Step into the culinary time machine and journey through the gastronomic history of Paris at the highly anticipated exhibition, “Paris, capitale de la gastronomie, du Moyen Âge à nos jours” (“Paris, Capital of Gastronomy: A Culinary Journey from the Middle Ages to the Present Day,”) presented by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux at the historic Conciergerie de Paris.
From April 13 to July 16, 2023, immerse yourself in the epicurean legacy of the City of Light, as this unparalleled exhibition takes you on a captivating voyage through the centuries of Parisian culinary excellence.
Paris has long been hailed as the global capital of gastronomy, with its renowned chefs, Michelin-starred restaurants, and culinary innovations that have earned international acclaim. But this prestigious status didn’t happen overnight. It is the result of a rich history that spans several centuries, and this exhibition is your exclusive ticket to explore it all.
Prepare to be mesmerized by a dazzling display of works of art, manuscripts, photographs, original menus, and tableware, sourced from prestigious collections such as the Louvre Museum, the BnF, the Carnavalet Museum, and the Château de Fontainebleau.
The exhibition begins with a homage to the medieval table, fittingly showcased in the historic setting of the Conciergerie, a legacy of the Capetian Royal Palace. Discover the pivotal role of Paris in shaping French gastronomy, as you are transported to the opulent banquets and feasts of Parisian history.
From the extravagant banquet organized by Charles V at the Palais de la Cité in 1378, to the sumptuous meals hosted by Catherine de Medici, Napoleon, and the official dinners of the Elysée Palace, experience the grandeur of Parisian dining in all its glory. Using the latest technology, including the Conciergerie’s Histopad, an augmented reality tablet, you will be immersed in the splendor of Charles V’s banquet and the bustling kitchens of the time, as if you were there in person.
The journey continues with a focus on the “Ventre de Paris,” a term borrowed from Emile Zola’s novel, which highlights the importance of food supply in the city. Explore the iconic Halles, the historical food markets of Paris, and the modern Rungis market, which play a crucial role in the city’s culinary landscape. A recreated grocery store takes you on a visual and sensory journey, tracing the path of Ile-de-France produce from field to plate, showcasing the rich agricultural heritage of the region.
As you delve deeper into the history of Parisian gastronomy, you’ll discover the birth of the restaurant, from its origins in the Royal Palace to the emergence of bistros, broths, and renowned dining establishments. Learn about the famous French cook Taillevent, who once officiated in the kitchens of the Conciergerie, and the evolution of Parisian dining culture that has shaped the city’s culinary identity.
No exploration of Parisian gastronomy would be complete without a celebration of its world-famous pastries and bakery creations. From croissants to millefeuilles, Paris-Brest to macarons, the exhibition pays homage to the renowned pastry chefs, such as Antonin Carême, who have contributed to Paris’s sweet legacy. Indulge in the tantalizing displays of delectable treats and learn about the techniques and traditions that make Parisian pastries truly exquisite.
The final chapter of the exhibition is dedicated to the cosmopolitan nature of gastronomic Paris, a melting pot of culinary influences, intermingling, and creativity. The opulence of Paris’s gourmet offerings owes much to the rest of France, including the diverse range of raw ingredients it receives and the regional cuisine restaurants it hosts. The influences from all around the world that have shaped Parisian gastronomy will also be showcased.
This is an exhibition no restaurant aficionado would want to miss.