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Must Do Foodie Visits in Paris and Throughout France

So I'll be living in Paris until June and am looking for the best foodie experiences in Paris and also throughout France...

It's somewhat of a difficult / particular request I suppose. I'm not really looking for the best restaurants / cheap eats / or best chocolates / pastries etc. so much as the "must experience" food related places (mills/vineyards/breweries/factories/farms), happenings, food stores, etc... Also, I'm less interested in the obvious - i.e. the street markets throughout Paris are an overprescribed must / Pierre Herme damn your crack macarons! - and more in the unusual/amazing...

I know this is somewhat of a crazy request as I'm sure there are a million spectacular places throughout France but suggestions for food places closer to Paris (train accessible if possible within 2-3 hours) are most welcome as I'd like to enjoy day trips on the weekends. However, I will have the month of May entirely dedicated to food visits so really I'm up for anything...

Possible suggestions: veggie farms, cheese farms, apiaries, salt marshes, oyster farms, truffle hunting, olive picking / oil making, vineyards... etc!

Also suggestions for particularly special boutiques in Paris are also very welcome (to keep me going when I need a serious food fix and can't make it to a dairy farm one weekend :)

Boutiques:
- the Maille Boutique (mustard on tap?! yes please!)
- Huilerie J. Leblanc Boutique (ideally would love to visit the actual oil mill in Iguerande if possible but I'll start with their boutique)

Places:
- Rungis
- Fleur de Sel Salt Marshes in Guerande (Terre de Sel)
- Truffle Hunt with Edouard Aynaud in Pechalifour (a suggestion closer to Paris would be much appreciated!)

....aside from those places... I don't know where to look!

Thanks!

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  1. "veggie farms, cheese farms, apiaries, salt marshes, oyster farms, truffle hunting, olive picking / oil making, vineyards... etc!"

    Trains go to towns and not really to small villages. These places you want to go will be hard to get to by public transport.

    vineyards
    - ask the office du tourisme of Beaune if there are bus tours to the nearby vineyards
    - or train to Sancerre

    Truffle hunting
    May, June? doubt it.

    Oyster
    try to take train+bus to Cancale

    nut oil farm
    The ferme-auberge Moulin à huile de noix in Martel has a walnut mill and great food, with ingredients from the farm or neighboring farms. Try to train to Martel (the Martel in the Lot region) then walk about 2 hours out of the village.

    Apiaries.
    There is an apiary school in Paris, in the Jardin de Luxembourg.

    Cheese farm
    Ferme Charbonnières, in Menthon Saint Bernard. Train to Annecy. Then bus to Menthon Saint Bernard. Then walk about 45 minutes.

    "Also suggestions for particularly special boutiques in Paris"

    Epices Roellinger, 51 bis, rue Sainte-Anne

    Rungis
    See previous threads re Rungis visits.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Thanks for the reply!

      I'm aware that many - if not all - the places I'd like to visit are not directly accessible via public transport. I have a bicycle though (I enjoy long distance road cycling) so cycling out to the villages is almost a plus for me (bike ride in the countryside plus a cheese tour = perfect saturday).

      I'm less concerned with the logistics of travel right now and more with just developing a list of potential places to visit. Then I'll work out what makes sense to visit, when, if I need to rent a car etc...

      As for truffle hunting, you're right - May will prove challenging as the season is already coming to a close - which is why I was planning to visit next weekend actually... I just didn't want to take the six hour train south if there was a notable farm closer to Paris.

      1. re: bernardo.s

        "truffle hunting, you're right - May will prove challenging as the season is already coming to a close - which is why I was planning to visit next weekend actually... I just didn't want to take the six hour train south if there was a notable farm closer to Paris."

        In general the whole terroir concept is: heaven (climate) + earth (soil) + people. One can't get around this.

        1. re: Parigi

          there are a couple of exceptions, but overwhelmingly, you'll never see where the truffles are produced -- it's a closely-guarded secret, and not really done as organized farms.

          People have died over the locations of truffle-producing groves.

          To find producers, try www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com -- the logistics are going to be really difficult.

