Meg Zimbeck / Paris by Mouth

In the City of Light, these excursions keep your eyes entirely on the plate.

Amy Tara Koch
September 08, 2015

You’re headed to Paris, gastronomic capital of Europe. You loved Hemingway’s A Movable Feast, belong to your local wine society, and routinely julienne vegetables with visions of Julia Child flitting through your head.

And yet, you become anxious. How can you capture the culinary essence of Paris in a few short days? Bon chance! A cross-section of excellent walking tours focused on the city’s gastronomic delights offer hungry travelers the perfect expedition while they’re there. Here’s the scoop on our top three.

Context Travel: Baguette to Bistro - Culinary Traditions of Paris

Who It’s For
The burgeoning Francophile who does not shy away from attractive carbs, alluring pork products, or full-bodied cheeses that channel the parfum of your high school soccer cleats.

Why It’s Great
The two-and-a-half-hour tour focuses on small, family-run shops on the Left Bank. The docents—sommeliers, food writers, and chefs—give great context to France’s artisanal food chain, and how its carefully guarded production impacts the country’s culinary heritage.

Their backstories (for example, Roquefort cheese has been protected by the government since the 15th century. Its AOC designation enforces that this moist blue cheese be produced from grass-fed Lacaune sheep, and cured in only seven caves within the region of Roquefort-sue-Soulzon) offer new appreciation for ancient food traditions.

What You’ll Taste
Rillette, fois gras, cheese, paté, dozens of pork products, baguette, Armagnac.

What You’ll Learn
How to discern an artisanal baguette from mass-produced merde, the difference between a cheesemonger and an affineur—a cheese artisan who ages pedestrian dairy into fromage fabulosity—and how to discern a terrine from pate en croute. And, of course, you’ll understand why fois gras is essential to a French diet.

Details
$100 per person; book reservations here.

Related: Best Walking Shoes for Women

Paris by Mouth: Taste of The Marais

Who It’s For
Anyone interested in gaining an appreciation of French gastronomy.

Why It’s Great
Paris By Mouth, a top website devoted to chronicling the local food and wine scene, organizes small group culinary tours in several food-focused neighborhoods. Their Marais tour offers gastro ground rules. You’ll visit small artisanal shops on Rue Charlot, and walk the food stalls of the historic Le Marche des Enfants Rouge, Paris’s oldest covered market.

What You’ll Taste
Breakfast pastries, baguette, paté, chocolate, cheese, charcuterie, fruit, wine.

What Youll Learn
How to recognize and enjoy the genius of the traiteur (prepared food shops) of Paris, how to discover the best boucherie (chicken’s feet are always presented to display freshness), how to pair wines with cheese, and why artisanal, family-run businesses will always trump supermarket swill in Paris. After your experience, tasting notes are emailed to you for reference.

Details
$106 per person; book reservations here.

Chloe Chocolat

Who It’s For
Serious chocolate lovers.

Why It’s Great
You’ll visit Paris’s top chocolate shops with Chloe Doutre-Roussel, a world-renowned expert who will transform your palate and appreciation for all things cacao.

What You’ll Taste
Insane bars, truffles, and specialty sweets from Patrick Roger, Pierre Hermé, Jean-Paul Hévin, and Pierre Marcolini.

What Youll Learn
In Paris, chocolate is high art. The shops are like fashion boutiques and the delicacies are presented as if they’re trend-forward capsule collections. Curated tastings offer an introduction to esoteric flavor profiles and single-origin cacao. You will never touch a Tootsie Roll again.

Details
$112 per person for groups of four to eight; book reservations here.

Amy Tara Koch writes about family travel, Chicago, and more for Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter at @AmyTaraKoch and Instagram at @amytarakoch.

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