Ooh La La! A Foodie’s Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - The Classic Croissant - Flaky Perfection Right Out of the Oven
No trip to Paris is complete without indulging in the quintessential French pastry: the croissant. This flaky, crescent-shaped delight has been a breakfast staple for centuries, and Parisians have perfected the art of croissant-making. The secret lies in using high-quality ingredients and executing time-honored techniques.
Traditional croissants start with a feuilletage, a layered dough made by folding butter into the pastry over and over to create sheets of dough and butter. This process results in the distinctive flaky texture of a perfect croissant. Once shaped into a crescent and baked, the butter layers expand, leaving delicate, paper-thin flakes that practically melt in your mouth.
The best croissants use French butter, often from Normandy or Brittany. This high-fat butter with a low water content makes the interior tender and rich. Pairing it with a sturdy bread flour allows the dough to rise fully without collapsing. Egg washes and long proofing times also contribute to an airy interior with a polished, golden-brown crust.
Seeking out an authentic Parisian croissant is a must for any food-focused traveler. Visit one of the city's centuries-old bakeries, like Poilâne or Du Pain et des Idées, to taste traditional recipes crafted with passion. Or grab a croissant baked on-site at cafés like Holybelly or Fragments. For a memorable experience, take a croissant-tasting tour to sample the city's best.
What else is in this post?
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - The Classic Croissant - Flaky Perfection Right Out of the Oven
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Macarons Galore - Rainbow Hues and Unique Flavors at Paris's Top Patisseries
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Cheese, Bread, and Wine - Pairings Made in Heaven
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Food Tours Through the City of Lights - Sample Classic Dishes and Hidden Gems
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Local Markets Overflowing with Fresh Produce and Specialty Goods
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Cafes for People Watching with Coffee, Tea, or Hot Chocolate
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Michelin-Starred Restaurants Offer Exquisite Fine Dining Experiences
- Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Street Food for Quick, Casual Bites While Exploring the City
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Macarons Galore - Rainbow Hues and Unique Flavors at Paris's Top Patisseries
No Parisian food tour is complete without a pit stop (or three!) at the city’s famed patisseries. While croissants may be the quintessential French pastry, macarons have become almost equally iconic. These meringue-based cookies sandwiched with decadent fillings come in a rainbow of colors and a variety of unique flavors. Macarons are the ultimate treat for those with a sweet tooth looking to taste Paris’s best.
Macarons as we know them today trace their origins to two Benedictine nuns in the 17th century, who tweaked an Italian recipe using almond flour to create the delicate French macaron. In the 19th century, Parisian pastry chef Pierre Desfontaines had the ingenious idea to add ganache as a filling, thus creating the cookie sandwiches we love today.
Now, macarons come in almost every color and flavor imaginable. Classic flavors include chocolate, coffee, pistachio, and raspberry. But Paris's top patisseries continuously innovate to offer new taste experiences. Ladurée, one of the city's most famous macaron purveyors, has flavors like rose petal, licorice, and even foie gras. At Pierre Hermé, you can try anything from mango-passionfruit to olive oil and vanilla. Macarons here push the limits of what can be sandwiched between those meringue cookies.
No matter where you go, a macaron from a Parisian patisserie offers an unparalleled texture - the cookie exterior should be smooth and slightly cracked, never hollow or too soggy. The ganache filling provides the perfect counterpoint, with intense, true-to-name flavors. Biting into the cookie causes the meringue shell to shatter lightly before melting into the silky interior. Each patisserie carefully calibrates its macaron recipes to achieve this sublime contrast of textures.
For macaron connoisseurs, tasting flights are a must, allowing you to sample various flavors in one sitting. Stop by Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Fauchon, or Dalloyau to choose from their expansive macaron menus. Or join a guided macaron tasting tour to hit up several shops, learning about macaron history and technique between treats. This is the ultimate way to indulge a sweet tooth and discover new flavor combinations.
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Cheese, Bread, and Wine - Pairings Made in Heaven
Cheese, bread, and wine form the holy trinity of French cuisine. Individually, each brings joy to the palate, but together, they ascend to new heights of flavor. In Paris, cheese and wine shops, bread bakeries, and restaurants excel at pairing these ingredients to create blissful tasting experiences. Exploring these marriages of flavors provides insight into the sophistication and passion the French bring to their cuisine.
