During our recent visit to Paris we booked the “Paris’ Best Flavours” food tour with operator “Anto’s Paris” via Tripadvisor (£61.50 each). Anto’s Paris Like a Local had received some great reviews, which alerted us to the tour (even though the tour itself we had not found any reviews on, except for a solitary 5 out of 5 rating here and there with no weight).
Our tour was larger than average comprising eight paying guests. Our guide was a bubbly lady in her early thirties who had been living in Paris for ten years but initially hailed from Mexico. I can’t seem to remember her name.
After a short introduction and a brisk five minute walk we arrived at our first stop: Blé Sucré, a bakery known for their out-of-this-world croissants and other fine pastry. We all opted for the pain of chocolat, one each, and it sure turned out to be a very good choice. While we were sitting at the tables outside the store we got to speak some more with the other members of our group. As usual there was a good mix of people from all over the globe and the majority were around our age and a bit younger.
When we had finished we walked on to stop #2: Farine & O (when you pronounce the name, it sounds like flour and water in French), a bakery famed for its baguettes which had received some of the highest accolades. We tried a few baked nibbles that were standing around in bowls and bought two baguettes for our picnic later.
Just across the street Marché Aligre, perhaps our favourite grocery market in Paris, begins. It was just as colourful and vibrant as we had remembered it (more so, actually, because during our last visit it had been quite cloudy with a constant drizzle). We checked out the fruit, veg, the cured goods and fresh seafood, until we arrived at the next stop: Torrefaction Aouba, hands down the best coffee we’ve had in Paris on this trip.
Freshly caffeinated we continued our walk along the stands and tasted some pickled olives. Past two hilarious street musicians who had attracted huge crowds we walked towards that section of the market where all hotchpotch and other paraphernalia from bronze statuettes via cheap jewellery and packs of twenty plastic clothes-pegs to china and kitchen utensils are changing hands.
From there the tour progressed to a lovely little spice store (they also sell plants, seeds, and various other goods) where I felt immensely lucky to have found some ground caraway, which is extremely hard to come by most everywhere else. The store owner, an old, very friendly lady, was clearly equally enthusiastic that she found a wholesale customer who put his money where his mouth was (I bought the whole batch for €12). Happy days all around so to say.
The highlight of our tour would come now as we entered the covered section of the market where the focus was on ready-to-eat, cooked foods, cured meats, cheese, patés, salads, and the like. Our guide had already had two platters prepared for us, one with cured meats, ham, and sausage, one with different types of cheese. We opened the container of remaining olives, broke bits of bread off, and started to tuck in. No country does this kind of thing like the French do, it was outrageously delicious and plentiful.
Next on our list: Le Baron Rouge, a hugely popular, picturesque, traditional wine and oyster bar with outdoor stall. We sat down at the tables inside, next to the bar, and were asked to choose our tipple. Ms B & I went for the white Sancerre, which had an intense, minerally, even fruity yet elegant note (that’s what we thought anyway… no experts on wine).
It was entertaining to see our guide joke around with the guy behind the bar and some of the regulars. As it happened, there was a mini-art exhibition going on across the walls, where drawings were hanging and up for sale, something this bar, we heard, regularly does.
Walking back towards our starting point along the main axis of the market we did one last stop and sit-down to try some tasty foie gras and some divine chocolate truffles at L’Epicier. We also bought some powdered seafood stock at the store.
After two and a half very enjoyable hours we thanked our tour guide, said goodbye to everyone, and made our way towards the catacombs, which were next on our list that day. Even though we felt that our tour guide was perhaps not the most knowledgeable guide we’ve ever had, and even though she got a few facts slightly wrong and generally provided only limited insights, we would give this tour 4 out of 5. We’re not doing these tours to learn a million facts, we’re doing them to taste some great food, perhaps enjoy a nice drink, to meet some other like-minded people and to have a pleasant time. Our tour guide definitely delivered 100% on that end.
Looking for more fun activities? Try our Porto posts about rock-climbing, off-roading, and exploring ancient Roman mines, canyoning, as well as our day trip down the Douro Valley. We also wrote about our rides on a jetski, a jet boat, a Vietnam War amphibian vehicle, a camel, a rubber boat, and a hot air balloon.
Restaurant reviews include Galvin La Chapelle and Galvin at the Athenaeum, as well as Coco Momo, all in London, the Porch House, Stow-on-the-Wold, Neptune, Hunstanton, La Scuderia, Frankfurt, and L’Ange 20, Paris.