Weekend In Paris | From Baguettes to Bistros – The Secret to Eating Well in Paris
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From Baguettes to Bistros – The Secret to Eating Well in Paris

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Fab docent Alisa from Context Travel

What are the secrets to eating well in Paris? Inquiring minds want to know. I chose Context Travel Paris because they host “Tours for the intellectually curious” and our group definitely fit that bill! Many local secrets were revealed on our Baguette to Bistro Tour from Context Travel by our talented and knowledgable docent Alisa Morov who is a professional baker and caterer by trade. But the biggest secret we learned was where to buy the freshest, best produced, organic foods. Despite the pouring rain, our party of six gladly walked the streets of the 6th and 7th arrondissements being led by Alisa on a monumental food safari. We stalked the local butcher, baker and Armagnac maker! This post is an overview of what we did on the tour to whet your appetite. Future posts will highlight each stop along our culinary trail and go into more detail.

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Organic Spanish Radishes

Our first stop was to a local fresh produce grocery shop Au Verger d’Alice. Each selection was perfectly placed on the shelves showing off their natural beauty and quality. The organically grown, mostly local (European), veggies and fruits were gorgeous! The colors were vibrant and it was all I could do to keep from grabbing a radish by the stalk and biting into it because they looked so appetizing! The gentleman who runs the store was friendly and helpful. They also sold local ice cream and fresh milk.

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Colette slicing some foie gras for Elizabeth

We crossed the road and arrived at our next destination – Maison Guyard. I have walked past here many times without stopping in. Why I didn’t before is a mystery because you can tell from looking in the window the quality of the food is to die for. Guyard is a wonderful deli (Charcuterie) and caterer (Traiteur) which specializes in delicious foie gras. Prepared meals to go for one or more people are available and the specials change daily. We met Colette who was kind enough to let us taste a sample of foie gras and explained about the different types they carry in their market. Several of the Gal Pals bought some foie gras in tins to take home and share with their families and Alisa purchased some meats for our picnic.

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Our selections of cheeses being wrapped to go

Next on the trail was the Master Cheese Refiner (Maître Fromager Affineur) Androuet. Since 1909, the company of Androuet has been supplying organic French cheeses to locals folks and the aristocracy. We learned about the process of some of the cheese making and how important it is to pair the right cheese with the correct wine. To work in a cheese shop designated as an Affineur you must go to school to learn everything about the cheeses from conception to proper ripening. After determining our preferences for new verses old, sharp verses mild, smelly verses calm, goat verses cow and mold or no mold Alisa selected several types for us to sample at our next stop. Who knew there were so many choices?!

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Impromptu picnic of cheese, bread & meats

The famous Artisan Boulanger Eric Kayser is where we ducked out of the rain to grab three different types of baguettes to go along with our meats and cheeses for our long awaited taste test. Alisa said that normally we would picnic at a nearby spot, but since it was raining pretty consistently, we improvised and put some tables together right in Eric Kayser. And, yes, Alisa carries a big bread knife in her handbag! We purchased hot chocolates, coffees and tea and set up to learn about Alisa’s treats. We learned that there are simple baguettes which are made from frozen dough, artisan breads made on site and premium breads that are highest quality ingredients and are made on site. Once you taste the differences, you can never think about bread the same way again!

Chapon scarf and chocolate molds on display

Chapon scarf and chocolate molds on display

Refreshed from our impromptu picnic, we headed south on rue du Bac in search of chocolate, pastries and Armagnac. We checked out the award-winning Chapon where Alisa scooped up some dark chocolate and milk chocolate truffles for us to try. The chocolates are expensive, but totally worth the price. The store itself is cheerful and combines the traditional feel of a chocolatier with a modern touch of class. I loved the brightly colored scarf hanging from the ceiling and the old chocolate molds decorating the walls. Very eclectic space!