At places like Les Caves Augé and La Dernière Goutte, knowledgeable fromagers assist visitors in selecting cheeses to complement their chosen wines. Soft, creamy cheeses like Brie de Meaux or Camembert pair divinely with light, fruity wines like a tangy Sancerre or vibrant Beaujolais. The prominent citrus notes of a Pouilly-Fumé contrast sublimely with the nutty, caramel undertones of Comté or Gruyère. And bold, tannic reds like Bordeaux find their match in hard, salty cheeses like aged Mimolette or Roquefort. The cheese purveyors will offer tastes and guidance to ensure bliss with every bite.
Pairing wine with bread may seem counterintuitive, but a crusty baguette truly enhances many wines' flavors. The Paillot bakery near Les Invalides bakes hearty loaves with crackling crusts and chewy, open interiors - perfect for sopping sauce or oils. These sturdy breads won't overwhelm light whites; rather, they cleanse the palate to highlight the wines' bright notes. Hearty sourdough stands up to fuller-bodied reds, its tanginess cutting through the tannins. Seek out Poilâne's famous miche, an oversized sourdough loaf, for a truly memorable pairing.
Restaurants also curate tasting menus around impeccable cheese, bread, and wine marriages. At L'Avant-Goût, the five-course pairing menu showcases how acidity and aromatics align in dishes like comté soufflé with riesling and duck with pinot noir. Le Foodist pairs a bold, oaky red with Roquefort on toast and foie gras. The Bread and Roses café near the Louvre offers platters of artisanal breads accompanied by a rotating selection of French wines and cheeses. Let expert sommeliers or oenophile chefs choose each element to create symphonies of flavor.
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Food Tours Through the City of Lights - Sample Classic Dishes and Hidden Gems
Paris dazzles visitors with iconic landmarks and world-class art museums. But the city’s culinary treasures often go overlooked by tourists focused on checking items off their sightseeing lists. That would be a tragedy for any food-loving traveler. The best way to dive into Paris’s rich gastronomic heritage is to experience it guided by those in the know - the locals. Food tours serve up classic French fare alongside hidden gems, providing an authentic taste of the city.
Groups like Paris by Mouth offer immersive walks through quintessential foodie neighborhoods like Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Montmartre. At each stop, you’ll sample regional specialties prepared just as the locals would make them. Expect to try dishes like steak frites, ratatouille, croque monsieur, and soufflés, as well as sip wines and craft beers paired expertly with the food. Off-the-beaten-path venues give a sense of dining like a true Parisian. Your guides - food writers who are intimately acquainted with the city’s culinary scene - provide historical and cultural insights between tastings. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on French cuisine and dining culture.
For a more exclusive experience, Context Travel’s food-focused walking seminars take groups of 6 or less on themed gastronomic explorations of Paris. Their Cheese Shops & Tasting Tour ventures into specialty fromageries in Le Marais for personalized cheese flights and chats with renowned fromagers. The Moveable Feast tour traces Hemingway’s gustatory map of Paris for tastes of quintessential bistro fare and cocktails. Whichever focused theme you choose, an expert scholar will immerse your small group in stories and history sure to enrich your indulgences.
Those wishing to balance culinary adventures with top attractions can opt for tour companies like Paris by Mouth that pair visits to the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, or Eiffel Tower with gourmet tastings in the same neighborhood. You won’t miss out on key sightseeing but will experience each area through a decidedly delicious lens.
Hands-on cooking classes offer yet another perspect on savoring French food. At Atelier des Sens, dive into preparing five-course French meals with cooking lessons before feasting on the fruits of your labor accompanied by carefully selected wines. The Paris Cooking School coaches guests in mastering classic recipes like croissants, macarons, or beef bourguignon in professional kitchens. You’ll gain invaluable French cooking techniques to show off at home after your trip.
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Local Markets Overflowing with Fresh Produce and Specialty Goods
Paris's open-air markets overflow with bounties of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and convivial Parisian vibes. Wandering through stalls under fluttering awnings provides an authentic local experience far removed from sterile grocery stores. Enthusiastic conversations between vendors and shoppers fill the air as colorful mounds of fruits and vegetables beckon. Sample the city's vibrant food culture while meandering down lively market streets.
Scores of neighborhood open-air markets are scattered across Paris, bursting with flavors and aromas. Each has its own atmosphere and offerings shaped by the surrounding quartier. Hunt down rare specialties or staple ingredients used in classic Parisian cooking - you're sure to find something tempting at any market.
