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Paris is the ultimate destination for foodie travelers. The French capital’s long list of Michelin-starred restaurants is impressive and well-documented but there are many other less formal (and expensive) gastronomic experiences to be had here. Try one of the 10 on this list for starters!
Taking a cooking class is a great way to indulge your passion for French cuisine. With Cook’n With Class you can first meet the chef at a food market in Montmartre to pick out the ingredients you’ll be using for a gourmet meal of four courses. At the modern teaching kitchen nearby, the class sizes are kept to just six or eight people to make sure that everyone gets involved. The sessions are given in English and the vibe is relaxed, fun, and educational. For a full list of cooking classes on offer in Paris, check out our dedicated guide.
If the idea of cooking takes your fancy but you’d rather cater exclusively to your sweet tooth, consider a course in the art of macaron making. Over three hours in a private apartment on the Île Saint-Louis and under the supervision of a French chef, you’ll learn how to create the kind of double-decker macarons first made by the Maison Ladurée in 1930, using the recipe of genius pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Possible flavors include chocolate, lemon, raspberry with tonka bean, coconut with milk chocolate, and coffee. At the end of the session, you’ll obviously leave with a generous to-go box.
Worried about what all those extra Parisian calories are going to do to your waistline? Well, first of all, don’t: it’s definitely not worth it. But, all the same, you might like to do a bit of exercise as part of your foodie experience and for this the Paris Gourmet Food Tour is ideal. A small group of up to eight people and led by a local gourmet connoisseur will set out from either a specialist pastry shop in Montmartre or one of the finest cheese shops on the Boulevard Saint-Germain for three hours of exploration in bakeries, wine cellars, and fresh produce markets.
If you’re not one for a group cheese-tasting session but love the thought of a massive serving of dairy goodness, then head to Astier in the 11th arrondissement for lunch or dinner. Everything on the menu at this traditional bistro is delicious, but you need to save some space in your stomach for the final course. The restaurant’s gargantuan cheese platter is what it’s most famous for. It takes up pretty much the entire table and comes loaded with around a dozen varieties, including most of the time some Époisses, Salers, Brie de Meaux, Camembert, and Basque sheep’s milk cheese.
For wine enthusiasts, there are few better experiences to have in Paris than a wine making (and tasting) session at Les Caves du Louvre, an 18th-century royal cellar in the center of the city. The two-hour workshop pairs you with an informative, friendly, and professional guide who’ll teach you everything you need to know to make your very own wine. First, you’ll sample multiple wines to help you pick your grape varieties, then you’ll blend your own, tasting and adjusting till you’re happy with the result, and finally you’ll create a personalized label for the bottle you’ll take away with you.
There is certainly no shortage of mouth-watering chocolatiers in Paris but there’s only one place where you can witness the transformation of the cocoa bean into a bar of delicious chocolate and that’s at La Manufacture de Chocolat Alain Ducasse on the rue de la Roquette in the 11th arrondissement. At this Parisian version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, which is, in fact, a rather elegant boutique, you can watch the process through a glass wall. Delights to try before you leave include the unpolished bars and the pralinés.
For an authentic, solo market experience, walk around the Marché d’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement. This 18th-century food hall is packed with butcher shops, fishmongers, and delicatessens and surrounded by antique and fruit and vegetable stalls. It’s quietest on weekday mornings when it’ll just be locals buying things to cook that night and completely mad on Saturday mornings when all of Paris descends on it for a fun day out. There are over 100 merchants to discover but some things you have to experience are Monsieur Flauhaut’s banter at the Aux 4 Saison d’Aligre and the mad taxidermy at the Michel Brunon and Au Chapon d’Aligre.
Sometimes all you really want (unless you’re vegetarian or vegan) is a nice big steak. And sometimes that moment is in the middle of the night. Should this meatiest of foodie cravings grip you, go straight to La Maison de l’Aubrac. One of Paris’ most famous meat restaurants, it stays open until 1am from Sunday to Tuesday, and from Wednesday to Saturday, until 6am. The team is also all about ethically-sourced meat and their producers adhere to the highest environmental and animal right’s standards. For more late-night dining options, see our dedicated guide to 24/7 restaurants in Paris.
If you’re the kind of person that’s just as (if not more) interested in the wine in the glass than the food on the plate, Il Vino might just be the right place for you. Instead of ordering, a starter, main course, and dessert, you are presented with a menu containing over 1,500 bottles of wine. Once you’ve made your decision about what you’d like to drink, the chefs will prepare a meal that matches your selection perfectly. This unique approach to dining guarantees a different experience every time. Il Vino also happens to one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris.
Lastly, we have Derrière, the first and the best of Paris’ secret dining experiences. It’s located on the edge of the Marais, between Le 404 restaurant and Andy Wahloo, though you wouldn’t know it if you were to wander past them. At the back of the courtyard, you’ll find the entrance to this most eccentric of restaurants. In fact, it’s more of an apartment than a restaurant, where you can eat in the living room next to the ping-pong table or in the bedroom with its mirror mosaic ceiling. It’s pretty out there but definitely something to write home about.