Parisian Living

My Perfect Day in Paris – with David Lebovitz

by Diana Liu
A portrait of David Lebovitz standing with a smile in the middle of a street in Paris' diverse Bellville neighborhood.
David Lebovitz in Paris’ Bellville neighborhood

To kick off the season, talented chef and cookbook author David Lebovitz is giving three lucky HiP Paris Blog readers copies of his beautiful new book “Drinking in French,” on the the art of drinking cocktails, apéritifs and café traditions à la française – and we can’t wait to read it. To win your very own copy, head over to our Instagram account. Winners will be announced on Friday, April 24th before midnight (Paris time). Good luck, lovely readers!

Acclaimed pastry chef, cookbook author, and blogger David Lebovitz is a long-time insider of Paris’ food scene and of the Ville Lumière herself—although, to him, the two are inseparable. We caught up with David prior to lockdown, but please do bookmark his favorite spots for when travel is possible again and your next Paris visit! 

David moved to Paris in 2004, and after years of cooking, baking, and tasting both the sweet and unsavory parts of life in France (the sweet being the pastries, the unsavory the experiences with bank tellers), he’s cultivated la vie du quartier, an intimate knowledge of one’s arrondissement that few attain. His Paris is multicultural, tight-knit, and deliciously creative—a more down-to-earth side of the city that often goes unnoticed.

On the eve of the launch of “Drinking French,” his new book that takes a delectable dive into the iconic drinks of France, David brought HiP Paris on a tour of his perfect day in Paris, which includes a walk around Belleville, naturally fermented pastries, pork dumplings, and the best coffee and spirits the city has to offer.

Left, a cup of frothy coffee on the wooden counter of La Fontaine de Belleville in Paris. Right, sticky cinnamon rolls stacked on the counter of a bakery in Paris.
Fontaine de Belleville café

Café au lait and a walk through Belleville 

“In the morning, I usually get up around 7am, stay in my pajamas, and have coffee at home. In America, people like to drink a pot of coffee, but to me coffee is like a punctuation mark—one shot and I’m good. 

A selection of freshly bakes cakes and baguette sandwiches at a coffeeshop in Paris.
Fontaine de Belleville café

Afterward, I’d walk over to Belleville; it’s around 20 minutes on foot from where I live in the 11th arrondissement. It’s a multicultural neighborhood that feels authentic. If you want to see the real Paris, this is where you go. One thing people, especially foreigners, often forget about Paris is that it’s a melting pot. Belleville is also an inexpensive neighborhood, which means that young people can afford to open up businesses there. 

A crunchy baguette filled with ham at the Fontaine de Belleville coffee shop where David Lebovitz loves to eat.
Fontaine de Belleville café

First, I’d stop at La Fontaine de Belleville and have a café noisette. It’s a French coffee shop for the new generation with a great vibe, quality coffee, homemade desserts, and really good sandwiches. They’re famous for their classic jambon-beurre sandwich, made with Prince de Paris ham—it’s the last boiled ham actually made in Paris.

Spongy lemon cake at Fontaine de Bellville café, located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.
Spongy lemon cake, Fontaine de Belleville café

Produce, pork dumplings, and pastries

Next, I’d go shopping for some ingredients. Terroirs d’Avenir sells beautiful French produce as well as a variety of cheeses and butters. There are also a lot of stores over on Boulevard de Belleville. I like to stop by Djudjura Blida, a North African butcher, for meat—a lamb shoulder to braise or a roast chicken for dinner. It’s not particularly scenic, but it’s a real slice of this part of Paris. There are also a lot of Middle Eastern épiceries (small grocery stores) in Belleville, like Produits du Monde. As a baker, I need to buy ingredients in big quantities, and this spot is perfect for that. I also just enjoy wandering around the neighborhood—it’s how I discover things.

Ingredients and food products are lined up in front of Produits du Monde, a Middle Eastern épicerie (small grocery store) in Paris.
Produits du Monde grocery store

For lunch, I’d head to Raviolis Chinois Nord-Est—their pork dumplings are the way to go! I also love the spicy dumplings over at Trois Fois Plus de Piment, although that’s in a different arrondissement. As a former Californian, I adore Asian food and eat it a lot… it’s very fulfilling for me.

A portrait of chef and author David Lebovitz as he takes us around Paris on his perfect day.
David Lebovitz at Produits du Monde grocery store

Afterwards, I’d walk over to Le Petit Grain and pick up a pastry and some bread. The pastries there are what I call “bakers’ pastries”—financiers and peanut tarts—rather than fancy French pastries. Everything is naturally fermented and they don’t use yeast in their croissants. They don’t use plastic either. It’s a zero-waste bakery!

An array of apéritif items, including spreads and sausages, sit on a counter at Le Petit Grain, a zero-waste bakery in Paris.
Apéritif items on a counter at Caves de Belleville

An apéro hour sans prétention

Then I’d stop at La Cave de Belleville for a bottle of wine. It’s a natural wine bar without the dogma. Natural wine has become a big deal in Paris, but there can be a certain snobbism associated with it, even though natural wine is, in fact, a very earthy ingredient! I’m not a wine expert, so I’d just ask them for a recommendation. It’s also a great place for dinner—you can order a charcuterie platter and a bottle of wine from the shelves.

