Paris Food Walks?
Are any of the various food walks you see on websites any good? They seem expensive for what they are, and since both my wife and I speak French, I'm not sure that we really need to be chaperoned in this way. Love to get some feedback.
If you (1) speak French, (2) know the food vocab, (3) have time to explore, indeed it is better to do your own food walk.
The Paris markets are not equal. For example, markets like rue de Buci and Enfants Rouges are great fun but don't have the best ingredients. They are more of a casual lunch spot. This is info that you cadn find if you research well. If you have time and know what ingredients are in season, and know their French name, then take your time and explore several markets. You don't need a guide.
My wife and I took two food walks in March with Wendy Lyn, www.thepariskitchen.com. Loved them both. Expensive? Yes. But for us, we loved her expertise, banter and contacts, eg, intros to staff and chefs at Spring, Frenchie's and L'Avant Comptoir. Sharing wine with Daniel Rose in the wine cellar at Spring was one highlight of our one week trip to Paris.
For us, the market tours were not to buy fruit, cheese, chocolate and veg. Rather, they were part
of our cultural dip into Parisian life. Without question, we would take another walking tour or two
during our next visit.
I do enjoy guided walks that allow me to understand the history of a place but I have never felt the need to do a food walk. I suspect hat is because I don't have much expertise in history or architecture so I need help. But I love food and have a little knowledge so I can't see the added value in being guided through food areas. I am quite capable of exploring new food options in my hometown why is it tricky in a foreign country?
Do the food tours do much more than can be achieved by visiting these places on your own? As Paris' food areas are reasonably condensed, are written up on many blogs, or featured in guides, it isn't tricky to "find" the good places.
That said it is fun to see a city through the eyes of a resident and hear about how life is lived in the city. I suspect the true value of these tours for a Hound is meeting great people (non-hounds probably need the help!) with food as a conduit for a conversation.
A couple of board regulars are mentioned in other posts but don't forget Barbara Austin and Meg Zimbeck http://megzimbeck.com/) who are also found on the Paris by Mouth blog. I believe they work through Context Travel http://www.contexttravel.com/city/Par...
Thanks for all of the feedback. Have heard rave reviews of the Context travel walks with Meg and Barbara, and also like the idea of doing a walk with a French native. We've decided to do a Context Travel walk and one with one of the French guides, and I'll share our experiences in a few weeks.
Okay, update on Paris food walks. We did several, and the best one was with the delightful and very intelligent Barbra Austin of Context Travel. We also tried a couple of the French guided walks, but found them a bit condescending to Americans. And finally, we did a walk with another American in Paris, a southern gal, who's perfectly nice, and so I won't name names, but her French is terrible and she made the walk all about her. So if you want this type of experience, I'd strongly recommend Context Travel.