By Kate van den Boogert
October 22, 2014
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Paris
Credit: Yadid Levy / Alamy

This is not a list of monuments. I’m not going to namecheck the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, or the Arc de Triomphe. I won’t index the city’s incredible museums, nor will I soliloquize the Mona Lisa or hum compositions by Debussy. I know you know these, Paris’s most famous artistic treasures and musical accomplishments. Visiting this city is an opportunity to experience the glamour of Parisian aristocrats, to indulge in the greatest olfactory and culinary feats. Sure, some of our most extraordinary (and expected) accomplishments are in the arts, our histories, and our architecture. But one tried and true way to get to the heart of Paris is by interacting with the city’s more unique gustatory pleasures. In my opinion, Paris is not, as Hemingway claimed, “a moveable feast.” You can’t buy a wheel of cheese at the local supermarket and experience Paris. No, for that, you have to be here.

Sample Oysters at L'Ecailler du Bistrov

The French have been eating and cultivating oysters since Roman times. Typically considered a winter delicacy, in France the rule is to only eat them during months that end in the letter R. Follow this statue and slurp the mollusks only from September to February. L’Ecailler is a much-loved bistro that truly knows its harvest¾owner Bertrand Aboyneau’s father is professional oyster farmer in Brittany.

View Cakes at Patisserie des Rêves

It’s no surprise that French pastries are in a class of their own—and at Patisserie des Rêves, pastry chef Philippe Conticini makes it as thrilling to look at his creations as it is to eat them. His cakes are edible works of art, and may be found displayed on refrigerated slate beneath a glass domes. Try his award-winning Paris-Brest, a choux-pastry filled with hazelnut-flavored butter cream.

Eat Cheese at Androuët

Explore the world of French cheese at Androuët, home to master cheesemongers and maturation-experts since 1909. From creamy brie to pungent Roquefort, to the essential Camembert and the great vintages (Comté and Swiss Gruyere) the dedicated staff (fluent in English, of course) will help guide you to your perfect slice. A vacuums-sealer guarantees your selection will survive the trip home.

Try Bread at Du Pain et des Idées

Consider this the perfect Parisian bakery. The passionate baker Christophe Vasseur makes a short menu of excellent breads and viennoiseries using traditional French techniques. His “Pain des Amis” sourdough baguette is so good, celebrity chef Alain Ducasse features it in all his restaurants in Paris. The historic, 19th century bakery is perfect for a mid-week breakfast, but make note: the shop is closed on weekends.

Sip Wine at Frenchie Wine Bar

Sitting just opposite the picturesque, cobblestone street Rue de Nil is Chef Gregory Marchand’s flagship spot. Pair playful small plates at the bar with a glass or bottle of the eclectic menu, curated by Sommeliere Laura Vidal. What sets this wine bar apart? Vidal exclusively features wines produced by small-scale organic vineyards.