If you need to hunt down a can of truffles or foie gras to bring back with you on the plane, stake out high-quality produce, cheeses or charcuterie, or find unusual or "exotic" items that are clearly not available at typical supermarkets in the city of light, head to one of these top-rate gourmet Paris food shops. Known as les grandes epiceries in French, these temples to all things food and wine offer a dizzying variety of gourmet products and brands under a single roof, including excellent fresh items. I've made it a habit to stock up on holiday gifts for family and friends at some of these addresses.
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Adjacent to chic department store le Bon Marché, La Grande Epicerie is a genuine haven for gourmet cooks and dabblers. In the Delicacies such as mousse au confit de St. Jacques, beurre blanc sauce with caviar, chocolates and sweets from artisanal houses like Michel Cluizel or handfuls of fresh gourmet mushroom varieties are among the delights at La Grande Epicerie.
Read related: Review of the Paris "Tasting Passport"
There's also an excellent in-store bakery, fromagerie, meat and charcuterie department, and exotic foods department stocking hard to find grocery items from around the world. Foodie bliss-- at a price, of course-- but perhaps well worth it for special occasions or gifts. If you're in the area to shop at the adjoining classic Parisian department store, make sure to take a whirl at the Epicerie before you leave!
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Part of the massive Belle-Epoque department store Galeries Lafayette, Lafayette Gourmet is on par with La Grande Epicerie, boasting aisles upon aisles of gourmet grocery items, from fresh produce and artfully prepared traiteur items to canned delicacies such as canard à l'orange. Lafayette Gourmet seems to be specialized in Asian gourmet goodies: there's even a Japanese pastry maker. Traditional patissiers such as the much-celebrated Pierre Hermé also have in-store boutiques there.
The bulk spice department is a feast for the eyes and senses, while the extensive wine cellar with vintages from France and abroad will satiate both seasoned wine connoisseurs and curious amateurs looking for the perfect bottle (or three) to bring home.
- Address: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 9th arrondissement
- Metro: Havre-Caumartin; RER Auber
- Tel:+33 (0) 1 42 82 34 56
In Depth: Lafayette Gourmet in Pictures (from About.com Culinary Travel)
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Fauchon is one of France's most prestigious traiteurs, and also manufactures a signature high-end line of gourmet sauces and dishes, chocolates, cakes and other delicacies.
The flagship shop on the chic Place Madeleine is a popular destination for dedicated foodies and tourists. Don't miss the always-artful holiday window displays and limited-edition items, and try one of Fauchon's signature eclairs-- one limited edition eclair sported the face of French '60s sex symbol Brigitte Bardot.
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On another end of the Place Madeleine lies a second high-end Paris traiteur and gourmet grocery store, Hediard. Established in 1854, it claims to be France's first modern epicerie, and the Madeleine shop was opened in 1870.
Well-known for its gorgeously prepared traiteur dishes, from smoked salmon to quiches and pates, Hediard, like Fauchon, has a signature brand of luxury food items. They sell a dazzling and delicious variety of sauces, condiments, and even fresh items. There's also a chic upstairs tearoom for lounging and relaxing over gourmet teas, cakes, and other specialties after a long day of sightseeing or shopping.