As Ernest Hemingway quoted in 1950: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you may go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for all of Paris is a moveable feast.”
There is much more to Parisian food than fine dining and haute cuisine however. In a city with 18 Michelin starred restaurants, some of the best food can still be bought from humble bakeries and street stalls.
The simple concept of street food is almost as old as the streets themselves and Paris offers some of the best. From pastries to pies and dim sum to duck sandwiches, the French capital is a foodie heaven – even if you are travelling on a budget!
The ‘umble’ baguette
There is nothing ‘umble’ about the Parisian baguette. There is even a competition each year for the ‘best baguette in Paris.’
In October 1920 a law prevented bakers from working before 4 am, making it impossible to make the traditional, round loaf in time for customers’ breakfasts. The slender baguette solved the problem, because it could be prepared and baked much more rapidly.
With 25 million baguettes being sold in France daily, every boulangerie offers a vast choice of fillings from home-cured sausage and salami to melted gruyere cheese and hot roast beef sandwiches with beef broth on the side.
Not recommended if you are counting the calories (what is in France), the world famous croque-monsieur is a gooey cheese delight with ham and a touch of béchamel on toasted bread. For an extra kick ask for some mustard and pickles to be added. A croquet-madame offers extra cheese and an egg on the top!
The cheese shops of Paris are truly a foodie’s paradise. Taste your way through the different regional favourites and don’t be afraid to ask the producer which cheese is best right now. Not many people know that hand-made cheese production in France is a seasonal affair and, similar to vegetables, meat and fish, certain times of the year are better for certain products.
Croissants & Macaroons
There is nothing quite like the enticing sweet and buttery smell of fresh-baked croissants. Buy your morning croissants from a Paris boulangerie which makes their own, accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee. Enjoy your croissants savoury or sweet but don’t order them with butter as this is a big ‘non-non’ in France.
Sweet-toothed tourists and residents alike buy more macaroons than almost any other pastry in Paris. This delicate offering is made up of two meringue circles with buttercream or ganache in the middle. First baked in Paris, macaroons are sold in a variety of colours and flavours. Buy from reputable or long established boulangeries which still bake their own.
Parisian streets are inundated with streets stalls selling crepes. Sweet pancakes make an indulgent afternoon snack. Choose a stall which makes its crepes to order, instead of reheating them. Although you may be tempted by the fillings, sample the butter and sugar crepe for a true taste of France.
Wherever time of year you are travelling to Paris you will be treated to a choice of delicious street food, takeaway options and portable delicacies that you won’t find elsewhere.