A food tour in Paris at St. Germain des Pres
Paris is definitely a foodie city and there are so many areas of the city to explore and discover some amazing cuisine and specialty foods from around the city. I decided to focus on visiting one arrondissemont in Paris, St. Germain des Pres which is very well known for a plethora of foodie inspired cafes, shops and specialty vendors. I know that I choose wisely, signing for a food tour with Flavors of Paris. They give food tours of markets, shops and specialty purveyors located exclusively in St. Germain des Pres.
Meet me at the Abbey
We are given instructions to meet at the ‘Red door’ fronting this imposing landmark (above) – the Abbey of St. Germain des Pres. I learn that in the middle ages, this area was actually its own town and was located just outside the city walls of Paris. It’s a little early and we are ahead of the scheduled meeting time, so I decide to explore the inside and take a peek at the magnificent interior, and it is unlike any of the churches I’ve visited in Paris.
Take a look at the blue ceilings with stars
Decorated in a rich gothic style with light blue ceilings filled brilliant golden starts, the Abbey shines in rich saturated colors on the ceiling and all around the interior columns, up the central altar piece. This historic Abbey is known to being one of the oldest abbeys in all of Paris, and I’m glad that I had a chance to check the beautiful interiors.
A favorite haunt of intellectuals
Just outside the abbey, the area surrounding the church is packed with packed outdoor cafes. Many of these were the haunts of famous artists and intellectuals including Sartre, Voltaire and Marat. The Café Flore and Les Deux Magots were two of the hangouts frequented by these elite during the heyday of art and literature in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Even though the jazz clubs, book stores and art galleries are mostly gone, what is left is still a draw with the many cafes, shops and specialty food purveyors that still cater to the local crowds and foodie enthusiasts to the area.
Café life for the many ‘ Paris elites’ to hang out
It’s great having our guide tour us through all the hidden streets and alleys of the St. Germain area which you could be easily trying to visit these places on your own. We walk through a very old cobbled street called the Cour du Commerce – it is one of the many small streets that are filled with delicious shops and cafes, and so well hidden in this compact neighborhood. It almost seems like a maze with all these small alleyways and I’m really glad we have someone who knows all the hidden food gems in the area.
Sampling only made in France products
Lets start our food tour in Paris shall we? The first stop on our food tour is a new shop that recently opened called Ma Collection. The shop specializes in specialty food products made in limited productions from artisanal makers around Paris and the outlying regions. The shop owner personally visited each purveyor and selected items that are unique and delicious – a winning combination for her food emporium. There is a large assortment of sweet to savory foods that we can sample including starting with the cheese, olives, tapenades and spreads and eventually leading to the sweater jams and jellies and then desserts. To cap off our visit we also sampled a variety of sweet cakes, cookies and chocolates from different regions of France.
Jelly with gold leaf anyone?
Here is the stunning jar it comes in and it is beautiful right? How about shelling out 32 Euros (approx.) for this gorgeous jelly with champagne and gold leaf or maybe just another spoonful of this to go? It tasted tart and fruity with champagne overtures, the gold leaf had no flavor and was included for a look.
Award winning Boulangerie
What does it take to be the pre-eminent boulangerie in Paris – well a lot of hard work, exceptional ingredients and a lot of talent. So of course, we had to stop by the award winning Maison Eric Kayser, which has all the buzz in Paris with his popular baked breads and delicious pastries. If you do go into the shop, you have to try his signature Monge bread made with a secret special flour mix. We also tried his popular baguette called Malherbes bread flavored with herbs. We tried a third bread called pan au fig translated to fig bread which was my favorite – moist with a crispy exterior and nice fig pieces inside. We sample many of the breads and pastries, and it is all so delicious and earthy. If you do visit Paris make sure you drop into any of his shops and try some of his signature breads, its definitely worth the effort to visit his shops.
Unfortunately, Eric Kaiser does not allow pictures of their breads and pastries or theirinteriors. So I did the next best thing and took a picture just of the exterior of the Boulanger, with just a glimpse of his pastries and breads that we did sample in the shop.
Chocolates and pastries to die for….
One of my favorite if not the best stop of they day was this wonderful chocolate and pastry shop called Un Dimanche a Paris. If you love really good Parisian pastries made on the premises, this is the absolute place to visit and they even have a restaurant next door offering savory and sweet meals that will blow you away. We only visited the salon du chocolate to try some of delicious offerings like this amazing and rich chocolate below, with a nice dark chocolate bar floating on top (pure heaven). They do serve prix fix meals at the restaurant so you can actually have a complete dinner, here is the sample menu that change out regularly.
Yes chocolate goodness with melting dark chocolate
Making perfect desserts in the kitchen
Olive oil anyone?
Next, we stopped by this beautifully decorated shop called Première Pression Provence to sample the different varieties of olive oil that they produce in the Provence region. They market these products through their own stores all over France, including the outlet in St. Germain des Pres. I must admit, it was fun to taste the different flavored olive oils for the more unusual combinations and rich flavors of the olive oil and its very easy to end up trying every single flavor. The shop also sells a variety of Provence inspired gifts, and other food products like the specialty salts or Fleur de sel that uses local herbs and the salt produced from the western region of France.
Le Marche St. Germain des Pres
The last stop on our tour was the Marche, St. Germain des Pres. It’s an indoor food market made up of specialty purveyors selling the finest quality products either made on the premises, or produced from France and sold through these quality markets. Truly a fine foods establishmet, it is pricey but worth the price because of the care, personal service and the best quality products sold from these vendors.
Fresh seafood anyone?
Oh so delicate and fresh..
Picking up the best pates for our last tasting
At the tail end of our tour at la Marche, we all sat down on a special table set up next to the cheese vendor and look at the amazing cheese and cured meats spread we get to sample below. Paired that with a fantastic red Merlot from the wine shop next door, everyone was ready to sample some of the best cheese and cured meats from the market. It was a perfect end to the tour and so much fun with all the food enthusiasts that joined the tour.
Well that really was a fun food tour in Paris at St. Germain des Pres, don’t you think? Flavors of Paris also does chocolate and dessert tours which sounds like another winner in my book that I will have to do for a later time. If you would like to check out any of their tours, check out their website here for more details. If you enjoyed reading this post, would you please share it with any of the social media buttons that are located around the post, thank you so much. If you want to do more exploring, check out my post on what spending a perfect day in Paris would look like.
I was invited to take this food tour with Flavors of Paris around St. Germain des Pres but all opinions and thoughts were my own and it definitely is a wonderful way to discover and enjoy this wonderful area of Paris.