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Last updated on June 5th, 2024 at 08:44 am

A re you curious about cuisine and food culture in Paris? What better way to discover the best food in Paris than with a self-guided foodie walking tour to eat your way through Paris? French food and wine are the heart and soul of France, with gourmet ingredients, rich aromas, and unique textures. To be a chef in France is to excel in niche specializations that distinguish even pasty chefs amongst themselves.

At the first stop on this foodie tour of Paris, you’ll bite into a traditional French pain au chocolat and know why Parisians are known for their food expertise. The warm flaky layers crunch with the first bite. Then the buttery layers melt into your mouth while the bar chocolate seeps and hides in the delicate folds. Spend a full day in the foodie metro with this self-guided Paris food and culinary walking tour to taste those croissants.

the best food tour in paris france a self-guided culinary walking tour

This post was originally published in 2016 and updated on Mar 20, 2023, to provide accurate and up-to-date information. I also added vegetarian options to better reflect my current vegetarian diet and provide alternatives with vegetarian and some vegan options.

QUICK LOOK

  • Food is an integral part of Parisian culture.
  • When visiting Paris, take the time to learn about its cuisine, which means eating your way through the city!
  • This self-guided walking tour of Paris takes you through the city while stopping to sample its cuisine.
  • You’ll start with a traditional pain au chocolat, stop at a market to get supplies for a picnic, eat lunch, sample some pastries, enjoy a wine tasting, and finish with dinner.
  • The tour passes iconic sights, and you’ll get lots of steps in to keep that appetite up because there is a lot of tasty food and wine in your future!

Food in Paris – Introduction and Important Informaiton

To eat as a Parisian is to eat five meals a day. Breakfast, mid-morning snack, Lunch, Gouter (often just for children after the come home from school), and dinner. Lunch and dinner in Paris are often multi-course meals or a “menu” in France. If you dine at a restaurant and choose a menu, be prepared for several courses, including appetizer, main dish, and dessert. Dinner is traditionally consumed as a family with home-cooked food and a baguette from the local bakery. Most consumers in the U.S. have loyalty to the brand, such as Starbucks, but in Paris, the loyalty is to the chef or bakers themselves. Many Parisians form a close-knit bond with the local butcher or baker and will follow them if they move shops. French food is kept to such high standards that regulations dictate how to make a true baguette or cheese. It’s all so bizarre to me, hailing from the U.S., where a book called “The Jungle” was written about our food industry.

Our tour will make five main food stops with extra activities, like French wine tasting, in line with the traditional five daily meals. This Parisian food tour covers about 15 kilometers of walking, so be ready to work up an appetite, use the Metro as needed, and stop to see some nearby sights like the Louvre and Notre Dame.

Our tour’s second to last stop is in the Latin Quarter with the “Wine Tasting in Paris,” which starts at 5 pm. This activity must be booked in advance and happens on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and some Saturdays. So budget your time accordingly and try an alternate wine tasting if you’re in the city on a different day.

Looking for a Guided Food Tour?

This walking tour incorporates places Ganesh and I have discovered on our own during our visits to Paris and some highlights from a private guided food tour with a local. We both thoroughly enjoy carving our own paths and discovering places to eat in Paris with the help of a local. If you prefer to get to know Paris’ food scene with a local, I recommend booking a private or small group food tour around Paris.

Self-Guided Food Tour of Paris

But, for those who like to get lost, meander, and navigate the city independently, then without further delay, here is my self-guided walking tour of Paris.

The map below can be used as a reference for our stops. You can’t go wrong in Paris, so if another spot catches your eye, feel free to deviate from this map.

Stop A. Breakfast – Authentic Parisian Croissants

Our self-guided food walking tour of Paris starts around 8:30 am at Blé Sucré for real French croissants. Yes, those flaky melt-in-your-mouth croissants I was talking about earlier. Blé Sucré (closed Monday) was recommended by a local foodie for staying true to the authentic croissant culture in Paris.

Paris food walking tour

The French croissant is so complicated and laborious that it takes about 15-20 hours to make each one. This lengthy process means it is hard to find freshly baked croissants anymore. Even in Paris, croissants are often made in bulk, frozen, and shipped to bakeries. Blé Sucré is one of the gems that hand-bake croissants daily. In the morning, we lined up outside this tiny bakery along with others eager to get their freshly baked breakfast. The pain au chocolat or chocolate croissants at Blé Sucré are made with special bar chocolate that only melts at a high temperature. The chocolate crunch explodes into the bread’s layers as you devour it. Order the plain and chocolate croissant with some coffee, and you’re set to start the morning.

self-guided Paris food walking tour

Are Croissants French?

