What do you think of when “food” and “Paris” are in the same sentence?
When we thought of Paris, we thought of red and white checked table clothes, fine cuisine, and beaucoup de vin. Stereotypically French, right?
In reality, once we arrived, we realized there’s so much more to the foodie scene than we had even imagined.
On the go: Anything you can wrap in paper
To Americans who have perhaps over-romanticized French culture, it seems rather gauche to think about Parisians rushing from place to place, a baguette sandwich wrapped in paper in their hands, munching as they go. But, as in any big city, you eat what you can when you can!
On weekend mornings, you can find folks walking home with grocery bags in one hand and a paper-wrapped baguette in the other, getting a nosh while they walk. And during the day, people with earbuds in and nicely tailored suits can be seen nomming as they run down the street.
And when we got caught in a rainstorm and ended up sitting on the doorstep of a closed business eating baguette and fromage from our grocery bags while we waited out the rain, no one even gave us a second look.
Boyfriend Perspective: Meagan thought we’d stick out. My stomach didn’t care. It worked out!
En plein air: Picnics (bonus: picnics in gardens!)
Our first meal in Paris falls into this category. We followed our noses to the first patisserie we smelled (Au Temps des Tartines) and purchased a couple pieces of quiche. Then, we paused at the park down the block to sit on the edge of a fountain and watch some little kids running around shrieking while we recovered from airline food.
Side note, the amount of greenery in Paris is absolutely breathtaking. Parks, lawns, and gardens abound, and they make perfect stops for munchies.
Boyfriend Perspective: Yeah, but if you’re like Meagan, watch it. Flowers = bees = running and shrieking. So… choose carefully?
We had the pleasure of lunching in the lovely garden behind Sacré Coeur and got to listen to local musicians working on new songs – which contrasted sharply with the hiphop being blasted by a group of soccer-playing teenagers across the park. It was a warm day, but the breeze made it perfect.
There are pretty little places like this just about everywhere you look. But heaven forbid you find yourself devoid of inspiration, maybe just plan to sit by the Seine and enjoy your lunch there, instead. You really can’t go wrong!
Boyfriend Perspective: Pro tip: pick one wine, no more than two cheeses and meats. We got four meats, three cheeses, and three bottles of wine (how can you pick just one, come on!), along with two baguettes. We had enough for at least two more people to eat their fill.
With a bit more structure: Café culture
Guys. We have brasseries in the States, and they do a passing job. But, man, Paris is just… different.
If you’ve been out on the town and find yourself in need of sustenance, look for awnings and tables and chairs out on the sidewalk – just like every movie you’ve ever seen. Either pop inside to find a hostess, or just plunk down at your table of choice, and someone will be out to take your order. Then, sit, enjoy, take your time, and watch the city go by around you. You won’t be rushed – at least, not by the staff. While mealtimes have shortened in most cultures, France has one of the few meal cultures that’s actually hung on to – and even lengthened – dining times in recent decades.
Our favorite time to enjoy café culture is in the breakfast/brunch hour. Sure, most Parisians will probably opt for yogurt and fruit over a pain au chocolat for breakfast, but let’s just plead the tourist card, okay? Enjoy some espresso/jet fuel and a pastry – and maybe some fresh-squeezed juice – to start a perfect day in Paris.
Boyfriend Perspective: Gotta say, there is nothing in Richmond, VA that compares to the cafés of Paris. It will spoil you rotten, and we miss the simplicity of it.
What’s you favorite way to catch a nosh in Paris? Or any other city you love? Let us know in the comments! 🙂
Also published on Medium.