Updated: Jul 8

Maybe you're dreaming of taking cooking classes during your trip to Paris. What a great idea!

We have great schools that will provide you the cooking skills that you need to prepare those delicious dishes that will make your friends want to be invited for dinner every weekend.

Before we go into our recommendations we would love to share with you the stories of two US citizens who lived in France and took cooking so seriously that they were willing to confront the challenges of professional training, which here are serious.

First is Julia Child: in her book, My Life in France, co-authored with Alex Prud’homme, she describes her first meal in a French restaurant in Rouen in 1948, where she ate oysters and sole meunière and knew right away that she had to learn how to prepare food that tasted that good. So she enrolled in l’École du Cordon Bleu in Paris, but made the mistake of signing up for the year-long course rather than the six-week. She noticed two things right away: she was the only woman in the class and the other eleven students were also from the USA (GI’s). There were no French students in the class: neither men or women. In her book she describes her unpleasant encounter with Madame Brassart (school director), who told her she didn’t understand why she would waste her time and theirs because Americans don’t know how to cook. The excellence of the instruction she received from the chef and instructor Max Bugnard more than made up for the unpleasantness of Madame Brassart.

Julia Child went on to have a television show in the US, « The French Chef, » which was interesting because she was neither French nor a chef. She also authored eleven cookbooks.

So why would the French not consider her a chef? She had never been one: she was a cookbook author who had a TV show. Most importantly, she did not follow the rigorous system of apprenticeships that all chefs go through in order to move up the ranks and become a chef de cuisine.

For us Julia Child could be considered the first cooking influencer in the world who encouraged American women to learn a new cuisine that at the time was thought to be only for the elite.

Our second cooking enthusiast is Bill Buford, someone who wanted to learn what it took to become a French chef.

For anyone interested in understanding the difference between taking cooking classes and becoming a French chef, I highly recommend his book, Dirt. The following text is taken from its cover:

"At first, Bill Buford (beloved best-selling author of Heat, thinks that in order to learn the fundamentals, a little time working in a restaurant, and then perhaps a few months in France, should be enough. He persuades the revered French chef Michel Richard in Washington, D.C. to take him on, but then — after quickly realizing that working in a kitchen in France is indispensable — he rashly and rather radically moves to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France…with his wife and three-year-old twin sons. He meets Bob, proprietor of Lyon’s best boulangerie (bakery), becomes his apprentice, and learns how to make bread. He studies at the legendary L’institut Paul Bocuse. He cooks at the storied, Michelin-starred La Mère Brazier and endures the endless hours and exacting rigeur of the kitchen. Weeks turn into months, seasons go by and turn into a five-year digression from normal life, all in pursuit of the answer to one question: What makes French cooking, well, French? "

Eliot with his Poisson Boulangère

As you can see there are many different stories about cooking in France, and you can have your own. For this reason we have reviewed and described some of them for you to have an entry level cooking class during your stay in Paris. (If your hope is to become a Chef, please know that you better move to France and do a proper training program that includes instruction in the top schools and apprenticeship in restaurants.)

L’Ecole du Cordon Bleu — Founded in 1895, they offer year long diploma granting courses for professionals and one or two day workshops for food enthusiasts. Their workshops emphasize pastry making, but also include sauces and jus, and provencal cooking. Their website shows them to be a lot friendlier than when Julia Child enrolled there in 1948. They even list her as one of their success stories!

L’Ecole du Cordon Bleu

Ritz Escoffier Cours de Cuisine — The Ritz Hotel at one time was famous for having been liberated at the end of World War II by Ernest Hemingway and his private militia. It is a five star (Palais) hotel located in the place Vendome. Their cooking school offers 3 and 4 day workshops in pastry making, cocktails, healthy cuisine, etc.

Ritz Hotel www.ritzescoffier.com

La Cuisine Paris — Located on the quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, across the Seine from Notre Dame, the school offers classes in pastry making, sauces, or a dish accompanied by a market tour to decide what to cook that day.

La Cuisine Paris, 80 quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, Parus 4. Metro: Pont Marie, line 7. https://lacuisineparis.com

Le Foodist — In addition to offering cooking classes for pastries, le Foodist offers a class for either a three-course lunch or a four-course dinner, both with an optional market tour. Located near the Panthéon.

