Destination: Paris
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Musée du Vin
Address: 5 square Charles Dickens, 75016 Paris Phone: 01 45 25 63 26 Hours: Tue-Sun 10-6 Restaurant: Nice bistro (£) Metro: Passy Accessible: Good Admission: Moderate; free for visitors eating in the restaurant Other: Maison de Balzac Practical: Guided tours, bookshop, gift shop


In France, eating is an art which reaches its highest expression in Paris, for here the diversity and know-how of traditional regional cuisine are combined with a creative spirit stimulated by a strong cosmopolitan influence. In recent years, a growing awareness of the need for healthier living has prompted the invention of nouvelle cuisine and contributed to change the Parisians' eating habits.

Eating Parisian Style

The traditional French breakfast of bread, butter and jam with a large cup of café au lait (white coffee) has to a large extent given way to cereals and milk with black coffee, tea or chocolate. The traditional fresh croissants are often a weekend treat, when people breakfast en famille.
The majority of working people have lunch out. Cafés and bistros overflow onto the pavements in spring and summer and overworked waiters are continually calling out un steak frites (steak and chips) at the tops of their voices, as Parisians order their favourite lunchtime dish. The trendiest places to have lunch are bars à huîtres (oyster bars, serving a variety of seafood) and cyber cafés where you can have a snack and a drink while surfing the Internet!

Dinner at home around 8pm is the first relaxing meal of the day, enjoyed with family or friends; it starts with hors-d'oeuvre, finishes with cheese or a sweet and may include a freshly prepared dish bought from a local traiteur (delicatessen), accompanied by a glass of wine.

Shopping for Food

Parisians are still very fond of their local street markets where they can buy fresh vegetables and fruit as well as cheese, charcuterie, fish and meat. One traditional item which is still going strong is the baguette, that light and crisp bread which is better in Paris than anywhere else in France!
Wine is a must with any good meal, preceded by an aperitif, which may consist of port, whisky or champagne. A digestif (brandy, Cointreau or any other liqueur) is served with coffee at the end of the meal.

Eating Out

Eating out is one of the Parisians' favourite forms of entertainment as conviviality is as important as the food itself. Friday night and Saturday night are the most popular evenings, while families with children tend to go out for Sunday lunch. Parisian cuisine includes a wide choice of regional and traditional dishes, although the tendency nowadays is to lighten sauces. Typical Parisian dishes are soupe à l'oignon gratinée (onion soup au gratin) and pieds de cochon (grilled pig's trotters), traditionally eaten near Les Halles when this was the chief food market in Paris. Oysters and seafood in general are also very popular, judging by the numerous take-away seafood stalls outside restaurants in the city centre.

Musée du Vin

Anyone interested in wine should visit this museum, appropriately housed in the old cellars of Passy Abbey. It illustrates the history of wine in France and the main wine-producing areas, and has a collection of tools, bottles, and wax figures. An added inducement is the opportunity for some wine-tasting.
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