A Food Tour of Paris’ Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris’ 18th arrondissement, symbolizes a variety of things to different people: some love the artistic vibe, (none other than Dali, Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, to name just the painters, lived in the neighborhood,) while others enjoy the tranquility, (the narrow and often pedestrian streets tend to make the neighborhood quieter than other areas of Paris. ) Some know Montmartre for its Pigalle “red light district,” others for the Sacré Coeur Basilica, which majestically watches over Paris from the very top of the hill. Still others have begun to dream of visiting Montmartre after having seen it in the popular movie “Amélie.”

Montmartre's Sacré-Coeur Basilica and Folies Pigalle: Two of the neighborhood's main tourist attractions

To me, Montmartre rhymes with friendship. Our close friends in Paris all live in Montmartre or very near to it. We’ve had countless parties, lavish dinners, and drinks in the area, and we’ve come to know it through the eyes of our friends who would never trade their arrondissement for any other. Up until now, when we would travel to Paris, E and I would always stay in the 2nd, attached to the Montorgueil area, because that’s where we lived for five months in 2009. The last time we visited Paris, we grew tired of always having to endure the long subway ride or pay expensive taxi fares to climb up to Montmartre and visit our friends. Therefore, we decided that the next time we were in Paris, we would try to stay there instead.

In an effort to get to know (and love) the neighborhood like the locals do, I’ve enlisted my friend Fred to show me his favorite shops, the places where he himself goes to buy his groceries. He’s been living in Montmartre for more than six years, and he’s the perfect guide–he’s a true gourmand who cooks with the natural abilities and instincts of a professional chef. He has made some of the best meals we’ve enjoyed in Paris, and I know exactly how much the quality and origins of the products he uses matter to him. Like most Parisians, he goes to many different, small, specialty shops instead of going to one large grocery store, and many of the merchants he regularly visits know him personally, by name.

An unusually quiet Place du Tertre, at night.

Most of the shops we visited are gathered along the main streets of Montmartre: Rue Lepic, Rue des Abbesses, and Rue de Caulincourt. Walking from one of these shops to another is easy and fun, especially if you stop once or twice along the way to have coffee or a drink in one of the many neighborhood cafés – on the terrace, bien sûr. All year long, rows of tables and chairs facing the cobblestone streets of Montmartre provide the best venues for people-watching in Paris. What’s more, the terraces are even heated throughout the winter.

I’ll take you through the best gourmet shops of Montmartre hoping you’ll one day have the chance to go and live like a Montmartrois for a week. Warning: you probably won’t ever want to leave.

Looking for the giveaway? Scroll down, details at the end of the post!

Gourmet Grocery Store: Marché des gastronomes

  • Go for: Their amazing selection of fine Iberico (Spanish) ham. You can buy a whole leg, they’ll package it for you in an easy to carry cardboard suitcase.
  • You’ll also find: Fresh fruits and vegetables,international and French specialties, gourmet gifts such as prettily packaged oils, spices, salts and jams. They also have a nice selection of fine wines.
  • Where: 9, place Pigalle (M- Pigalle)
    Phone: 01 80 06 85 56
  • Opening Hours:
    Monday from 5 to 9 PM, Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 9PM.

Gourmet Grocery Store: Marché des gastronomes

Gourmet Grocery Store: Marché des gastronomes

Spices and Condiments: Le comptoir colonial

  • Go for: Their amazing selection of spices, including rare varieties like whole white cardamom, nigella seeds and over 30 different kinds of peppercorn.
  • You’ll also find: Freshly-pressed olive oil from Provence, a large selection of bottled oils and vinegars, mustards, savory preserves, spice blends, whole cocoa beans, tea, coffee and some freshly prepared snacks like marinated olives and anchovies, tapenades, hummus, etc.
  • Where: 22, rue Lepic (M- Blanche or Abbesses)
    Phone: 01 42 58 44 84
  • Opening Hours:
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday  and Saturday: 8:45AM to 13PM and 16 to 20PM
    Thurday: 16 to 20PM
    Sunday: 10:30AM to 13:30PM

Spices and Condiments: Le comptoir colonial

French Specialties: L’épicerie du terroir

  • Go for: French classics like foie gras.
  • You’ll also find: Charcuteries (cured meats such as salami),Calissons d’Aix (a traditional candy made of ground almonds and candied fruit paste), nougat, Mariage Frère teas.
  • Where: 26, rue Lepic (M- Blanche or Abbesses)
    Phone: 01 42 62 94 66
  • Opening Hours:
    Non-stop everyday and Sunday mornings.