Ultimate chocolate éclairs at La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Ultimate chocolate eclairs at des Rêves

This éclairoholic resisted the temptation to have an éclair in Nice and Monte Carlo because I was waiting for Paris and this tour knowing that Alisa would lead me to the Holy Grail of pastries. At long last, we stopped at Phillipe Conticini’s La Pâtisserie des Rêves where Alisa purchased some choux pastries for us to try. However, I was unable to focus on the choux because I was obsessing over the chocolate éclair I purchased. The éclairs are wrapped in a thin veil of chocolate making them extra special. I have not seen this done before and was mesmerized by the edible wrapper. No sharing occurred in the eating of this pastry I assure you!

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Armagnac cures everything we were told by Eveline seen pouring our taste here

We hated to cut our tour short and not get to see everything because Alisa was full of hilarious anecdotal stories that made learning about the French eating habits so interesting, but we were grateful we did have time for one last stop which was Armagnac tasting at Ryst-Dupeyron. They have been the purveyors of fine Port, Armagnac and Wine since the early 1900’s and have vintage casks of Armagnac dating back to 1878. After a tasting of their specialties we were invited into the little back room where small bottles of Armagnac were displayed by year. The year displayed on the front of the bottle is the date of vintage, but on the back it shows the date of when it was bottled. The Armagnac is stored in their original casks in their caves and as demands require, they bottle more. Men are so difficult to buy gifts for, so I was pleased to purchase an Armagnac from 1964 – the year Mr. Weekend In Paris was born and have his name put on the label as a souvenir of my trip. Forget the usual duty-free Hermès tie, this year he was presented with something unique and just for him. SCORE!

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Fresh fish on rue du Bac

In addition to the shops we went inside to purchase items for our “class” to try, Alisa also pointed out various “Foodie” establishments along the way as well as local places to shop for the best meats and fish. It truly made me wish I was renting an apartment and cooking – at least for one large meal. Having Alisa show us the best places for veggies, meats, cheeses, wine, desserts was the BEST experience. I wonder if there is a Baguette to Bistro II tour where we could go more in-depth or eat at a Bistro where the chef would cook our purchases? Hint, hint Alisa!!! If so, sign me up because I am headed back to Paris in July with my food savvy mother-in-law and sisters-in-law and we are ready to learn and eat. Okay, mostly eat, but learn too!

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These make great gifts for an anniversary or birthday!

Skip the boring “this is this tour” and book an intelligent tour with fab docents at Context Travel Paris! It was terrific to be in a small group – maximum of six where we could ask questions to our heart’s content and move from one interesting find to another. We came away feeling much more understanding of why the French do things a certain way and why food is so important to their culture. Having our tour guide be in the food industry was very helpful. She really knew her history and shared her appreciation of French food with us. We adored spending the day with Alisa and you will too!

All photos property of Weekend In Paris. Must obtain permission before use.

My tour was complimentary, but the rest in my group was full fare. The opinions in this piece are my own and are never compromised!

18 Comments
  • Monique
    Posted at 10:54h, 21 February Reply

    I came upon your blog as I was looking for cool/different things to do in Paris and I can say I hit jackpot!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Monique – @ReadyPackTravel

    • Weekend In Paris
      Posted at 12:33h, 21 February Reply

      Welcome Monique!

      I am so glad you stumbled upon my blog and find it useful! I have so much more to write with upcoming posts about more shops, churches, hotels and dining reviews. I can’t wait to share them all with you.

      Happy reading and thank you for taking the time to comment. Keep ’em coming!

      Cheers,
      Priscilla

  • Ted
    Posted at 22:18h, 20 February Reply

    Priscilla:
    Faithfully read your blog and incorporate your suggestions whenever I’m in Paris (every other year).

    I wanted you to know that I can add quite a bit of depth and emotion to your photos if you’d like, at no charge and within about 30 minutes of viewing them. It might go well with your writing. Contact me off list if you’d like to see a couple of your shots I’ve reworked off list.

