I told you about the fun things I saw in Paris but now it’s time to get to the reason I really went to Paris: the food!
I was somewhat disappointed by the food in Paris, I think that given the great number of turists a lot of establishments can sell bad/mediocre food and still be in business.
On the last day of my stay at 10 in the morning I bought a croissant, a pain au chocolat and some bread. Everything was stale! Bread is really fresh in Europe, so something you buy in the morning may start to become chewy in the evening. However for something to be stale at 10 in the morning it had to be there from (at least) the previous day. This is highly unprofessional.
Another day I got a panini for lunch. The lady at the counter forgot to take it out of the toaster, even though I was standing right in front of her while she was serving other clients. When she remembered she rushed to take it out of the toaster, she looked at it, considered that it was half burned, she shrugged her shoulders, wrapped the burned bread and handed it to me!!! What?? And I tell you, a sandwich is not cheap in Paris, they cost some 5 or 6 euros at least!
Also Paris is huge and we walked like crazy. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out we covered 10 km (6 miles) every day. Once back at the hotel at night we would just collapse in bed. Getting up at some point and always ending up looking for a place to eat just next door rather than looking for a fancy place. We are starting to consider the benefits of staying at an all-inclusive hotel, maybe this means we are getting old :P
But on to what didn’t disappoint me: pastries! I did a lot of research before leaving and came up with a long list of places to check out, including a list of the pastries I wanted to try in each place!
The first day we were right on track. Mid-afternoon, standing on Pont de l’Archevêcé looking at Notre Dame on the other side of the Seine and chilling out, we decided to head toward our first sweet stop: Pierre Hermé.
On the way there we walked by the Pantheon, the Sorbonne and Saint Sulpice.
Pierre Hermé’s boutique was on the opposite side of Saint Sulpice almost on the corner. We entered to find a really small shop, no tables. The space for customers was just a small corridor, pastries to your left and chocolate to your right, the cashier at the end and you are already walking back on your steps squeezing through other customers to make your way out. We decided to go eat our pastries on the steps of Saint Sulpice, it was a gorgeous sunny day so why not :)
I had the Tarte Vanille Infiniment. I don’t think I have ever eaten something that good! I am not a big fan of vanilla, but this pastry is a different story. I am never going to be able to enjoy vanilla ice cream after this pastry. The Tarte Vanille Infiniment ruined all the future vanilla flavors for me!
The hubby had a Tarte Fine Porcelana. A chocolate slice of haven! And look at the box it comes in! It is made especially for this pastry!
We also had a Macaron Mogador and a Chocolate Macaron. We were somewhat disappointed by the Macarons, the Mogador cream was a mix of chocolate and passion fruit that I really didn’t enjoy. Moreover they are so tiny and cost so much that we decided to skip the macarons and go for only pastries in our future pastries adventures.
The following day, late afternoon, tired from having to walk too much to reach the magnificent Tour Eiffel because of a problem on the metro line (Paris is not as efficient as Berlin!!), and even more tired from an afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay, we still decided the pastry mission was to be accomplished! After all, we could still taste the luscious flavors from Pierre Hermé and were craving for some more!
We walked to Pâtisserie des Rêves and couldn’t wait to spend the rest of the afternoon in front of one (or more) delicious pastries and a cup of tee. But we were disappointed to find that while the shop was a little larger than Pierre Hermé it still had no tables or chairs, again just pastry cases. And this time there wasn’t any pretty church staircase on sight to enjoy our pastries. Highly disappointed we stepped out and looked for the next pastry shop on my list: Hugo et Victor. It was fairly close but we were starting to see a pattern here, two out of two pastry shops turned out to be just that: shops. Where is one supposed to enjoy the delicious loot? Right there on the street? Back at the hotel? Or are you supposed to live in Paris and have your pastries at home?
Hugo et Victor was soon in sight, but again, just a shop :( or rather a boutique. We were so disappointed that we didn’t buy anything. We window shopped though, just like when you eye a Gucci or Versace boutique, also the price tag on the pastries was about the same as a Gucci handbag :P
We failed, no pastry was conquered on our second day, sigh sigh. But that night I looked at my patisserie list and with a short internet search I found the ones that do have seating available. This way we would be prepared.
Off we went the following day, headed to Jacques Genin and his beautiful shop, with tables and chairs and all you need for a pleasant experience, beautiful flower arrangements on each table included. Jacques Genin is a master of traditional french pastry. Unlike others that invent new pastries every now and then, he makes only the originals. Also he doesn’t design crazy arrangements, his pastries are simple, again: traditional. This doesn’t make his work less outstanding. He is a master in what he does, he makes the best possible traditional pastries.
I had a long list of pastries I wanted to try from his store, but at some 7-8 euros per tarte I settled for one, the biggest I could find :P I had a Saint-Honoré.
The Saint-Honoré is made of a layer of puff pastry (I feel ashamed calling it puff pastry since what I usually call puff pastry is store bought puff pastry and this has nothing to do with it!). One side of the puff pastry is topped with strongly vanilla flavored creme patisserie (pastry cream, again I am ashamed to call it like that!) and by one more layer of chantilly cream. The other side is topped with three mini round éclaire: a chocolate éclaire, a vanilla éclaire and a caramel éclaire. Oh my! What an experience eating this!
The hubby had a delicious Éclair au chocolat.
Both were outstanding! And were served with samples of chocolate (you can see them in the pic above). Yummy yummy!
Our short trip sadly came to an end and my list of pastry shops and pastries still has many places that we failed to discover. But I will be back in Paris one day, and next time it will be a gastronomic oriented trip! I have to give a change to french cousine to make me fall in love as I fell in love with Pierre Hermé’s Tarte Vanille Infiniment.
Here is my list for your enjoyment if you are going to Paris and decide to go on a pastry mission ;)
Must do Paris Pastry Boutiques
- Jacques Genin. Suggested pastries: éclair au chocolat, tarte au citron, tarte au chocolat, saint-Honoré. 133, rue de Turenne. Opens at 11 am. Seating available.
- Carl Marletti. Suggested pastries: Marie Antoinette, Belle Helene, Mont Blanc. 51 Rue Censier. Opens at 10 am.
- Pierre Hermé. Suggested pastries: Gourmandises Constellation, Montebello. Boutique only.
- Ladurée. Suggested pastries: Macaron Fleur d’Oranger, Ladurée is well known for his macarons but the pastries are gigantic macarons with lots of other stuff, so go for the patries! 21 Rue Bonaparte. Opens at 8:30 am.
- Café Pouchkine. Suggested pastries: Or Noir and many others are gorgeous and very good quality. Inside Printemps Mode Shopping Center, 64 Boulevard Haussmann. Opens at 9:30 am. Seating available.
- La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Suggested pastries: Grand Cru. 93 Rue du Bac. Opens at 9 am. Boutique only.
- Hugo & Victor. Suggested pastries: Macaron Mangue. 40 Boulevard Raspail. Opens at 9 am. Boutique only.
- Des Gâteaux et du Pain. Suggested pastries: J’Adore la Fraise, also the croissants are very good. 63, Boulevard Pasteur – Opens at 8 am.
You are going to Paris and don’t want to bring home the usual model of the Tour Eiffel? Then I would suggest you to buy a cheese grater :P