Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk

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Welcome to the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk. Our stroll will take us from the playground of the French monarchs, Palais Royal through the historic 'Halles' of Paris, which was home to the biggest food market in Paris from the 12th century until 1971, and served as the setting for Emile Zola's famous novel Le Ventre de Paris which translates to the Belly of Paris. Zola's work depicted both life in the great market halls and the suffering of the working class in 19th century Paris. Today's walk is a gourmet journey to the past and an experience of the present: a progressive lunch in different places in and around Les Halles. On the menu: appetizers and a wine tasting, lunch in a restaurant from the Halles market heyday, a delectable dessert from the area's oldest bakery, and coffee with an unparalleled view of Paris. The walk starts at the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre metro station on line 1. The first stop on The Belly of Paris Gourmet Walk is the Palais Royal. As you exit the metro, walk through the square and head towards the building with 'Conseil d'Etat' in gold lettering.

Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk

Details
1. Palais Royal
Palais Royal
place du Palais Royal. Walk past the funny black and white sculptures in the Cour d'Honneur to the Galerie de Montpensier of the Palais Royal. As you walk through the galeries of the Palais Royal, imagine attending a sumptuous feast, listening to the strains of an orchestra, and hearing the urgent whispering of lovers. It all started in 1629 when Cardinal Richelieu wanted a home with easy access to the Louvre and the royal family, and the country fields north of the Louvre seemed like the perfect spot to build a vast palace and garden. The French crown inherited the property and the Palais Royal became the periodic residence and playground of the French royalty. Louis XIV hunted stag, boar, and hare here in 1649 and nearly drowned in the large fountain the same year. Princess Henriette de Bourbon-Conti often collected lovers here, disguising herself and stealing to the garden to meet her lovers. Philippe d'Orleans, cousin to King Louis XVI, began transforming the Palais Royal in 1781 into pavillons, similar to townhouses, to pay off the debts of his extravagant lifestyle. Much of the original architecture from this renovation remains: a ground floor comprised of a series of galeries with boutiques which open onto the garden, colossal sculpted pilasters lining the outer walls, and a stone balustrade and pots adorning the top floor. The Palais Royal is a true survivor of fires, revolutions, invasions, and centuries of colorful inhabitants. As you walk along the Galerie de Montpensier and peer into the antique shops, remember that you are walking by the sites of cafés, gambling houses, brothels, theaters, and even the restaurant of kings, the Grand-Vefour, now a 3-star restaurant.
The next stop on the walk is the Grand-Véfour restaurant. Walk to Galerie Beaujolais which spans the north end of the Palais Royal, and head to the Grand Vefour, located in the northwest corner of the Palais Royal gardens.
2. Grand Vefour restaurant
Grand Vefour restaurant
17, rue du Beaujolais. Leave your 21st century identity at the door as you are about to break bread 1780s style. The Grand Vefour claims that it has been the gourmet food Mecca of political, artistic, and literary circles for the past 200 years. Truth be told, the restaurant's 3 Michelin stars and history confirm that this is not an exaggeration. If a meal costing several hundred euros per person doesn't tickle your fancy, at least peek through the windows and feast your eyes on the mirrors, wood sculptures, chandeliers, and paintings. The scenes of wildfowl, fish, flowers and women with flower-laden baskets invite the guest to savor the incredible gastronomic odyssey they're about to have. Reserve well in advance.
The walk continues at the Caves Legrand wine shop for appetizers and a wine tasting. Turn right out of the Grand Vefour restaurant (or continue straight if you didn't eat there), and leave the Palais Royal. Turn right out of the Palais Royal onto the rue de Beaujolais, and then take the first left, the rue Vivienne. As you turn left, look back at the wall behind you, and you'll see a plaque indicating the former home of French writer Colette. Continue along the rue Vivienne and take the first right onto the rue des Petits Champs. You'll see the entrance to the Galerie Vivienne just after the Bistro Vivienne at number 4, rue des Petits Champs . Enter the Galerie Vivienne take a second to admire the semicircular windows panelling the walls. Then enter the Caves Legrand wine bar and shop which will be on your right. It's a great spot for a first course of appetizers and wine.
3. Caves Legrand Filles et Fils wine shop
Caves Legrand Filles et Fils wine shop
1, rue de la Banque. Soak up the experience a wine tasting in a covered passageway at one of the tables of Caves Legrand. It's a great place to watch Parisians going about their business.The wine bar and shop has an impressive selection of wines by the bottle and the glass, and a host of appetizers, cheese and otherwises paired with them. Make sure you check the price per bottle for wines sold by the glass, it may be cheaper to get a bottle. If you don't feel like wine, at least go into the winebar and go up the stairs to the shop on the other side, where you'll find a kind of gourmet general store full of tempting packaged food products and candies.
