A Visit to Eataly: Paris’ Hidden Italy

Imagine yourself in a bustling Italian piazza complete with restaurants, bars, artisans and fresh food markets – but in the middle of Paris! You can expect all this and more at Eataly, the latest foodie installation in le Marais. The concept behind this food hall and marketplace is to create a space where you can shop, eat and learn about Italian food.

© Jordan Plihal

 

Over the past month, Eataly’s arrival to France has been the talk of the town. That’s because this massive Italian food hall just opened its doors in Paris’ trendy Marais neighborhood. Located on one of the Marais’ most popular shopping streets Eataly is flanked on both sides by cool concept stores, and is just a minute’s walk from the BHV.

Situated over 3 three floors and over 2,400 square meters of indoor and outdoor space, Eataly is enormous! With 7 eateries and 8 tempting market counters, it’s impossible to leave this place empty handed, or on an empty stomach.

So if you love Italian food as much as I do, you won’t want to miss a visit to Eataly during your time in Paris.

The history of Eataly

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Paris is actually Eataly’s 40th location around the world, though it hasn’t always been a household name.

It all started in 2004, in a little town near Torino, Italy called Alba. And Alba still serves as the companies headquarters, even to this day. Founder Oscar Farinetti named the company based on the fusion of two words, eat and Italy. His idea was to create a space where people could eat, shop and learn about quality Italian food. Sounds like a recipe for success!

The first Eataly food hall opened in 2007 in Torino, and it was actually built in a converted Vermouth factory! Their mission was simple: bring quality Italian products to people around the world, and to share the joy of eating.

Now with 40 locations and counting, Eataly is a huge success all over the world.  The low key atmosphere and amazing food at Eataly keeps people coming back. Spread out across major metropolitan cities, the Italian “megastore eatery” is taking the world by storm. From Stockholm to Tokyo and São Paulo to Doha, everyone wants a taste of Italy!

Il Mercato

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Located on the ground floor just to the left of the entrance is Il Mercato, or the market. This is basically an upscale supermarket featuring all Italian products. Their selection is vast and the director of the Marais store proudly told me that 95% of the products in Eataly have never been sold in France before!

Here you’ll find  an assortment of canned and preserved goods, like jams, tomato sauces, preserved lemons, capers and olives all straight from Italy! And the real deals on extra virgin olive oil – the true staple of Italian cooking. You’ve also got a dizzying selection of both dried and fresh pasta, in just about any shape or flavor you can imagine. Boxed sweets like cookies and biscotti are also in the mix.

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In the refrigerated section, there’s everything you could expect in a normal supermarket and then some. Think fresh milk, cream, fresh pasta, gelato, ready made pizza, packaged seafood, prepared snacks and cold drinks. A little further along, you can find cheeses (there’s an entire section dedicated to mozzarella di bufala alone) and cured meats, perfect for an apéritivo along the Seine afterwards.

Artisan shops

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Located on the ground floor of Eataly are the artisan food stands. If you continue walking just after il mercato, there’s a whole fresh market scene that’s bustling with activity.

There’s a cheesemonger with a staggering selection of cheeses that you can buy by the gram. A charcuterie stand offers up the best genoa salame, ‘nduja and mortadella you can hope for outside Italy. There’s a butcher, a bakery and a fresh pasta stand, with pasta by the gram. And the best part is that everything is made or prepared in house, by real artisans.

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If you prefer something easy to take away, there are also several snack spots. At the bakery for example, you can grab a savory foccaccia or a slice of pizza to go. Paris has a ton of great picnic spots, so this is perfect if you want to grab something quick for later.

You can read about our top Paris picnic spots here.

 

 

La Piazza

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Walk straight in after entering Eataly, and you’ll wind up in la piazza, or the central square of Eataly. Set up in an atrium style, la piazza gets lots of natural light from above, and a huge lemon tree in the center really cements the feeling of being in Italy.

Eateries proposing real wood-fired pizza, pasta, seafood and snacks line the perimeter of the square. A bar near the center serves up a delightful Apérol spritz, as well as plenty of wine, cocktail, and soft options.

Both high and low tables fill the center space, so you can choose which kind of food you’d like and grab a spot afterwards. I love the simplicity and freshness of the cuisine here. And the variety of choices makes Eataly perfect for larger groups because everyone can choose their own “restaurant” so to speak.

La Scuola

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Have you ever dreamed of learning how to cook incredible Italian food?  Well then I have good news! You can make your dream a reality at Eataly.

Actually, one of the coolest things about Eataly is that they have their own cooking school! And it’s open to all levels, no matter if you’re a complete novice or have some previous experience. Their chefs propose Italian cooking classes, pastry making, regional cooking, tasting courses and even special classes for children and families. You’ll learn from the pros how to make your very own gnocchi or tiramisu from scratch!

