Where to find French savoir-faire in Paris

Perfumery, tapestry-weaving, pastry-making, pottery and porcelain – these are just some of the many facets of French heritage to be found in Paris. Discover specialities from all over France without setting a foot outside the capital.

A showcase for French culture, Paris is the undisputed ambassador for the savoir-faire of the whole of France. Condensed in a single city is a treasure-trove of specialities from many different parts of the country, from Grasse, Reims or Rennes to Bayonne. Take a tour of France without even leaving Paris and discover numerous examples of the incomparable ‘French touch’!

Perfumery

To discover the finest French perfumes, your first stop has to be the Musée Fragonard, a stone’s throw from the Opéra Garnier, where the mysteries of the manufacture of this precious elixir are unveiled.

Bread- and pastry-making

Renowned the world over, French bread and pastry-making offers moments of exquisite delectation. From Pierre Hermé’s rose-raspberry croissant to the Breton speciality of kouign amann made by the Maison Larnicol, not forgetting Ladurée’s macarons, Paris offers a vast range of gourmet specialities for the delight of all visitors with a sweet tooth. As for the French baguette, the choice of high-quality products is just as varied: Eric Kayser and Poilâne.

Some culinary schools, such as that of top chef Alain Ducasse, offer French pastry-making courses.

The minting of coins and medals

On 30 September 2017 the Musée du 11 Conti-Monnaie de Paris reopens after a 5-year renovation programme. The museum comprises the workshops and heritage collections of the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint) where medals and coins have been minted for nearly 1200 years. More than 150 craftspeople work here, and the exceptional collections feature ancient coins and unique series such as the ‘France by Jean-Paul Gaultier’ or ‘Petit Prince’ collections, which can also be purchased in the museum shop.

Cabaret

Paris’s best-known cabarets celebrate glamour and magic at their legendary dinner shows. Between the French cancan at the Moulin Rouge, the dazzling light shows at the Crazy Horse, the champagne shows at the Paradis Latin built by Gustave Eiffel.

Wine and champagne

Wine and champagne are an integral part of the French ‘art de vivre’. Grape varieties and vintage wines come from all four corners of France, but they can all be tasted in Paris. At the Caves du Louvre, visitors can learn the secrets of how the finest wines are made, and Ô château proposes an oenological tour of France. On the other side of the Seine, discover champagne from the ‘terroirs’ of France at Dilletantes, Paris’s house of champagne.

Pottery and porcelain

A number of French cities are renowned for their pottery and porcelain. Located in the centre of the Parc de Saint-Cloud, the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres has been making the most beautiful porcelain in Europe for nearly three hundred years. 90-minute guided tours explain how this exceptional Sèvres porcelain is made.

Fashion

Christian Louboutin’s red-lacquered soles, Chantal Thomass’chic lingerie, and the elegant haute couture houses of Chanel or Yves Saint-Laurent are some of the ultimate embodiments of French luxury.

Tapestry-weaving

For over four hundred years, the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins has produced the finest and most magnificent tapestries, following traditional methods. Today, the Manufacture is home to a number of artists who continue to create tapestries which are used to furnish state buildings.

Antique dealers and flea markets

Paris is the city for antique dealers and flea markets, and some of its neighbourhoods are entirely given over to this activity. The best known are the Marché Biron, the Puces de Paris, the Carré Rive Gauche and the Village Saint-Paul in the Marais. Not far from the Eiffel Tower, Le Village Suisse has been selling art and antiques since 1920. And if it’s books that you’re interested in, the 240 second-hand bookstalls along the Seine are a treasure-trove of antique, rare and second-hand books and other curiosities. Bargain-hunters take note!