The walk continues at Emilio Robba's boutique. Head further into the Galerie Vivienne taking a moment to admire the rotunda and with its frolicking nymphes and goddesses. Carry on until you're in from of Emilio Robba's showroom, which will be on the left.
4. Galerie Vivienne and Emilio Robba, sculptor of flowers
Galerie Vivienne and Emilio Robba, sculptor of flowers
29-33, galerie Vivienne. Emilio Robba's wonderfully lifelike flowers permanently capture a glimpse of fleeting beauty. The flowers have been placed in clear vases in Emilio Robba's 'water, a transparent resin that delights and tricks the eye.
The next stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk is the place des Petits-Pères. From Emilio Robba's shop, turn back and walk towards Caves Legrand, taking an immediate left in the only other wing of the Galerie Vivienne. Exit the Galerie Vivienne and head straight across the rue de la Banque and walk in front of the church in the middle of the place des Petits-Pères and face the church of Notre-Dame-Des-Victoires.
5. Place des Petits-Pères
Place des Petits-Pères
place des Petits Pères. The place des Petits-Pères forms a quadrangle with the nearby Bourse (former stock exchange), rue Notre-Dame-Des-Victoires, rue des Petits-Pères, and rue de la Banque. The Barefoot Augustinian friars (reformed Augustinians) known as the 'petits pères' gave the square its name, and their story makes one shake one's head and say, 'those poor friars'. Remember Queen Margot, Henry VI's lustful wife? Well, in 1608 Margot summoned them to Paris and instructed them to sing praises to Jacob non-stop night and day to music she had composed herself. By 1612 Margot had decided they sang out of tune, and tossed the friars out of her mansion, forcing them to return to Avignon. The friars returned to Paris in 1619, lived in squalor in Montmartre, earning them the designation 'Petits-Pères'. Louis XIII finally granted them land for a monastery, and construction on the Notre-Dame-Des-Victoires church we see today began in 1629.
The walk continues at the Place des Victoires, easily recognized with the statue of Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the center. With your back to the Notre-Dame-Des-Victoires church take the street on your left, rue Vide Gosset, until you get to the round place.
6. Place des Victoires
Place des Victoires
place des Victoires. Louis XIV had looked upon the Maréchal de la Feuillade with favor, and to show his gratitude, the Maréchal vowed to erect a statue in the king's honor. The good Maréchal needed a place for the statue, so at enormous personal expense he bought the land around the future Place des Victoires. The statue's opulent inauguration ceremony in 1686 sparked heavy criticism, with people chanting: 'Henri IV is with his people at Pont-Neuf, Louis XIII with the good people of place Royale (today's place des Vosges), and Louis XIV with his tax collectors at the place des Victoires.' Was this a whiff of a revolution brewing?
The walk continues at Il Campionissimo, a legendary pizza joint and a great place for the main course. If you'd like to eat in a French restaurant from the era of Les Halles market, wait until Le cochon à l'oreille, a few doors down and a stop on this walk. To get to Il Campionissimo walk around the place des Victoires and take the rue d'Aboukir until you reach the rue du Louvre. Cross the rue du Louvre and the tiny square and turn left onto the rue Montmartre. Head to 98, rue Montmartre.
7. Il Campionissimo - a paradise for pizza lovers
Il Campionissimo - a paradise for pizza lovers
98, rue Montmartre. The chef is a world-renowned champion pizza-maker. He lets his dough sit for six or ten days before baking it into one of the best pizzas you'll ever have. Skeptical? Don't knock it before you try one of the 74 pizzas on the menu. Plan on spending anywhere from 8 to 16 euros on your precious pizza, though the specialty pizza with foie gras is more expensive. Space is at a premium so call in advance and reserve table 1 to have a little breathing room, and a front-seat view of the bustling rue Montmartre.
The next stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk is the gourmet bookstore located at 92-96 rue Montmartre.
8. Gourmet Bookstore
Gourmet Bookstore
92-96, rue Montmartre. The Librairie Gourmande is one of the culinary jewels on this walk, as it is a rare bookstore in Paris entirely dedicated to cooking. You'll find books in French on every subject satisfying the wine aficionado, the pastry enthusiast, the person on a diet, the refined hostess, the tired-of-Martha-Stewart discerning entertainer, etc. The store also has a great selection of books in English in case you're looking for a A day in El Bulli or books from other legendary chefs. The shop also carries a good selection of food related postcards and posters. A pastry-filled postcard will make 'em eat their hearts out with envy. You can also order from the bookstore's website.