The origin of croissants can be traced back to Austria. After the Austrian empire won a victory against the Ottomans, they created a kipferl, or the German word for crescent. The French were the first to make this with their traditional puffed butter pasty, though. So, while some argue that the croissant is Austrian, others say that in its modern form, the croissant, as we know it, is inherently French.

Stop B. Bastille Food Market

Marché Bastille, or the Bastille food market, is the next stop on our foodie tour of Paris. Make sure you pack your reusable tote and have some cash on hand as we will buy local goodies for a small late-morning picnic.

Worry not if you’re questioning another food stop so early in the morning. You can work up an appetite as you explore the market. But, if you have time, you can detour the adorable Rue Crénieux for a photo stop, view the Bastille opera house, or take a stroll through Le Marais on your way to the park for our picnic.

Note: The market is only open on Thursday and Sunday. If you are traveling on a day other than these two, check out some alternate markets in Paris that are open on various days.

Paris food walking tour self guided foodie tour

Paris is known for its food markets, and Marché Bastille is one of the biggest and best markets in the country. With the Place de la Bastille’s Colonne de Juillet towering as a backdrop, grab your reusable tote and shop over 100 booths of fresh French cheese, veggies, meats, and seafood. Since this isn’t our lunch stop, I suggest you select only a few products to sample. The market can be crowded and chaotic, but relax and enjoy the culture. Most vendors speak some English and are very friendly. Feel free to buy anything that takes your fancy, but note that with some gentle light humor, most vendors will let you try samples; just tip them a few coins. You should get to the market around 9 am, and you could easily spend 1-2 hours here.

The market location has significant historical context for Paris and France the July column that you can see from almost anywhere in the market commemorates the Revolution of 1830.  Bastille Square is known for its historical significance as the location of the Bastille storm in 1789. Enjoy shopping for the following recommended products below while immersing yourself in Paris’s history.

EDIT: I created this post almost six years ago. I am now a vegetarian. I edited those posts to include vegetarian alternatives for those like myself who no longer consume meat for ethical and environmental reasons. I suggest you reduce your meat consumption by packing olives, fresh fruit, veggies, maybe some cheese if you eat that, and baguettes to take on a picnic.

The Best French Cheeses to Try

Pick up 50-100 grams (each) of Comté, Reblochon, Roquefort, and Camembert at any of the cheese stands.

French cheese at a market Paris food walking tour

Comté

Probably one of the most famous and heavily AOC-regulated French cheeses, Comté comes in several different varieties. Comté Extra is the highest quality, which also means it is often expensive and hard to find. Don’t get caught eating the thick rind on this complex cheese; the taste is better with no rind! Comté is made with cow’s milk with sea salt from Guérande brushed onto the rind. That gives it a notable salty yet sweet undertones. The cheese is aged in humid caves in the French Alps for up to 24 months before being sold at markets like this.

This cheese is made with animal rennet, which most vegetarians choose to avoid. Some alternatives to try are Gruyère or Fontina.

French Cheese Paris food and culinary walking tour

Reblochon

With all the regulations on pasteurization in the U.S., this cheese is impossible to find as it is made from raw cow’s milk. Rbelochon is a washed-rind and smear-ripened cheese with a soft center.  The cheese is produced and aged in caves and cellars in the alpine region of Haute-Savoie. The find is covered in a white mold, showing signs of being aged for 6-8 weeks. Reblochon is rich with a nutty and creamy flavor.

French Cheese Paris food and culinary walking tour

Roquefort

Roquefort is a sheep’s milk blue cheese. Widely regarded as one of the best blue cheeses, authentic Roquefort is aged in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Coulson. With no rind, this cheese crumbles and has a tangy flavor with a salty finish. I am usually not a fan of blue cheese, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed this delightful cheese.

French Cheese Paris food and culinary walking tour

Camembert

Like a Brie, this cheese is soft and watery in the center. While it can be rather pungent, real French Camembert has ruined all other soft cheese for me. To this day, I can’t eat Brie without comparing it to the real deal. Camembert comes from the Normandy region. Young cheese can taste mild, but the longer you leave it to age and ripen, the stronger the flavor.

The Best French Meats to Try

Again, I want to note that I am vegetarian now and strongly encourage you to try alternatives to meat while shopping at the market. If you avoid anything, please skip products made with Foie Gras, which is under global scrutiny for animal welfare violations. Additionally, reducing your meat consumption while supporting local vegetarian alternatives is one of the best steps you can take toward alleviating the global climate crisis.

Jamon de Bayonne

This specialty meat comes from the French Pyrenees. The regulations surrounding the breed of pig, including their diet, are very strict. Cured and dried for up to 20 months, you might expect to find it salty, but the only flavor that comes through is a hint of sweetness.