At the Marché Bastille, densely packed stalls stretch along the Blvd Richard Lenoir on Thursdays and Sundays. It's one of Paris's largest and most diverse markets, with vendors selling specialty cheeses, charcuteries, fish, and pâtés along with seasonal produce. The more intimate weekend market on Rue Montorgueil in central Paris overflows with pastries, wine, seafood, and epicurean picnic supplies perfect for the nearby Palais Royal gardens.
In upscale neighborhoods, markets cater to resident foodies with indulgent treats. The Marché Biologique Raspail in the Left Bank boasts organic veggies alongside artisanal honey, sea salt caramels, and French caviar. Across the Seine in the 16th arrondissement, the lush Marché Président Wilson sprawls from Wednesday to Saturday with stalls offering foraged mushrooms, rare heirloom apples, and truffle-infused oils and cheeses.
Dishing up authentic multicultural fare, the Marché de la Chapelle in Goutte d’Or delights visitors with its African and North African spices, produce like plantains and yams, and Halal meat and poultry. The aromas alone make it worth a special trip.
Markets also provide perfect opportunities to sample prepared foods and interact with makers passionate about their craft. At Marché des Enfants Rouge in the Marais, food stalls dish up ethnic bites from around the globe - the perfect fuel for market browsing. Stop by the Sunday Marché Biron near the Musée Rodin to chat with artisans selling jewelry, glassware, textiles, and ceramics as you nibble crepes or North African street food.
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Cafes for People Watching with Coffee, Tea, or Hot Chocolate
Sitting at an outdoor cafe with a hot drink in hand, watching the parade of Parisians pass by, proves to be one of the city's supreme pleasures. More than takeaway coffee on the go, the ritual of relaxing at a sidewalk cafe encapsulates the unhurried enjoyment of life that Parisians have perfected. People watching here feels voyeuristic yet comforting, as you observe strangers going about their days while reflecting on your own place in the urban tableau.
Neighborhood cafes provide some of the best seats for this quintessential Parisian pastime. In lively Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the terrace at Les Deux Magots offers views of the bustling Boulevard Saint-Germain and the domed Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Snag a wrought-iron chair here with an afternoon cortado to watch effortlessly chic Parisians shopping and socializing. Nearby, Café de Flore's outdoor seating spills onto the Boulevard Saint-Germain, providing close-up glimpses of the diverse locals who give this iconic neighborhood its bohemian spirit.
In Montmartre, hilly narrow streets with views to Sacré-Coeur make corner cafes ideal for discreet people watching. Terrasses de Montmartre sits upon a sloping square, allowing you to peer down at streets below while nursing your hot chocolate chaud. Further up the hill, Café des Deux Moulins inspired scenes in the film Amélie for its ringside seats overlooking the neighborhood. Its hot drinks and fresh crêpes fuel your imagination about the lives of passersby.
Along the Canal Saint-Martin in northern Paris, cafes line the waterway promenades. At pink-hued Paname Brewing Company, claim one of the coveted canalside seats and enjoy local craft beers, coffee, or tea as joggers and cyclists zip by along the calm water. Nearby, Chez Prune spills out onto the canal with chairs shaded by leafy trees. Sip Parisian craft coffee surrounded by young professionals chatting after work as boats putter through the locks.
In posh Saint-Germain-des-Prés again, Les Deux Magots provides a coveted vantage point for discreet people watching - its outdoor seats face Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where Parisians emerge from the metro station and linger around the park and historic church. Sip a café crème or Moroccan mint tea and observe locals going about their daily business amidst this iconic Parisian backdrop.
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Michelin-Starred Restaurants Offer Exquisite Fine Dining Experiences
For gastronomy lovers, Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris represent the pinnacle of dining. These culinary temples, judged and rated by the prestigious Michelin Guide, provide once-in-a-lifetime epicurean experiences that engage all the senses. Exploring the tasting menus at Michelin-starred venues offers insight into the French dining ethos of taking time to savor and appreciate exquisite cuisine.
Earning even one Michelin star takes incredible talent and unwavering commitment to quality. Most ingredients must be the absolute best available - truffles, caviar, premium seafood and meats. Preparation techniques aim to maximize and concentrate natural flavors. Presentation of dishes as art on the plate receives meticulous attention. Service must run flawlessly, anticipating diners' every need. Ambiance balances understated elegance with warmth and hospitality. This total package carries a hefty price tag, with tasting menus typically €100-300 per person excluding wine. But for special occasions or dream dinners, Michelin-starred restaurants create once-in-a-lifetime memories.
