Food shopping in Paris -- what is worthy to schlep home?
I'm going to be in Paris for the first time for a long weekend and have set aside one day to shop. Whenever I go to Italy, my favorite thing to do is find a good grocery store and roam the isles finding all kinds of fun things to bring home for myself (I love to cook) and as gifts. Things as simple as olive paste or imaginative bullion cube flavors make me so happy. So here's my question -- what would you bring home from France? I've heard a lot about mustards there, any specific brand recs? How about sweets? Any great candies? Really, just tell me any little yummy things you would stash in your suitcase (to be checked, of course, since it seems like most things these days aren't making it through as carry ons) if you were going to be in Paris. Also -- any great grocery store recs? Thanks in advance!!
Go to the food hall at Bon Marche and Galerie Layfayette--you will find amazing stuff. I always bring home some fleur du sel and other foodie goodies from those places. For wonderful honey go to the place just off Place Madeleine (can't remember the name). If you can find it Christine Ferber jam is a revelation--try Pierre Herve they sometimes have it. While you are there pick up some macarons. I go to the Monoprix for other French food products. While not food, check out the toilet paper options at the super market--great gifts.
I usually pick up dried mushrooms, at very good prices at Monoprix. Oh and while in Place Madeleine for honey dash into Maille for violet mustard--still not available in NA as far as I know. Aside from that you can go to one or more of the shopping streets like rue Cler, rue Buci or rue Mouffetarde. Check out which markets are open. My favourite is on Blvd. Richard Lenoir, near the Bastille. Have fun--walk, look, learn and watch.
Maille mustard: The Madeleine boutique actually offers 30+ varieties of mustard alone - plus vinegars, cornichons, etc. They also dispense classic Dijon on tap into stoneware pots sealed with parchment paper and widemouth corks. It must be vacuum sealed to survive the flight - even carry-on - ask them or a cheese shop very nicely to seal it for you (no guarantees but I've done it).
Christine Ferber jam: She creates a few special and seasonal jams exclusively for Pierre Herme, but Lafayette Gourmet at Galeries Lafayette (Haussmann location only) carries the largest selection in Paris. While you're there, do eat at the best food court in the city - arguably the best anywhere - from artisanal baguette sandwiches at Maison Kayser to matcha green tea mille-feuille at Patisserie Aoki.
Paris Opera house honey: Courtesy of the bees that live on the roof of the Paris Opera Garnier (not Bastille) Their honey is a uniquely Parisian produced product - though relatively expensive. It's occasionally available at the Opera house and Fauchon - the luxury grocer, Madeleine location only. Honey shops include La Maison du Miel (near Madeleine), Les Ruchers de Roy, and Les Abeilles.
Jean-Paul Hevin chocolate: Paris chocolate shops can be intimidating - in price and service - but Hevin (one of the greatest chocolatiers in the world) created a casual, self-service, alternative boutique - Hevin 2. It's chock-full of child-like treats - if you're childhood was incredibly privileged. His chocolate macaroons are the best - actually better than Pierre Herme (we're just comparing chocolate macaroons). Hevin is also infamous for his cheese filled chocolates - meant to be enjoyed as aperitifs - they are cheesy and chocolatey.
I always bring back three things from Paris for my friends and family - bread, cheese, and absinthe. Get a whole round loaf from Poilane; seasonal cheese from Marie-Anne Cantin; and absinthe from Vert d'Absinthe.
The place for honey that faijay mentions is La Maison du Miel (24, rue Vignon). We have gotten wonderful honey there. One of the guides they have for their honeys specifies what ailment it is good for. I never knew it had medicinal uses other than to soothe a sore throat.
It is within several blocks of Maille. We bought a 500g crock which was filled by pump with mustard at Maille. Then you bring the empty crock back and they will refill it. Since they recommend it travel in the cabin rather than in your checked luggage I will not be able to do that anymore. Sad times. Also near there is Lavinia which is a marvelous wine and liquor store. We had lunch there and my husband drooled over the wall which had multiple years of Armagnac
In Paris we go to G Detou which is a restaurant supply store at 58, rue Tiquetonne. There I get containers of dried mushrooms-cepes, chanterelles, etc. for very reasonable prices. This upcoming trip I want to go back to Huierie J. Leblanc (6, rue Jacob) and get another bottle of their fabulous Champagne Vinegar. Their oils are great too, especially the pistachio oil.
We also pick up a bottle of Framboise liqueur. When the raspberries are ripe in my yard I take a bunch of them, cover them with sugar and let them stand overnight. The next morning I put the whole bottle of Framboise over them and shake it up. It sits in the fridge until Thanksgiving when we use the liqueur and raspberries in Champagne. Yummy.
The last few times we have been in France we have visited Provence. We always go to the grocery stores there and stock up on tapenade, pistou and other goodies.
Rue Cler in the 7th has really great shops. La Maison du Jambon has pate, cheeses, hams, all kinds of to go prepared gourmet food. Really great stuff for a picnic. The fomagerie has an unbeliable selection of cheeses, I think over 400 cheeses. Olivier & Co. sells oils and gourmet foods from all over France, I bought a white truffle oil that was to die for. They have sundried tomaotes, anchovies, dried herbs, peppers, great stuff to bring home. Great Chocolate shop, and there "super market" across the street from Cafe Du Marche has some great deals on saffron, peppers, all kinds of herbs, that are so inexpensive. You will find some great things to take back home with you.
Actually, no. Rue Cler is not a market - vendors just set up stands in front of their storefronts. And it's not a farmers' market - they buy their produce from the wholesale market as do the grocery stores. By Sunday their at the end of their week - you can some good bargains, but not great produce. On Sundays go to the organic market in the 6th on Raspail. Here's a list of all Paris food markets by arrondissement - with locations, days/hours, and Metro stop:
Just across the river from the 7th, in the 16th:
Marché Président Wilson
Av. du Pdt Wilson between rue Debrousse and Place d’Iéna.
Wednesdays, 7h to 14h30 and Saturdays, 7h to 15h
Métro Alma-Marceau, Iéna
- see Joël Thiébault - the master produce vendor
Borderline 17th, in the 8th - Batignolles, organic market on Saturdays:
Marché spécialisé biologique Batignolles
Terre-plein bd des Batignolles
Saturdays, 9h to 14h
Métro Rome or Place Clichy
in addition the the vinegars and mustards and honeys and jams, the two things I was most excited to bring back from Paris were:
-Penje pepper (from Le Grand Epiciere)
-Splenda in pellet dispensers
I wish I could have brought back more preserved meats (salamis) and the San Pelligrino Blood Orange soda