French meat to try on the a Paris food and culinary walking tour

Saucisson Sec

This French sausage is dry-cured and can have some very interesting ingredients added to the mixture. Peppers, garlic, orange and other fruits, spices, nuts… etc. This is a good time to sample some pieces before choosing one.

Meat Alternatives

Thankfully, the market has many fresh produce and meat alternatives for vegetarians. Ganesh and I grabbed lots of olives and fresh fruit. The fruit and olives pair better with the cheese. When looking for olives, you will want to select Olive de Nîmes, which is a whole green olive from the Gard and Hérault regions in France. They come from native French olive trees and are crunchy and crisp. Pairs are one of my favorite fruits to pair with French cheeses and are a delightful alternative to meat for our picnic.

Baguettes in Paris

Even baguettes are regulated in France. They must be a certain weight and size and baked with a certain type of grain to be classified as a true French baguette. Most of the baguettes at the market are authentic fresh-baked baguettes. They are shorter than you might think, with tapered ends and a thick center. The crust is crispy and golden, while the interior is airy and flaky. Make sure you grab a baguette before you leave the market.

Baguettes in Paris France food walking tour

Stop C. Picnic in the Park

It’s time to take your loot to a park and have a mini picnic. I suggest Square Du Temple on the map since it is nearby and is one of the few parks where you can sit and enjoy the grass. Many French gardens and parks have rules about whether you can sit on their grass. The Square Du Temple was a lovely local gem where we sat on the grass to feast on our farmer’s market haul. The park has a lovely botanical garden and a historic city hall building in the background. Be careful. Some wandering and hungry birds might try to steal your picnic.

Ideally, you start your picnic around 11 am but feel free to take your time getting there, appreciating the lovely Le Marais neighborhood en route. Eventually, you will want to move on, walking to the Louvre.

Stop D. & E. Sweet Pastries & The Louvre

Since we skipped the sweet pastry for breakfast, this is the time to satisfy your sweet tooth. I mentioned earlier that pastries are so unique in France that chefs go to school to specialize in the art of specific types of pastries, such as becoming world-class macaroon chefs. We had a local recommend Lenôtre, renowned for its sweet, authentic Parisian morsels. However, the one we visited on our last trip is no longer open. But, if you find one, stop in and enjoy a treat.

Paris pastries on a food walking tour

Instead, I’ll suggest my favorite place for macaroons in Paris, Ladurée. Several are around Paris, but we are heading to the one near the Louvre. Ladurée is the most adorable Parisian pasty shop, with iconic pastel green decor and lavish over-the-top decorations. Choosing your favorite flavor from the dozens of colorful macaroons will be hard, but you can grab a few to snack on or take an entire box to go. My favorite thing to do here is enjoying the architecture at Stop E., the Louvre, while munching on a macaroon. If you have time, meander through part of the Tuileries Garden before crossing the Seine River and heading into the Latin Quarter for lunch, wine, and dinner. Yes, we’ve already eaten a lot, but there is still more to come. This is a Paris food tour, after all!

macaroons in paris france

If you want to learn to make macaroons or get up close and personal with a pastry chef, try booking a macaroon masterclass where you can learn to make your own!

Stop F. Lunch – Crêpes 

Our lunch stop is later in the afternoon – it might be around 2 pm or so at this point. That is ok because, with a very boozy wine tasting waiting for you at 5 pm, you’ll want something to line your stomach before a late dinner. Crêpes are a staple in French cuisine, and so, for lunch, we will head to a Breizh Café where you can choose from sweet or savory crêpes. Breizh is a modern cafe specializing in Crêpes, but they still maintain that traditional Parisian feel with the wicker chairs and outdoor dining. Choose from the savory buckwheat folded pockets “Galettes de Sarrasin” served with a bio egg, or go for the traditional sweet Crêpes with banana and caramel. There are some vegetarian options, but if you are vegan, I suggest you skip this restaurant and try Naked Burger, which has some vegan options.

Savory buckwheat crepe

Crêpes are a traditional food consumed on the Le Jour des Crêpes – or the day of Crêpes. It marks the transitionary period from winter to spring, with the circular shape of the food representing the sun. This food is thought to have historically been given to French pilgrims by the Roman Pope in the 1st century and has been a part of the culture since.

Stop G: Notre Dame

As you walk through the Latin Quarter after lunch, enjoy the rich architecture that makes this neighborhood unique. If you have time before your wine tasting, visit Notre Dame. You can still see some facades as this historic monument recovers from the devastating fire. If you read this after December 2024, you are lucky because this monument is set to reopen its doors. Slowly work your way to Stop H. keeping an eye on the time. If you have extra time, just enjoy immersing yourself in the charming streets of the Latin Quarter and taking photos.

