By Brent Rees
THE CITY OF LIGHT IS MANY THINGS AND ‘FOODIE HAVEN’ IS ONE OF THEM. DISCOVER WHERE PARISIANS SOURCE THEIR INGREDIENTS FOR THOSE SIGNATURE FRENCH DISHES.
If there’s a way you can possibly do it, try and live in Paris as a local just once in your life.
If you can manage it, ideally, try to stay for a few weeks.
That’s long enough to really get into the swing of this fabulous, fabulous city.
I’ve been lucky enough to do it and managed to book accommodation above a boulangerie, right in the thick of the action.
It was a great start to my adventure.
One of my enduring memories of this short but unforgettable sojourn in the City of Light was discovering the food streets of Paris and how they are an intrinsic part of life for locals.
A daily visit to the nearest fromagerie is just one of the gastronomic treats waiting for you as a ‘local’ in Paris.
Located in the 7th arrondissement as I was, strolling along Rue Cler was a daily ritual.
It sounds dreamy now but dropping by a handful of shops and street carts to procure the elements of a gourmet picnic and then meander across the street to Champ de Mars to sit on the lawns while the mighty Eiffel Tower held centre stage, was, well, just my routine.
The Champ de Mars surrounding the Eiffel Tower is a favourite picnic spot.
There are many ‘food streets’ in Paris, but here three of my favourites; Rue Cler (7th Arrondissement), Rue Mouffetard (5th Arrondissement) and Rue Montorgueil (2nd Arrondissement).
Street markets per se pop up everywhere around the city on different days of the week but streets permanently dedicated to top notch seafood, cheeses, wines, produce and the like are something altogether more special.
The cobblestones of Rue Cler only add to the magic as you peruse the stalls and windows or occupy a kerbside cafe seat to take it all in.
If you plan on visiting, the closest Metro stop to here is Ecole Militaire.
Of the many sensual treats you’ll discover, you must drop by Davoli – La Maison du Jambon.
Funnily enough, it’s an Italian-owned delicatessen but something of a Parisian institution selling signature homemade dishes and fresh cuts that have to be tasted to be believed.
The same could be said for Creperie Ulysee en Gaule.
If crepes are your guilty pleasure, be prepared to feel very, very guilty.
And very few cheese shops in France would have the audacity to call themselves singularly, Fromagerie.
But Fromagerie does just that. An amazing selection of France’s finest dairy products lies within. And be sure you try the Epoisse.
Another tip, if you plan to visit Rue Cler on a Monday, perhaps think again as there may be quite a number of stores closed, but Sundays are generally fine before mid-afternoon. That goes for most food streets in Paris.
Over in the 5th, Rue Mouffetard is very much a local’s street – a slowly descending narrow thoroughfare where the air is filled with the smells of hundreds of competing delicacies.
The closest Metro stops to here are Cardinal-Lemoine and Censier- Daubenton.
It can be busy – even busier at night – but well worth a visit to immerse yourself in the way everyday Parisians go about their business and the ritual of discovering fresh food, hand-selected.
The district surrounding Rue Mouffetard is what you might call ‘arty’ so it’s easy to while away many hours exploring the eclectic world around you. A personal favorite here is another fromagerie, The House of Androuet, at number 134.
In the heart of the city, Rue Montorgueil is among the more trendy food locales with bistros and cafes sitting alongside a wonderful array of boulangeries, patisseries and providores. It is also one of the oldest market districts. It follows therefore you will find some of the oldest established food outlets in Paris and Patisserie Stohrer is one of them dating back to the 1730s.
It’s expensive but your tastebuds won’t complain if you indulge just a wee bit.
This area is notable for its seafood so make sure to sample what all the fuss is about by dropping in to Rocher de Cancale to sample the oysters for lunch.
The locals have been doing it for 150 years!
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