Gastronomy in Paris
Updated 3 weeks ago

One of the foodie capitals of the world, Paris is a haven for those who love gastronomy. The French are extremely conscious of terroir - the qualities of the land and environment in which wine or food is grown - and are selective when it comes to ingredients, dishes, cheeses and - of course - wine. No wonder the gastronomy of the French was given UNESCO status as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2010! In short, Paris is a wonderful city in which to unleash your inner gourmand, whether you are an avid cook or simply a lover of dining out (extremely) well.

Paris markets

Shopping for groceries at a local Paris market is a quintessential part of the rhythm of Paris life. Almost 100 markets take place throughout the week in Paris, from open-air markets in city squares to large covered markets packed full of vendors - but it is worth noting that there are no markets on Mondays!

Paris locals shop at their local market regularly, and you’ll find each market complete with a fishmonger, cheesemonger, butcher, numerous vegetable stores with seasonal produce, mustards, herbs, speciality produce, charcuterie and more. Markets open early, from around 8 am until around 2 pm as a general rule, while covered markets are usually open daily.

In terms of market etiquette, it is not usual to handle the produce yourself, but rather to ask the assistance of one of the stall holders who will help you put together your shopping list. Be sure to ask their advice on produce - for example; they may ask you when you plan to use the ingredients, in order to provide the most suitable produce. Making a particular recipe? Explain this to your vendor, and they will suggest the best ingredients for your dish. Food and ingredients are a passion here, so find the vendors you like and who treat you well, then return to the same stalls time and again - you will soon become a recognised local and an appreciated customer.

To discover all the Paris markets and to find your nearest one, this helpful map is invaluable.

Understanding food labels in France

While the French take so much care with their produce, they are also fiercely protective of gastronomic traditions and historic products. Some products are awarded AOC Status (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) which means it is strictly regulated. When a product is marked as AOC, the process by which it is produced is rigorously protected and controlled in order to preserve its authenticity and originality. That may mean that stringent rules apply as to the region in which it is produced, the size or weight of the product, the ingredients used to make it, or the methods by which it is made. In this way, the authenticity of iconic cheeses, wines and other produce can be closely guarded. It also means the product you are buying is of exceptional quality!

Local shopping

When not shopping at their local markets, Parisians prefer small, independent boutiques with particular expertise to supermarkets, which they use instead for convenience items. In the mornings and particularly at weekends, the queue for fresh bread and pastries can reach out of the door at local boulangeries, a ritual repeated in the late afternoons when customers arrive to buy their bread for the evening meal. Local butchers, cheesemongers, fishmongers and vegetable stalls are a common sight in the streets of Paris, and customers do pay attention to the origin of the produce. Vendors must clearly display the origin of the product alongside its name and the price per kilo.

The latest food trends in Paris

When it comes to rising trends in Paris, there is a growing love of speciality stores, particularly within the world of patisserie. An increasing number of boutiques specialise in one thing and do it exceptionally well. Names like Eclair de Génie (éclairs), Aux Merveilleux de Fred (Merveilleux) Pierre Hermé (Macarons) and many others are common amongst those who know and love the specially sweet treats made in these establishments.

On the savoury side, brunch has swept the city by storm and given rise to trendy local favourites such as Holybelly, Benedict, Twinkie Breakfast and Café Oberkampf, while most Paris restaurants now offer a special weekend brunch menu for a fixed price.

Burgers may seem like a strange passion for Parisians, but their love affair with the trendy burger scene shows no sign of slowing. PNY is a popular hotspot with numerous outposts, while names like Blend, Five Guys, Big Fernand and Mamie Burger are also heavy hitters.

For those looking for inventive yet trendy dining destinations, a penchant for small plates and family-style dining is also on the rise. The now mythically popular Frenchie may have kickstarted the trend, but others were swift to follow - think L’Avant Comptoir, the Mama group (Big Mama, Pink Mama, Big Love), Le Mary Céleste, Au Passage and the ever-popular Septime.

Dining on a budget

Just because you’re in Paris, doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to eat well. The most cost-effective way to dine in Paris is to take advantage of excellent lunch-time formulas - set menus at very affordable prices. This is also an excellent way to dine at restaurants which, in the evenings, would otherwise be out of your budget.

Check out La Fourchette for the latest reductions and deals - and also book tables - to save extra money on dining out. A growing trend for affordable, fast-paced dining is on the rise in Paris, making eating out on a shoestring much easier. Trendy hotspots now include Bouillon Pigalle, Bouillon Chartier Montparnasse (in addition to the original Bouillon Chartier in the Grands Boulevards neighbourhood) and Bouillon Julien - all focused on affordable plates, good quality and a boisterous atmosphere.

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