I spent last week in Paris with my 12-year-old son, Jacob and some friends. It was a trip I had planned and saved for for more than a year. When you tell people you’re going to Paris they cluck with envy and often share personal experiences of their time there. I had been once before– when I was 21 and traveling after studying for a semester in Florence– and I had fond memories of the sights and feel of the city.
The City of Light lived up to my memories and the hype. We had a magical week walking the neighborhoods, wandering through museums, sightseeing, shopping, and of course, eating. If you ask Jacob to name his favorite part of the trip he will certainly say the food. We ate with abandon, but miraculously I think I lost weight. The French eat small portions and don’t snack so I guess all the walking balanced out the bread, cheese, and desserts I consumed.
Paris is an epicurean’s delight. Everything is so fresh, I don’t think we ate any processed food the entire week. I can’t say enough about the bread. Every morning, Jacob had a pain chocolat (chocolate croissant) or pain avec jambon et fromage (ham and cheese croissant) and even at the most basic cafe, they were the best we’ve ever had. Several mornings I walked into a random bakery and ordered a giant baguette that was crunchy on the outside and doughy and warm from the oven on the inside, and cost less than a dollar. C’est magnifique!
Here are my Top 7 favorite Paris eats:
–Greens and Gruyere This classic French salad usually comes with walnuts or pine nuts and a light vinaigrette dressing. The rich, gooey gruyere is baked so it’s soft and easily spreads over the crunchy toast. Yum!
—Steak Frites This was Jacob’s fav for sure. We loved it so much, we visited the famous Le Relais de l’Entrecote twice in a week. There is no menu as they only offer one meal. No-nonsense waiters serve you a green salad with Dijon dressing and two helpings of steak frites with a special green sauce that you can’t get anywhere else. Delicious desserts include profiteroles and fruit melbas topped with gelato.
—Falafel in Le Marais. Who knew you could get such terrific Middle Eastern food in urban France? Le Marais is an old neighborhood on the Right Bank that’s home to many Jews. The falafel, meatballs, tabouli and hummus at Chez Marianne were a tasty distraction from traditional French fare.
—Crepes Is it wrong that we had crepes four times in a week? I admit to my weakness for the light, thin, buttery pancakes smothered in Nutella and bananas, topped with whipped cream. We also indulged in savory crepes with ingredients from greens and assorted veggies to eggs, ham and cheese. We found the excellent Creperie du Clown on rue des Canettes, but the crepes from street stands were equally scrumptious.
Macarons These melt-in-your-mouth cookies are in pastry shops all over Paris but the famous bakery Laduree is where you want to sample them. Macarons are two light, flaky meringue-like biscuits held together by ganache, buttercream or jelly. They come in a wide variety of flavors from raspberry to pistachio, but my preference is chocolate and cafe.
–-Hot Chocolate at Angelina This fancy cafe on rue de Rivoli, near the Tuileries Gardens, is pricey but worth the splurge for a hot chocolate and pastry break on your way to shop on the Champs-Elysees. Imagine melting the richest dark chocolate bar and drinking it out of a teapot. It’s somewhere between hot chocolate and chocolate syrup, and with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, it’s sweet bliss.
–-Gelato Paris isn’t the only place you can get gelato, but it’s one of the best. It must be the all natural ingredients and dense flavor that make this Euro-ice cream so good. Many flock — as we did– to Berthillon on the Ile Saint-Louis for the grande dame of glaces. The chocolate was other-worldly. Don’t I look psyched to dig into this raspberry and chocolate cone at Gelateria Amorino on rue de Buci? They shape the gelato into a rose which is almost too pretty to eat…but not quite!
If you have a pleasurable Paris provision to share, please tell me in the comments. Bon appetit!