Le Foodist www.lefoodist.com

Cook’n with Class — Located in Montmartre, they provide market tours and instruction in sauces, macarons, French desserts, bread baking, and croissants accompanied by a market tour to select the day’s ingredients.

Cook’n with Class, 6 rue Baudelique, Paris 18. Metro: Simplon, Line 4. www.cooknwithclass.com

L’ Atelier des Chefs — Located in several sites in Paris and in other French cities, L’Atelier des Chefs offers courses from 30 minutes to 4 hours. French cuisine lessons cover topics such as a bistro lunch, pastry, sauce techniques and shopping at an outdoor food market. Current non-French classes include a Japanese menu and Indonesian fish curry.



Your first cooking lesson is offered by Eliot! Learn how to make Chicken Marengo and join us in this experience:

Bon appétit!

Eliot & Pamela

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Original Eiffel Tower
CC0 Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet

Paris will host the summer Olympic Games in 2024. It was also the site of the Olympic Games in 1900 (the second Olympiad) and 1924 (the movie « Chariots of Fire » Olympics). Like other cities hosting the Games, Paris wants to put on a show on top of the spectacle that the city offers every day.

Somehow, major events in the city, whether in celebration or in sorrow, require doing something with the Eiffel Tower. For the Olympics, the project is to repaint the tower yellow, brown, and golden. This will mean painting its 18,000 pieces and 2.5 million rivets. When the tower was first built for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was painted red. In 1907, Eiffel said that he wanted it painted yellow, brown, and golden, and those remained the colors for the first half of the 20th century.

Most buildings in Paris are considered historical, this means they are protected and modifications are rarely allowed. When I wanted to replace the windows in my apartment, the company that would build and install them had to measure the size of each window, pane of glass, and of the mullions and muntins. This because they had to look exactly the same as the old ones for the renovation to be allowed.

But; it’s OK for the Eiffel Tower to change color: it’s one of the things about living in this city that makes you say, « go figure. »

Our beloved tower has a knack of surviving human folly. Built in 1889 for a world's fair, it was originally scheduled to be torn down after the end of the fair. At the end of WWII it was one of the monuments that almost got leveled under the orders of Hitler! But somehow she has managed to resist the times.

The city of Paris uses the lighting of the tower to show support for different causes, while advertising by private companies has almost been non-existent here are some exceptions: In 1926, when the tower was still operated by the Eiffel family, Citroên advertised their automobiles.

In 2017, the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team paid 50,000 euros to have their acquisition of Neymar, the Brazilian star, feted in the red and blue team colors for a couple hours!!! Any company may use the image of the tower for free for their advertising provided that it’s a daytime photo. When the lights are on at night, they need to have the authorization of the city and they have to pay for it.

In 2011, the Ginger Engineering Company wanted to make the Eiffel Tower into a planter for four years. Plants would have covered all four sides for its entire 357 yard height. That was about 600,000 plants plus 12 tons of rubber tubing to keep the plants watered. The engineers estimated this would add 378 tons to the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

You might well ask why they wanted to do this.

Answer: the company wanted to create a carbon negative building; they wanted to have Paris be the first city in the world to do this; and as we all know, the Eiffel Tower symbolizes Paris. With this project, the 7 million annual visitors to the Eiffel Tower would not just have been visiting the Eiffel Tower, they would have been involved in eco-tourism.

According to the engineers, the Eiffel Tower produces 84.2 tons of carbon dioxide. With the 600 thousand plants, 87.8 tons would have been absorbed.

Ginger claimed to have the support of the Paris mayor and the national Minister of the Environment but then a funny thing happened. The story appeared in the news. The stories politicians would rather not see in the news are more likely to appear than the stories they'd like to see. The Mayor issued a statement saying that he had not yet decided whether to support the project and as you might have guessed, the project became a part of history that most everyone ignores.

Now you know; when you come to Paris make sure to take pictures to immortalise the Eiffel Tower of "your time", because there’s no guarantee it will look the same in the future.

By Eliot Goldman

StrollsParis tips:

1- After a visit to the Tower you might consider a moment of calm, you can find this by the hidden waterfall between the Musée de l'homme, rue Benjamin Franklin and rue le Tasse, the hidden side of Trocadero garden. You can watch our facebook live tour we did on June 13th 2021 to know where this is: https://fb.me/e/1435QZ490

2- The Paris Aquarium, in the Trocadero gardens, is a great place to bring your kids.

