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Friday, October 10, 2014

Paris by Foot...and by Mouth

One of the most requested items I am asked for by clients who hire me to develop a private wine and food trip for them, is a foodie tour of Paris.  While each one is customized a little differently depending on the client, below is a walking tour that encompasses many of the city’s culinary and oenophile shrines….all in one small district in the very center of Paris.  It can easily be done in a few hours, and is convenient to combining with sightseeing at the Louvre, Tullerie Gardens and the Champs Elysee.

The Madeleine district is a gourmand’s paradise and includes some of Paris’ most famous and most expensive food stores.   All of the shops are clustered around the square of the Madeleine church.  There’s something for every food lover all the way from savory to sweet, from moderate to tres expensive, from simple to lavish, and from tea to wine.  If you have time for only one foodie experience in Paris, look no further.

I suggest starting the tour in the morning and beginning with breakfast at one of my favorite gastronomic spots in Paris, Laduree.  Here are step by step instructions:

  • Take the Metro to Place Concorde and exit at the Rue Royale.  Walk up the right side of the Rue Royale to Laduree (16 rue Rue Royale).  This place is a gem from another century. Sit downstairs, even if you have to wait for a table.  Don’t leave without purchasing a snack for later----their world-famous macarons come in every shade (and flavor) of the rainbow (note:  these are not American coconut confections, but an entirely different melt-in-your-mouth delight).
Laduree oozes old-world charm & features gorgeous pastries.
  • Continue up Rue Royale to #6 Place Madeleine where you’ll find one of France’s legendary mustard producer.  Maille makes several mustards that are not exported including one with truffles.  There are over 30 flavors that change with the seasons, however, don’t miss cherry or a chive/fennel.   Tastings are available.

                               The Maille shop features several mustards that are not exported.
  • Proceed to Fauchon at 24-26 Place Madeleine.  One of the world’s most impressive gourmet emporiums, Fauchon is in a category all by itself.  To visit Paris without visiting Fauchon would be a sacrilege.  This is the gold standard for perfectly ripened cheese, exquisite foie gras, and to-die-for pastries.   This is the place in Paris to put together a once-in-a-lifetime picnic.   Beaucoup Euros.

                                               Fauchon:  the epicenter of Paris' gourmet scene
  • Next, head to Fauchon’s gift shop at 30 Place Madeleine, just a few steps away.  There is guaranteed to be something for any serious epicurean here to bring home.  Some of my favorite items are their huge selection of sea salt, Champagne stoppers to keep the bubbles, tea, and cocktail napkins.   All are light weight gifts, and are packaged beautifully.

                                                  Fauchon's gift shop is next door
  • The Masion de Truffe (truffle) is next at #19 Place Madeleine.  In business since 1932, this one is a Paris classic.  Go in as the smells are as awesome as a Chanel perfume.  All kinds of food items are available that have been infused with this magnificent item...I especially like to get a slice of their truffled foie gras.

                                                   The smell alone is worth the journey
  • Then, just a few feet away you’ll find Caviar Kaspia at  #17 Place Madeleine.  You will need to ring the buzzer to be let in.  If you’re in the mood for a wild splurge, head upstairs to their restaurant where you can do some serious indulging (and imbibing---they have a superb selection of champagnes by the glass).  Be sure to ask for a table with a view of the Madeleine church.

                                 Maison Kaspia offers a beautiful setting for a romantic lunch
  • Now, for your last culinary treat:  chocolate.  Pop into #3 Place Madeleine, Patrick Roger’s, one of the best chocolatiers in France.  Monsieur Roger’s is somewhat like visiting the Louvre of chocolates---it’s not unusual to see several feet high artistic sculptures made out of chocolate. If you’re a caramel-lover, you’ll also fall head-over-heels for his dreamy caramels.
The Madeleine Church is reflected in Roger's store window 
displaying his gigantic chocolate sculpture
  • You will now have journeyed around the entire Place Madeleine.  For your last stop, take a left on the street that begins in front of the Madeleine church, Boulevard Madeleine, and go to #3 Boulevard Madeleine.  Here you will find Paris’ most impressive wine shop, Lavinia.  By now you should be thirsty and Lavinia has a fabulous degustation.

Bon appetite!   

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