Unique Culinary Tours of Paris
I know there is a thread about this topic, but I ask your indulgence to allow me to open up this discussion since the suggestions provided have not been available. Thanks for your understanding.
Two couples are traveling to Paris on October 10th, 2013 for a week, arriving at CDG on the morning of the 11th of October. They are very interested in booking a couple of half day culinary tours.
They are not your typical "wide eyed" flag following tourists and are fairly seasoned travelers to Paris. Amongst the four, are two excellent cooks and two former restaurant owners.
What interests them would be a thorough frommage tour, where they can actually learn about cheeses and their origins, tastes etc. Experiencing a morning at the Rungus market would also "tickle their fancy."
If you have any information that would help me, I would greatly appreciate your help. Again, sorry for the repetitive topic which I know causes frustration and angst for the veteran Chowers, but I thank you in advance for your understanding and allowance.
I believe that the site deletes your posts, because any answer to your inquiries would seem commercial. Pti is a well-known food writer and cookbook writer. Your visiting friends can look up online references to them; they are too numerous to list here. The best is for you to contact her through her site, insted of trying to communicate here.
This fromagère was on my list for our last trip. After an email exchange, I determined her cheese & wine session was beyond our budget (the fewer the people, the more Euros - make sense, of course). So I can't vouch for it personally - nor can I seem to find that email now - sorry. But I know she responded quickly, if you're interested.
Here are some of the things that I have done:
Parisbymouth - I took the St Germaine tour and it was a little too basic for me. Over the years, I've been to cheese shops, chocolate shops, Pierre Herme, etc. so there wasn't much new. But if the regular tours are too basic, you might see if they do anything custom.
Cook'n with Class - I've taken five cooking classes with them over the last five years and they've been a lot of fun and I've been very impressed with all of the chefs who have taught my classes. They are decidedly geared towards tourists, but good quality. I learned a ton on the market walk and dinner that I took from them (much more than what was covered on the Paris by Mouth tour), mainly because the Chef was so knowledgeable. In May, I took their Food and wine pairing class and again thought it was really well done. Wonderful food (Chef Constance) prepared in front of you and a young American sommelier who was both enthusiastic about French wine and knowledgeable. There were only 5 people in my class. If their regular classes don't appeal to you, you might see if they can do a private class or tour tailored to your group's interests.
I also took a soufflé class a La Cuisine; this was just a lunchtime class, but they also had some cheese classes. While their regular classes may be too basic, you might also check to see if they can do a custom tour/class for you. I do recall that they had a cheese class, but suspect it may be basic.
Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I will try all of them. This is an interesting group to please since they have been to most of the markets in Paris. They will be buying cheese however, as they are staying in short term rentals. As the food world grows, culinary tours seem to be a natural. Istanbul Eats does a wonderful job in that city. Perhaps you Chowhound vets should think about doing this. There are so many great and generous personalities on Chowhound. I wish I knew you all. Thanks again.
If you can't arrange something with Julot or Delucacheesemonger, VaPaula's suggestion of a special cheese "dégustation" at one or other of the leading fromagers might suit you. In addition to Chez Virginie/ Fromagerie Damrémont in the 18th, Marie-Anne Cantin in the 7th also offers private 2-hour cheese & wine tastings with lots of cheese chat. Such private tasting sessions are sorta pricey but can be customized according to the group's level of knowledge.
Most other fromagers are not very generous with their samples and I can't imagine that many would react well to a group of 4 or 5 sampling and chatting but not buying. For just unguided tasting, you can try a DIY lunch at the Salon du Fromage Hisada in the 1st... choices include a platter of 15 different cheeses as well as a cheese buffet.
Rungis is not exactly fancy-tickling territory nor is it much different from any other big-city wholesale market. Maybe an unguided tour of a couple of large outdoor "marchés volants" (2 or 3 times a week, different locations) or marchés couverts (usually Tue to Sun) would be more enjoyable. For a list and map, see http://marches.equipements.paris.fr/ Especially good for tourists: The daily-except-Monday Marché Aligre in the 12th, the Marché Bastille (Thu + Sat) in the 11th, the Marché Saxe-Breteuil (Thu + Sat) in the 7th, the Marché President Wilson (Wed + Sat) in the 16th, and the Marché Maubert (Tue + Thu + Sat) in the 5th, and the Marché Raspail (Tue+ Fri + "bio"-only Sun) in the 6th
If you are still looking, I believe David Downie, who is the author of several food books and other books about Paris, does absolutely customized food tours of Paris -- meaning, if you come with a wish list, he will fulfill it, and offer other suggestions based on his knowledge of Paris to fit your group's interests.
All my friends listed above give wonderful tours and I've even overheard some of their spiels and don't want to lose any of their friendships so my advice is to read what Pti (Sophie), Deluca (Stefan), Meg ( Paris by Mouth), Julot (Julien T.), David L. and numerous others write here and elsewhere and get an idea of their styles and areas of expertise.
I know an American ex-pat sommelier who conducts tours to Champagne and other wine regions, teaches a wine/cheese course, is an accomplished cook and will put together a custom tour related to food and wine to suit your tastes.
http://www.parisbytheglass.com Feel free to use or not use my forum name if you choose to contact him.