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Recently I was invited to check out a food tour through Montmartre, my old neighborhood. It was a company I had not heard of since they've only been open for less than 4-months, so I did not want to pass up the chance to see my old neighborhood that I love, and oftentimes take for granted.
"Secret Food Tours Paris" was conceived and founded by Nico Jacquart, a Frenchmen who recently returned to France from the U.K. to open up this new venture. The tours are very intimate and are for no more than 8-people.
|Nico and Pierre-Jean|
On this particular wet day in Paris we met at Metro Anvers (line 2) at 11 am. Two lovely couples joined, one Canadian and the other couple from the U.K. We were a total of 5.
At the helm of our tour was Pierre-Jean. What a truly fun guy. He went to Johnson and Wales in Miami, Florida so spoke fluent English and was very well versed on Parisian food culture and the history of Montmartre. After giving us a history of the area, we immediately headed off to the "big guns" a chocolate store.
This particular chocolatier has only been around for about 3-years. So, in one way I'm glad I no longer live in the area, otherwise, I'd be as big as a house. The store was not only immense, but was filled with beautiful, edible chocolates and macarons. We were able to sample several types of chocolates and hard candies. Yum, what a great way to start a tour.
Next stop we went to our old neighborhood bakery. This boulangerie, AU LEVAIN D’ANTAN won "Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris" in 2011. Which means in 2011 they beat out several hundred boulangeries for the best baguette, hence, had the privilege of providing baguettes to the President of France, at the time President Sarkozy, so their breads are very well known and delicious.
In addition to the baguettes, Pierre-Jean bought some eclairs which we later ate at the park around the corner where the "wall of love" is prominently featured.
Next we headed to a pâtisserie specializing in "French" macarons. The proprietor's hair was as colorful as the various macarons. They had such an incredible variety of macrons, that my head just spinned. They were so beautiful and delicious. Some in our group decided they were coming back at a later date to bring some to their loved ones.
Next we headed to Charcuterie, all I have to say is wow. Talk about a selection of pâtés, terrines and sausages. They not only had French sausages, but sausages imported from other countries like Spain. I was in fact intrigued with the chorizo from Spain, since the proprietor told me it was very spicy, so Pierre-Jean got us some to taste for later.
And, what comes after visiting a charcuterie? well why cheese of course. I was aghast at the selection of cheese this particular cheese store had. I was even more intrigued by the vibrant colors of some of the cheeses. The proprietor told us that the brilliant color came from red basil (red cheese) and pesto (green cheese) pictured.
Well I thought we had hit every food store in the Montmartre, boy was I wrong. We had one final last stop, and one of the most important visits of all, if you guessed wine, you would be correct. The wine shop "La Cave des Abbessess" was amazing. I have never seen such an extensive array of wines in Montmartre, so this was a nice treat.
Inquisitively, I asked Pierre-Jean what he was lugging around all day. Turns out he had a table and a special back-pack that housed everything but the kitchen sink, like utensils, plates and more importantly wine glasses. He said that normally part of the tour is a picnic, but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate so we used the small dining area of the wine shop.
Now this was the fun part for me, wine tasting with the baguette, cheeses and charcuterie Pierre-Jean bought earlier. Pierre-Jean is extremely knowledgeable about wines and gave us an interesting course how how they are produced, the vintages and the "terroir".
As you can see from the happy faces, we had a great time. And, when I thought all was said and done, Pierre-Jean gave us a short walking tour of the Place du Tertre and Sacré Cœur where alas we bid our farewells.
I have to say, I've been on many tours in my life. And, for me the personality of the tour guide as well as his/her knowledge is paramount to a successful tour. Nico and Pierre-Jean delivered. Pierre-Jean is not only extremely knowledgeable about the surrounding history and knowledge of the foods, he had the personality to match. Very amicable and just a fun nice guy to be around.
Would I recommend this tour, ABSOLUTELY! Merci