Thursday, May 07, 2015

French Adventures, The Candy Critic's Travel Guide

On our recent trip to Europe, we stopped in three and half countries, France, England (and Wales for a day), and the Netherlands.  Today we're going to look at the French leg of our journey, and what kind of fun snacks, junk food, and treats we sampled.  This was my third or fourth visit to France (Allison has been here at least a dozen times), and we've traveled all around the country in the past, but mostly in the North.  On this trip we stuck around the Paris area,  and the only thing we did outside of Paris was a stop in Versailles, and a few days in Paris Disney.
And what better way to start this look at Paris than our time in Paris Disney.  For the most part Paris Disney has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to their food.  Unfortunately for some part I have to agree with this, but it wasn't all bad.  Since we were visiting France not from North America but from Asia, we were craving some good old fashion North American food. This really worked in our favour as almost all of the food available at Disney Paris is North American(ish).  Many travelers visiting Disney from North America seem to be disappointed by the fact that most of the food at Disney Paris is North American, and not French.  I think there's good reason for Disney to shy away from french food, because Paris Disney is a huge tourist attraction for Europeans, and Europeans don't want European food, they want something exotic (in this case North American food).
While many of the North American food choices were pretty good to us, we did have a problem with a few places and the quality of food that was delivered.  Our worst experience was at The Steak House at the Disney Village area.  It was a pretty low quality steak, the service was pretty terrible as well, and it wasn't cheap.  We did however find another place in the Disney Village that turned out to be our favorite place in all of Disney Paris, an all you can eat Tex-Mex place on the top floor of Billy Bobs Country Western Saloon.  While the Tex-Mex wasn't authentic, it was the first time I've ever been to a Tex-Mex buffet, and I think it's a great idea.  The buffet also offered some very European options, including the treats pictured above, I'm not sure what a "Paris Brest" is, but it certainly wasn't what I thought.
Disney Paris also had many carnival and theme park standards including this awesome hot dog with cheese and deep fried onions.  It wasn't the highest quality hot dog ever, but it hit the spot and certainly reminded us of classic carnival food. The candy selection was probably the biggest disappointment of all at Paris Disney.  They have such a huge opportunity to sell themed, fun candy, but all I really found was Haribo and other standard candies packaged with Disney characters on the label. I don't even think I saw one gummy version of any Disney character.  There were a few lollipops shaped like Mickey, but that's about it. While the food at Disney certainly wasn't the highlight of our Paris trip, it wasn't as bad as the internet claims.  We also got to meet Goofy, so that was pretty awesome too.
The city of Paris itself is dotted with all kinds of restaurants and a few street food options.  The price of restaurant seems to depend greatly on how close you are to a tourist attraction.  This is made even more difficult since tourist attractions seem to be all over the place (in other words everything is expensive).  You can take advantage of the fact that Paris is having a huge number of people migrating from other countries for your food options. While this does create a population problem, it also creates a huge range cuisine options.  In some cases you'll find places run by African or Asian immigrants that are just out of this world.  Don't think that just because you're in France, you have to eat French.

One of our regular foods we eat every time we visit Paris is a crepe.  In my opinion this is one of the only foods that the French still hold as their own.  We managed to enjoy both dessert and savory crepes several times on this trip.  I recommend going to a sit down crepe place for a lunch, we tried a place called Cr√™peries Framboise near the Louvre and it was perfect.  Sit down and order a crepe filled with all kinds of savory delights including their awesome creamed spinach.  Then, walk around a while, and find a crepe stand selling sweet crepes.  You'll find some of the best near the Tuileries gardens.  A safe and tasty order is a crepe with Nutella, or you could go a little more traditional and get marron cream instead.
After a few days in Paris, we decided to make a quick stop in Versailles for a day.  Versailles is probably one of the most beautiful park areas anywhere around Paris.  The food is pretty standard (sandwiches, and simple French foods), and very expensive.  Although the price may be high, I really think this is a great place to have a meal.  If the day is nice I'd recommend any of the many outdoor cafes around the garden.  Pick up a sandwich and sit where royalty once sat to eat their lunch.  Inside the main palace there's a cute little sandwich counter with limited seating.  While it's not the most glamorous of places, it does give you the opportunity to eat cake in Versailles, and that's just so perfect.

Paris is often considered to be one of the food Meccas of the world, but I have a big problem with that statement.  The problem I think stems from the fact that places all over the world have taken French cuisine and made it their own.  In many cases these places have even improved on it.  While there are many nice snack and pastries to enjoy, I'm rarely blown away with the innovation coming out of Paris today.  The classics are always there, but in many cases I've tried better version in other parts of the world.  The best Mont Blanch I've ever had was in Japan, I've had some amazing Macarons in Greece, and Allison claims that the best croissant she's ever eaten was in Vietnam.
While visiting Paris you are certainly seeing where many of the most famous chefs and foods were created, however I've not really seen much advancement recently.  The food created here is some of the most famous in the world, and it's all fine and good, however other countries are starting to perfect the French classics as well.  I'm not saying that this isn't a great place to eat at all, I'm just wondering if Paris is due for a renaissance in food.  I'm hoping that this influx of migrants coming into Paris might be the key to this great new era of French cooking.  This city could turn into one of the best places to sample foods from all over the globe.


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