While in Paris, I took so many food tours, but with Paris by Mouth in particular I took three different tours, all in different parts of the city. They are some of the highest quality tours I have ever taken, with the value reflected in the price. At the time, in 2018, these tours were €110 euros which was the most I ever spent on a food tour, and it was so worth it. The tastings, and all the wine, and all the fantastic knowledge imparted by the guides was so far above the usual food tour.
For this tour, Taste of Saint Germain on November 22, 2018, it focused on Saint Germain des Pres, the 6th Arrondissement. This was very convenient for me because this is where my hotel and home base was. I was just steps away from the Saint Germain church (considered to be the oldest existing church in Paris) and Metro stop.
At each stop, our guide purchased a few ingredients that she saved up for our big seated tasting with wine at the end. There were also little treats and snacks to sample along the way.
8 rue du Cherche Midi
Our tour met up at the famous Poilâne bakery, led by the famous and eponymous baker Apollonia Poilâne. We explored the shop a bit and drooled over the croissants, and boules. I loved the one decorated as a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Here our guide bought the signature Poilâne artisan sourdough bread and some beautiful butter cookies.
Pierre Hermé pastry shop
72 rue Bonaparte
The Pierre Hermé patisserie is just an incredible place to visit. It is exactly what you envision when you think of a fine French pastry shop. Hermé was awarded the title of World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2016, so this is really the good stuff.
At this shop, our guide Diane picked up the Ispahan croissants, which we took right next door to eat in the square in front of the Church of Saint-Sulpice. The ispahan flavor is Pierre Herme’s signature combination of rose, raspberry, and lychee.
Patrick Roger chocolatier
2-4 Place Saint Sulpice
The chocolate shop of Patrick Roger is almost like an art gallery in its modern design and display of the fine chocolates. It’s easy to just walk around and admire the beautiful shapes and colors. Here our guide picked up the rocher and basil lemon chocolates for us to try.
Marché Couvert de Saint-Germain
4/6 rue Lobineau
We next visited the beautiful Marché Saint-Germain which takes up a whole city block. A market has been on this site since 1511. Here in particular we visited Sierge Caillaud the Butcher, Fromagerie Sanders, and Maison Balme (an artisan truffle shop). Our guide spent some time choosing several cheeses for our tastings, so we had time to wander around and look at the offerings.
This gentleman was at Maison Balme which is a artisan purveyor of all things truffle. He was so incredibly passionate about truffles and was nice enough to speak to us for a moment about the cheeses and products that they make.
La Dernière Goutte wine shop
6 rue Bourbon le Château
And finally……this is where everything comes together! We sit down at a wine shop and our guide chooses 3 bottles of wine for us to sample along with all the cheeses, breads, and charcuterie that we collected in our walkabout. It’s a leisurely feast, tasting all the different textures and scents of the beautiful cheese and meats.
Luckily our guide emailed us all the details of what we ate after the tour. So happily I’m able to tell you exactly what each cheese was.
The wines we sampled were:
- Crémant de Loire, 2017, Chateâu Pierre-Bise (Chenin Blanc)
- Beaujolais Nouveau, 2018 Domaine G. Descombes (Gamay)
- Vin de France, 2016, Domaine Ribiera Causse Toujours (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah)
Since this took place in late November, the Beaujolais Nouveau for the year had just been released, and a few of us were curious about it, so our guide Diane opened a bottle for us to try. It was not good, just as she had warned us about. She explained that the beaujolais nouveau is just a cheap wine made very quickly and is only to get drunk on.
Oh, the fromage!
The cheeses that we collected for this tasting were:
- Ribière – goat’s milk cheese from the Limousin region with a creamy and dense interior. Ash covered and brick shaped.
- Triple Cream with Truffles – cow’s milk cheese from Bourgogne, aged 2-4 weeks. It’s a triple cream cheese with a fat content higher than 75%
- Hercule – sheep + goat’s milk cheese from the Pyrénées, aged 28 months. Hard cheese with a nutty caramel finish.
- Brie de Melun – cow’s milk cheese from Île-de-France, aged 7-8 weeks. More salty, meaty, and savory when compared to other bries.
- Fourme d’Ambert – cow’s milk cheese from the Auvergne, aged 2-3 months. One of the mildest of all blue cheeses.
- Trou du Cru – cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy, aged 4 weeks. It is washed with Marc de Bourgogne and is meaty and rich with a long finish.
The progression of tastings went from the lightest cheeses and white wine, and increased in flavor and complexity along with the red wines and meats.
The charcuterie was also absolutely delicious. I struggled a little bit at first with trying these pate-like things but I’m so glad I did because it was so fantastic.
- Rosette du Lyon
- Goose Rillette
- Jambon Persillé
- Jambon Truffé
In a 6 degrees of separation sort of moment, I actually met a very close connection to none other than Rick Steves! This nice man and his wife sat across from me, and we got to talking as you always do with your food tour companions, only to find out that he is from Edmunds, Washington, and was Rick Steves’s piano teacher!
I had such a wonderful time on this intensive food tour, and learned so much. After taking three tours with Paris by Mouth, my knowledge of French cheeses and wines was expanded. There is truly nothing like some French cheese!
Immediately after this tour, I was off to the Louvre for a small tour which ended right at closing time with a personal viewing of the Mona Lisa without any crowds!