In Paris, you’ll have many opportunities to accustom your palate to new and unusual flavours and specialities from different parts of the globe.
You’ll find places serving African, American, MiddleEastern, Asian and Europeanspecialities in many different parts of the city. There’s something to suit all tastes and budgets.
Paris has any number of canteen-style places dishing up honest home cooking. Portuguese specialities can be sampled at the Churrasqueira Galo and in the restaurants of Champigny-sur-Marne. The bustling Saravana Bhavan in Paris’s Little India is the place to go for authentic South Indianvegetarian food. Fans of South Korean cuisine congregate along the Canal Saint-Martin to tuck into a meal of bibimbap (mixed rice) at Jules&Shim, while those in search of South American flavours head to the colourful Tierra del Fuego to eat empanadas and Andean cuisine washed down with Chilean wine.
The Mazeh takes you straight to Persia. For more than 30 years this restaurant has served up classic Iranian dishes likesaffron rice and stews. The Zerda Café is a good place to sample the finest North African couscous and tagines. Featuring the colourful decor typical of Ethiopia, the Habesha specializes in the traditional dishes of the Horn of Africa. And Rio dos Camaraos in Montreuil serves the food specialities of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Or you could take an upscale culinary journey through the city’s many fine dining and Michelin-starred international restaurants, like the Shang Palace in the 16th where you can sample exquisite Cantonese cuisine, or the restaurant of the Huatian Chinagora hotel in Alfortville, which specializes in delicacies from the Hunan province.
Paris food markets are a feast for the senses, with an incredibly diverse range of products from around the world on offer.
The Rungis International Market is a national institution, with lanes and lanes of stalls stuffed with French and foreign produce. It is the world’s biggest fresh produce market, and thousands of food retailers and chefs from around the country come here every day to replenish their stocks.
If you’ve never tasted exotic foods like okra and tilapia fish, head to the colourful Marché de Dejean to immerse yourself in the culinary culture of Africa. At the Barbès market, you can pick up Oriental and African products at unbeatable prices. The food markets in the towns of Champigny, Ivry-sur-Seine, Fontenay-sous-Bois, Charenton and Epinay-sur-Seine also display a very diverse range of products.
And don’t miss a visit to the Saint-Denis market, the largest multicultural food market in the Ile-de-France region, where you’ll find exotic fruit from Africa, Italian cheeses, large spice stalls and much more.
>> The association Bastina organizes guided tours of this variegated food labyrinth
For a quick meal on the go, stop off at one of the many world cuisine stalls in the charming covered markets of Paris, like the Enfants Rouges or the Saint-Quentin markets: these are definitely worth visiting.
International grocery stores and supermarkets
Some supermarkets selling exotic produce have become genuine Paris landmarks. The Tang Frèressupermarkets in the 13th arrondissement and in Vitry-sur-Seine stock a huge range of products from China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.
If you are looking for Afro-Caribbean food products, the Bao supermarket in Bobigny is your best bet.
The Halles du Portugal in Choisy-Le-Roi, a supermarket exclusively stocking products from Portugal, has met with great success.
Paris also has an amazingly large number of mini-markets and grocery stores selling quality international products.
If you’re cooking a Southeast Asian dish, you’ll find the Big Store has everything you need. For products straight from South America, head to the Mercatienda Latina. If you enjoy the food of Spain and Portugal, the Petite épicerie espagnole and Comme au Portugal are two well-stocked shops, while Italian food fans make a beeline for Rap. The Epicerie anglaise de Paris is the place to go for British, Scottish and South African products.
Last but not least, the Grande Epicerie de Paris is a treasure trove of food specialities and fine foods from around the globe.
International street food
It’s easy to grab a snack on the go in Paris. Falafel is the speciality in Rue des Rosiers, and the best place to enjoy it is the venerable As du falafel. The banh mi sandwiches at Panda Belleville equal any you can find in the streets of Hanoi. For a Middle Eastern snack in the heart of Paris, head to Rue Rambuteau, where Man’Ouché serves up the traditional Lebanese bread of the same name with delicious fillings. Those who like crispy Belgian fries can fill up on their favourite snack at De Clercq. Burgers and bagels are a popular street food snack in Paris, and a number of places have sprung up on the streets of the city, like Bagelstein and the well-known franchise Five Guys, to provide an all-American experience.
A good way to enjoy an alfresco meal is at the annual Food Market. Once a year, 20-odd street food stalls selling specialties from a variety of nations are set up between Belleville and Couronne. It’s a convivial way to sample all kinds of tasty dishes.
Food trucks offering a range of international flavours are cropping up everywhere in the capital. La Cabane du Cape Cod dishes up East Coast fish and seafood recipes. Papelón serves Venezuelan food, while Mozza & Co focuses on mozzarella, an essential ingredient of Italian cooking. Then there’s Camion Bol, which specializes in tasty Vietnamese fare.
Tea, ice cream and pastries
Tea rooms in Paris draw on the traditions of many different countries. The Tea Caddy perpetuates the British custom of afternoon tea, and has a dazzling selection to choose from. At Maison de la Chine, customers are initiated into the subtle art of the tea ceremony. The tea room at the Grande Mosquée de Paris has an array of mouth-watering Oriental pastries, and mint tea is served in the traditional way. Cape and Cape is the best place in town to sample red rooibos as well as teas from other parts of Africa.
>> Guided tour and tasting session at Cape and Cape: find out everything there is to know about African teas
At the Institut Suédois you can warm yourself up the way people do in Sweden, with coffee and a cinnamon bun. For a Brooklyn-style snack, stop off at Bob’s Bake Shop for some crumble or a slice of carrot cake. The pastry shop Saison serves sweet treats from Shanghai, while Café Pouchkine on the ground floor of Printemps de la mode is an upscale Paris tea room with Russian leanings.
And to sample a variety of walnut, almond and pistachio pastries, take a stroll along the Boulevard de Belleville during Ramadan, when stalls selling these delicious sweets are set up along the entire street.
On sizzling summer days, you’ll be drawn like a magnet to Paris’s Italian ice cream parlours. Melt-in-the-mouth ice creams, sorbets and granitas will appeal to those in search of a refreshing treat. Places to try: Pozzetto in the Marais, Raimo on Boulevard de Picpus and Gelati d’Alberto in the Mouffetard district, not to mention the established gelato brands Grom and Amorino.