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Paris - Wine, Knives, things Tourists buy there

Paris - Wine, Knives, things Tourists buy there

Old Oct 6th, 2021, 08:51 AM
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Paris - Wine, Knives, things Tourists buy there

HI, Fodorites.
Fully-vaccinated and optimistic, I've booked a trip to Paris in November.

FOR WINE LOVERS...
I hope to enjoy French wine at dinner on my vacation, and would appreciate any suggestions on what I might order to expand my knowledge of wines. I'm a very infrequent drinker, and don't have a very discerning wine palate. I know I prefer whites (Rieslings and Gewürztraminer) when ordering a glass, but when sharing a bottle w/folks who like red, I don't mind Malbec.

FOR HARD-TO-FIND GIFTS...
I had a small La Fourmi knife set, and they were so wonderful, I ended up ordering the "tomato knife" from a France vendor on Etsy. They're not terribly expensive, and hope to find some in Paris as holiday gifts for my family. Also, my mom loves chestnuts (plain, roasted), so we'll keep an eye out for the French marrons. (I'm interested in at least trying a marron glacé, though I don't think my mother will like it that sweet.) What are some French items that are difficult/expensive to get elsewhere (for me, Chicago), that you buy while there?

Thank you in advance, Fodorites, for any recommendations!
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 09:25 AM
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In Paris (and Italy) I'd focus on Alsace (there are Alsatian restaurants) and their glorious whites. Alsace is unusual in France and a lot of Europe for better wines that have named single varieties. Their Pinot Gris can be the best followed closely by Gewurtz and of course they also do the whites in variety of sweet versions.

"Not minding Malbec" is not a great reason to drink it, but Cahors is the region you might like (ask the wine waiter if it is "tradition" or "moderne"). However, one red wine you will find everywhere in France is Cote du Rhone red. Slightly better is "Cote du Rhone village" and better again Cote du Rhone (named village). It is a good safe bet at a reasonable price.

Hope that helps
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 09:29 AM
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Knives: Remember, you can't take them home in a carry on.

Wine: As you are not experienced, there are two tactics. First, depend on the recommendation of the restaurant. Tell them what you are ordering and ask for wine recommendations. Don't be afraid to ask pricing. Alternate: Try wines by the glass. You can experiment without buying a whole bottle.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 09:36 AM
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Good point about the glasses, and some places may even offer you a flight of say Alsace small glasses. Just check the wine list or ask the waiter.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 10:36 AM
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AMAZING! Thank you so much for these recos, bilboburgler and AJPeabody. Exactly the type of knowledge I was hoping for. My last trip to Paris was sans smart-phone and translation apps, so I remember being extremely intimidated ordering in restaurants. Even though the service was kind, I tended to revert to the set menu options. Everything was delicious, but I wasn't sure what I was getting a lot of times.

I will have these in my trip notes and do some research on these wines. Yes, knives in checked bags! Thanks for the reminder.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 10:37 AM
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Funny, bilboburgler. All this time, in following all your posts, I thought your screen name was bilboBURGER. Americans, right?
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 11:08 AM
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Here is a general tip about shopping in Paris (or anywhere you travel). First, go into a store the likes of which don't exist elsewhere. So it's not just about purchasing but seeing the store itself. With that in mind, you could go into Mariage Frères, a tea shop located in the Marais. It is a blast just to step inside (there is also a place to eat there). There are other locations in Paris, but go to the historic one in the Marais.

Second, one of the great sights of Paris is the dome inside the Galleries Lafayette department store. Stunning.

The other thing I can recommend is going to a dépôt-vente, a consignment shop. Some specialize in the kind of high-end items you would not even dream of finding in a shop near you.

And then there's my favorite shopping activity in Paris, Les Puces de St Ouen, the sprawling and historic flea market with about a dozen covered markets plus many street vendors. It is a feast for the eyes and an only-in-Paris experience. I especially adore the Marché Vernaison.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 11:31 AM
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Shelemm, thank you for these great ideas. I recall that market from the movie Midnight in Paris which looked wonderful. Glad to have the name of it. Could be a really nice activity for 1-of-a-kind holiday gifts. (I'm more minimalist nowadays, but have family who might love something unique and from France.) The tea shop looks incredible, and is from the 1850's, which is a historical era I have a lot of interest in, so this looks up my alley.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ChgoGal View Post
HI, Fodorites.
Fully-vaccinated and optimistic, I've booked a trip to Paris in November.

FOR WINE LOVERS...
I hope to enjoy French wine at dinner on my vacation, and would appreciate any suggestions on what I might order to expand my knowledge of wines. I'm a very infrequent drinker, and don't have a very discerning wine palate. I know I prefer whites (Rieslings and Gewürztraminer) when ordering a glass, but when sharing a bottle w/folks who like red, I don't mind Malbec.

FOR HARD-TO-FIND GIFTS...
I had a small La Fourmi knife set, and they were so wonderful, I ended up ordering the "tomato knife" from a France vendor on Etsy. They're not terribly expensive, and hope to find some in Paris as holiday gifts for my family. Also, my mom loves chestnuts (plain, roasted), so we'll keep an eye out for the French marrons. (I'm interested in at least trying a marron glacé, though I don't think my mother will like it that sweet.) What are some French items that are difficult/expensive to get elsewhere (for me, Chicago), that you buy while there?

Thank you in advance, Fodorites, for any recommendations!
The sel de mer gris is much cheaper by the kilo in a supermarket than in the States.