The walk continues at A. Simon. Turn left out of the bookstore and go down the rue Montmartre to number 52 rue Montmartre.
9. A. Simon and rue Montmartre
A. Simon and rue Montmartre
48-52, rue Montmartre. Rue Montmartre abounds with shops for every cooking accessory and trinket conceivable for creating and serving French food. Many shops date back to the Halles market heyday, when streets around the market each had a culinary specialty. A. Simon began serving food service professionals in 1884 cater to professionals of restaurants, bars, cafés, but also sell to the public an impressive 15,000 products. Their two stores at 52 and 48 rue Montmartre have everything: porcelain, glasses, ceramics and stoneware, cutlery, utensils, pots and pans, placemats, everything you could possibly need to execute the perfect French recipe, with the exception of the ingredients.
The walk continues at Le Cochon à l'oreille bistro, another good option for your main course. You'll pass other specialty cooking and gourmet shops on your way. Continue down the rue Montmartre until you reach 15, rue Montmartre.
10. Le Cochon à l'Oreille Bistro
Le Cochon à l'Oreille Bistro
15, rue Montmartre. If you've already eaten, then just admire the interior decoration of the Le Cochon à l'oreille. The decorative tiles are a classified historic monument. Otherwise, bon appétit.
The next stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk is the St. Eustache church. Continue down the rue Montmartre and turn right into the impasse St. Eustache, and enter the church by its northern door.
11. St. Eustache church
St. Eustache church
2, impasse St. Eustache. Built in 1512 with a Gothic layout and Renaissance decoration, the St. Eustache church rises 33,5 meters above the Halles. The first church erected on this site dates back to to the 13th century, and the parish served the people living there throughout the Middle Ages, when the area was already a crossroads for commerce and in particular a fish market.
The walk continues at what remains of the Les Halles de Paris covered market. Exit the church through the south door (opposite the door you came in), turn left and pause for a moment in the square near the Henri de Miller's statue of a hand holding a head directly in front of the church.
12. Les Halles of Paris
Les Halles of Paris
place René Cassin. Remember that this area used to be the theater of the enormous covered market of Paris, from the 12th century until it was moved south of Paris in 1970. Huge halls of iron and glass, Les Pavillons Baltard, were constructed in the 1850's to organize the different markets, and each street around the pavilions was specialized in a type of product. All in all the market spanned the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters of Paris, 4 out of 20 quarters in Paris. Emile Zola chose this site to portray the working class here in 19th Paris: charcutiers, patissiers, fish monters, cheese makers, barmaids, artists, politicians, street urchins, fruit and vegetable vendors, and a host of others who coexisted in the miserable, magnificent, and smelly Halles.
The next stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk is G. Detou. From the the square in front of the Eglise St. Eustache walk towards the rue Montmartre keeping the St. Eustache church on your left. Continue up rue Montmartre, cross rue Etienne Marcel and take an immediate right on rue Ticquetonne. Head to 58, rue Tiquetonne.
13. G. Detou gourmet shop
G. Detou gourmet shop
58, rue Ticquetonne. Floor to ceiling and wall to wall shelves burst with gourmet foodstuffs in this legendary shop from the 1950s recently featured in the New York Times. As the name of the shop hints, there is a little bit of everything here: dried sugared cranberries, ready-to-fill charlotte ladyfinger molds, meringues, spices, different kinds of honey, honeycakes, icings, you name it they've probably got it, in many cases ready to top, fill, cover, or present your gourmet creations.
The next stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk is the Stohrer bakery for dessert. Turning left out of G. Detou, walk a few feet to rue Montorgueil, and turn left.
14. Stohrer bakery and gourmet shop
Stohrer bakery and gourmet shop
51, rue Montorgueil. A medieval merger of two streets resulted in the rue Montorgueil, which has become the heart of the 2nd quarter. Watch and listen for the pulse of this quarter as you walk to 51, the site of Stohrer's bakery, which opened its doors in 1730. This is the pastry shop of pastry shops, famous for creating the Baba au Rhum, a cake doused with rum, sprinkled with raisins and filled with whipped cream. The to-die-for desserts come from a loyalty to traditional receipes and cooking techniques and a very high standard for quality ingredient: the chocolate beans are selected from the finest in four different regions, all fruits are fresh, the apple mixture for the 'chaussons aux pommes' is homemade the night before so that the vanilla can truly express itself in the pastry cooked the next day. Even the Queen of England came here to sample a few pastries. Indulge yourself, you won't regret this dessert.
The walk continues at Au Rocher de Cancale restaurant at 78 rue Montorgueil.