The courses last two hours on average and are pretty affordable. Prices range from €55  for a family lesson to €70 for a regional cooking class. Just make sure to check out the most updated information on their website and sign up in advance. You’ll find the cooking school on the first floor of Italy, to the left of the escalators.

Il Terrazzo

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If you wander through the market on the ground floor at Eataly, you’ll eventually arrive at an outdoor terrace area, il terrazzo. The private interior courtyard is open air, but can’t be seen from the street outside. It’s completely surrounded by Eataly!

Il terrazzo is where you’ll find the farmer’s market section. Fresh fruits and vegetable stands selling every type of produce under the sun. From the most luscious San Maranzano tomatoes to gigantic lemons from Sicily even mushrooms and of course, fresh herbs! The quality of the produce here is exceptional and you can really taste the difference. Although, since everything is imported fresh, you can expect to pay a little more than you normally would at a French supermarket.

 

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This lovely outdoor space also has its own eatery as well as a bar area with plenty of seating. They’ve even got umbrellas on some tables to provide some shade. So it’s the perfect place to enjoy an apéro if you want to be outdoors!

 

Il Ristoranti

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Located on the first floor, just up the escalators near the entrance are il ristoranti, or the restaurants. Everything is made on the spot, and sometimes you can even see the cooks in action. Head to the pizzeria to watch them toss the dough and make the pizza right before your eyes!

Their pizzeria features a real wood-fired oven, and there’s a stand serving fresh raviolis and true cacio e pepe made in a cheese wheel. Plus there’s even a meat counter where you can have the famed steak fiorentina, and a seafood bar. Whether you’re craving a full meal or just an appetizer and something to drink, you’ll find a delicious answer in the restaurants here.

Il Caffè

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Italy is famous for having great coffee, and the caffè at Eataly doesn’t disappoint. The caffè entrance is just across from il mercato, if you walk through il terrazzo, the outdoor space.

In the caffè, there’s of course your standard coffee staples like espresso and caffè latte and even affogato. All brewed from beans ground fresh to order. Oh and a state of the art espresso machine.

But they also serve up pastries, and have a gelato bar by Venetian chocolatier, Venchi. Complete with fresh waffle cones and a Nutella fountain of course (yes, you read that correctly: there’s a Nutella fountain).

The interior is cozy and inviting, definitely a place where you could cozy up with a good read or work for awhile. Low lighting, a true Italian caffè vibe and the scent of freshly roasted coffee beans will make you forget you’re in France rather than Italy.

L’enoteca

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Take the escalators down to the basement level of Eataly, and you’ll find yourself in an immense wine cellar. Head to your left and browse the extensive wine racks. The selection of Italian wines here is so far unmatched in France. They have over 1,200 different Italian wines from all over the country! Luckily, they’re arranged helpfully by region. There’s also a great variety of traditional Italian spirits, like limoncello, grappa, and even Pernet.

Further back in the wine section, there’s a special room which houses entire rounds of the most famous Italian cheeses, namely Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padana and Pecorino Romano. You can see the gigantic rounds of cheese through the windows, and you can even purchase them (if you have the budget!).

To your right when you get off the escalator is a little wine bar. They have a few high seats at the bar, where you can order wine and snacks. If you’re hoping for a more quiet drink, this spot tends to be less busy than the bars on the main floor.

Practical Information

Other than the exceptional food and products that await you at Eataly, I encourage you to visit it and the surrounding neighborhood. Because exploring this area is truly is part of the Paris experience.

Eataly is located right in the middle of Paris’ Marais district, which comprises the 3rd and part of the 4th arrondissement. Centuries ago, this area was actually a marsh, but the city built around it. Giving it the nickname ‘Le Marais’ or ‘the marsh’ in English. Despite this odd beginning, the Marais is one of the most historic places in Paris and has become one of the trendiest. Home to numerous fashion boutiques, concept stores and cool new eateries, this area always seems to be ahead of the curve.

By Alexander Kagan on Unsplash

In addition to being known for history and fashion, the neighborhood surrounding Eataly is also host to all kinds of museums such as the Centre Pompidou and the Picasso museum. But did you know that the Marais also boasts impressive street art displays? We offer a free tour of the Marais, and another guided tour dedicated to Parisian street art!

As perhaps the trendiest and most fashionable neighborhood in Paris, the cool spots always seem to pop up in the Marais, and Eataly is no exception. Now that you know all about Eataly and the amazing food they offer, I hope you’ll make a visit to Eataly. Or at the very least, to the incredible neighborhood surrounding it!

As always, if you have any questions, or would like more information about any of our tours, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

I would love to know what your favorite part of a visit to Eataly was. Let me know in the comments! Or if you didn’t go, did you visit the Marais?

Thanks so much for reading and I hope to see you soon in Paris!

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Eataly Marais – 37 rue sainte-croix de la bretonnerie 75004
open daily from 8:30-23:30
Metro Hotel de ville (lines 1 and 11)
Metro Rambuteau (line 11)

 

 

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