"Aquarium de Paris" 5 rue Albert de Mun, Paris 75016.

Metro Trocadero, Lines 6 and 9

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I recently read the article, « The French Twist, » by Lauren Collins in The New Yorker magazine. The article described a new food craze in France, the Tacos. Although adding an « s » at the end of a word makes it plural in French as it does in English and other languages, in this case, «Tacos» is singular — one tacos. And before you get too excited thinking that maybe decent Mexican food is now available in Paris: sorry, but the French tacos has as much relation to a Mexican taco as say a Mexican sparkling white wine labeled Champagne has to the real thing.

But what is it? The article describes it as a soft flour tortilla containing meat (beef or chicken), French fries, a choice of relishes and sauces, and a cheese sauce. The whole thing is then folded into a rectangular shape and grilled. At least, there’s a tortilla.

What makes this interesting is that it raises the question of , »What is French cuisine ? ». We all know, or think we know anyway, what French cuisine is. We can reel off the classic dishes such as canard à l’orange, foie gras, quenelles de brochet, boeuf bourguignon, crepes suzette, bouillabaisse, mousse au chocolat, etc. All of these dishes and many others were created in France and then served in French restaurants around the world because gourmet dining became synonymous with a meal in a French restaurant if you were lucky enough to have one nearby.

The tacos was also created in France, in the suburbs of Lyon. Lyon is not just anyplace when it comes to how seriously the residents and restaurant professionals take culinary traditions.

Dirt, by Bill Buford

One of my favourite recent

reads is the book: Dirt, by Bill Buford.

So the tacos was created in France, but does that make it French? Interesting question, because the chef (or chefs - there’s a dispute) who created it was / were French citizens of North African origin and had not been trained in classical French cuisine. Does that mean that a dish created by French citizens living in France is not French cuisine if the creators weren’t classically trained?

There are a lot of restaurants in Paris (lucky us) because eating well is an important part of life in France and a lot of tourists come here hoping to have memorably good meals in addition to seeing the Mona Lisa. Personal opinion: I prefer a really good meal to being in the crowd trying to see the Mona Lisa — sorry Leonardo. For French restaurants, there are restaurants, brasseries, and bistros. There are also restaurants for the cuisines of other nations: Chinese, Japanese (mostly sushi), Korean, Italian, Turkish (kebabs), Lebanese, Greek, etc. In the years that we’ve been here, there has a progression of food fads such as hamburgers, bagels, and Poke bowls, but these have been in restaurants set up to take advantage of the fad and serve mostly that.

And yes, the French eat pizza and hamburgers but with a knife and fork: please don’t laugh or stare when you notice it. These food fad restaurants or restaurants serving non-French cuisine, however, are not the places frequented by the French for the really special meal. No, for the really special meal, there are really special (French) restaurants. The others represent a different set of flavors or copious amounts of food for very little money. Does this mean that French restaurants are always more expensive? No — we have suggestions below. Do we think you should eat only in restaurants serving French food? No, that’s up to you. I happen to like couscous and sushi as do the French.

Here are a few tips on choosing a good restaurant:

  • If the restaurant staff is outside the restaurant inviting you to come in, don’t go there.

  • Try to avoid the restaurants that are closest to the tourist sites, although we can give restaurant recommendations near tourist sites.

  • If you’re staying in a hotel that has a concierge, ask him or her for a recommendation

  • If you want to go to a Michelin-starred restaurant, you’ll need to make a reservation before coming here

And some favourite restaurants:

For game and wild mushrooms in season Au Petit Marguery, 9 blvd du Port-Royal 75013

For couscous : La Corniche, 77 blvd de Courcelles 75008

For seafood : La Brasserie Lorraine, 2 Place de Ternes 75017

For a special meal :

La Closerie des Lilas, 171 blvd du Montparnasse 75006

Les Zygomates, 7 rue de Capri 75012

I wish you a Bon Appétit!

by Eliot Goldman

#parisfood #parisgastronomy #wheretoeatinparis #iloveparis #paristacos #frenchtacos #foodies #parisforfoodies

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