Tour Julie & Julia's Paris: 8 Essential Stops for Your Next Visit
If seeing Julie & Julia has inspired a trip to Paris—or if you're already going—visiting Julia Child's haunts will help you experience the city as she did. Some restaurants, markets, and shops below are featured in the movie, such as E. Dehillerin, where she bought kitchen supplies, and Shakespeare & Company, where she thumbed through French cookbooks. Others she writes about in her autobiography, My Life in France.
Julia Child was a regular here; and this is where she'd buy kitchenware while she was attending cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu.
Visit It: E. Dehellerin has been around since 1820. Never mind the creaky stairs; their huge range of professional cookware in enamel, stainless steel, or fiery copper is gorgeous. 18–20 rue Coquillière, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries
Shakespeare & Company
Browsing here and in other bookstores in Paris, Julia came to realize that there weren't any French cookbooks in English that would be accessible to an American audience.
Visit It: A sentimental Rive Gauche favorite, Shakespeare & Company is named after the bookstore whose American owner, Sylvia Beach, first published James Joyce's Ulysses. Nowadays it specializes in expat literature. You can count on a couple of eccentric characters somewhere in the stacks, a sometimes-spacey staff, the latest titles from British presses, and hidden secondhand treasures in the odd corners and crannies. Poets give readings upstairs on Monday at 8 pm; there are also tea-party talks on Sunday at 4 pm. 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 5e, Quartier Latin. 01–43–25–40–93. Metro stop: St-Michel
Although the famous market is now gone, this is where Julia came to shop for meats and various groceries. She preferred her neighborhood marketplace on rue de Bourgogne, though, just around the corner from her apartment at 81 rue de l'Université, which she called "Roo de Loo."
Visit It: Home to the city's wholesale food market until the 1960s, Les Halles is still the place to go for late-night onion soup or steak frites, washed back with gulps of cheap and tasty red wine.
Faced with the unsightly 1970s shopping mall known as the Forum des Halles, it's hard to conjure up the colors, sounds, and smells of the wholesale market that once existed here. Emile Zola dubbed Les Halles "the belly of Paris," and although the belly has shrunk significantly since the market moved to the suburb of Rungis in 1971, it's not completely empty. The cobblestone street market on Rue Montorgueil (open daily except Sunday afternoons and Monday) is still a feast for the senses. And some area restaurants continue to offer savory, market-inspired fare. Newcomers to Les Halles should tread carefully. A hub for 800,000 daily commuters, the area attracts chain restaurants and street hawkers. With all of the commotion, it's easy to overlook worthy shops and eateries.
Le Grand Véfour
Julia and her husband Paul happened upon this Paris institution while exploring the Palais Royal. They visited the restaurant once a month thereafter.
Visit It: Victor Hugo could stride in and still recognize this restaurant, which was in his day, as now, a contender for the title of most beautiful restaurant in Paris. Originally built in 1784, it has welcomed everyone from Napoléon to Colette to Jean Cocteau under its mirrored ceiling, and amid the early-19th-century glass paintings of goddesses and muses that create an air of restrained seduction. Foodies as well as the fashionable gather here to enjoy chef Guy Martin's unique blend of sophistication and rusticity, as seen in dishes such as frogs' legs with sorrel sauce, and oxtail parmentier (a kind of shepherd's pie) with truffles. There's an outstanding cheese trolley and for dessert, try the house specialty, palet aux noisettes (meringue cake with chocolate mousse, hazelnuts, and salted caramel ice cream). Prices are as extravagant as the decor, but there's an €88 lunch menu. 17 rue de Beaujolais. 01–42–96–56–27. Reservations essential; jacket and tie. AE, DC, MC, V. Closed weekends, Aug., 1 wk in Apr., 1 wk at Christmas. No dinner Fri. Metro stop: Palais-Royal.
This is where Julia and Paul went on their first Saturday in Paris and ordered café complet.
Visit It: This classic café, which overlooks the St-Germain des Preés church, specializes in chocolate chaude, which is the main reason to go these days. Made with milk and pure chocolate, this hot beverage is served in a lovely white porcelain pitcher. 6 pl. St-Germain des Prés, 6e. 01–45–49–31–29.
When Julia and Paul moved into their apartment at 81 rue de l'Université, she discovered that she liked shopping and housekeeping, and didn't mind assisting Frieda, the building's femme de ménage (maid). It was to BHV that she'd go to buy everything from light bulbs to a garbage can.
Visit It: Short for Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, BHV houses an enormous basement hardware store that sells everything from doorknobs to cement mixers and has to be seen to be believed. There's even a hardware-theme café, where how-to demos are held. The fashion offerings are limited, but BHV is noteworthy for its huge selection of high-quality household goods, home-decor material, electronics, and office supplies. If you're looking for typically French household items (those heavy, gold-rimmed café sets, gorgeous French linen, or Savon de Marseille), this is your ticket. 52–64 rue de Rivoli, 4e, Beaubourg/Les Halles. 01–42– 74–90–00. Metro stop: Hôtel de Ville.
Marché aux Puces St-Ouen
Learning how to cook various dishes at Le Cordon Bleu meant Julia had to add special supplies to her already-full kitchen. She and Paul took a trip out to this market, where she went looking for the huge, heavy mortar and pestle needed to prepare quenelles de brochet (a Lyonnais fish dish).
Visit It: Also referred to as Clignancourt, this market on Paris's northern boundary still attracts the crowds when it's open—Saturday to Monday, from 9 to 6—but its once-unbeatable prices are now a relic of the past. The century-old labyrinth of alleyways packed with antiques dealers' booths and brocante stalls sprawls for more than a square mile. Old Vuitton trunks, ormolu clocks, 1930s jet jewelry, and vintage garden furniture sit cheek by jowl. Arrive early to pick up the most worthwhile loot (like old prints). Be warned—if there's one place in Paris where you need to know how to bargain, this is it!
If you're arriving by métro, walk under the overpass and take the first left at the Rue de Rosiers to reach the epicenter of the market. Around the overpass huddle stands selling dodgy odds-and-ends (think pleather, knockoff shoes, and questionable gadgets). These blocks are crowded and gritty; be careful with your valuables. If you need a breather from the hundreds of market vendors, stop for a bite in one of the rough-and-ready cafés. A particularly good pick is Le Soleil (109 av. Michelet; 01–40–10–08–08).
Au Pied de Cochon
As famous a brasserie then as it is now, Julia came here—sometimes in the hours just before dawn after a night out—for their traditional onion soup.
Visit It: One of the few remnants of Les Halles' raucous all-night past is this brasserie, which has been open every day since 1946. Now run by the Frères Blanc group, it still draws both a French and a foreign crowd with round-the-clock hours and trademark traditional fare such as seafood platters, breaded pigs' trotters, beer-braised pork knuckle with sauerkraut, and cheese-crusted onion soup. It's perfect ribsticking fare for a winter's day or to finish off a bar crawl. The dining room, with its white tablecloths and little piggy details, feels resolutely cheerful. 6 rue Coquillière. 01–40–13–77–00. AE, DC, MC, V. Metro stop: Les Halles.
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I've seen all but two of these places, and they are classic Paris. A low-rent tip: the view over the clay rooftops from the BHV restroom is archetypal medieval Paris. Les Deux Magots is the best people (girl) watching spot in Paris, and hearing the many languages of the diners and drinkers is something unforgettable. Great selection.