Stop H. A Wine Tasting in Paris

To this day, our wine-tasting experience with Thierry at “A Wine Tasting in Paris” is one of my and Ganesh’s top travel memories. After spending a long weekend in Paris for Valentine’s Day, Ganesh booked this tasting for me as a surprise. I always considered myself a wine-appreciator, but I call myself knowledgable after Thierry’s comprehensive and booze-filled tasting class. The class is in an intimate tasting room where you gather 12 people. Throughout the next 2 hours, you’ll try real Champagne and 5 French wines, learning about the history of each wine. The best part is that you also learn how to properly taste wine with hands-on assistance while learning to smell, taste, and swirl your wine. Be forewarned, though; you will leave here quite boozed as you drink full glasses of wine. I can not recommend this experience enough.

bottles of French Wines in a wine tasting in Paris

I wrote an extensive post covering A Wine Tasting In Paris, which dives into everything you need to know. Remember this event starts at 5 pm in the Latin Quarter and runs for 2 hours, meaning dinner will be after 7 pm. Thierry, the owner of A Wine Tasting in Paris, had great recommendations for dinner in the area, which is just a quick walk from the tasting. So, as you leave the tasting, you can always ask him for his local recommendations.

Since the tasting courses are only on certain nights of the week, I highly recommend booking one of these tours to enjoy a French wine experience and tasting.

Stop I. Dinner

As we left the wine tasting, Theirry recommended an authentic French bistro called Au Moulin A Vent for dinner. I am sure we stumbled in rather drunk, but we thoroughly enjoyed our experience and meal. The tables were all pushed together and dressed in a white tablecloth, common for nicer restaurants in Pairs. The service was great, and the food was good. The food is traditional French, so you’ll find everything from frog eggs and snails to red meat.

Paris latin quarter at night

To be honest, looking back at the menu, it feels weird that 7 years ago, I was eating this food. I would never eat here as a vegetarian, as almost everything on the menu has meat. So, if meat and traditional French cuisine are what you are looking for, Au Moulin A Vent is a great choice. But, if you are now like me and trying to reduce your meat intake or have fully gone vegetarian, I would suggest eating at Le Grenier de Notre-Dame as an alternative. Here, you can still get a nice meal without the meat with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Both restaurants are in the Latin Quarter and not far from A Wine Tasting In Paris.

You could also opt for a dining experience, perhaps either a dinner cruise along the Seine River or a dinner with wine pairing.

Discuss and Share

I hope this food tour of Paris has worked up your appetite. Paris is a fantastic city for foodies, and while there are plenty of guided tours offered by locals for you to choose from, this self-guided food walking tour of Paris is great for the independent traveler. Following this walking tour, you’ll taste traditional pain au chocolate, visit Paris’s largest food market, sample macaroons, taste Crêpes, indulge in a wine tasting, and finish with a lovely dinner. While I created this post seven years ago when I was eating meat, I am now a vegetarian and have offered vegetarian alternatives to my formerly meat-heavy post.

Paris food self-guided walking tour

What Parisian food is your favorite? Let me know in the comments if you are all about those sweet pastries like the macaroons or if you would prefer to indulge in all the fine French cheeses at Marché Bastille. Make sure to share this food walking tour of Paris and pin it to your favorite foodie or France travel board.

the best food tour in paris france a self-guided culinary walking tour
Paris food self-guided walking tour
self-guided food walking tour of paris

Curiosity Saves’ Travel Resources & Tips

Accommodation: Booking.com to find accommodation with a Genius Discount and clear third-party sustainable certifications like Green Key. Look for local hotels.

 

Tours and Excursions: GetYourGuide for tours, excursions, and tickets.  Viator by Trip Advisor has better activities for some of my favorite destinations, like my home state of Alaska. Look for eco certifications, avoid tours that promise wildlife encounters, support local guides, and book low-emission activities. Search the tour operator to ensure you support ethical operators.

Travel: Omio for booking buses and trains in English across Europe. After reducing the number of flights I take annually, I use Google Flights for their carbon comparison tool. 

 

Car Rental: Discover Cars for the best rates in English globally. It is easy to find hybrids and EVs along with resources for finding chargers. 

 

Packing Essentials: REI or your local Co-op have great essentials like reusable water bottles and cutlery setsPatagonia for regenerative clothing.  Farm to Feet for socks made with regenerative practices! Pistil Designs for cold-weather essentials. Osprey for bags that last 10+ years like the day bag for hiking or my favorite carry-on.

 

eSIM: Airalo eSIM. Reduces waste from single-use SIM. A total game-changer.