Anyone can leave Paris with an Eiffel Tower paperweight or colorful (if ill-advised) beret, but why not opt for a souvenir that takes up brain space instead of room in your overstuffed luggage?
If you’ve always wanted to cook (and eat) with the same joie de vivre as the locals, consider spending some of your vacation in the City of Light upping your skills in the kitchen. You can find classes that cover everything from pastries to pairings that are often designed to meet you on your level.
Here are some of our flavor-filled favorites:
Cook like a French legend
Chef Auguste Escoffier, the godfather of modern French cuisine, worked at The Ritz Paris. So, anyone who is serious about cooking should enroll in the Five-Star hotel’s École Ritz Escoffier school.
But you needn’t be a professional to study here; the constantly changing slate of courses ranges from how to make fresh pasta or foie gras to a three-day intensive to learn kitchen fundamentals or a master class with a noted chef.
If you don’t see an offering that suits your taste, plan your own private session. The hotel will work with you to customize a class for up to 40 people.
Delicious Details: Check the latest class schedule here.
Famed department store Galeries Lafayette (which is mere steps from the equally stylish Forbes Travel Guide Recommended W Paris – Opéra hotel) doesn’t just want you to dress like a chic Parisian, it wants you to bake like one, too.
A dedicated macaron workshop guides you through the intricacies of baking the city’s most photographed dessert in a straightforward 90-minute class. The first segment is dedicated to crafting the delicate shells, while the second half uncovers the secrets of that dreamy ganache filling.
Delicious Details: Classes run every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Louis XV’s former wine cellars — which funneled barrels to the Louvre palace via underground tunnels — today play host to a unique tasting experience at Les Caves du Louvre, just down the street from Four-Star Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal.
The five underground rooms not only maintain the ideal cellar temperature, they also divide the wine-making process into an accessible tour you can navigate via The French Wine Experience app (excursions can be guided as well).
All efforts are rewarded with a wine bar at the end, where staff offers samples that highlight flavors, aromas and the art of the perfect pour. A shop next door lets you buy bottles, so you can continue to “practice” at home as well.
Delicious Details: Tours run for 60 minutes and begin every half hour Monday through Saturday 2 to 6 p.m., Sunday 2 to 5 p.m.
Set aside your fears of being a fromage phony by booking a class with Paroles de Fromagers (“voice of cheesemakers”), where the setting — a 17th-century cheese cellar — is just as impressive as the dairy delicacies themselves.
Knowledgeable guides walk you through an educational tasting, where chevres and Comtés get equal time with paired wines. Those with more cheese acumen can opt for the 2.5-hour class, where you’ll create three unique blocks (all while sipping vino, of course) to take home.
Delicious Details: A 1.5-hour class covers seven cheeses and three wines.
From farm to fork
Learn to cook like a true Parisian, from start to finish, with Sweet Pea Paris’ five-hour, market-to-table cooking class.
The experience begins with a stroll through a street market to meet the vendors and source fresh ingredients for your meal. Following the shopping trip, you will prepare a seasonal meal in host/chef Alisa Morov’s Parisian apartment, all while learning about traditional French cooking techniques.
Finally, reap the rewards with a five-course lunch or dinner paired with wine.
Delicious Details: A five-hour class comes with a five-course, wine-paired meal.
Do it like Ducasse
If you already consider yourself a fairly experienced cook but you’re yearning to mix it up in the kitchen like a pro, École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse promises to hone your haute cuisine skills in the style of one of France’s most acclaimed celebrity toques.
Classes can be deeply specific — for example, there’s a gravy and sauce techniques workshop and a four-hour session dedicated solely to foie gras — or offer a broader overview, such as the cooking class that walks participants through an entire fine-dining menu.
The icing on the French gateau, however, is the in-depth, three-day course that covers everything from vegetables and fish to pastries.
Delicious Details: Classes vary.