I don't mean what are the Top 10 restaurants. Instead I mean what are the essential food experiences you should try when you visit Paris to get a sense of the city and French food culture.
I was struck by a recent post asking about economical food in Paris, lots of good advice, but it seemed to miss the essence of experiencing and enjoying the city. Certainly you can buy a cheap bottle of wine and sit in a park with some cheese and bread, but isn't Paris about sitting at a pavement cafe and watching the glamourous people?
Here is my list (in no particular order) my bakers dozen of essential food experiences. What have I missed - you can see I couldn't hold it to only 10?
1. Eating in a big old Brasserie, the more Nouveau or Deco the better. Essential to have surly staff in long white aprons.
2. Relaxing with a couple of early evening drinks on a cafe terrace. Ideally in one of the main people watching areas like St Germain du Pres or the Marais.
3. Relaxing with a coffee and croissant on a cafe terrace in the early morning watching the city wake up and go to work
4. Enjoying a quite meal in a good local brasserie. Ideally one with a strong reputation and a glowing write up in Le Fooding.
5. Experiencing a neo-Bistro (although the term is past is use by date) with one of the star chefs who has broken out of the Michelin tyranny (Regalade, CLJ, etc.).
6. "Palace Dining" - blowing an absolute fortune to experience 3* Michelin food in an opulent/luxurious hotel restaurant.
7. Street food - falafel in the Marais or Crepes on many street corners
8. Shopping in a real market (I don't count rue Cler as it is a shopping street not really a market - there is a big difference).
9. Voyeurism in the grand food halls - Bon Marche, Lafayette, Hediard, Fauchon etc.
10. A real cheese shop - there are only a few great ones, don't be miss out by being satisfied by the average one on the street next to your hotel.
11. Bread - shopping for fresh breads in one of the artisanal bakeries.
12. Cales/Pastries - grazing through the great patisseries and sampling the myriad of cakes, tarts and macaroons.
13. Chocolate - experiencing the crazy flavour contents from some of the worlds master chocolate makers (cheese fillings for example)