When I was in Paris, I had the opportunity to do a food tour with Paris by Mouth, which hosts a variety of food tours across the French capital city. We chose to partake in the Saint Germain morning tour, which included a bakery, patisserie, chocolate shop, market, and wine shop.
Paris by Mouth
Paris by Mouth is very selective in the guides on their staff. Every guide is expert-knowledgeable about the particular destinations on the tour and many also work in other aspects of food and wine. They’re also not necessarily French; our guide was an American woman named Jennifer. She has lived in Paris for many years and is fluent in French and English. She’s also incredibly knowledgeable about the cheese and wine we tasted, and it is her mission to try every single French cheese. For reference, there are around 400 different kinds of cheese, and many varieties within those 400, making it nearly 1,000 French cheeses!
A Taste of Saint Germain
Saint Germain, or officially Saint Germain des Pres, is located within the 6th arrondissement in Paris. It is a major administrative district on the Left Bank and surrounds the former Abbey of Saint Germain des Pres. The Jardin de Luxembourg is also within the neighbourhood, just a few blocks from the various places we visited. Saint Germain has a rich artistic history and is home to the famous Ecole des Beaux Arts. Today it is an eclectic upscale neighbourhood with bakeries, patisseries, chocolate shops, trendy cafes, wine bars, bookshops, and designer boutiques. Of course, we were very focused on the food of Saint Germain, and with Jennifer as our guide we were ready for a morning filled with amazing food.
Our first stop was a historic bakery, where we tasted their delicious apple tartelette. There was plenty more on offer though, from traditional breads to rich sweet breads like their famous raisin rye. This popular bakery still makes their bread in the traditional manner, and the air was full of the smell of fresh baked bread. We picked up a loaf of their sourdough miche bread, which we saved until the end of our tour.
Just a few streets over, our second stop was a famous patisserie that makes the best macarons in Paris. Macarons are a staple of French baking. They are a meringue-based cookie, made with egg, white sugar, icing sugar, and almond powder. Macarons are also coloured, which makes them a delight to see in a pastry case! There is also usually a filling, typically buttercream, ganache, or jam.
At this always-packed pastry shop, we got to select one macaron to taste. We also picked up a bunch of salted caramel butter macaron, which we saved for our final destination.
Our third stop was a chocolate shop, where we tasted two different dark chocolates. France, and its neighbour Belgium, are famous for their chocolates and no trip to Paris is complete without visiting a chocolate shop. Our two dark chocolates were a dark chocolate rocher and a dark chocolate with lemon and basil. Rochers are simply melted chocolate and slivered almonds, and very traditionally French.
At our second to last stop, the Marche Couvert, or covered market, we had the chance to shop for some charcuterie and cheeses that we would taste at our final stop.
At the wine shop, our final stop, we sat down with a few bottles of wine, our sourdough bread, and selection of cheese from the market. The wines we tried were a 2015 Sancerre AOC, a 2016 Côte Chalonnaise, and a 2012 Vacqueyras AOC. The Sancerre was from Domaine Sautereau and is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. The Chalonnaise is 100% Pinot Noir from Burgundy, from Domaine Theulot Juillot, and the Vacqueyras is a Syrah and Grenache blend from the Northern Rhône Valley vineyard of Domaine des Amouriers.
We had a charcuterie platter with rosette de Lyon, jambon aux herbes and confit de canard pâté. We also tasted some French cheeses like Rovethym, a goat cheese from Provence which has a fairly strong flavor of thyme and other herbs. Napoléon, a sheep cheese from Aquitaine, aged 8-18 months, is an artisan cheese made with the milk of the Manech ewe, known for producing sweet milk. Napoléon is smooth and well balanced with notes of nuts, caramel and mountain flowers.
Here at the wine shop, Jennifer described more in detail what we were eating and drinking, as well as in which region of France it was produced. She had a handy little map to show us the diverse regions of France and where everything comes from.
I highly recommend the tours offered by Paris by Mouth. It was highly professional, while at the same time filled with fun facts about the various places we stopped at. The company offers several other tours in different districts of Paris, like Marais, Left Bank, and Latin Quarter, as well as one that focuses on the many, many different French cheeses! No matter your taste buds, you will find a tour here that suits you and your family!
For more information: https://parisbymouth.com/food-tours/
I was a guest of Paris by Mouth but as always opinions are my own.