Our culinary and cultural adventure will commence right in the heart of the Left Bank, in the famous Boulevard Saint Germain. The first stop will be in the Deyrolle Boutique that is not all it seems upon first glance: it looks like a regular old gardening store from the outside but the second floor houses a unique ‘cabinet des curiosités’ that will make you feel like you have just stepped out of a time machine. A small private taxidermy museum awaits, filled with stuffed leopards and baby elephants, skeletons of various creatures and some odd mash-ups that look as if they belong in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum instead of on the Left Bank.
From there you will try the Parisian art of flâner with a walk to the Berges de Seine, a bustling promenade that hugs the river, to reach a hidden alley that used to be the meeting place of the leaders of the French Revolution. At the former printing house of Jean-Paul Marat, another radical voice of the Revolution, we will taste the best hot chocolate in the city. The building, which also houses a medieval tower, is now home to Un Dimanche à Paris, a delightful chocolate concept store by Pierre Cluizel, whose family have been making chocolate for sweet-toothed Parisians for over 70 years. Together we will meet the managers and chefs in their exhibition kitchen and discover what it takes to produce these exquisite creations every day.
Burn off the calories you have just consumed taking a stroll along the iconic Boulevard Saint-Germain, past typical cafes and bars where the likes of JP Sartre and Samuel Beckett once sipped coffee, towards the Abbaye Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the oldest churches in Paris. We will stop nearby to taste sumptuous macarons at the Pierre Hermé store. Hermé was named Best Pastry Chef in the World in 2016 and as we all know, a pâtissier is judged on the quality of his macarons so it’s comforting to discover that Pierre has also been nicknamed the ‘Pablo Picasso of macarons.’ His pastries are like works of art, evoking a tinge of guilt as you take that first ruinous bite, which is soon forgotten as the sweet and tart flavors begin to tickle those tastebuds.
The next culinary stop will be at Poilâne, an institution in France. They have been making elaborately decorated sourdough bread in their wood-fired basement ovens here for more than 80 years, a large proportion of which is shipped out to fine dining restaurants around the land. Doctors have even prescribed the bread to their patients, claiming it is good for digestion.
We’ll then stumble towards the intoxicating Luxembourg Gardens, which were designed for the Medici family in the early 17th century. As no tour of Paris is complete without paying your respects to a certain tower designed by Gustave Eiffel, we’ll take you to a little known spot in the gardens where you’ll be able to spot the top of the iconic ‘Iron Lady,’ giving you an opportunity to take some alternative holiday snaps from a different perspective.
We’ll then head towards Cire Trudon, the world’s oldest candlemaker and perfumier, who began trading all the way back in 1643. King Louis XV was a fan. We will chat to the store manager about the illustrious history of this global brand whose candles are still dripped by hand and play a guessing game with the different scents, admiring their world-famous wax candle-sculptures as we sniff. Scent continues to be a central theme at the next stop of the tour too; the Marché Couvert (or covered market), is the place to buy some of France’s most delectable cheeses. At the Fromagerie Sanders, a cheesemonger who has been producing creamy curds for four generations, you’ll meet the owners and learn how their love of cheese has made their store one of the best places in Paris to find unusual varieties.
The tour will finish with an aperitif, that is a worthy representative the world over of French savoir-vivre (meaning ‘good manners’). At the winery Bacchus et Ariane we’ll experience this very French tradition, nicknamed l’apéro, and enjoy a friendly and cheerful moment together, drinking wine, sharing bread, trying more unctuous cheese and enjoying some casual chit-chat.
New York Times Reading List:
Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, a hot chocolate with a pastry sample, a contemporary macaron by Pierre Hermé, cheese tasting with bread and a glass of wine, and a surprise souvenir to take home!
Exclusions: Items of a personal nature, additional food and drink, tips/gratuities for your guide.
Dress standard: Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget an umbrella if it is a rainy day.
Your Trip: For your New York Times Journeys/Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 8 people.
Confirmation of booking: If you have your voucher, your booking is confirmed. We'll see you at the start point. Get in touch if you have any concerns or require more information via the email address or phone number (business hours only) on your voucher.
Child Policy: This is a child-friendly tour. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 inclusively are permitted on this tour at the rate listed above. Please select ‘child’ above when booking. Children under the age of 6 are permitted to join this tour free of charge.