Vin de noix, an apéritif, is impossible to find in the States, and maybe still difficult outside the Dordogne. Eau de noix and its Italian cousin nocino is more common.

Last edited by Michael; Oct 6th, 2021 at 02:42 PM.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 03:00 PM
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Thank you, Michael. Never knew of either of those wonderful things. I have a serious chef friend who would love the sel de mer gris (French sea salt). If not too expensive, I may have to try for myself. Very much want to try the walnut apéritif if I'm lucky enough to find it. There's so much I don't know, but it's these small experiences that I've come to treasure. Thank you for posting!
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 03:21 PM
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I am a big fan of just trawling through foreign supermarkets - you never know what you'll come across ....

Lavandula
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 04:52 PM
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Nothing wrong with ordering the Plat or Menu du Jour, especially for lunch. It should be reasonably priced and characteristic. Ditto the house wine by the glass, I travel solo so I do that a lot.

Recommend downloading a menu translation, so you will have some idea of what you are ordering.

Are you just visiting Paris, or doing day trips?
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 06:25 PM
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We have loved food tours with Paris by Mouth to sample lots of foods and wines. It might be a good way to sample a number of wines to find a few that you like without to “commit” to a glass at dinner. (You could use that knowledge for ordering wine with your dinner) https://parisbymouth.com/

I have always wanted to check out O Chateau (wine bar and restaurant) I know a number of people who have recommended it but we haven’t made it there yet. https://o-chateau.com/en/

i always buy fresh Maille mustard at the shop near the Madeline church. They usually have seasonal options that are wonderful and I love the crocks they dispense them into.
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Old Oct 6th, 2021, 09:10 PM
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A few years ago I bought a lovely Guy Degrenne Salam teapot in France. They are encased in a steel and felt hood to maintain the temperature inside, embossed with the maker's name and model. While you can get them abroad, they cost a mint. Mine was on sale, I guess because it was in a colour that they were running out (a kind of a Tiffany bluey-green). They just have them in department stores; I think mine was in Galeries Lafayette. I collect teapots and I use my Salam teapot often.

Lavandula
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ChgoGal View Post
AMAZING! Thank you so much for these recos, bilboburgler and AJPeabody. Exactly the type of knowledge I was hoping for. My last trip to Paris was sans smart-phone and translation apps, so I remember being extremely intimidated ordering in restaurants. Even though the service was kind, I tended to revert to the set menu options. Everything was delicious, but I wasn't sure what I was getting a lot of times.

I will have these in my trip notes and do some research on these wines. Yes, knives in checked bags! Thanks for the reminder.
If you want to buy kitchen-type knives, Dehillerin is the place to do it. Also because of the traditional shopping experience. They don't care too much for browsing tourists, but if you approximately know what you want, they'll happily and graciously assist you

https://www.edehillerin.fr/en/
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 05:06 AM
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NOT WINE!..Silly weight on plane. Especially is you are a novice wine drinker...personally I do not like Alsatian riesling, which is cheap in the US.

Mariage Freres tea
Dehellin (spelling??) cookware....

Le Creuset if you have no oulet near you (South Carolina off I-95)

Walnut and other oils....others here will know the name of the Left
Bank shop keep them in the frig for longer life

Mind you, I know a lot more about Spain than France...so listen to others more than me....


Do you cook a lot?


Last edited by ekscrunchy; Oct 7th, 2021 at 05:10 AM.
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 06:23 AM
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"personally I do not like Alsatian riesling, which is cheap in the US." makes sense
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 07:37 AM
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Thank you, all!

@thursdaysd Yes, I think we'll be ordering the set menus. We'll be extra polite, and hopefully the servers will take care of us. I've worked customer service, so I know it makes a difference. I'm not much of a foodie, so easy to impress. As for the menu app, I downloaded iTranslate for all French. Do you use one specific for menus? My only day trip will be to Versailles, which I've never been to. I hope to go back in the spring/summer to see the gardens, but I want my mother to visit the palace before it gets too difficult for her to travel. We only have 5 full days, 2 travel days, and we have lots of museums on the list. I'll need to post my planned itinerary for feedback/recos.
@lavendula: Yes to grocery stores! And that's closer to my price-point and level of sophistication when it comes to food. I've seen those tea pots and hadn't known where they came from. Thank you!
@menachem: Thank you for this shop name. It's so close to my hotel, too. The website didn't have the brand I'm looking for, but I imagine they have something identical.
@denisea: Maille is going on the list! I have to start planning my days out and will put that on a route. I love the idea of shops with that much history.
@ekscruncy: I agree on the wine. Not planning on shipping bottles. I'm not that much of a wine drinker, and a terrible cook, so am looking mostly for dining experiences and gifts for friends. Walnut oil is interesting. Will have to take a look at that. I was given a recommendation on a walnut liqueur above. Feels very European!

Thank you, all, for your feedback!
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
"personally I do not like Alsatian riesling, which is cheap in the US." makes sense
Interesting, but will likely still try in Paris. Location is all the difference. I never buy bottles, but I see my Trader Joes' has a 2012 Michel Léon Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France $9.99, so yes, inexpensive, but sounds delicious with 'exotic spices, rose water, lychee, peach and nuances of sweet smoky incense.' (Incense?)
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 08:04 AM
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If you try to bring home liquids or semi-liquids (I'm talking about the mustard), you will have to check your bags, assuming you are flying back to the US. Also note that Maille mustard is usually easily available in the US, as is walnut oil.

As for trying wines, avoid anything you are familiar with. Try new stuff!

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