Among Paris's most renowned Michelin-starred restaurants is Alain Ducasse's Plaza Athénée venue. Holding three stars for over 20 years, its 25-course "Naturalité" tasting menu celebrates the essence of premium seasonal ingredients. Each course comes as a progression of three or more bites, reimagining a main element like langoustine or eggplant in creative riffs that concentrate its flavor. Caviar, lobster, and truffles feature prominently across the menu's seven savory acts. While expensive at €450 per person, blogger Megha Paul of Paris Unlocked describes Alain Ducasse as "the crème de la crème of fine dining experiences in Paris" producing "culinary magic" with natural flavors.
For more casual yet equally artful Michelin-starred dining, food writer Alexander Lobrano suggests L'Astrance. Their €120 four-course lunch menu delivers playful takes on French classics like foie gras and lamb. Lobrano praises the "superlative cooking" and personable chef who introduces each whimsical dish. The intimate dining room provides views directly into the kitchen, immersing diners into the artistry behind each plate. Food presentation balances contemporary with honor for ingredients' integrity. It's a Michelin-starred meal that feels fun rather than formal.
Japan native Kei Kobayashi brings an inventive Franco-Japanese approach to his Michelin-starred restaurant Kei. The unusual €115 seven-course menu may feature dishes like sea bream with kimchi consommé alongside more expected Wagyu beef or Brie de Meaux. Michelin describes flavors as "precise and well-balanced" with Eastern touches incorporating seamlessly into French dishes. The understated atmosphere lets creativity on the plate shine. For travelers seeking a Michelin-starred experience influenced by global techniques, Kei provides a refined yet surprising culinary journey.
Ooh La La! A Foodie's Guide to Indulging in Parisian Delicacies - Street Food for Quick, Casual Bites While Exploring the City
Street food brings energy and diversity to Paris’s neighborhoods, allowing visitors to sample quick bites on the go from around the globe. Grabbing snacks from food carts and street vendors fuels your exploration with authentic local flavors and casual dining experiences far from formal sit-down restaurants. Wandering with street eats in hand feels quintessentially Parisian.
Lively open-air markets offer the ultimate street food scene, with vendors dishing up specialties from their home cuisines. At Marché d’Aligre in Bastille, stalls serve up bánh mì sandwiches bursting with pork, pâté or lemongrass chicken. In the Marais, the Sunday food market at Place des Vosges overflows with lamb and merguez sausage sandwiches fresh off grills. The Marché de la Chapelle boasts West and North African snacks like savory pastries filled with egg, meat, or spinach.
Neighborhoods densely packed with immigrants add diversity to the Paris street food map. Belleville and La Goutte d’Or become lively at dusk as vendors fan charcoal grills sending spices and sizzling meats into the air. Here you can pick up chicken kebabs, falafel wraps stuffed with harissa eggplant, or spicy fish brochettes. Around metro stops like Barbès-Rochechouart, specialty food carts dish out regional Mexican snacks like elote corn, empanadas, and plantain chips.
Though street food tends towards the casual and affordable, some high-end venues are joining the scene. L’Éclair de Génie parks its pastel-colored food truck near famous monuments like the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe, serving gourmet choux cream puffs in flavors like raspberry, coffee-caramel, and passionfruit. The luxury house Hermès offers an haute hot dog from their roving wiener cart - the saucisse in a baguette with truffle butter costs €8 but comes wrapped in branded paper.
For visitors keen on convenience without compromising quality, Paris street food works best visited from food tours. Companies like Secret Food Tours and Paris by Mouth guide groups on walks to the city’s best street food destinations. Local experts ensure you sample authentic dishes like galettes, crepes, or gougères. Tours often include food history and immigrant neighborhood culture to enrich the experience.
Travel blogger Scott Joseph of Scott Josephs Street Food finds Paris “surprisingly accommodating” for street food explorers. At his favorite stopping points, he enjoys shawarma from North African vendors and buttery Vietnamese sandwiches, calling the diversity “revelatory”. Paris-based writer Lindsey Tramuta considers the city’s growing street food scene a boon for families seeking quick, affordable meals between sights. The informal setting and global flavors encourage culinary discovery and social interaction.