It’s hard to conjure an image of a cruise to Paris without focusing on the food: classics such as crêpes and croissants; cozy bistros and brasseries; pyramids of pastries and delicate nibbles of chocolate. The City of Light is a food paradise, and there’s a delight around every corner. Here are 10 iconic tastes of Paris.
One of the delights about walking around Paris is the sweet scent of batter cooking from the numerous stands making crêpes on demand. Keep an eye out for crêperies with a line of French speakers; those are usually the best spots. Don’t miss out on ordering one of the popular sweet versions, such as those filled with Nutella or sugar with lemon juice, or a savory option such as ham and cheese.
Where to find it: Look for stands in the shopping neighborhoods of Le Marais and St-Germain-des-Prés and food markets such as the one at Bastille.
The combination of seared steak and crispy fries is a bistro classic. There’s no better place to try the meat-and-potatoes favorite than at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, which only serves one entrée: tender sirloin steak with golden frites. The steak is topped with a tasty green-herb sauce, and the frites are kept on a warm serving dish until you’re ready for more; it’s an addictive favorite with locals and tourists alike. Follow the French lead and order a bottle of well-priced red wine and finish with dark-chocolate-topped profiteroles.
Where to find it: Try the steak frites at any of LeRelais de l’Entrecôte’s three locations: 20 rue Saint Benoît; 101 blvd Du Montparnasse; 15 rue Marbeuf
What to drink on an excursion in Paris? Try a Kir (pronounced Keer), an easy-to-sip blend of dry white wine touched with crème de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur. The pink-tinted cocktail is a perfect sip or aperitif (before-dinner drink) at any sidewalk café in the city. For a bubbly version, order a Kir royale, which substitutes another French favorite, Champagne, for the white wine.
Where to find it: Most sidewalk cafés serve Kir cocktails, and they’re also great spots for people watching.
Those long golden breads in every bakery window look too good to pass by, and there’s no need for you to keep walking. Although you might not want to smuggle one of the crackling loaves back to your stateroom (Or maybe you do. Who are we to judge?), you can easily sample France’s fabulous bread at breakfast as a tartine, a section of baguette served along with creamy French butter and marmalade, or have it as a sandwich to go, such as the classic jambon beurre (ham and more of that addictive French butter).
Where to find it: You can’t go wrong with the loaves of celebrated baker Éric Kayser; his eponymous boulangeries are located throughout the city, including at 8 rue Monge on the charming Left Bank. Insider’s tip: Pointed ends on a baguette signify a hand-crafted loaf.
Here’s a bit of information. Truly authentic croissants in Paris, (those loaded with butter and made by hand) are straight; mass-produced versions have the signature U-curve that many people associate with “real” croissants. To confirm the real deal, check out the shape of the croissants in bakeries as you stroll the city.
Where to find it: Blé Sucré (7 rue Antoine Vollon), in the Bastille neighborhood, makes one of the city’s pre-eminent crispy, flaky, cover-your-shirt-with-crumbs versions. They also excel at pan au chocolate (chocolate-filled croissant).
Oysters from France’s northwestern Brittany coast are a favorite of Parisians. The flat-bottomed bivalves from Belon are especially popular; they’re flavorful with a fresh saline pop. Most spots serve them simply with a lemon wedge or tangy mignonette, which is combination of red wine vinegar and chopped shallots. Pick up the shell with your hands, tilt back your head and enjoy every last drop.
Where to find it: You can find fresh-from-the-sea, well-priced options at the Bastille Market.
French macarons are as lovely to look at as they are to eat. You’ll see the small domes of almond meringues sandwiched around delicately flavored buttercream in shop windows around the city, arranged in pastel-rainbow rows with flavors such as pistachio, rose, raspberry and chocolate.
Where to find them: Pierre Hermé creates jewel-box versions of the miniature treats. They’re beautiful enough to bring home as gifts, but they’re hard to resist eating long enough to do so. There are locations across the city, including in the food hall of Galeries Lafayette (35 boulevard Haussmann), an upscale French department store.
It’s a café culture in Paris, but that doesn’t mean you have to drink coffee. Thick, rich hot chocolate made from dark chocolate and steamed milk is a sophisticated sip. Order a hot chocolate and you’ll be presented with a bowl of fresh whipped cream and a pitcher of molten chocolate so thick many people eat it with a spoon.
Where to find it: The place to get it is Angelina (226 rue de Rivoli), which has been synonymous with chocolat chaud for more than a century. The pastries at Angelina are lovely as well; try the signature Mont-Blanc, a combination of meringue, whipped cream and chestnut cream vermicelli.
In Paris, one name reigns supreme when it comes to glace (ice cream), and that’s venerable Berthillon . The flavors are rich and creamy, dense with fresh flavor, and made with seasonal produce. A few of the most popular flavors are wild strawberry, salted butter caramel and dark chocolate.
Where to find it: Berthillon (29-31 rue Saint-Louis en l’île). Note that the shop is closed in August, but many cafés on this street serve the Berthillon brand throughout the year; you can identify them by a sign in their windows.
Leave it to the French to elevate grilled cheese to a gourmet experience. Croque Monsieur combines Gruyere cheese with ham on brioche bread, covers it with rich béchamel, and then toasts the ingredients until they’re melted into sandwich bliss. (A Croque Madame gilds the lily with a fried egg on top.)
Where to find it: For the ultimate croque with a sidewalk view, order yours at the historic Café de Flore (172 blvd St Germain).