I’ve never had a burning desire to travel to Paris. Color me odd, no? The City of Lights draws millions of visitors yearly, but it’s never been on my must-see list. With a fun turn of fate, however, I ended up with 48 hours in France’s largest city and nibbled my way through.
Per my usual style, I poured through guides, was counseled by friends, yet still wasn’t finding quite what suited me. I’m an adventurous traveler, but l still like a little help in steering my rudder. Enter Le Food Trip – a pre-paid food tour passport for independent folks like myself. The organizers at Le Food Trip have curated a unique group of restaurants and businesses within the most interesting neighborhoods of Paris – and set you free to enjoy them at your leisure. I chose to couple this winning idea with transportation through Paris’ self-service public bike program – Velib. Outfitted with a one-day bike pass (just 1,70 € if the bike’s checked into at a station every 30-minutes), and a license-to-nibble, I set out for food and discovered so much more along the way.
I knew olive oil to be complex, but my first stop far surpassed my expectations, as the host at one of Montmartre’s oldest cooking shops walked me through the process. Virgin oils grown in the Provence region have been produced for centuries with dozens of unique varietals available to be pressed. Delicate, deliberate preparation and specific picking protocols create flavors and nuances that are rarely found in my usual haunts back home. I left with a bag-full of oils, salts and macaroons as well as knowledge I’ll embrace for a lifetime.
And then came cheese! France’s Comté (also referred to as Gruyere de Comte) is a pressed, cooked cheese with subtle flavors that is absolutely adored by the French (hence the massive manufacture and control that prescribes how this cheese can be made). Only two specific breeds of cows produce the milk permitted in making comté. Rules for pasturelands promise these happy cows more room to roam, thus creating what I gleefully proclaimed to be “happy cheese” (sorry, France, that’s what I did). Within the walls of what may be Montmartre’s stinkiest store (it’s cheese – so it’s a delicious stink) were mostly cheeses I’ve never seen or eaten before. Because of this, I had them bundle up a package which would later be the star of a delicious Parisian lunch.
And for dessert? The swank-yet-cute Marais neighborhood (near Notre Dame) tucks away a chocolatier with an unexpected surprise. Hidden between cases of world-class chocolates sit an array of tender, golden gaufres (waffle cookies). Batches are received fresh daily from a baker in Lille using molds originally made for them in the 19th-century to create these crispy beauties. With dozens of flavored fillings, I chose a refreshing lemon curd which was the perfect crown to top off a lunch of cheeses, cured meats, a crusty french loaf and a perfectly-picked bottle of rose from my passport experiences.
The beauty of Le Food Trip’s model is that if I’d chosen a month (or three!) to explore the city, rather than the 48 hours that I was afforded, I could enjoy 12 tasting from dozens of options within five neighborhoods in Paris. Each stop was awash with layers of information from friendly, english-speaking shop-keepers and owners. Even better? Le Food Trip offers nibbling passports in Lyon, too – so perhaps it’s time to start planning for another culinary soiree through France again soon.
Kudos to Verizon and Hasselblad for the use of their Moto Z phone and exciting new camera mod. This combination produced some of the best photos I took on the trip!