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Mar
22

I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.

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vive le food tour paris!

Le Food Tour pastry maker

In light of the tragedy in Paris, I thought it would be a good time to celebrate the city — and the people and things that make it so special. What better way to do that than through their magnificent food? I published this interview on Huffington Post when we came back from our trip in April but wanted to re-post it here in honor of our Parisian friend, Maxime Audi, who we have been thinking about constantly.

When in France, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of every opportunity to indulge in the world-renowned food. So, on our recent trip, we basically ate our way through the country.

I’ve already introduced you to the new generation of chefs in Aix-en-Provence and the exquisite French cooking we were served aboard our Portraits of Southern France Viking River Cruise.

Now, let me tell you about our post-cruise trip to Paris, one of our favorite cities, where we decided to take a food tour to get a taste of what was new. We opted for Le Food Tour, a relatively new eating/walking tour of the City of Light, because it promised an off-the-beaten-path experience.

We love to take food tours when we travel and, although it’s hard to go wrong – you’re eating, after all! – this was probably the best one we’ve ever been on.

Our guide, Maxime Audi, co-founded Le Food Tour with his best friend, Matthias Cohen-Hadria last year, and he made the tour so personal, informative and fun, it was like we were walking the streets with our Parisian BFF.

In fact, we’re hoping he feels the same way because we’d like to go back and visit him again soon.

Le Food Tour - Maxime Audi

LAM: Your tour was definitely a highlight of our time in Paris. How would you describe the ways your tour is different than others?

MA: I think it’s our mindset: we really want to be your best friends in Paris! We started doing food tours with foreign friends and relatives so they could discover the real Paris and French cuisine. We want to keep this original spirit of sharing our passion and pride for our beautiful city and its amazing food! That’s why we limit the size of our groups to 10.

LAM: What’s your goal on each tour?

MA: We want our guests to remember the tour for a long time: knowing how to differentiate “good” from “wonderful” French food, with an added knowledge of history, and the specificities and uniqueness of the products.

Le Food Tour - tart

LAM: What are some of the latest food trends in Paris? How do you incorporate those into your tours?

MA: The new generation of chefs – those who will replace in French hearts Paul Bocuse or Joël Robucho – are opening simple restaurants featuring four or five-course menus. Rather than order a dish, you just enjoy what they cook. This allows chefs to choose the best products from short circuits and clean agriculture. A perfect example is Chef Sven Chartier’s restaurant, Saturne. It’s very inspirational for us as we share with our guests the very essential of French food: simple and amazing products from the best artisans.

Le Food Tour - cheese

LAM: Paris is probably the food capital of the world. How does that make your job easier? How does it make it more challenging?

MA: Indeed, Paris gathers a lot of wonderful restaurants and food artisans, which is great for our daily lives! The difficulty for our tours is choosing which ones to include.

LAM: How do you make that decision?

MA: Food is highly emotional so, among the best, we always pick the most passionate artisans who are able to talk of their products with pride and love.

Le Food Tour - cheese store

LAM: We loved that you gave us so much information about Paris architecture and history along the way. What do you think it brings to the tour?

MA: The streets of Paris are an open museum and one of our first pieces of advice to our guests is, “Look up!” We don’t pretend to be historians but these little tidbits, stories and secrets about the city give sense to what we see during our walks.

Le Food Tour - walk

LAM: We also loved that you started with bread and went to cheese – two iconic French foods – and offered so many fun facts about them. Can you share one?

MA: Guests are amazed that the baguette was invented to avoid murders! During the construction of the Paris Métro in the 19th century, many fights broke out between migrant workers coming from different parts of France. Too often, they ended in murders because they all had knives to cut their lunch bread, which was usually a round loaf. The head of construction, Fulgence Bienvenüe, asked Parisian bakers to produce bread that could be cut without a knife. So they invented the baguette. That’s why you have to tear a baguette with your hands!

LAM: Give us a little background on why you started Le Food Tour.

MA: Matthias and I are true food lovers and there’s nothing better than sharing. We enjoyed doing tours with friends visiting Paris, so we started Le Food Tour to have these pleasant moments more often and share the very best of French food. It gives us great moments with new friends at each tour!

Le Food Tour - Maxime tour

LAM: How often do you change your tours?

MA: Today our main tour is in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the most iconic and historical neighborhoods of Paris. We are currently working on a new tour in a different part of Paris and a “thematic tour” on French wines.

LAM: What’s the most popular food that people on your tours really go crazy for?

MA: Trying cheeses and olive oils are always intense moments for our guests. These common products will never be the same for them after the experience they had with us!

Le Food Tour - olive oil

LAM: What are some of your own favorite foods?

MA: I was born next to Bordeaux in the southwest of France where duck is a religion. I love foie gras and magret.

LAM: How in the world are you still so thin?!

