Today, we’re digging in to the Secret Food Tour’s Paris Montmarte experience. While we will try not to ruin any surprises, we’re going to give you all you need to know about the food, the sights, and the experience to help determine if this must-do Paris food experience is right for your family.
Family Food Tour Paris
One of my favorite things to do in any city that we find ourselves is seek out an interesting-sounding food walking tour.
It’s a great way to check a bunch of bucket-list foods off of my list and also dive deeper into the culture of the area.
For Paris, I was spoilt for choice! There are so many amazing options, it was hard to narrow it down to just one, but when I stumbled upon the Secret Food Tours website, I was intrigued!
Described as a three hour tour in the famous (and at times infamous) Montmarte district of Paris, the tour promised “a stomach full of delectable French food and some additional local knowledge and sightseeing tips, to enhance the pleasure of your trip that will last with you for a lifetime.” Oh, and they also promised French wine.
The “secret” part of the tour is two-fold: all of the locations are secret to you when booking (you just know what types of food you will be enjoying) and there is a decadent “mystery secret dish” at the end of the tour.
I was both intrigued and, to be honest, a bit concerned at the secret nature of the tour, worrying if they would try to bring us to less-than-amazing food shops under the guise of them being “a surprise,” but in fact, the opposite was true! Many of the locations that we visited were award-winning, best in their fields shops with great reputations and stunning selections.
By the end of the tour, we had sampled 16 different foods and three different types of wine. (And these weren’t tiny pours, either!)
Montmarte Food Walking Tour
There are several areas in Paris where you can do a Secret Food Tour, and it was a really hard choice to decide between all of the delicious offerings, but we settled on Montmarte because I had heard some not-so-great things about the area and felt safer checking it out as part of a large group with a local guide.
I really had nothing to be afraid of – even wandering the area with my daughter after the tour, we never encountered any of the issues that others had described (scammers and pick-pockets). Maybe because we were there during the day and not at night? Montmarte definitely has a colourful past, but today it’s more known for it’s artistic vibe and flourishing foodie scene.
During the tour, you get a glimpse into both Montmarte’s fabled past and it’s present offerings. There were photo opp’s at the Wall of Love and in front of Sacre Couer, but these are definitely just tastes of the area and if you can, you should make time to revisit and dig deeper.
If you’re a fan of Amelie, An American in Paris, or Moulin Rouge, you’re in for a treat as you pass by iconic settings from those films, as well as famous haunts of the world’s most famous artists and authors.
The tour starts and ends in the Montmarte area, so I would suggest spending the next few hours after the tour exploring the area.
Sacre Couer offers the best free view of Paris (the best view was definitely our hot air balloon ride) and also has a playground and carousel at the bottom for kids to blow off steam.
The Espace Dalí exhibit is a must-do for Salvador Dali fans, while Le Chat Noir cafe (which no longer serves absinthe) was infamous for the debauchery that many of it’s famous patrons, including Claude Debussy, Émile Goudeau, Paul Signac, and Henri de Toulousse-Lautrec, got up to during the caberat acts.
Hidden behind Sacre Couer, you will find La Maison Rose cafe (where F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway would congregrate) – and don’t let the line up of Instagrammers fool you, none of them actually go into the cafe so it’s actually quite quiet in there, despite the line up to take pictures outside the building.
And if you’re not with kids, you can always check out the Moulin Rouge…
Our guide for this tour was Baptiste, an aspiring author whose love for Paris and appreciation for the authentic was infectious and framed the way we all experienced the tour. Every single participant left the tour office passionate about the food we had eaten and well-educated on the rigours of French gastronomy.
Having done many of these tours, I can say with authority that the guide, the other participants, and the structure of the tour are all just as important as the food when it comes to shaping your experience.
The Secret Food
The tour promises:
- French Cheeses (5-6 different ones)
- French pastry
- Crepe or Galette
- Cured sausages/hams
- Our Mystery Secret Dish
- French red wine
- French white wine
- Non alcoholic options
And for 13.50€ (at the time of this writing), you can select the upgraded drinks package that includes Vouvray sparkling wine, Cadillac Bordeau Moelleux and Cognac.
Now, I didn’t opt for the upgraded drinks package but I guess since they had to open a bottle of Vouvray anyways for the two people on our two who had opted for it, I lucked out and was able to sample it. I loved it so much, I bought a bottle to bring home and now seek out Vouvray sparkling wines whenever we have an occasion that calls for champagne.
Chocolates and Pastries
Our first stop was for Parisian chocolates and already, it set the tone for the rest of the tour.
Baptiste led us past some chocolate shops that to the untrained eye looked authentic, even aged, but he let us in that not only were these stores just marketing themselves that way, that their chocolate wasn’t even made in France!
The place he brought us to was an award-winning chocolatier (a Best Craftsman of Paris award recipient) and we each got to pick out two treats to sample (the chocolate truffle below was one of my selections).
