What it is that you like to do best when vacationing in Paris? Odds are that eating out is high up on your list. No surprise there. Yet there is a lot more to eating well in Paris then just the restaurant scene. A wonderful aspect of the Parisian eating experience is found every day in countless traiteurs, farmer’s markets, specialty food stores, bakeries and the small gourmet food shops that dot every district in the city offering you a variety of styles and types of food that can not be rivaled.
Let’s get one thing straight. I love to eat out at restaurants while on vacation. I spend much of my pre-vacation planning scouring blogs and lists to find what is new and good. I search the internet and doggedly pursue anyone who has a good restaurant list. There is nothing more satisfying than discovering new foods, new chefs and new ways of doing things while traveling. I love the satisfied walk home down unfamiliar streets with a good meal and a few good wines in my stomach. That is contentment.
And nothing could have topped the meal I had at Afaria (reviewed later this month along with my favorite bistros of the 7th and 15th). Just look at that mountain of duck.
But if your vacation eating experience was to just stop there you miss so much. France is full of incomprehensibly wonderful quality ingredients. Incredible seafood and some of the best oysters in the world.
Beautiful vegetables and an emerging organic culture that has taken hold.
So when you visit Paris, don’t rely on restaurants alone to define your eating patterns. Especially in the morning. Get yourself into that artisan bakery and feel the wonder these young guys felt staring lovingly into that case of goodies.
Order a pain au chocolat or a croissant, sit down and have a cup of coffee. The coffee may not be great, but you are there to enjoy the baked goods.
Take your time and let Parisian life unfold around you. Look at the ceiling, the signs, the scene. And don’t take too long ordering, people are busy in the morning. They aren’t on vacation like you are.
Get our your grocery list and head to a farmer’s market like the one Blvd. Grenelle, five minutes from the Yellow Flat and then don’t eat out that evening. That is right, skip one precious dinner out.
If there isn’t an open air market that day take a look at the gourmet stores around you. Go in, ask questions, have fun, buy lots. Then go back to your apartment and take out a great loaf of bread, olives, cornichons and pate. Add some salads. The quality of the prepared food is first-rate.
Buy a delicious poulet fermier at the butcher and make sure you get some those potatoes that are cooking at the bottom of the rotisserie, browned as only fat can.
Go to the cheese store, let them guide you through the insane variety of choices. Buy 4 cheeses, one hard, one soft, one goat, one they recommend. Add a baguette and quaf it down with a bottle of refreshing red Chinon or Morgon, slightly chilled.
Finish with a fruit tart or some macarons from the bakery on the corner.
Relax in your apartment. Take off your shoes and decompress, it is a vacation after all. Open the windows. Listen. No noise, no waiter, no wait and no pretension. Just you, your guests (or your squeeze) and the delights of eating in France.
You won’t regret it.
You can find great food ready to enjoy at these wonderful businesses near the Yellow Flat:
Bakery: Oh So Famous: Boulangerie Poilaine. 49 Rue Grenelle. Bio and winner of best baguette 2012; Frederic Pichard, 88 Rue Cambronne.
Cheese shop. Marie Cantin. 12 Rue Champs De Mars. Laurent Dubois. 2 Rue Lourmel.
Butcher. Boucherie Marguerite. 4 Rue Lourmel.