Cooking classes with a top chef, a trip to Rungis market, or a tour around France through its cheeses… Discover the secrets of French cuisine, declared World Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.
The belly of Paris
Before the Paris food market moved south of the city to Rungis, it was based in Les Halles.
However, by the 1960s, this bustling market, housed under the emblematic structures designed by Victor Baltard, was no longer adapted to modern needs. Today, Rungis is the largest fresh produce market in the world.
Normally only open to food professionals, this “town within a town” is now accessible to the public thanks to the fabulous guided visits organised by Cultival.
The tour starts before sunrise, allowing participants to witness the people and produce that make Rungis come alive. Over the course of your visit, you can immerse yourself in the effervescence of the seafood pavilions, the butchers’ stands, the dairy produce, and the plethora of fruits and vegetables, before ending at the flower pavilion, where you can enjoy the heady scents of thousands of roses, camellias, irises and many others.
By which time you will be ready to tuck into the copious breakfast provided, sourced entirely from the market!
A touch of Cordon Bleu
To the client that dreams of mastering French cuisine.
To learn the tricks that guarantee the smoothest sauces, the most delicate macaroons, and the most unctuous éclairs?
Founded in 1895, Cordon Bleu Paris is one of the world’s most prestigious private cookery schools, offering workshops that transform beginners into culinary experts. Taught by professional chefs, you can learn the techniques and secrets of the best cooks, patisserie chefs and wine experts over the course of a 3-hour or 1-day workshop.
Old-school French dining
At the end of the 18th century, “bouillons” – vast restaurants serving hearty French food at budget prices — began opening across Paris. By the 19th century there were more than 200. Almost all have since disappeared, replaced by the pricier, intimate brasseries.
The good news? Thanks to a group of passionate foodies, the tradition is back with the Bouillon Pigalle.
Here, guests will find all the ingredients of a classic “bouillon” restaurant: unpretentious atmosphere, low prices, massive dining rooms holding hundreds of diners, red leatherette benches, bistrot-style chairs and a menu filled with classic French dishes (potato and herring salad, bœuf bourguignon, blanquette de veau) in a hip and trendy atmosphere. The first floor also includes a lovely covered terrace. Note, the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
Travel through time to the sound of the accordion
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, ” guinguettes” – establishments halfway between a village ball and a restaurant, located on the banks of the Marne – inspired painters, singers, cinematographers, and provided a joyful getaway for Parisians missing the countryside.
Diners can still enjoy these establishments, dedicated to dancing, drinking and simple French cooking, today. Guinguette de l’île du Martin Pêcheur, surrounded by greenery, is set on an island accessible by a little bridge.
Here, served under a little arbour, the white wine flows freely, while you can enjoy fricassee of eel of and home-cooked terrine accompanied by the sounds of the accordion. Worthy of a Renoir painting!
A paradise of cheeses
Soft-ripened or washed-rind; hard or semi-hard; raw, runny, melted or blue; cow, sheep or goat… The world of cheese, that essential aspect of French gastronomy, can sometimes appear dizzyingly complex.
And when it comes to finding the right wine to pair with these marvels, many may decide to throw up their hands. Three passionate cheese-lovers decided to create Paroles de Fromager as way to open up this elusive world to the general public.
In their beautiful, traditional style boutique and restaurant, you can taste more than 150 cheeses, all matured on site. Plus, they hold discovery workshops in their vaulted 17th-century cellar, which will transform you into a cheese and wine expert in no time!
Lead image: Le Cordon Bleu Paris | © Le Cordon Bleu International 2019