What do you do when you have only 30 hours to spend in Paris? If you are like me then you make an itinerary of must-see food places and spend your time sniffing them out and gorging on the bounty that you manage to acquire.
I was recently in London for work and, as a treat to myself, I jumped on the Eurostar and found myself in Paris for a 30 hour jaunt. Having been to Paris numerous times before, this trip was completely and utterly about over-indulging.
In preparation for the trip, I recently read “Paris, my Sweet” by Amy Thomas, and used the suggestions in the book to plan my itinerary. I based myself close to Notre Dame so that I could walk to most places (a small gesture to burn off some of the calories I would be consuming).
It was only seconds after stepping out of the Metro that I found myself surrounded by a small farmers market, and as a result, completely captivated by the food. Jars of foie gras, poultry birds with their heads and feathers still on, sausages, and cheese – everywhere I looked there was food! This was my kinda city!
The one thing that I noticed this time around more so than on previous trips, was the aroma of food. I know that it is a cliché to talk about the smells of the city, but in Paris you truly do notice hunger-inducing scents as you walk through the city. On more than one occasion I was guided by the smell of warm baked bread wafting down the street, and fromageries were just as enticing, with their pungent smells creeping out to greet you.
Here is a list of places that I visited on my short trip. Please note that I have not included my dinner at Le Chateaubriand (post coming soon!).
Eric Kayser – I definitely recommend a visit to Eric Kayser. I was lucky enough to be staying around the corner from one and there was constant queue throughout the day – folks hoping to snag fresh, warm bread. I wasted no time jumping in the line myself and sat on a park bench beside Notre Dame and stuffed myself with the still-warm, crunchy baguette, salty French butter, and some cheese. And I finished it all off with a framboise tarte. Yum! I’m not ashamed to admit that I returned the next day – twice – once for a butter croissant, and another time for a baguette and some madelines for the train ride home.
Gerard Mulor – If you are pressed for time, then I’d recommend a visit to this store more than all of the others that I visited. The Gerard Mulor store that I visited was everything a quintessential viennoiserie store should be. Beautiful towers of macarons in the windows, delicate pastries and cakes tantalizing from glass cabinets, and the air was filled with the smell of a mix of buttery pastries and yeasty baked bread. The croissant was crunchy, with a darker bottom than others that I’d tried, and was more chewy than flaky. The café crème that I ordered was robust but milky and the berry pastry (I didn’t catch the French name) was delectable. Everything was picture perfect.
Regis Chocolates – I had three croissants in one morning and one was from Regis. It was very good – this is Paris, of course it’s going to be good – but I preferred the croissants from Eric Kayser and Gerard Mulor more.
Angelina – I had to visit Angelina for one of their famous chocolat chaud. Unfortunately, it was far too rich and chocolate-y for me. I barely finished even a quarter of it and at €4.90 for a small cup, I wanted to! Here’s a tip, there is a huge line-up but that is for the tea-rooms. If you want your hot chocolate to go, then skip past the line (I didn’t know this until I reached the end of the queue – doh!).
Jean-Paul Hevin – I was overwhelmed walking into the beautiful (and slightly posh) Jean-Paul store. There were beautiful, elegant chocolates all over the store and I wanted them all! However, I am just one person with one stomach, so I ended up ordering the mousse chocolat traditionnelle for €4.70 and it was exquisite. I believe there are tea-rooms upstairs, so I’d recommend sitting in to eat. Not cheap, but absolutely worth it for the chocolate lovers.
Pierre Hermé – The Parisians take their macarons seriously. So seriously, in fact, that you aren’t allowed to take photos inside their stores. I felt like I spent a lot of my trip lining up for delectable treats and Pierre Hermé was no exception. These were my favourite macarons that I tried whilst in Paris. My favourite was the white truffle with hazelnut (such an interesting flavour) and the crème brulee was good too. Not badly priced at €1.95 each.
Ladurée – Even though I was completely disappointed with the macarons from Ladurée in London, I had to try them again. Unfortunately, they didn’t gain back any ground and I was left completely disappointed with the macarons at Ladurée. They seemed flat to me – less airy than the ones from Pierre Hermé. Also, the flavours were very standard and not very interesting. I’m still scratching my head, wondering what all the fuss is about.
Even though I was alone in the “City of Love”, I was with one of my loves the whole time – food. I can’t think of a more suitable city for someone who loves baked goods of all types. It was a blessing in disguise that I was only able spend a limited time in Paris or I would have come back the size of a (happy) house.