A wide selection of natural wines is shelved at La Cave de Bellville, a natural wine bar in Paris.
A selection of natural wines at La Cave de Bellville

For apéro hour, I’d head over to Combat, a cocktail bar in the neighborhood. I met the owner, Margot Lecarpentier, at a food presentation and fell in love with her work. I’m always in awe of bartenders, and she has this beautiful way of presenting cocktails like they’re food, on a low counter rather than a high bar.

A selection of French hand-made saucisson sausage in a shop in Paris.
Le Petit Grain

You really feel like you’re being taken care of when you’re there. The cocktails change all the time, but one of my favorites is the Quatresse, a drink named after four ingredients that all start with an “s”: sage, Suze, syrup, and Scotch whisky, which I included in Drinking French. Margot explained to me that the neighborhood is actually called Combat because it hosted animal fights from the late 1700s until the middle of the following century, when city authorities banned the practice.

Café tables and chairs sit outside La Fontaine de Belleville, a french coffee shop in Paris' 10th arrondissement.
La Fontaine de Bellville

Everything in France has a story, including the drinking culture. The French have their café in the morning, their apéro in the afternoon…they’re a part of their social life and traditions. In the book, I wanted to take a deeper look at France through the lens of their drinks. For instance, take pastis, an anise-flavored alcohol. When it was introduced, it killed many regional apéritifs because everyone wanted to pretend like they were in Marseille, pastis’ hometown. Hence, regional apéritifs ended up falling out of favor. So it’s not just a drink—there’s an entire history behind it.

Dinner and a soirée au calme

For dinner, I might head over to a friend’s house around 9pm—the French eat late! No drinks for me afterward. I’d just head home to bed. I banned screens in my bedroom, so I’ll usually spend some time reading. Right now, I’m working my way through “The Seine: The River That Made Paris” by Elaine Sciolino.

Left, shelves stacked with batch-made liquors and spirits in Paris. Right, David Lebovitz's new book 'Drinking French'.
Fontaine de Belleville café / David Lebovitz’s new book Drinking French

David Lebovitz’s Perfect Paris Itinerary

La Fontaine de Belleville – 31-33 rue Juliette Dodu, 75010 Paris

Terroirs d’Avenir – 84 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris

Djudjura Blida – 91 rue du Faubourg du Temple, 75010 Paris (no website)

Produits du Monde – 71 Boulevard de Belleville, 75011 Paris (no website)

Raviolis Chinois Nord-Est – 11 rue Civiale, 75010 Paris

Trois Fois Plus de Piment – 184 rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris

Le Petit Grain – 7 rue Denoyez, 75020 Paris

La Cave de Belleville – 51 rue de Belleville, 75019 Paris

Combat – 63 rue de Belleville, 75019 Paris

David Lebovitz is a professional chef and author of nine books, including “The Sweet Life in Paris” and the award-winning “My Paris Kitchen.” His new book, “Drinking French” serves up more than 160 recipes for trendy cocktails, quintessential apéritifs, café favorites, and more. You can follow his culinary adventures on his Instagram and on his blog, www.davidlebovitz.com.

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Written and photographed by Diana Liu for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.

Written By

Diana Liu

Diana Liu is a Paris-based writer and photographer who is currently completing her Master in media and creative industries at Sciences Po. She co-founded ChopChicks in Paris, a blog and community dining experience that brings people together to discover the wealth of Asian restaurants and Asian culture in Paris. She's written about food, fashion, art & culture, and French politics for Inspirelle, ChopChicks, Wheretoget Magazine, and other publications. See more of her photography on her Instagram @sheandhercat, and discover Paris' best Asian restaurants and join her for dinner at ChopChicks in Paris. View Diana Liu's Website

6 comments on “My Perfect Day in Paris – with David Lebovitz

Eddrina Kimmerson

Hello! I love Paris. It was my first time and I hope I would have the chance to go there again (on a budget). Haha! I did wrote about it in my website too –> https://www.eddrinatakes.com . 😁

What a lovely escape to Paris! Your pictures are stunning and I now have to make a spongy lemon cake! David is a wonderful “host” and I can’t wait to visit Paris one day and visit all these wonderful places!

A wonderful read this morning while sipping my coffee in Southern California. David’s article neatly dovetails my recently finished read of Cara Black’s novel Murder in Belleville and his The Sweet Life in Paris! Thank you for the treat.

Just loved the piece, and although I have been to this arrondissement, I will now make another visit, particularly to
the cafe. Chomping at the bit to get back to Paris, will miss my annual late May, early June retreat , but staying hopeful
that the September outing will be OK. Thanks for continuing to take us nowhere and everywhere in our very favorite city.

Aww so glad you enjoyed the piece. And you are welcome for the arm-chair traveling. Hopefully we will all be able to travel for real again soon!

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