Unlike other tours that I’ve experienced where you are on a tight time crunch and don’t have extra time to browse the shops or make additional purchases, I really appreciated that there was just enough time built into The Secret Food Tour that I could pick up extra things as we went, rather than try to fit in time after the tour to revisit those shops. (Which let’s be honest, you end up having to get to the next thing and you never end up going back.)
At our first stop alone, I picked up a package of house-made caramels, a vanilla tart, and salted caramel sauce. Foodie souvenirs are the best souvenirs!
Meats and Cheeses
While Parisian pastries are glamorous (and we definitely had our fair share of those), meats and cheeses are a cornerstone of Parisian cuisine.
There were so many mouth-watering samples passed out at the locations we visited, including sausages, Parisian-style Jambon (ham), shredded goose meat (one of my favorites), and pâté en croûte (Crust pork pâté with foie gras filling).
But the cheeses are what shocked me!
Ever since my dad retired from the military and temporarily moved my family to a goat farm, I have not been able to eat goat cheese. It just reminds me of the stinky, sweaty goats and there is simply nothing appetizing about it… or so I thought.
Two of the seven cheeses we got to sample on this tour were goat cheese, and though I was prepared not to like it, I wanted to give it an honest try… and I was shocked that I actually liked it! We tried a fresh goat cheese and an aged one, and while I preferred the fresh cheese, both were pleasant and did not have the unappetizing smell or pungent aftertaste that I usually associate with goat cheese.
(At the cheese shop, they also sold my favorite French butter… so if you go, definitely grab some of the Salted Raw butter and enjoy it for me!)
For the crêpes stop, we each received an entire crêpe – again re-affirming that the portions on this tour were awesome.
We also were able to select from a wide assortment of crêpes, not just the plainest option. I opted for the classic butter and sugar, while my friend opted for the Grand Marnier crêpes (which i recreated here) and my daughter sampled both the Nutella crêpe and Cookie Butter (Speculoos) crêpe.
While these were not my favorite crêpes in Paris (that distinction goes to La Breizh), I will say these were more authentic and still incredibly delicious and generously portioned.
You simply can’t go to Paris without macarons, and our macaron stop had some of the most interesting flavor combinations that I got to see in Paris.
Again, portions were generous and we each got to select two macarons to sample, so Ella and I decided on Lavendar Apricot, Pistachio Morello Cherry, Passion Tarragon, and Rose. The Lavendar Apricot and Rose were hands-down my favorites and I only wish I could buy them locally because they were amazing!
(You also get a discount on additional macarons due to the tour, so my friend grabbed an extra box before we headed to the next stop.)
The tour finishes at “the secret place” which I will not reveal, even in pictures… other than to share this shot of Ella enjoying apple juice in a wine glass which she was very skeptical of tasting at first.
Here, Baptiste unveiled meats, cheeses and pastries (including our secret dish) and continued the tour for another hour, with us all comfortably seated with generous glasses of wine at our disposal.
I loved this format – half the tour spent seeing sights, learning about the history of Montmarte and tasting as we went, and then the other half sitting in for a impromptu dinner party with our fellow participants. We were able to really enjoy ourselves, connect with our fellow participants, and it was just so incredibly special to be in this secret spot in Paris, indulging in all of the best food Paris has to offer.
Other Important Details About the Secret Food Tour
If I overlook any questions that you have about this tour (or food in Paris in general), please leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer, but to go over a few basics:
Kids are welcome, however, Ella was the one child on our tour. It’s actually rare that we go on a food tour and there are other children there. Everyone was very welcoming to her and she often got to have the first sample and was treated very specially in general.
If your kids are good about walking and love food, I think they’d really enjoy it as well. (Even if some of the foods are too out there, there is enough for even picky eaters to enjoy themselves.) Keep in mind strollers are not encouraged due to the area.
How much walking did we do? We probably walked for just over an hour, but with six stops there was plenty of opportunity for people to sit and take a break. The area is hilly, though, so comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Food accommodations: the tour can be adapted for allergies or special dietary requirements, however they can not adapt it for vegans.
We really enjoyed our time on this Secret Food Tour and I would highly recommend it, whether you are travelling with kids or not. It was one of the best food tours we had ever done and the portions were incredibly generous – we even had leftovers to snack on!
Not only was our guide extremely passionate and well-informed about everything he shared with us, the care and expertise of the Secret Food Tour company was apparent in all of the little details and how balanced the tour was – especially the mixed walking and “secret meeting spot” format. We had a good balance of savoury and sweet foods, and plenty of time to enjoy them in a leisurely way – not rushing and feeling stuffed.
Let me know if there is anything I didn’t cover that you’d like to know about this amazing experience in Paris!
Book your own Secret Food Tour here. (They don’t just have locations in Paris!)