    And please keep up the good work! Thank you so much.
    Gr8ful Ted

    • Weekend In Paris
      Posted at 22:46h, 20 February Reply

      Ted,
      Do you have a blog or website I can look at?
      Thanks,
      Priscilla

      • Ted
        Posted at 22:49h, 20 February

        Sure. I put it in the request for my comments, but it’s http://gr8ful.blogspot.com

        Click on any photo to enlarge it for a better view.

        Let me know.
        Ted

      • Ted
        Posted at 22:51h, 20 February

        PS: And as I said, I can send you a few photos of your own that I’ve reworked so you can hold them up against the ones you posted.
        Ted

      • Ted
        Posted at 11:25h, 23 February

        So I created a page in which I took a few of your photos and did some post production work to them to give you an example of added depth and emotion to your work. Happy to help out. Honest.

        Here’s the page. Just click on the photos to see them:

        http://www.tumblr.com/blog/preandpost2
        Ted

      • Weekend In Paris
        Posted at 11:31h, 23 February

        I don’t belong to Tumblr so I can’t see them. 🙁

      • Weekend In Paris
        Posted at 11:30h, 11 March

        Hi Ted,

        Sorry for the delay in getting back to you! I have been on the road for two weeks and super crazy busy. Thanks so much for taking an interest in my blog and for thoughtfully enhancing some of my photos. You are indeed a very clever guy with talent!

        I could have used you on my last trip. For some reason the photos all looked super when I took them, but when I downloaded them, they looked out of focus. My bad!

        It’s terrific you like my blog and I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on it. Please let me know when you like something or if there is anything you would like me to write about that I have not covered yet.

        Cheers,
        Priscilla

      • Gr8fulTed
        Posted at 11:38h, 11 March

        Pricilla:

        That was the point of my very first post to you regarding your pics. If you send them to me prior to posting them, I can usually get them back to you within 2 hours of seeing them. I say seeing because if you’re in Paris, the 12-hour tie difference can be problematic if I’m not up late/early, although I’m usually in front of my computer by 5 am each morning. I can work them over and get them back to you and you could post them with your articles. All gratis! Happy to do it. I think it will really give depth to your photos around which your text is wrapped.

        Also, I have software that cleans up slightly out of focus pics, too!

        Let me know.
        Ted

      • Weekend In Paris
        Posted at 11:46h, 11 March

        Well aren’t you just the photoshop guy I was looking for? I will email you a couple for future posts…

        Thanks Ted!!!!

      • Gr8fulTed
        Posted at 11:48h, 11 March

        Well, I personally don’t use Photoshop, but, yeah!

      • Ted
        Posted at 11:50h, 23 February

        Ok, try this one. Just created it. Click on any photo for a single view. And again, not looking for any remuneration. Just like your blog and wanna help.
        Ted

        http://tedstuf.blogspot.com

    • Ted
      Posted at 11:48h, 23 February Reply

      Ok, try this one. You can click on any pic for a single shot of it. And again, I’m not looking for any money or anything. Just like your blog.
      Ted

      http://tedstuf.blogspot.com

  • The Warrens
    Posted at 18:59h, 20 February Reply

    So excited you feature Ryst-Dupeyron. We too visited there and selected bottles from significant years. A lovely pace to visit and make memories!

    • Weekend In Paris
      Posted at 19:20h, 20 February Reply

      Hi Jolie,
      I thought tasting Armagnac was so cool and the personalization is neat! Perfect gifts for people, so I am glad to hear you took advantage of it and bought some.
      I appreciate you reading the blog and taking the time to comment.
      Cheers,
      Priscilla

      • The Warrens
        Posted at 19:23h, 20 February

        Really enjoy the blog. Keeps us in touch while we can’t be in Paris. And reminds us that we need to plan the next trip!

      • Weekend In Paris
        Posted at 19:38h, 20 February

        So happy you like it and that it helps you feel connected to the City of Light.

        If there is something you want me to write about, just let me know in the comment section and I will try to do a post about it.

        Cheers,
        Priscilla

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