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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.
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.
WHAT WE’RE COVERING
- 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 was recommended to us by a local foodie for staying true to the authentic croissant culture in Paris.
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.
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. So, while some argue that the croissant is, in fact, 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.
Paris is known for their food markets, and Marché Bastille is one of the biggest and best markets. 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, 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.
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.
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 alpine region of Haute-Savoie. The find is covered in a white mould showing signs of being aged for 6-8 weeks. Reblochon is rich with a nutty and creamy flavor.
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-soulzon. 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.
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 I am vegetarian now and strongly encourage you to try alternatives to the meat while shopping at the market. If you avoid anything, please skip products made with Foie Gras, 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.
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.
Thankfully for vegetarians, the market has many fresh produce and meat alternatives. 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, whole green olives 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.
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, though, 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.
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!
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.
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 in total. 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.
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 that are 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.
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.
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.
My mouth is watering!
Lovely pictures and so much detail. I’m a cheese fanatic and I just bookmarked this for my next france trip! :)
Cheese is the best! I made the mistake of brining some French cheese home and me entire house smelled of cheese, but it was SO good. haha
Okay I have so much to say I don’t know what to say! I am just super excited to have a specific map to follow when I hit Paris again. There’s a lot of food posts about Paris but there’s SO MUCH to eat in Paris so I read them all! That smoked salmon bagel though – YES. And that croquet madame (right? madame has the egg and monsieur doesn’t?) makes my mouth water. I love that you went to a food market too – those are my week spots traveling! Given that it is Paris though, how were the prices?
Hey Lauren! Thanks for reading! I should go back and include prices, sorry I did not. I would say everything was within reasons on a sale of breakfast and the markets being $, Lunch at a nice Paris cafe is about $15 per entree. Dinner was a bit more pricy around $20 a plate. I’m really glad you asked.
I’m glad I just had dinner, otherwise this post would make me starving! I know you can’t include all amazing French dishes in one post, but I definitely recommend an omelet and fries to anyone! Supreme!
Will find and order those next time I’m in Paris!
I think I just drooled on my keyboard! Lovely post, thanks for sharing! I think, it’s time I head over to Paris again! It’s been a while ;)
Michelle, let me know when you do! It’s such a huge city it’s always worth a second look!
Wow that’s amazing! Such beautiful pictures!!
Next time I’m in Paris (it’s only a 3h drive for me), I’ll visit some shops!!!
What an amazingly detailed DIY guide! I love when I can get info to do tours on my own – it’s saves money and you get to do it at your own pace. Thanks for all the great information and you had great photos to compliment! Cheers!
This is such an awesome guide, Susanna! I was so student poor when I visited Paris, so I didn’t really eat much, let alone focus on fine dining. I’d love to return and indulge in the full five meals a day mentality.
You have seriously made me hungry with this post! I think I should have been a Parisian as I am quite prone to having five small meals a day lol. My favourite meal of the day is breakfast, and I adore freshly baked croissants and pain au chocolat. But I’m also a bit of a cheese addict so would love to checkout Bastille Market! The cheeses look amazing.
OMG, this is my dream day! Bastille market sounds absolutely wonderful – I’d love to pick up items here for a picnic at the Eiffel Tower! You’ve got me REAL HUNGRY now! Can’t wait to come back to Paris and eat everything :)
OMG everything looks so good!!!! I haven’t been back in Paris in so long. I’m definitely bookmarking this for my next visit though!
I’m already planning my visit!! The food looks amazing.
This all looks so tasty! I have been told that one should book hotel without breakfast and enjoy all the little nice places Paris has to offer. Will be heading there in April for the first time, so I hope to do some bits of this tour!
I completely agree with that. There’s so many amazing cafes all around that you don’t have to go very far to find a good breakky.
All this food looks so delish! I am dying to see Paris!
What a fantastic share! All of the stops sound great, even for repeat visitors. I love your breakdown of the French cheeses! Well done!
I’m only kind of obsessed with French cheese, it’s so good. Thanks for reading!
I could really use a croque madame right about now! One of these days I hope to eat my way through Paris like you guys did :) Also, so funny that they have standards for baguettes! Guess the French take their carbs seriously.
They have standards for everything haha. Sometimes I feel like it takes the creativity of things, but they do baguettes well, so you can’t go wrong. Thanks for reading, Flo.
Oh my, you have just made me so hungry! When I stayed in Paris, our hotel was just around the corner from a bakery and it smelled so good every morning. I woke up to the scent of fresh-baked croissants every day. And your description of the flaky crust and the delicious chocolate center, yes!!!! That is exactly how I remember them! I think the breads are what I miss most about the food I had there. They were the absolute best. Great post. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for the info, you saved me HOURS of research
So glad you found it helpful! Enjoy your time in Paris.
Hello, We’re in Paris to attend our sons wedding. This walking tour is exactly what we’re looking for!
That is wonderful. I hope you have the best time at the wedding and enjoy all of Paris’ amazing cuisine.