April 11, 2015

A taste of Paris

Beatrice was to give us a Taste of Paris this morning. This half-British, half-French lady had impressed me during our chocolate tasting tour a few months back. Sure enough, she arrived loaded with bags full of books, illustrations and goodies to taste. Think Mary Poppins, all she was missing was the coat stand.

We started off at the old Les Halles district, famous for having been the site of the central Paris food market for many centuries. This quarter is still home to a wealth of specialist food purveyors and culinary equipment stores. On the tour we discovered the fascinating historic neighbourhood with its typical Parisian street markets.

We tasted fresh Gariguette strawberries, dried prunes from Agen, while Ms Poppins told us about the ancient water well on the rue de la Petite Truanderie which a desperate lover had thrown herself down centuries ago.

We were the lucky tourist group that received a personal "degustation" of different French cheeses served with wine, of course at "La Fermette". All this at 11 am in the morning on the pavement of Rue Montorgeuil.

At "A la Mère de Famille", Paris’s oldest sweet shop - in its original location for 250 year - we savoured some almond paste "calissons d'Aix" before we hit "Stohrer", the oldest pastry shop in town, and the birthplace of the Baba au Rhum, world-renowned for its chocolate eclairs. Even the Queen of England has stopped by to taste them!

By one o'clock when we thought we had tasted it all, our lovely guide walked us across the Nelson Mandela gardens, passed the Cathedral of Saint-Eustace to Godard, the foie gras specialist who gave us an exceptional tasting of authentic goose and duck foie gras.

It was a tour none of us will forget: the sun was shining, the magnolias and cherry trees were in full bloom and we were sipping wine in the streets of Paris half-way through the morning. Paris in the springtime is wonderful!

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