Make it. Eat it. Love it.
Ahhhh, Paris. The city of lights. Is there anything not to love? A walk down the Seine or a kiss under the Eiffel Tower. A day spent wandering the halls of the Louvre or capturing a glimpse of the city scape from atop the Sacre Coeur. Catching a concert outside Notre Dame or visiting the famed Moulin Rouge. Wandering the old cobble stone streets of the Quarter Latin or Le Marais or discovering Victor Hugo’s inspiration for Les Miserables. And, then there is the food. Oh! The food!!
When my husband surprised me with a trip to Paris for my 30th birthday I could not have been happier. The most romantic city in the world, at Springtime! And, let us not forget the Parisian food! Could there be a better paradise for a food lover? A pregnant food lover at that. I think not.
Staying in the Quarter Latin right above the busy Rue Mouffetard, we were lucky enough to wake up every morning to the smell of fresh baked breads, pastries and espresso. We would walk down the cobblestoned street to one of the many boulangerie’s for a croissant and cafe, along the way passing through the Marche Mouffetard where vendors set up fresh produce, sweet smells emerged from chocolatiers and Crêperies, fromageries and butchers opened their doors and the freshest most beautiful fish were set up on mounds of ice. I want to spend every morning of my life in this scene.
Each day we would wake up early and head out to explore the beautiful city of Paris. We would stop throughout our adventures for long leisurely lunches at one of the many bistros around the city or a small bite of chocolate from a beautiful chocolatier. An afternoon cup of espresso for a caffeine fix and Laduree’s famous macarons after shopping on the Champs Elysees. A Nutella crepe to share after a long afternoon at one of the many Paris museums and a fromagarie on our way to the apartment we rented to enjoy with a fresh baguette before heading off to a romantic dinner tucked away in one of the many outstanding restaurants Paris has to offer.
Below is a short list of some of our favorite spots in Paris to enjoy some unforgettable food.
Pères et Filles (81 Rue de seine)
We stumbled onto Pères et Filles (Fathers and Daughters) while wandering around St. Germain des Pres. Started by three men, Jean- Pierre, Stephan and Thomas, all of which were fathers to only daughters. They wished to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for families and friends to gather in the bustling St. Germain de Pres area. They succeeded with Parisian woodwork, black and white checkered floors, chandeliers dangling from the ceiling and bookshelves lining the walls. The menu has simple yet delicious choices and very much appeals to fish lovers as well as having some vegetarian and carnivorous options. Though loud and crowded Pères et Filles at the same time is warm and romantic. We were led upstairs to a corner table and handed menus which were only in French. With help from our lovely waiter we decided on a fois gras for an appetizer and seared scallops with a green risotto for my husband and boudin noir for myself. Having no idea what boudin nior was, I was surprised to find out when we returned to the apartment later that night, that I in fact had a new love for blood sausage!
Pottoka (4 Rue de L’Exposition)
With the success of Fables de la Fontaine and a coveted Michelin star under their belt, Sébastien Gravé and David Bottreau came together to open up a beautiful Basque restaurant called Pottoka (translated into my little pony in Basque). Unlike Fables de la Fontaine which is fish oriented, Pottoka is a meat oriented bistro with a fantastic Basque menu with options for everyone and a chalkboard with market specials. The small bistro has a sharp and clean decor with banquette seating for about 40. We were lucky enough to get a table without a reservation very late one night, though reservations are highly recommended. My husband had lamb chops over a crispy lamb shoulder with goat cheese (every bit delicious as it sounds) and I had the most wonderful roasted chicken stuffed with a pesto sauce served atop beautifully braised asparagus and spinach. For dessert we shared Gâteau Basque or Basque cake, which took our breath away. After seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the night I urge you to find your way to Pottoka for an unforgettable meal.
Le Refuge du Fromage (17 rue des Trois-Freres)
Tucked away on a small street in Montmartre below the beautiful Sacre-Coeur is the infamous fondue restaurant, Le Refuge du Fromage, or better known as ‘that fondu place you drink wine out of baby bottles’. This tiny hole in the wall establishment where banquette tables up against the wall require people to literally climb over the table to their seat, has a limited menu of 2 options. Cheese or meat fondue. We opted for the cheese fondue which is extremely boozy and isn’t the best cheese fondue I have eaten. It also comes with as much bread as you can handle. Patrons however don’t come to Le Refuge for the food, they come for the ambiance (loud, fun and young) and the baby bottles. Yes, glass baby bottles are served filled with wine, either ‘blanc’ or ‘rouge’ and at 2 euros a bottle its no wonder Le Refuge is a favorite among the younger crowd. Come early, as they do not accept reservations and the place tends to get very crowded later in the night.
