Paris is a city known internationally for its food and wine, but as much fun as it is to spend a whole trip going to restaurants and drinking in bars, being able to gain a deeper appreciation for France’s gastronomic culture in a relaxed and accessible way can make the experience all the richer. That’s why taking a class or a tasting is one of the most underrated travel experiences that you should add to your itinerary, with one of these English-speaking expat-run companies.
La Cuisine Paris, located in the Marais, has become a cult favorite for visitors to Paris, with the little kitchen overlooking the Seine hosting more than 10,000 visitors in 2019. Run by American expat Jane Bertch, La Cuisine Paris offers three hour cooking classes taught in English by French chefs in a convivial environment. Classes range from technical courses on Mastering Classic French Sauces to an introduction to Le Croissant & Breakfast Pastries, priced at €99 per person. There are even some classes that pair with tours of the Marais or of open air markets, so that you can learn to appreciate every part of cooking in France, from selecting vegetables from your favorite farm stand to cooking a four-course homey meal.
Tanisha Townsend, founder of Girl Meets Glass, a Parisian wine lifestyle and education company, has obtained WSET Level 3, Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Specialist of Spirits and French Wine Scholar certifications. But she’s far from a wine snob. The expert expat believes that “wine is for all,” and her tastings and classes encourage visitors to find out what they like, rather than what they “should” like. Sign up for a “Thirsty Thursday” 2-hour walking tour and wine tasting for €125, or a private wine tasting for €200, to learn what you like, and where to get good wine without the heavy price tag.
If you’re taking the RER out to Versailles and want to make a day out of it, why not add a little pastry class to your itinerary? Molly J. Wilk, an American pastry chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu, hosts intimate baking classes in her beautiful 18th century Versailles apartment. The bubbly pâtissier soared in popularity during the pandemic thanks to her virtual baking classes, taught over Zoom, but her live courses are back, and they’re filling up fast. In-person private classes cost €500 for 4 people (with €125 for each additional baker, with a cap of 6), and last 2-2.5 hours. Virtual classes are still available, ranging from €20-50 per person. Learn how to make macarons, mille-feuille, or any number of delicious French treats.
How does female empowerment with a side of champagne sound? Cynthia Coutu is the Canadian founder of Delectabulles, a women-only champagne club in Paris aimed at promoting sparkling wines made by women. She offers fun champagne tasting events like Bulles et Boules, a tasting accompanied by a game of pétanque. €70 will get you three hours on the court, and quite a few tasting options. While some events are open to women only, others may accept men accompanied by women. See specific events for more details. She also offers private events and excursions upon request.
What is French cuisine without cheese? Anyone who has walked into a French fromager for the first time might find themselves delighted but overwhelmed by the selection. Luckily, the folks over at Le Cheese Geek are there to help you figure out whether you learn your camembert from your comté. Spend two hours with an English-speaking cheesemonger tasting a variety of different dairy delights, paired with wine, bread, jams, jellys, honey, and more, at a price of €70 per person.