French Specialties: L'épicerie du terroir

American-Style Bakery: Berko

  • Go for: Their collection of cute and delicious mini-cupcakes. Cupcakes are a relatively new trend in Paris and there are few bakeries that sell them. Berko does them with a great attention to detail and amazing flavors.
  • You’ll also find: Mini-tartlets and superb cheesecakes. There are a couple of tables to enjoy the sweets on site with a cup of coffee.
  • Where: 31, rue Lepic (M- Blanche or Abbesses)
    Phone: 01 42 62 94 12
  • Opening Hours:
    Tuesday to Sunday, 10AM to 7:30PM

American-Style Bakery: Berko

Oysters: La Mascotte

  • Go for: The best selection of the freshest oysters
  • You’ll also find: A restaurant where you can enjoy the oysters and other seafood specialties.
  • Where: 52, rue des Abbesses (M- Abbesses)
    Phone : 01 46 06 28 15
  • Opening Hours:
    Restaurant opening hours:
    Monday-Friday: 12 to 15PM, 19PM to midnight
    Saturday-Sunday: 12PM to midnight
    The take-out counter may be open non-stop on weekdays; call to ensure they are before you go.

Italian Specialties: La Bottega di Piacenza

  • Go for: Italian cheeses like aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino-Romano or Mozzarella di Bufala.
  • You’ll also find: Everything Italian: cured meats, sweets, wines, fresh and dried pasta, take-out dishes.
  • Where: 53, rue des Abbesses (M- Abbesses)
    Phone: 01 44 92 90 99
  • Opening Hours:
    Everyday from 9:30AM to 14PM and 3:30 to 9:30PM.

Italian Specialties: La Bottega di Piacenza

Bread: Le Grenier à Pain

  • Go for: Paris’ best baguette, as attested by the prize baker Djibril Bodian won in 2010 in the yearly contest organized by the city (La meilleure baguette de Paris).
  • You’ll also find: Any other kind of bread, deliciously flaky (and buttery) croissants, pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants), incredibly flavorful savory breads like olive & emmenthal foccacia, sandwiches, and quiches.
  • Where: 38, rue des Abbesses (M- Abbesses)
    Phone : 01 46 06 41 81
    Also: 127, rue Caulaincourt (M- Lamarck-Caulincourt)
    Phone: 01 42 62 30 98
  • Opening Hours:
    Everyday from 7:30AM to 8PM. May close earlier on Sundays.

Bread: Le Grenier à Pain

Cheeses: Par ici les fromages

  • Go for: Their excellent advice and beautiful selection of cheeses.
  • You’ll also find: Butters, crème fraîche and other dairy products. They also sell English cheeses like the Stilton (harder to find in Paris).
  • Where: 47, rue Caulincourt (M- Lamarck-Caulincourt)
    Phone: 01 42 52 79 02
  • Opening Hours:
    Tuesday to Saturday: 9:30AM to 8:30PM
    Sunday: 9:30AM to 1:30PM

Cheeses: Par ici les fromages

Haute Couture Pastry: Arnaud Larher

  • Go for: Their intricate cakes and pastries. Arnaud Larher was named “Meilleur ouvrier de France” (Best Craftman in France), a very prestigious award.
  • You’ll also find: Colorful macarons and chocolates.
  • Where: 53, rue Caulincourt (M- Lamarck-Caulincourt)
    Phone: 01 42 57 68 08
  • Opening Hours:
    Tuesday to Saturday from 10AM to 7:30PM

Haute Couture Pastry: Arnaud Larher

Butcher: Boucherie Bourdain

  • Go for: Friendly service and a large selection of fresh meats, including French specialties like offal or wild birds.
  • You’ll also find: Traditional cured meats, terrines, rillettes, smoked salmon, whole roasted chicken sold with potatoes cooked in chicken fat. Yum!
  • Where: 129, rue Caulincourt (M- Lamarck-Caulincourt)
    Phone: 01 46 06 17 90
  • Opening Hours:
    Everyday but they may close early on Sunday. Call to inquire.