Le Grande Epicure (38 rue de Sèvres)
Located on the bottom floor of the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, Le Grande Epicure is a foodies haven. This large upscale grocer carries an array of international products as well as some of the most beautiful cheeses, breads, meats, spices and pastries. There is even a section of everything truffle, where I picked up truffle salt and the most wonderfully thick balsamic with black truffle. Taking a tip from David Lebovitz I sought out his beloved French butter here. Jean-Yves Bordier Butter. With flavors like madagascar vanilla, seaweed, smoked salt and a spice blend, it’s hard to choose which to get. The butter asile can be a bit overwhelming altogether and I settled on a Bordier Butter as well as Au Bon Beurre which is loaded with, you guessed it, truffles! The Le Grande Epicure macarons that assault you with their beauty as you enter the market are as lovely tasting as they look. Try the vanilla bean, its perfect. Wander through the market and pick up some gifts for your foodie friends back home and be jealous that you cant shop here everyday.
Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées-as well as other locations throughout the city)
One simply cannot come to Paris without filling up on delicate macarons. Known and loved throughout the world, Ladurée has been serving up their beautiful macarons since the mid twentieth century when Louis Ernest Ladurée decided to sandwich two macaron shells together with a delicious ganache, and ever since, the recipe has not changed. I visited the shop located along the worlds most beautiful street, Champs-Elysées. The pastel storefront with macarons and pastries on display lead way to a most elegant, warm and chic 2 story establishment with a dining area and macaron bar where you can purchase as many of these delectable treats your heart desires. Don’t be intimidated by the lines of people outside. These macarons are worth the wait. Pierre Hermé (62 Rue Bonaparte and other locations throughout the city)
Another macaron shop to mention is the famed Pierre Hermé. Anointed as the ‘Picasso of pastry’ by Vogue, Pierre Hermé has been dreaming up and creating unique and original tastes. Pop into his small narrow store on Rue Bonaparte and try one of the many interesting flavors they are offering up such as, passion fruit, rose, apricot saffron and creme bruleé.
Poilâne (8 Rue du Cherche Midi)
Poilâne is known the world over for having the best bread in Paris. Pierre Poilâne started the bakery back in 1932 and to this day they are still using his old wood burning oven to create the famed round sour dough loves etched with a large P. Today the bakery is still in the family being run by Pierre’s granddaughter, Appollonia, who inherited it from her father Lionel. The staff in the small rustic bakery is beyond helpful and extremely polite. When checking out the cashier will always offer a small butter cookie to take and according to David Lebovitz, true fans always go with the darkest ones.
Le Mouffetard Fromagerie (116 Rue Mouffetard)
With a Fromagerie on every corner in Paris it’s hard to decide which one to stop in. Staying right off the busteling street of Rue Mouffetard we stopped into this small cheese shop to pick up some goodies to take home. This small narrow shop had tons of soft and hard cheeses to choose from as well as many different french butters. A lot of the cheeses are made in the back of the shop as well. The shop owner spoke little english but was able to help me with what cheese were pasteurized and which weren’t. The cheeses we picked were soft and absolutely delicious.
Berthillion (31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile)
I am ending our favorites list with some of the best ice cream and sorbet I have ever eaten. Sitting on the touristy area of l’Ile Saint-Louis for over half a century, Berthillion has become one of Paris’ ‘must go’ places. Sitting in the small dinning room I quickly found out why it has been sought after from people all over the world. Berthillion ice cream only uses natural ingredients and lets the true flavors of their ice cream and sorbet shine through. My husband and I ordered 4 flavors to try, salted caramel and chocolate for ice cream and mango and passion fruit for sorbet. I don’t think that any description I can come up with would do justice to the intense and rich flavors going on here. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that Berthillion ice cream is worth a trip to Paris alone.