          1. re: sunshine842

            You will not find truffles in France in May. And there are no "truffle farms."

            How much easier life would be if there were! ;)

            1. re: ChefJune

              "And there are no "truffle farms."" - is this really true?

              I understood the majority of truffle production was from inoculated trees that were planted in managed plantations.

              "In the last 30 years, new attempts for mass production of truffles have been started. Eighty percent of the truffles now produced in France come from specially planted truffle-fields. Nonetheless, production has yet to recover its 1900s peaks. Local farmers are opposed to a return of mass production, which would decrease the price of truffles." - source Wikipedia.

              OK pigs and dogs are used to find the truffles but this is usually within the confines of the plantation. The image of the gnarled old peasant foraging in the forests is probably more marketing hype than fact. I imagine the French are now looking over their shoulders as new world production comes on stream....the truffles take 5 to 7 years to mature so expect truffles to get a lot cheaper and more common.

              1. re: PhilD

                "The image of the gnarled old peasant foraging in the forests is probably more marketing hype than fact."

                Obviously you've never been in the southwest in the fall.

                1. re: PhilD

                  There is a Burgundian truffle "farm" in the Haute Cotes de Nuits just up from Nuits St. George. Near Conceour. 3ish hours from Paris by train. Main truffle season is late fall/early winter here. Not sure about May.

                  1. re: DaTulip

                    the truffles will be long gone by May (and next year's crop a long way from ready)

          2. re: bernardo.s

            uhhh, France has buses that go to the small towns. .......I know, I've ridden them. In my experience, British guidebooks have better information on bus riding than US ones. Try rough guide. . .

            1. re: jenn

              "France has buses that go to the small towns"

              To certain small towns but not so much to villages. Farms and mills are usually not in towns. Also, many of those towns have one bus a day, if not a couple of buses per week.

              The point is not whether the bus system ver reaches some towns in France.
              If one only goes to those towns that can be reached by buses, it is already extremely limiting. Furthermore, one must find from those towns the specific farms that the OP is looking for. But if you say Rough Guide has such info, that will be very helpful for the OP.

        2. From my experiences, here's a partial list of wht I would consider "con't miss" places and/or food in France. (Definitely NOT all in Paris).

          The Olive oil collaborative in Mausanne les Alpilles. Clearly, it's best to go in the late fall when they are pressing olives, but in any case, it's an interesting and unique place, where some of the best olive oil in Provence is pressed.

          Domaine Lucien Jacob in Echevronne (Burgundy). They make wines, which imho are pretty meh, but their claim to fame is the outstanding fruit liqueurs they make. Arguably the best Creme de Cassis in the world, as well as outrageous Creme de Framboise and Mure. It's hard to imagine until you have tasted them.

          The cheeses of Mme. Renee Richard, Lyon. Her store is in the Les Halles covered market in Lyon, and you should taste with her, not one of her staff. She is both fromagiere and affineuse, and I've never tasted better cheeses (of the varieties she handles). Her St. Marcellin and Reblochon are the stuff dreams are made of.

          The Moutarderie of Edmond Fallot. Located in Beaune, not Dijon, Fallot makes probably the best Dijon mustard in the world. They now have a facility where visitors can watch the process and learn about the history of the company. (Not sure Maille will do after you've tasted Fallot!)

          The factory store for Souleiado in St. Remy de Provence. If you've shopped in any of their boutiques, you know how high the prices are. Here, one may indulge a bit at significantly lower prices.

          The confitures of Henri Auer, Nice. Their confiserie is in Old Town near the water. They make spectacular glaceed fruit as well, but for me the great take-away was theur jam.

          In Lyon: boulanger Marius Petit, 9, rue Lanterne (0478 28 36 69).bakes maybe the best breads I've ever eaten. They're served in some of the town's top restaurants, but you can go there and buy a loaf of the wonderful walnut bread, or the unusual seaweed bread to enjoy on a picnic, or with some of Mme. Richard's amazing cheese.

