresh oysters at Charolais.

From salty and bitter, we were now heading for sweet. As we walked through the streets, Maria told us about the area. For the small community it is important to maintain the offers available, so if a bakery had to close down, people who want to start up a new bakery has priority. Thanks to this, it had been a bakery at the premises of our next stop for 150 years.

Paris-Brest is a cake that is inspired by the bicycle race that runs between the two cities. Originally, it was formed like a bicycle wheel with a hole in the middle, but is now available in various shapes. With cream of hazelnut and chestnut, and pastry with almonds, this is not something for nut allergic. For us on the other hand, it was lovely.

Paris-Brest cake. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Paris-Brest cake.

French wine was next runner up, pared with cheeses and cured meats. The location was a combined wine shop, bar and gallery, a quiet and comfortable place. They only offer organic wine, so Maria could assure that our teeth would still be white, and we would not get a headache. If consumption was moderate, that is….

Ici Meme, a great place for wine! Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Ici Meme, a great place for organic wine!

Wine, charcutterie and cheese planche. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Wine, charcutterie and cheese planche.

The wine was so good that we stayed for a bit longer than planned. Moving on, we continued through narrow passages and around historic sites, and the trendy design- and party area in the 11th District, before we reached a delicate cheese store. It was too much to choose from, so again we relied on Maria’s recommendation; a sharp blue cheese. The baguette that had accompanied us throughout the evening again came to use.

So much nice cheese to choose from! Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

So much nice cheese to choose from!

From flavorful cheese it was time for sweet dessert again. The selection of macrons at Maison Georges Larnicol were many, but we were able to coordinate by taking two different flavors each and taste from each other. Heavenly!

The large collection of macrons at Georges Larnicol. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

The large collection of macrons at Georges Larnicol.

The winners at Georges Larnicol. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

The winners at Georges Larnicol.

Georges Larnicol is originally from the region of Brittany, and followed in his father’s footsteps and became the pastry chef and opened his first pastry shop in the 80’s. He quickly made success and opened more stores in the region. In 2010, he started his first one in Paris, but despite his success, he is one of the few pastry chefs and chocolatiers that keep the prices affordable. He believes that quality should be available to all. A nice philosophy.

The original tour would have continued on to sample some Galette au fromage (a savory crepe made of buckwheat) but we completely fell for the charm of the restaurants in the archways around the Place des Vosges when we passed by earlier, so we decided to go back there instead. The square was built between 1605 and 1612, and is the oldest in Paris. Originally it was named Place Royale, and was an important meeting place for the nobility. After the revolution, the square was renamed to take the name of the first region in France that did not pay the royal tax.

We found a spot by the heating lamps outside Ma Bourgogne. The warm toned lighting under the archways created a unique ambiance while we enjoyed even more French specialties; snails and beef tartar. And a little more French wine, of course.

Warm atmosphere outside Ma Bourgogne. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Warm atmosphere sitting outside Ma Bourgogne.

Traditional snails at Ma Bourgogne. Food tour Paris, France. Withlocals

Traditional snails at Ma Bourgogne.

Maria was the perfect guide, combining the experience of eating our way through Paris with educational facts. Even if Maria is the one designing the tour, she has taught the route to several others who can give you good experiences in this wonderful food universe if she is not available.

Were you tempted by this wonderful dining experience in Paris? The trip “Paris Favourite Food tour: the 10 Tastings” can also be customized, as we ended up doing. Since we chose a more expensive option, we paid the extra at the last restaurant. You can also plan your own version with the guide in advance.

In addition to the food tour, you can also see other experiences in Paris offered by With Locals.

Charming Colmar!

I immediately fell in love when we entered the old town and saw the colourful half-timbered houses.
Colmar by nightWeekly folklore music and dancing in the street in Colmar
Stumbling upon the weekly folklore music and dancing in the street also gave a lively feel to the atmosphere.

During daytime the city appeared a little more touristy, but definitely still very beautiful. Wandering around just soaking in the mood while looking at the beautiful colourful houses, every single one with their own details.
The tourist information provide a map with a suggested route. We followed that to a certain extent, including our own detours and pit-stops.
Charming Colmar 1
Charming Colmar 2Charming Colmar 3
Charming Colmar 5
Charming Colmar 6
Seeking shelter from the rain, we went for a snack and a beer in the covered market. It could easily have been a very touristy, but it was still ok.

Right behind the market we came to the highlight of the exploring; the area called “little Venice”. Yes, it is probably the most visited area in the city, but I really also understand why! The half-timbered houses, all in different bright colours were mirrored in the river passing by. And the flowers planted on the railing by the waterfront, made it even more lively.
Little Venice in charming Colmar 1
Little Venice in charming Colmar 2
Little Venice in charming Colmar 3
Little Venice in charming Colmar 4
If you wish to see the houses from the water, there are small boats that can take you. We figured it was just as nice not doing that.

Finishing off with a fun fact; the creator of New York’s Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, is from Colmar, and the house he was born is turned into a museum. One of the highlights is a full-size plaster model of the statue’s left ear!

When in Champagne…

Enjoy the view of the vineyards and visit one of the many champagne houses and their well-filled cellars.

Vineyards in Champagne.

Vineyards in Champagne.

Möet&Chandon in Champagne 1
We went for the traditional tour at Möet&Chandon, dating back to 1743. The start of the tour gave an introduction to the Möet family history. After a short film, we went underground to the wine cellar. There are three types of grapes used to make the champagne; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, grown in 34.000 hectare all together.

To have a good field, the ground has to be deserted for two years to make the minerals work their magic. The vines then grow for three years before the grapes are harvested. By hand! Depending on that year’s climate, the grapes are picked during two weeks from mid September to the start of October. This takes a lot of man-craft, about 100.000 men, to be exact.

The wine cellar spans 28 km and was made by hand. The limestone make it humid and the temperature steady at 10-12°C.

Maaaaaaany bottles in Möet&Chandon Champagne cellar.

Maaaaaaany bottles in Möet&Chandon Champagne cellar.

Möet&Chandon Champagne cellar 2
In order to keep the taste more or less the same every year, 20-30 % of the wines are from the year before. One champagne can consist of hundred different wines!

The process of making champagne is thorough and very time consuming. First of all, the wines are made in tanks of stainless steel to keep the fruitiness. By adding yeast and sugar to the pressed grapes, the fermentation starts. The wine is bottled, and left for six weeks. The carbon dioxide inside make natural bubbles. During 5-6 weeks, the bottles are turned several times, to make the sediments descend to the bottleneck. An experienced person can turn 52.000 bottles per day! By quickly opening the bottle, the pressure will shoot out the sediments. The bottle is then closed again, and rest for 2-3 months. Nowadays this process is made easier and more effective with machines. The champagne at Möet&Chandon is aged for at least two years, even though the requirement is 1,5 years.

Learning about the process and seeing all the bottles in the cellar was quite fascinating. We also learned about the vintage champagne Dom Pérignon, named after the Benedictine monk. At the end of the tour, we off course got a glass of champagne. The regular one, that is.
Tasting Möet&Chandon Champagne
Dom Perignon at Möet&Chandon in Champagne

Village in Champagne.

Village in Champagne.