Paris: One of My Favourite Streets

Avoid the many tourist traps of Montmartre and, instead, make your way straight to the local hangouts, patisseries and fromageries of the 9th arrondissment. When you've stocked up on goodies, settle in for a long lunch of baguettes, charcuterie and stand-out cheeses.

The original version of this text appeared on SBS FOOD.  (5 JUL 2013 - 10:32). This is the amended article. 

Where?   
Saint-Georges: the area around Saint-Georges Metro station in the 9th arrondissement at the base of the Montmartre area (18th arrondissement).

Why go? 
Food, glorious food! It is also a very handy walking distance to Galleries Lafayette and all the major department stores on Boulevarde Haussmann, Opera and the CBD.

Must eats
Beware! Montmartre is a complete tourist trap, so don’t be sucked into the cafes with their twee little red-check tablecloths in the streets up near Sacré Coeur. Instead, make like a local and head to the providores, cafes and bars in and around Rue des Martyrs.

In the block from heaven, there are the following shops: boucherie (butcher), charcuterie(cold cuts of meat, terrines and salads), pâtissier (bakery), salmon (yes, really, a shop just dedicated to salmon and other smoked fish), chocolatierfromagerie (cheese),poissonnier (seafood shop), books, newsagent, greengrocer, flower shops and a laundromat – handy for travellers!

One of the great French take-away food inventions is succulent chickens roasted on a rotisserie with trays of potatoes sitting underneath, roasting in the fat. Grab a hot chook, a container of spuds and a couple of side salads from the freshest salad bar you ever saw and head back to the hotel room if you are just too tired to dine out.

Parisiennes tend to shop for their food daily. On Sunday mornings, for example, people are out in droves lining up for baguettes, sourdough and all the other bits they need for a long lunch — people order ahead to collect their artfully arranged starters (like salmon and caviar on baguettes). Don’t forget: many Paris apartments don’t have large kitchens. (Why would you bother cooking if you can buy fabulous food like this ready-made?)

The fromagerie hums as people come in and carefully select cheese from the different regions, taking time to talk to the shopkeeper about each one. At the fish shop across the road people agonise over the merits of the different species. A quick count nets 20 different types of terrines in the charcuterie shop.

The French take great care merchandising their food. This may be the way the terrines are aligned, soups appear as pastel bottles lined up on a shelf, the simple act of packing new-season strawberries in lime green cardboard boxes or the Monet-style arrangements of flowers outside the florist. It’s a rush just to stroll Rue des Martyrs. Sit, drink, nibble and people-watch at the lively Terra Corsa, a tiny bar/deli specialising in the food and wine of Corsica.

Best food souvenir
The only souvenirs around these parts are the tacky paintings of Sacré Coeur peddled on footpaths. You are better off making like a local and grabbing a baguette, a piece of Comté or a fresh chèvre cheese, a slice of pork terrine, a tiny pot of duck rillettes and a sliver of scollop mousse. Don’t forget to buy a bottle of something lovely and head up to the parks surrounding Sacré Coeur for a picnic with a view for a truly memorable French moment.

Where to stay
Hôtel Arvor Saint Georges. A chic, hip hotel walking distance to central Paris with a mega food hub around the corner – this hotel ticks all the boxes. This hotel pops with bright, contemporary posters, lime feature green walls with fresh white interiors, and the bedrooms have hot, hot pink scrunchy velvet curtains draped to the floor. Bliss! The rooms are small, but that’s Paris for you – quality over quantity! Breakfast and a decent coffee are served downstairs and there is WiFi throughout. Expect to see a mixed international business clientele with an edge: fashionistas, architects, wine merchants, and tech heads. 

Recommended books
Parisian chic: A style guide by Ines de la Fressange.

Read Rachel Khoo’s guide to Paris, rounding up her best food finds from all over the city.