September 22, 2011
This could be your hostess (Very Swell, by Lost in Cheeseland)
Even the French say that Paris is a hard city to crack socially. This may have been true once upon a time, but with the recent wave of foodie groups and networks bringing adventurous diners together in secret and not-so-secret Parisian locations, however, there’s no reason anyone should be eating alone these days. For every linguistic level and budget, there’s a way to meet the locals and experience authentic French cuisine.
All it takes is a few clicks:
Small, sophisticated bites at a Very Swell gathering (Lost in Cheeseland)
Super Marmite is a social site that puts the emphasis back on local cooking, literally. Users browse the site to locate neighbors who have made extra portions of quiche lorraine or who have a few crème brulée in excess on their counters. You can then purchase the servings (prices are indicated on the site), swing buy, say hello, and buy your homemade, locally produced French dinne
COlunching: Getting back to basics, COlunching started as a way for freelancers to escape their home offices for lunch and meet new people. Now the online network includes brunches and dinners in a number of international cities, allowing foodies and travelers to join eat and mingle in Paris, New York, and beyond.
Treats at the Super Marmite Improv Brunch (Super Marmite)
Voulez-Vous Diner: This site brings together French hosts and international travelers at – where else – the dinner table. For 65 euros per person, guests can sign up to dine in the French home of their choice. Simply browse the meals available and make a reservation.
Live My Food: This open network brings locals and travelers together to dine in a local’s home and, ostensibly, enjoy a more authentic culinary experience than a restaurant could provide. Diners are required to pay for their meals, but contributions are generally more reasonable than with similar, more exclusive networks.
Spoon Trip offers a members access to foodie events, including chocolate tastings (Spoontrip)
Spoon Trip: Spoon Trip goes beyond eating to connect users with a network of foodie events sponsored by locals, including market tours, cooking classes, wine tastings, and meet ups with food producers and chefs. It’s another way to explore Paris, eat French food, and meet some like-minded locals while you’re at it.
Private Events – RSVP, Please
Mingling at a Un Artiste a la Table get together (Un Artiste a la Table)
New Friends Table: If you’re into the VIP underground vibe, then you might want to check out the New Friends Table. You have to send in a fairly detailed description of yourself in with your reservation request, which makes me think there’s a secret password being whispered through a door somewhere. Dates set up in advance with a suggested donation of around 50 euros, so RSVP with your best bio and hope that you are interesting enough meet the criteria.
Un Artiste à la Table: This one distinguishes itself from the lot by adding a celebrity dimension to the dinner. Participants reserve online to enjoy a gourmet meal in the presence of a writer, musician, chef, or other artist who will discuss their work over the course of the dinner. Dates are set in advance and you should expect to pay up to 70 euros or so for the multi-course cultural feast.
Bites served at an Un Artiste a la Table gathering (Un Artiste a la Table)
Very Swell: The verySWELL project focuses on theme-based soirées, with guests mingling around cocktails and canapés. Participants are expected to dress the part according to the event’s theme, be it a swanky Mad Men cocktail party or an 80s sock hop. Events can cost up to 60 euros for drinks, food, and dancing in various venues throughout the city. Participants are mostly Anglophone and largely international. Our sources tell us the next event is scheduled for October 2011, so stay tuned for an update on the website.
Shimmer cocktail at a Very Swell Mad Men party (Lost in Cheeseland)
And we’re not forgetting these popular Paris favorites:
Hidden Kitchen: Hidden Kitchen is one of the first private supper clubs.
Lunch in the Loft: Lunch in the Loft is a more intimate way to lunch with new people.
Jim Haynes: Jim Haynes has been organizing Sunday dinners for the past 30 years
- Meg Zimbeck writes about her first encounter with David Lebovitz at a Hidden Kitchen dinner
- Here is a great list of underground dinners in cities all over the world
- The NYtimes also covers Paris’ underground dining scene
Written by Bryan Pirolli
Bryan Pirolli is travel journalist and tour guide in Paris who's byline has appeared in CNN Travel, Time Out Paris, and Travel+Leisure. He also teaches media studies at the Sorbonne. He is co-hosting a Travel Writing Workshop (http://bit.ly/1XeiCYL) in Paris several times this year with fellow journalist Heather Stimmler-Hall, offering a unique hands-on experience to aspiring writers.
Website: Where's Bryan?
Tags: Bryan Pirolli, Colunching, dinner parties France, Hidden dinner, Hidden Kitchen, Hidden Kitchen Paris, Jim Haynes, Live my food, Lunch in the Loft, New Friends Table, Private Dinner, Spoon trip, Super Marmite, Un Artiste a la Table, Underground Dining, Underground Dining Paris, Very Swell, Voulez-vous diner
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