Butcher: Boucherie Bourdain

Wine shop: Les Caves du Roy

  • Go for: Their large selection of Absinthe, the French distilled and highly alcoholic beverage that was once banned for allegedly inducing hallucinogenic visions. No worries, Absinthe is now legal (albeit still very strong).
  • You’ll also find: Passionate advice, awesome French wines, special tastings and oenology classes.
  • Where: 31, rue Simart (M- Jules Joffrin or Marcadet-Poissonniers)
    Phone: 01 42 23 99 11
  • Opening Hours:
    Monday: 3 to 8:30PM
    Tuesday to Friday: 10AM to 13:30PM and 3 to 8:30 PM
    Saturday: 10AM to 8:30PM
    Closed on Sunday.

Wine shop: Les Caves du Roy

A note about staying in Paris: the best way to see the city as if you were living there is by renting an apartment. This gives you the chance to rub shoulders with real Parisians instead of tourists and to cook your own meals should you feel like taking advantage of all the great shops I just introduced to you–for more than just buying souvenirs.

During my many visits to Paris, I’ve made inquiries to many different rental agencies, but the one I always return to is Paris Attitude. They have a wide range of apartments in all of Paris’ arrondissements, for all budgets, and in all sizes. Their apartments are very well maintained, and many have been renovated. Their Web site features a wealth of information, including dozens of pictures of each and every rental. I’ve never been disappointed by Paris Attitude; the service is efficient, and the rental process isn’t complicated. Don’t hesitate to try renting an apartment and experiencing Paris as a Parisian does the next time you travel to Paris. I’m sure it’ll allow you to see the city in a completely delightfully-new and different light.

David Lebovitz Giveaway!

By some stroke of luck, pastry chef, blogger and author David Lebovitz was having a book signing session in Paris the very night I got there. He’s been a great source of inspiration to me so I couldn’t miss the chance to meet him in person. Though the encounter was brief (many people wanted to meet him as well!) I managed to get a copy of his latest and very popular book, Ready for Dessert, signed for one lucky Food Nouveau reader! Since Christmas is just a couple of days away, I decided to also giveaway my first edition copy of The Sweet Life in Paris (which is like new). I liked this book so much that I got myself a new copy signed by David :)

David Lebovitz busy signing one of his books. The beautiful woman in front is Heather Stimmler-Hall from the blog Secrets of Paris, who was also there to promote her latest book, Naughty New York.

David Lebovitz at a book signing event.

To win: Leave a comment saying why you’d like to go to Paris. If you went to Paris before, tell me what you liked best about the City of Lights. Don’t forget to enter your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. Contest is open to readers worldwide.

Bonus entry: Like my Facebook page and get a bonus entry! Leave a comment on the Facebook page or mention Facebook in your comment on the blog so that I know you went there.

Two winners selected at random will be announced on December 31th, 2010 at noon.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Two David Lebovitz books to giveaway: The Sweet Life in Paris and a signed copy of Ready for Dessert.


132 Responses to A Food Tour of Paris’ Montmartre

  1. I love your suggestion to rent an apartment to truly experience the heart of Paris. I wish there were small shops like you have shown here in the states. Can’t wait to make it to Paris to experience all of this!

  2. First time on the website. I am addicted & now I must go to Paris if for no other reason than to see Montmartre. Reason should be obvious: THE FOOOOOD! :D

  3. Came looking for cherry gelato recipe, stayed browsing Food Nouveau & found myself in Paris from my dining-chair! Oh to revisit Paris via tantilising culinary journies… so happy to have found you :) Next best thing to being there is to be taken to Paris via my tastebuds. Look forward to your next blog/FB entry.

    • I feel lucky you stumbled upon Food Nouveau via my gelato recipe! I hope you come back often, I have enough inspiration and post ideas to drive me through the whole of 2011!

  4. I would like to go to Paris to revisit Chez Omar, which was one of the most fun evenings I had ever had. Oh, and also to get some of those Nutella filled crepes from the street vendors!

  5. No other city besides Paris is known for her romantic Seine River, Eiffel Tower and passion. For me, it's really all about the desserts, the macarons, berthillon, that really makes me want to go to Paris!

    • And all those fancy pastries and cakes! It's a feast for the eyes as much as for the tastebuds. I hope to go back to Paris over the summer to enjoy a Berthillon gelato by the Seine!

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