Shops & Markets

Where to buy organic foods in Paris

Dada Biocoop on rue de Paradis in the 10th

Dada Biocoop on rue de Paradis in the 10th

I’ve recently received requests from a couple of readers who were about to move to (or spend a little while in) Paris, and were wondering about natural and organic foods, and where to find them.

Agriculture biologique is French for organic farming, and organic goods are referred to as produits bio. Organic produce, grains, dairy, and meat are increasingly popular with French consumers, and although they still come at a higher price than conventionally grown goods, they are now more widely available than ever.

In Paris, here are the sources you can choose from:

Batignolles organic greenmarket

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Twelve Hours in Paris

Chair and table

Three and a half years ago, I followed my friend Adam’s lead and imagined what I would do if I was given just Twelve Hours in Paris.

I still stand by the choices I made then — except for the Caramella gelato shop, now sadly defunct. But, prompted by reader Patricia’s recent comment on that post, I thought it would be fun to revisit that theme now, and dream up another ideal Parisian day, featuring shops and restaurants that have opened in the meantime.

My twelve hours in Paris, 2012 edition, would begin in late morning with a croissant from Gontran Cherrier’s bakery: he makes it with feuilletage inversé, the puff pastry that’s typically used for millefeuilles (napoleons), and it is extra flaky and extra good. I would also buy a half loaf of his rye and red miso bread, if I didn’t mind schlepping it around with me all day.

I would then spend a couple of leisurely hours walking up and around the Montmartre hill, which remains full of secrets even when you’ve lived in the neighborhood for (gasp!) nine years. I would climb up staircases and down cobblestoned streets, check out the vineyard, peek into courtyards (and tiptoe in for a closer look if the gate happened to be open), and enjoy the village-y quiet and the greenery.

Hopping onto the metro or catching a Vélib’, I would go and have lunch at Bob’s Kitchen, the vegetarian restaurant where I cooked for a short while last year. I would order the day’s veggie stew, the satisfying mix of grains, legumes, roasted vegetables, and crudités I lunched on day in, day out during my stint there. I might also get one of their irresistible maki (garnished with avocado, mango, and daikon radish) to share.

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Gontran Cherrier’s Rye and Red Miso Bread

Rye and Red Miso Bread

My biggest heartache as a temporarily nomadic cook, traveling from kitchen to kitchen while my own is being renovated, is that I’ve had to put my bread baking aspirations on hiatus.

I’d been baking a weekly loaf of pain au levain since I first got my sourdough starter two years ago, so not being able to do so leaves a gaping hole in my routine.

And while my starter Philémon marks the days on the wall inside the fridge (poor thing), I’ve had to go back to bakery-bought bread.

The flavor of this bread is unlike any rye bread I’ve ever had, thanks to the the genius pairing of the malty aromas of rye with the umami sweetness of red miso.

You might think that would be bliss, living in Paris and in an arrondissement where bakers win more awards than in any other. But the truth is I’m quite particular about my bread, and we’ve suffered through a few disappointing loaves, including a rapidly staling Paume that had evidently not been baked on the day I bought it.

Fortunately, our friend Gontran Cherrier, whom we’ve known for a few years, had the brilliant idea of opening his bakery right in our neighborhood last December, and his breads have shed a much happier light on our breakfast tartines.

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Twelve Hours in Paris

Chairs and tables

Note: For more Paris recommendations, see this follow-up edition.

My friend Adam has just had what I think is a brilliant idea of a meme, named Twelve Hours in Dot Dot Dot: if you had only twelve hours left to spend in your home city/town/village/oasis, what would you do with them?

Because I lived abroad for a while, I have, on several occasions, spent twelve semi-final hours in Paris, and I admit they usually involved a combination of the following activities: 1) buying several months’ worth of my then-favorite face cream, 2) trying to locate my passport, 3) spending time with people I knew I was going to miss, simply enjoying the normalcy of being in the same time zone.

But I posit cosmetics, traveling documents, and companionable silences weren’t what Adam had in mind for this meme, so I came up with a more suitable — and food-oriented — timetable for my hypothetical last twelve hours in Paris.

It goes without saying that difficult choices were made, and that for every item I included, there were about ten more looking at me with a crestfallen expression. Most of these places are included in my Paris book, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, in which you’ll find many more options to fill however many hours you get to spend in Paris (more info here).

I should also note that I chose to assume these weren’t the last twelve hours before I die, first of all because that would be a little depressing, and also because I worked in a few opportunities to buy things I would want to take with me wherever I was supposed to travel next, and who knows what customs policy they have in the afterlife.

Without further ado, I give you my Twelve Hours in Paris, which I’ve decided would take place on a Thursday, from 12:30pm to 12:30am. And of course, if you want to chime in with your own Twelve Hours in Dot Dot Dot, in the comments section or as a post on your blog, I’ll be curious to read your take!

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Exceptions Gourmandes by Philippe Conticini

Kouign Amann

Update: The pastry shop mentioned in this post is now closed, but it has been replaced by Conticini’s new pastry shops, called La Pâtisserie des Rêves.

I’m sure there are people out there who step inside a new pastry shop, glance at the display, order what they want, and walk out. I have no idea how they do it.

Take, for instance, Philippe Conticini‘s recently opened boutique, which I visited last month, before I left for Australia. It is a tiny thing, just a small room with stone walls, a wooden door, and a window that looks out onto Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine, one of the prettiest squares in Paris (for best effect, visit on a weekday afternoon in early February, when you have the whole place to yourself).

For those of you who went “huh?” when I mentioned Conticini’s name in the previous paragraph, let’s just say he is a prominent French pastry chef who used to work at La Table d’Anvers, at Pétrossian, and at the legendary but sadly defunct Pâtisserie Peltier. He has published a number of books(including one that’s so large it could be used as a tent for hobbits) and has created his own consulting/catering company.

Macarons

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