          Cervelle de Canut: a traditional cheese dish served in bouchons and bistros of Lyon. Don't miss trying it. Lyonnais enjoy it for Sunday evening supper over boiled potatoes, as well as serving it as a cheese course. And don't miss the Lyonnaise salad as interpreted by Chef Philippe Rabatel at La Voute (Chez Lea) in Lyon's Centre Ville.

          Dubernet foie gras and other related meat products. There are stores in both Lyon and Paris. AFAIK, their products are NOT available in USA.

          When I think of more, I'll post them here.

          1. I know nothing about the truffle trade, but, from what I understand, if you are able to hear first hand accounts about an actual truffle foraging experience, you have cracked an enormous barrier. More, if you are able to get even close to the tables at a major truffle market, you have surpassed anyone on this or most boards.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mangeur

              80% of the black winter (melano) truffles sold in France come from the Vaucluse. Richerenches (Sat 9 am) and Carpentras (Friday 8:45 am) are the major markets. Markets open the 3rd week-end of November and last until the end of March. Watching the truffle change hands at the markets is fun. In Richerenches, on a small side street, the dealers walk around with big linen bags full of truffles. Professionals park their cars near, and have large scales in the trunks. This is a cash only market, so there are always policeman watching nearby. You can't hear the negotiations, but you can watch. And the smell permeates everything. In Carpentras, professionals set up shop at tables in the form of a horseshoe, and put bags of truffles out; there they sell to large buyers (from restaurants, etc.) There are small tables close by where dealers with only small amounts to sell deal with individual buyers. There are truffle hunters who take people out on hunts; I plan to try one next week.

            2. If I were to be there that long, I would make attending the open Paris air markets and snagging their best offerings part of my weekly if not daily fun. I'll attach a link when I change computers.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hychka

                As promised...

                http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/...

                You can count on the opening times, but figure the markets will shut down or really thin out way before the posted closing times.

                Have fun!

              2. Keep an eye out for the Salons and Expositions held on a regular basis. We stumbled across a Mer et Vigne et Gastronomie Salon at Parc Floral at Versailles today...and staggered out with wines, pates, tapenades, olives...and could have bought a lot more.

                These are usually staffed by the producteurs themselves...and while it's fun to travel to *their* backyards, there's something to be said for an entire room full of fragrant...everything.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sunshine842

                  Oh my! I can smell that from here. ;)

                2. Hi all,

                  Thanks for all the previous recommendations, I haven't taken any trips outside of Paris yet (aside from a day trip to Nantes for an architecture tour) but the eats here are so good, it's impossible to complain.

                  Anyways, next week I have decided to visit the Brittany region. I am renting a car (because I want to take my bicycle and ride in the afternoons + visit possibly non train accessible locations)

                  So far, my plan is to travel from Paris to Mont St. Michel monday morning then drive to Cancale for the night. Then spend the day in Cancale on Tueday and Saint Malo on Wednesday then Wednesday night, drive down to Riec-sur-Belon to spend the day there on Thursday - then to Guerande for Friday.

                  Ideas planned so far:

                  Cancale:
                  - eat oysters along the beach
                  - visit everything Roellinger (Grain de Vanille, Entrepot Epices, the Chateau)
                  - possibly visit the Ferme Marine for a tour (has anyone done this? worth it?)

                  Saint Malo
                  - mostly architecture so far - any food recommendations?

                  Riec-sur-Belon
                  - visit Anne-de-Belon
                  - eat at Chez Jacky
                  - visit Cidrerie Goalabre

                  Guerande
                  - visit Sel de Terre Salt Marshes

                  I've searched through the archives here and noted previous recommendations but does anyone have recommendations for food places (eateries, farms, distilleries etc...) in these places or along the way? I'd be interested in taking a detour for something particularly interesting.

                  I wanted to visit a Calvados distillery on the way to Mont Saint Michel - I found Chateau du Breuil... has anyone been there/recommend it?

                  Thanks!

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: bernardo.s

                    "Saint Malo
                    - mostly architecture so far - any food recommendations?"

                    Architecture? About 95% of Saint Malo was destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt.

