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Visiting backstage in Paris - bakeries, artisan craftspeople
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Randysea



Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 26
Location: Paris and Seattle

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 3:14 pm    Post subject: Visiting backstage in Paris - bakeries, artisan craftspeople Reply with quote

I just discovered a website that arranges visits to all sorts of small producers, sellers, and crafts people. As a result, I was at Girard Mulot last week watching them make macarrons and chocolate covered orange peel. On Dec. 6 I will visit the bakery of Arnaud Delmontel, who just won the "best baguette" award (Concours pour la Meilleure Baguette de Paris). You can visit jewelry designers, book binders, etc., not just food makers.

For a small fee, from 5-10€ per person, you spend up to an hour meeting the artisan and watching behind the scenes. Tours are in English and French. It`s called Meeting the French They also arrange much longer visits and events, but I have no experience with those. The short visits are called "company visits" on the English version of the website.

This is a small agency partnered with the Paris tourist office. The owner and her chief guide are both delightful. I highly recommend this company and their mini-visits for a really different Paris experience.

I have no connection to them, by the way. I found them entirely by chance on the Internet a week ago.
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Alisa



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 97
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this! I have many visitors looking for just this type of thing...and I might even take my kids to one of these.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Randysea, thanks for sharing this website! We are (Maybe, hopefully, fingers crossed) going to Paris in February. This sounds like a brilliant way to spend some time. We have friends fro Normandy who may be able to join us, but I would love to do something like this as well!
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an interesting idea--I can see it working in many countries/cultures. But here in the USA--? I suppose the movie studio tours are already using the idea, but nowhere near "up close and personal" like the situations Randysea describes.
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Randysea, thank you so much for telling us about that website. The tours look fantastic, and so do some of the B&Bs. We're planning a trip to Paris next year, so I have definitely bookmarked that site.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Randysea---this is brilliant! Between this and Clotilde's next book (due in April) I don't think anything more than a map will be necessary for my next visit!
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh if I wasn't going to Paris with a school group (I somehow have a feeling I'm going to be a nominal chaperone) I would do this in an instant! However, as school trips anywhere go, every minute of my day will be arranged by someone who doesn't know me. At least I did most of the really "touristy" things last time I was in Paris and Venice, so maybe this time I might be able to sneak away and do some real exploring. Wink Good thing je t'aime the teacher I'm traveling with (my former HS french teacher, an amazing woman who is a Mexican immigrant herself).
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truffle-lover



Joined: 02 Oct 2006
Posts: 7
Location: Louisville, KY

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to hear about your experience on the 6th. I've read about this place too (they also have B&Bs in Paris) and am very interested. I wonder how many people are on the "tour" at once. I am amazed (and happy!) at how low the price is.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my most vibrant memories from living in France was stopping at a country bakery in the middle of the night. My husband (then boyfriend) was a musician who played in Paris clubs until 2 or 3 in the morning and on the way home we'd always stop.

We bought croissants and chocolate-filled pastry from the back door while the baker worked in a bright room filled with a cloud of white flour like bright fog. He had 2 of the most enormous cats I've ever seen. Theoretically, they were there to protect the huge burlap sacks of grain from the mice but it's hard, having seen them, to imagine them actually moving. They were, to be sure, well-fed tho.

I also remember when my oldest was young, signing up for a group of field trips into the commercial back shops of LA. We went to a bathing suit manufacturer, a tortilla maker, a sneaker manufacturer and inside the bowels of Dodger Stadium. It was great fun to see the inside of parts of the city you live in that remain quite invisible most of the time.
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Randysea



Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 26
Location: Paris and Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

truffle-lover wrote:
I'd love to hear about your experience on the 6th. I've read about this place too (they also have B&Bs in Paris) and am very interested. I wonder how many people are on the "tour" at once. I am amazed (and happy!) at how low the price is.

I will report back. As to your implied question, the tours I've done were fewer than a dozen people. Any more and it's hard to fit into the small places they visit. At the chocolatier I visited, however, I noticed that a group following ours (not the same company) was around 25 people. That seemed rediculous and virtually impossible to fit.
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Randysea



Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 26
Location: Paris and Seattle

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

truffle-lover wrote:
I'd love to hear about your experience on the 6th. I've read about this place too (they also have B&Bs in Paris) and am very interested.

The visit to the boulangerie of Delmontel was fantastic. First, we were met by a pastry chef, as M. Delmontel was arriving later. We also had the charming Meeting the French guide, Florence, to translate for those who needed it. He gave us the tour and explanation of breadmaking, showing us the equipment, talking about ingredients, times and temperatures, etc. It is a constant amazement to me when visiting bakers to see how small the workspace is to achieve the quantities they produce without significant automation.

We ended this part of the tour upstairs in the boutique, where we were offered pastries and macarrons to taste, and a baguette to take home. Then le patron arrived.

When M. Delmontel showed up, the visit changed completely. Since we had already gotten the technical details, we got on to hear his stories. For example, he described going to the Élysées palace to meet Sarkozy and present him with the first baguette. He was hilarious. This went on so long, in his mixed English and French, that our guide had to leave for her next tour before we ended. I helped at that point with translations, although it was hardly necessary.

This was the first tour at Delmontel. I don`t expect they will all be this long, but I'd still recommend a visit when Meeting the French does it again.

Oh, how was the bread? Very, very good. I brought it, and an extra I bought, home for a dinner party night. It was very well like by all.

Is it truly the best baguette in Paris? I guess that is a matter of what kind of baguette style you like. For example, I also like very much the baguette that won last year, at Cohier in the 8th near pl. des Ternes. Delmontel is a bit chewier inside, Cohier a bit crunchier on the outside but lighter inside.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the review Randysea---it sounds like a great way to spend the day! And thank you again for telling us about Meeting the French!
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truffle-lover



Joined: 02 Oct 2006
Posts: 7
Location: Louisville, KY

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much for the review -- it sounds like a lot of fun! I will most definitely plan on a tour (or several!) when I'm there. There are so many it will be hard to choose.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love this thread even though it makes me crazy that I have no plans to go to Paris soon! Been too long...But I will make a note of all of this and will definitely pursue these activities when I finally do make a trip.

What catches my eye right now is Rainey's post. "My husband (then boyfriend)" sent me reeling back in time. Paris (nay...nearly everywhere) was far outside our scope of the world, but we found our own adventures and the memory now--more than 40 years later--is as vivid as if it were yesterday. So are the kids' field trips but for less romantic reasons...

Add my thanks to the others, Randysea...
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

georgia- Omigod, yes! This country is soooooo insular and it costs us dearly in our relationships and even our sense of ourselves and our ability to grow. We need a lot more people travelling ::said the girl with the empty wallet:: and inquiring!!!
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Last edited by Rainey on Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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