Memories and Inspiration for Food, Travel and Life
Food Tour of the Marais (3rd and 4th arrondissements)
Recently I lead a food tour of the Marais and want to make a quick recommendation to anyone wanting a food tour of this area – Tuesday morning is not the best time! There is still plenty to see but a lot of things are closed at that time so you wont get the regular hustle and bustle, and you’ll miss out on some of the best shops which don’t open until the afternoon.
Short History of Marais
Marais in French means ‘marsh’, so you can imagine this land was once hostile, swampy and undesirable at one point.
The Centre Pompidou is a modern art museum which was designed in the 1970’s during President Valery Giscard d’Estaing time in office. The exterior may not appeal to you, however the art found inside is some of the most impressive modernist collections in the world, and the view found from the café on top of the building, Le Georges, is one of the best in Paris.
Real restoration of the Marais began with De Gaulle in the 1960’s to preserve the remaining buildings, which were some of the few renaissance structures still standing in Paris after the Haussmann ‘rejuvenation’ of the city in the mid 1800’s.
Le Place des Vosges is the first apartment and store front complex to be built without wood by King Henry the IV in 1605; however the Marais was a place where many nobles built their homes throughout the decades. It is still a popular destination for the wealthy, hipsters, and bobo crowd.
The area known as the “Pletzi”, was (and still is) home to the Jewish community of Paris, expanding in the 1800’s. Even after the Vichy regime, it managed to maintain its historical cultural identity which is greatly prized today. You can easily find kosher food, stores and delicious Middle Eastern dishes, like the notable falafel at L’as du Fallafel at 34 Rue des Rosiers.
There is also a growing gay population in the Marais, which is why you may notice clubs, bars and stores catering to the clientele.
Rue du Temple has some of the best bargain jewelry and leather goods, thanks to the influx of Chinese which made the Marais their home during WWI.
The Marais is a popular destination on Sundays, as most stores are still open unlike the rest of Paris.
Patisserie Pain de Sucre – 14 Rue Rambuteau
Monsieur Mathray and Madame Robert have created one of the most prestigious independent patisseries in Paris. This shop has been selling beautiful treats with unique flavor combinations since 2004. The idea was to offer the public restaurant quality desserts at a boutique incorporating more sophisticated aromas, such as fruits with olive oil. As they offer coffee and tables outdoors, it is a great place to start the morning and people watch.
The savory side as well has wonderful creations for aperitif or lunch, all take away.
Even their standard baguette and croissant gets raves!
Poliane – 38 Rue Debelleyme
The original location, started in 1932, is at 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, where you can view the old wood fired oven below ground where the round loafs used to be made. There are three locations to this old Parisian staple, which sells their breads in many fine food stores throughout the city. Their bread is traditionally round, and much denser than your standard baguette, maybe closer to what we know as sourdough. Eventually the demand for their bread out grew their ability to make the bread locally in the small ovens, so a large facility was built with 24 ovens where each baker worked as his own ‘shop’.
In 1979 the artist Salvidor Dali met with Lionel Poliane and started making artwork out of bread.
Now, Poliane can be found in London as well, the first approved wood fired oven in London happened in 2000. This is still a family owned business, Appollonia Poliane took over the company in 2002 and she plans on following the traditions created by her grandfather.
Le Marche des Enfants Rouge – 39 Rue de Bretagne
Started in 1615, it is thought to be the oldest covered market still running in Paris. Named after the orphanage that used to be located nearby, this small market is a great place to find bio/organic products and have lunch at any of the food stalls – Italian, Japanese, and Moroccan (to name a few).
Premier Pression Provence – 30 Rue Fracois Miron
Created by the man who started Oliviers&Co., this store specializes in smaller production olive oil farms and offers a range of products from artisan tapenade to truffle oil.
Fromagerie Jouannault – 39 Rue de Bretagne
Cheese lovers in France will be happier than maybe any other country, with nearly 400 different kinds of cheese. Unlike in the USA, their cheeses do not have to be pasteurized and this opens the door to numerous possibilities for flavor and textures that would never be found otherwise.
As with wines, some French cheeses have “appellation controlee” or AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégé)– Roquefort needs to be made in Roquefort. Brie, in brie. Within each of these general categories you may still have tens of different types of brie, aged for different amounts of time, in different locations, from different cows. Terrior (def. – combination of factors including soil, climate, and environment, that gives cheese/wine its distinctive character) is just as important here, what a cow (or sheep or goat) eats will directly affect the cheese it produces, thus, potentially creating a whole other kind of cheese.
Ask for your cheese to be ‘sous vide’ to bring back to the USA
Des Bulles Sinon Rien – 16 Rue Elzevir
Wine shops and bars abound in Paris; however one of the more interesting places to enjoy a degustation is this small, independently owned champagne shop with a cave for tastings. Reasonably priced, if you are interested in trying smaller cellars productions this is the place. Cheese and charcuterie plates are also available. Three glass tasting for around 23 Euro per person.
La Perle – 78 Rue Vieille du Temple
Hipster café where Galliano made his infamous racist comments. This history aside, good for a glass of wine and people watching.
Breizah Café – 109 Rue Vielle du Temple
Crepes by a real Breton, relax and enjoy if you can get a table and don’t miss trying the Bordier butter.
Le Mary Celeste – 1 Rue Commines
Wine bar serving small plates and oysters, well priced and good value.
Fee free to contact me and we can organize a food tour for you in Paris in any location for any amount of time!