                    Since you have a car, and earlier you said you were interested in visiting farms, I recommend the prett and very good riverside ferme-auberge de la Porte near St Malo in Saint Jouan des Guérets, between Saint Malo and Dinan. Like all ferme-auberges, the farm, not the restaurant, is the main business, which means it is very important to reserve as it is not open all the time, and when it is, it is mobbed by locals.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      thanks for the quick reply!

                      as for the architecture in Saint-Malo - I'm using it as an example of exactly that "falsified" historic architecture for a research project on how "restoration" has been handled historically - Voillet le Duc's ideas vs. modern concepts etc...

                      The reason for my trip is two-fold, half for architecture research, half for my own interests in food.

                      Thanks for the rec on the farm though, I will search for it and try to visit if open!

                      1. re: bernardo.s

                        Fasincating project ! I would not call Saint Malo architecture "falsified" as it does not try to be something it is not, like Disneyland's Neuschwanstein, when Neuschwanstein itself is already kinda ersatzy.
                        As for eats, the Saint-Malo-Cancale axis has a very good concentration of good eateries. I recommended the ferme-auberge for a different style of eating. The cuisine is actually very simple, but the freshness ! There's nothing like it.

                        1. re: bernardo.s

                          If you're looking for that sort of romantic reinterpreted neomedieval architecture, you won't find a lot of material in Brittany. AFAIK Brittany remained relatively immune from Viollet-Leduc (that granite is hard to break, and old Breton architecture has remained pretty unspoiled). Casualties were much more serious in other parts of France, including the Paris region.
                          If you want to see architecture in Brittany go for the Léon (Roscoff, Morlaix, Saint-Pol-de-Léon) and Cornouaille (Quimper, Pleyben, Locronan) but the buildings will be really old, not neo.
                          A personal advice: I suggest you go to Brest for a rather interesting example of post-WWII reconstruction. Not good-looking but quite unique, with a unique atmosphere also.

                          And since there should be food in this post, I will point out that one of my obvious must-dos in Brittany would be to stop in Roscoff and enjoy some crêpes de sarrasin (buckwheat pancakes). I can't think of a crêperie in Roscoff that is not great. Ty Saozhon is the most famous one but it has erratic opening hours and any crêperie you hit is likely to be top-notch.

                          If you stop by Riec-sur-Belon, a place I know quite well and love, there are must-eats and must-dos. My own must-do is a walk on the footpaths along the Belon and Aven rivers, particularly near Kerdruc, through the forest past the tide mill. My must-eat is some moules-frites and a Coreff beer at any of the big all-purpose coastal cafés-restaurants (+ billiard, pinball, TV room, etc), watching the waves crash and the sky change color every three minutes.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            "one of my obvious must-dos in Brittany would be to stop in Roscoff and enjoy some crêpes de sarrasin (buckwheat pancakes). I can't think of a crêperie in Roscoff that is not great. Ty Saozhon is the most famous one but it has erratic opening hours and any crêperie you hit is likely to be top-notch."

                            You can also take a short ferry ride from Roscoff to the lovely Isle de Batz where you can walk the village streets, hike around the island and find a superb lunch at L'Abri du Vent. Excellent crepes, Breizh Cola, cider. I still remember the extraodinary algae crepe, filled with ribbons of seaweed, shrimp and scallops. A reason to go back if ever I needed one.

                             
                             
                      2. re: bernardo.s

                        Chateau du Breuil is highly recommended -- their older Calvados are fantastic.

                        Also google the Route du Cidre -- it's a circle tour around the Pays d'Auge with stops of (surprise!) cidre producers, many of whom also produce excellent Calvados.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          do you know if Chateau du Breuil offers tours of their production facilities? On their site, they say the offer tours of the Chateau but I am not sure what exactly that entails. I will call them tomorrow to ask but was interested if anyone has already been.

                          I am also looking into visiting Domaine Dupont.

                          1. re: bernardo.s

                            When a beverage maker says they have tours of the chateau, it generally means the production facilities. Chateau de Breuil's tour is indeed of their facilities.

                            The last time I was there, the family was still living in the house itself.