15. Au Rocher de Cancale Restaurant
Au Rocher de Cancale Restaurant
78, rue Montorgueil. Oyster lovers would come here in the 1850s to slurp up the freshest oysters straight from the ports of the North as the rue Montorgueil was the site of the oyster market in 19th century Paris. The original restaurant was located at 59 rue Montorgueil. Enjoy the facade and don't miss the paintings on the 2nd floor.
The walk continues at the passage du Grand Cerf. From Au Rocher de Cancale restaurant, take an immediate right onto the rue Greneta. Follow the rue Greneta a few minutes and then take a right into the place Goldoni. Walk through the place Goldoni and the entrance to the passage du Grand Cerf is on your left.
16. Passage du Grand Cerf
Passage du Grand Cerf
passage du Grand Cerf. Before the French revolution royal messages destined for the eastern provinces of France used to be dispatched from l'hotellerie du Grand Cerf, and this passage helped make the hotellerie more accessible. It was covered in 1825 and links the trendy Montorgueil area to the slightly seedy rue Saint Denis.
Enjoy window shopping as you head to the next stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk, Le Labo + Filf at number 4 passage du Grand Cerf.
17. Recycled chic - Le Labo + Filf
Recycled chic - Le Labo + Filf
4, passage du Grand Cerf. Welcome to Le Labo + filf, a magical place where forgotten antiques, spare parts, and other odds and ends have been dusted off and transformed into decorative lamps whose presentation contrasts with elegant leggy wire figurines, creations from filf. This tiny shop also sells trendy pocket books and other items you won't find in mainstream shops. Balancing between the upwardly mobile and trendy Montorgueil and the blue collar feel of the Sentier area, the shop's location and merchandise reflect the transitions of the quarter well.
The walk continues at the passage Bourg l'abbé and Ivan Lulli's showroom. At the end of the passage du Grand Cerf, cross the rue Saint-Denis and enter the passage Bourg l'Abbé which is almost directly across from the end of the passage du Grand Cerf. Walk through the passage to number 18.
18. Passage Bourg l'Abbé and Ivan Lulli's showroom
Passage Bourg l'Abbé and Ivan Lulli's showroom
18, passage Bourg l'Abbé. Named for a seedy medieval neighborhood just outside the city limits of Philippe Auguste, the passage Bourg l'Abbé today is at the crossroads of the still seedy rue Saint Denis and the upscale Marais. The passage is beautiful, if less well-maintained than the nearby passage du Grand Cerf. Master carpenter/cabinetmaker Ivan Lulli's works hang in creative suspension all around his wallet-sized workshop: wooden panelling, ornamental molding, veneer, panels, models, friezes, and panels with sculpted forms in various degrees of relief. This talented craftsman breathes life into these objects by painstakingly and publicly transforming the wood. The door to his shop is usually open, so watch him at work!
The walk continues at the passage Molière, which is a few minutes away on foot. Exiting the passage, head straight across the rue Palestro, cross the boulevard de Sébastopol, turn right and head down the boulevard Sébastopol, then turn left onto the rue aux Ours and make an immediate right onto the rue Quincampoix. The passage Molière is at 82, rue Quincampoix.
19. Passage Molière
Passage Molière
passage Molière. Laid out in 1791, a stroll through the passage Molière today gives a behind-the-scene glimpse of life in the 3rd quarter of Paris. You'll find artists' studios, a tiny wine bar, and some quiet. Soak it up, the the passage is only 46 meters long.
The last stop on the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk is the café/restaurant Georges for coffee on the top floor of the Centre Pompidou modern art museum. Turn right out of the passage Molière onto the rue Saint Martin, then turn left onto the busy rue Rambuteau. Walk a short ways and head towards the Centre George Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg, easily recognizable from anywhere in Paris with its colorful tubes covering the building. Take the elevator to Georges just to the left of the main entrance on the place George Pompidou and head to the top floor.
20. Georges café/restaurant at the Centre Pompidou
Georges café/restaurant at the Centre Pompidou
3, rue Beaubourg. Critics of the provocative exterior of the Centre Pompidou would say that yes, the covered market has left Paris but its stomach remains. One could construe the vibrant blue, red, green, and yellow tubes that cover the walls to be entrails, but this interpretation should not diminish the amazing permanent collection of modern art housed here, the excellent temporary exhibits or the incomparable panoramic view of Paris from the the café on the top floor.
This is the end of the Passages to Gourmet Paris Walk. The nearest metro station is Les Halles.
Distance: 2.5km
Estimated duration: 2.5h
Beginning of the walk: Palais Royal
End of the walk: Georges café/restaurant at the Centre Pompidou


Francais