What to do in Paris | Investing in the Experience

What to do in Paris? As we were planning our recent trip, my sister and I wanted to introduce the city to my daughters with a balanced mix of culture, history and fun. She spent the beginning of her career as a high level corporate events planner, giving her the perfect skills set to organize a trip full of memorable activities. These days, with information and acquisitions so readily available online, investing in the experience has become an important commodity. Even with not much lead time, she was still able to find some great Parisian activities that we all enjoyed. With the help of a local Parisian concierge service, we were able to go behind the scenes at several local establishments.

what to do in ParisFor a food family like us, learning how to make perfect Parisian baguettes and croissants at a wonderful bakery in the Marais was great fun. The proprietor, Benjamin, a charming ex-finance executive, has found his passion in a different kind of dough, baking hundreds of baguettes daily to sell in his two shops and to restaurants all over Paris. Here the mass of already risen dough is placed in a machine that divides it into equal portions.

what to do in ParisMy daughter learns how to form a long length, folding it over on itself several times in the process.

what to do in Paris

The loaves are then loaded onto a cloth so they don’t stick to each other and carried over to the oven. You can see that some of the loaves are braided or twisted into different patterns.

what to do in Paris

It’s all in the wrist! Each baguette is then expertly flipped from the cloth to a plank to load.

what to do in Paris

Each baguette receives several diagonal slices with a razor blade to allow for even baking.

what to do in parisAnd look at the beautiful (and delicious) results – we were all so proud! Benjamin explained that true Parisian baguettes are very crusty and on the dark side. He frowns on the paler softer variety. His are made with very little gluten that makes them not only easier for many to digest but helps the bread to last longer.

what to do in Paris

We also learned how to bake (or should I say prepare, since the dough was already made) the perfect croissant. The dough is hand fed through a machine several times to create the many necessary layers and is then cut into triangles as you can see at the top of the shot below.

what to do in ParisYou can’t believe how quickly and perfectly Benjamin can roll each one up into the perfect shape. It took us longer but we got the hang of it. (sorry – doughy hands make for blurry pictures).

what to do in Paris

Et voila! Delicious perfection!

what to do in Paris

Although not officially part of our two hour class, we were also treated to some pastry baking observation. The key to the tarts is of course the freshest produce.

what to do in paris

Custard perfectly piped into prebaked tartlets. (mini clafoutis loaves in front)

what to do in Paris

resulting in these beauties

what to do in Paris

The same tartlets were the basis for praline and chocolate confections.

what to do in Paris

What a great experience! And afterwards we brought delicious sandwiches from the shop, sat in a nearby park and listened to a local school band performing. Stay tuned for more unique ideas of what to do in Paris!

13 thoughts on “What to do in Paris | Investing in the Experience

  1. Fabulous photos (clearly doughy hands dont impair your abilities) and a wonderful narrative….. It’s almost like being there with you.

  2. Wonderful photographs! Do you happen to have the contact information for this baking class? I’m taking my daughters to Paris on Wednesday and I know that they would love this!

  3. What an unforgettable experience. I can smell the bread baking from here! I would love to spend the day in a bakery and learn the art of French baguettes. Something to remember for the next trip!

  4. I am so hungry–I need a couple of the croisant. Fantastic experience. I had no idea that there were different level of gluten–now I know why I can eat French breads, but not American.
    Great post.

  5. This sounds awesome, I would love to do this when we are in Paris in the fall. Now what can I do to keep the husband busy for a couple of hours while I bake?

    Would you share the full name of the establishment or at least the concierge service you used? If you would rather email me this is fine.


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