                        2. re: bernardo.s

                          (separate reply to separate ideas)

                          For tips on cycling around most any part of France, but ESPECIALLY around Bretagne, check out this guy: http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com/...

                          He takes long bike rides all over France, but he does a lot of trips around Brittany, and highlights a lot of the important (and not-so-important) ancient stone structures, as well as towns and villages worth a visit.

                          He's not a hard-core foodie, but his photos and trip reports rock.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Thank you for all the suggestions and especially thanks for the cycling link! I've been having the hardest time finding good cycling routes around the Paris area - so I'm excited to finally get out of the urban area and ride on some good country roads.

                            I'll plan to stop by the Chateau du Breuil on the way to Mont St. Michel then - great!

                            1. re: bernardo.s

                              go through his older posts on that board -- he posts LOTS of cycling routes around Paris, as he lives in one of the Paris suburbs.

                          2. re: bernardo.s

                            I would try to stay overnight at Mont St. Michel. When the hordes are gone and especially early in the morning before they arrive, it has a magic that you will find at no other point in the day. I once found myself wandering around almost alone at 6 AM, the only other person on the ramparts being a monk. An unforgettable experience. Mere Poulard used to be good for lodging and eating, but that was years ago. I don't know what is best now. And please, take the advice of others here about Roscoff and the entire "rose coast, " That area leaves St. Malo in the dust. There is also so much if you venture farther West to the heart of Brittany, but perhaps you don't have time for that.

                            1. re: kromsky

                              While staying at the 'Mont' after the busses are long gone is a lovely idea, you may very well see the tides in or out or both, but bring your own food. La Merde Poulard is absolutely terrible, and they now own just about all food on the island.

                              1. re: kromsky

                                One of the most touching encounters on the Mont is the cemetery where you can trace the surnames of families for hundreds of years. I found it astounding. Imagine one's family's having lived on the Mont for 500 years!

                            2. In addition to the wonderfull things you have planned, here are a few more. When you drive from Cancale to St Malo, take the longer way by the ocean. About 5-10 miles out of Cancale there is a small island 1K offshore with a very old home/monastery on it that has been my dream home for 30 years. Always stop at roadside park near it and have picnic lunch or something. In St Malo if you walk through the front gates and turn left, then go about 2 blocks along the front wall there is a tiny oyster shop on the right a bit bigger than a single garage with oysters outside in baskets. FAB, had many dozen a few years back with a bottle or two of Muscadet sur Lies and a very memorable evening. Lastly if you have time to go a bit west from Rice sur Belon, the towns of Pont Aven, Concarneau, and Douarnenez are so classic Brittany they ooze charm.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                Another idea, though not sure how to go without a car, Fromager Antony. Based on suggestions from these boards (Souphie I think) we made the trek last Nov. It is a great, if out of the way place. If you're going to do Lucien Jacob & are in the area early enough (before 10ish) go to fromagerie Gaugry in Brochon near Gevry-Chambertin. Can you tell I like cheese?!

                                1. re: DaTulip

                                  Not sure what Bernard Antony is doing in the midst of this great chat about Brittany - he's in the depths of the Sundgau, i.e. deepest southern Alsace not far from the Swiss border and very close to my place (get in touch, anyone who's planning to go there and we'll meet up). Good, often over-aged cheeses, all raw milk, mainly French and a great publicist. He's definitely not reachable by public transport but it would make a terrific bike ride (specially from Brittany :) Jacky Quesnot in Colmar is as good and more accessible.

                                  1. re: elytseus

                                    "Not sure what Bernard Antony is doing in the midst of this great chat about Brittany"

                                    The title says "throughout France".
                                    Quoique… your corner of France sounds enchanting.

                              2. A very unique dining experience (one you won't forget) is Hidden Kitchen, Paris. Most likely, the are booked out several months but since you are there, you could get on their wait list if someone cancels last minute. The food is fabulous but it's the whole experience that you'll be talking about for a long time. They have been written about quite bit, just google them for articles in NYTimes, Food&Wine,Boston Globe + more. Www.hkmenus.com