MA: I ride a bike! Another great way to discover Paris!

Comments

  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    Thank you for this. I think we need to send as much positive energy their way as possible.

  2. Sounds like an awesome tour. If I am ever in Paris, I would definitely take a food tour.

  3. The City of Light. And food. And culture. ooh la la! Love that place. So many reasons!

  4. I used to always want to go to Paris and England as a child but the world has changed and I am old now with fears so I may never get to go.

  5. My cousin, who lived and married in Paris (we attended!) texted me. Her good friend’s daughter was supposed to attend the concert Friday night. Instead she decided to go to London. Her 3 friends were murdered. I can’t get that last sentence out of my head. Senseless.

    I’ve been to Paris 3 times and it’s my favorite city. I am in mourning for all that’s happening in that magical city. Thank you for re-posting this, Lois. I’m so glad you did. It’s what bring a happy Paris back to all of us. (And got me hungry!)Someday soon it will be happy again.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Oh, Cathy, that is devastating. I’m so sorry. Paris is such a special city, and its lights will never be extinguished. xo

  6. Loved your post (as I love France and Paris). And as I am going back for the 25th time in January, your post is now bookmarked in case I decide to try this experience. Thanks for sharing. I’m hungry now!

  7. Catherine S says:

    Paris is on my bucket list of places to visit. A food tour would be amazing.

  8. A food tour in Paris is perfect. I want to go! I love Paris, the art , the people, the style, and of course the food. I am sure the people of Paris will rebound in Parisian style to this tragedy.

  9. I know that I’ll be quoting that great line about telling “good” from “wonderful” French food. I once lived in Paris and that says it all. You cannot get a mediocre meal there. Even the worst is “good.”

  10. The cheese, oh, the cheese! How I love to buy a crusty loaf of bread and cheese in Paris. There is something about Paris that just makes it taste so good!

  11. Europeans know how to do it. They eat well and move their bodies!

  12. Such a lovely tour with wonderful guides! Learning the intimate details of a region and its food keeps the memory alive for much longer. Thanks for sharing your trip with us Lois.
    Kimberly XO

  13. Now this sounds like something I would love to do. I really wouldn’t know where to start without a food tour!

  14. Oh wow what an absolutely amazing tour – they seem to do such amazing food in France. x

  15. Wonderful post, and wonderful time to post it. Paris is so beautiful, and I CANNOT wait to get there someday to see it for myself. Also, trying the food. Yum

  16. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Thank you for posting this today. I am having trouble emerging from my sadness but this helped. My hope is that Paris will bounce back stronger and more united than ever. As for French food, is there anything more delicious? Mais non!

  17. A few ago I travelled to Paris for the American Thanksgiving and it was bar none THE best turkey I have ever had. I think they put crack in the gravy, though it was probably wine which is better for you. Thank you for this happy post today. My heart is breaking.

  18. I’m so glad that you had fun in Paris, and I hope I can visit one day. I’ve always heard that is beautiful place. I’m praying for Paris. It is tragic what happened.

  19. I just love those pics Lois! That cookie…OMG. What a lovely way to pay tribute. I always enjoy your travel pics and posts. Thanks so much for sharing.

  20. Very nice to see a tribute to Paris at this time. And what better way to celebrate than with food? Thanks for the uplifting post.

  21. Posting this was a great idea, everything looks so good!

  22. I hope your friend is ok. My favorite food is French food. My heart goes out to all the Parisians and travelers there. Thanks for sharing this.

  23. What a wonderful tour. It’s so tragic what happened to Paris. What a great tribute.

  24. I would be so stoked if I were able to take a food tour of France! That is on my bucket list for sure!

  25. I would love to go to a French restaurant and have a meal. I have always wanted to eat authentic French cuisine.

  26. I have fond memories of Paris and look forward to going back one day. I would love to explore the city and experience some more of the delicious food.

  27. You had me at food tour! I would love to go on one of those. Everything looks amazing.

  28. I remember when we were in France years ago, the food was so delectable. I would love to go back with the family.

  29. I was just in Paris in September and you’ve made me want to go back immediately! Paris and incredible foods are synonymous and there’s so much to taste and explore! Great idea to repost in light of what just happened in Paris.

  30. What a wonderful way to celebrate Paris. A food tour would be a magnificent way to explore all the delicious tastes of the City of Light.

  31. Great tribute to a beautiful city. Loved the story of the baguette!

  32. I’ve visited and written about Paris and its food many times but your posting has me eager to return and sign up for Le Food Tour! I have friends who are in Paris now and when they asked my opinion if they should come back to the US due to the recent attacks, I reminded them that they where many of us would rather be.

  33. I love to taste my way through a destination and a food tour is a great way to do that in a short amount of time.

  34. I love doing food tours in Paris! I have done many and they are all different. There are so many corners to discover and cuisines to try!

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