Shakespeare and Company

It’s impossible to write about places to visit in Paris without talking about Shakespeare and Company. It’s a landmark, a piece of literary and Parisian history, an institution, a place of pilgrimage for young writers and literature lovers from all over the world, and now with the recent opening of their new café, a wonderful place to hang out and enjoy good food and great books.

The original Shakespeare and Company was founded in 1919 by an American, Sylvia Beach, on the rue de l’Odeon in the 6th arrondissement. Selling English language books, her shop became a meeting place for the writers of the ‘Lost Generation’ who flocked to Paris in the 1920s – Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound and many more, including perhaps most famously James Joyce, whose Ulysses she published for the first time in 1922 – nobody was prepared to publish it at the time. The shop you see today was opened in 1951 by another American, Geroge Whitman, and it also quickly became a mecca for writers of the Beat Generation such as Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs. In fact over 30,000 aspiring writers, or ‘Tumbleweeds’ as they are known, have stayed there over the years, the bookshop provides them with a free room in return for helping around the shop and reading a book a day! Don’t miss the motto above the door: ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise’.

shakespeare-company-cafe-paris

More recently, George Whitman’s dream of opening a literary café in the building next door, has been realised by his daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman, who now runs the bookshop. The café was opened in partnership with the popular Bob’s Bake Shop, serving mainly vegetarian food, good coffee, and George’s special recipe lemon pie.

It’s hard to do justice to such a fascinating and historic place as Shakespeare & Company in a short blog post. If you are interested in learning more about it I recommend you read this Vanity Fair article or check out the history section on the bookshop’s website. A great book I can also highly recommend is ‘Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation – A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties’ by Noel Riley Fitch.

Better still, drop in when you are in Paris, lose yourself amongst the thousands of books and the many rooms and corridors of the shop, or attend a poetry reading or a talk by a writer – you’ll soon feel the magic of this very special place.

  • Shakespeare and Company Bookshop, 37 rue de la Bucherie, 75005 Paris.  metro: St Michel

The main shop is open daily 10:00 – 23:00. The café is open Mon-Fri 9:30 – 19:00, Sat and Sun 9:30 – 20:00

Shakespeare & Company website

Good coffee in Paris. 4: Fondation Café

This tiny café serves up not only a fantastic cup of coffee, but also a delicious selection of cakes and a tasty avocado on toast, complete with chili powder and salt. The decor is minimalist (check out the 2 beautiful Jean Prouvé Potence lights), the coffee machine being the main attraction, and with 3 small tables inside and just a few more outside, you can also get your coffee to go if you can’t find a seat. Opened in 2013 by an Australian barista who had previously worked at Ten Belles, the café has recently changed hands, but continues to attract a non-stop stream of customers and rave reviews for the quality of the cofféé and the warm welcome.

  • Fondation Café, 16 rue Dupetit Thouars, 75003 Paris.  metro: Temple

Open 8:00 – 18:00 weekdays and 9:00 – 18:00 weekends

Fondation café Facebook page

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Little India in the Passage Brady

The Passage Brady is one of approximately 20 covered passages left in Paris. These were the precursors of the modern shopping malls, where wealthy Parisians could shop whilst being sheltered from bad weather and muddy streets. It was built in 1828 by M Brady, and at 216 metres was the longest covered street in the city at the time (although it was later cut in half by the Boulevard de Strasbourg). In the 1970’s M Ponnoussamy opened the first Indian restaurant there, and it has since become home to a variety of good value Indian and Pakistani restaurants, grocery shops overflowing with fruit and vegetables, incense, herbs and all sorts of fragrant spices and a wonderful health food shop.  In 2002 it was classified as a historic monument.

A bit further down the rue du Faoubourg St Denis you will find the Passage du Prado. It was built in 1785 and is unfortunately very run down nowadays, however it’s still worth a visit for the interesting glass roof added in 1925, with decorations clearly reflecting the arts and crafts movement. The whole area around is fascinating to walk around, it’s a cultural melting pot, although gradually succumbing to gentrification, and is lively and colourful.

  • Passage Brady. 33 Boulevard de Strasbourg/46 rue du Fbg St Denis. metro: Chateau d’Eau
  • Passage du Prado. 12 rue du Fbg St Denis/18 Bd St Denis

Don’t forget to visit the other beautiful covered passages across the city!

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Good coffee in Paris. 3: Coutume Café

Coutume Café was one of the first – if not the first – of the new wave of speciality coffee bars to open in Paris, and is still one of the best. They roast the coffee on the premises and have a wide choice of brewing methods. The space is light and airy, more New York perhaps than Paris – it was a designed by Cut Architecture – and the clientele is eclectic and relaxed. They also serve delicious food, their Sunday brunches are always packed, and you can also enjoy light, healthy lunches and wonderful cakes.

Located in the 7th arrondissement, it’s the perfect place for a stop after some shopping at the nearby Bon Marché department store, and a is just short walk from the Invalides and the Rodin Museum. If you like good coffee, make sure you drop in and try one here.

Coutume is run by the same team that run Coutume Instituutti in the 5th arrondissement, and supplies roasted coffee beans to many cafés and restaurants across Paris.

  • Coutume Café, 47 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris. metro: Saint François Xavier

Open Mon-Fri 08:00 – 18:00 and weekends 09:00 – 18:00.

Facebook page

Good coffee in Paris. 2: Coutume Instituutti

This laid back café is housed inside the sleek and beautiful Finnish Institute in the 5th arrondissement. Not only does it serve wonderful coffee (check out their Facebook page for news about their speciality and seasonal brews) but also delicious traditional Finnish cakes and pastries. It’s bright, spacious and relaxed, the long tables are shared, it’s a great place to work (although look for the the notices on the tables, some are computer free spaces!) plays cool music and holds temporary exhibitions and evening concerts too.

  • Coutume Instituutti, 60 rue des Ecoles, 75005. metro: Odeon

NOTE! The café is currently closed as the Finnish institute is using the space to build KOTI, a 5 month pop up celebrating 100 years of Finnish independance.

Open Tues – Sat 9:00 – 18:00 and Sun 10:00 – 18:00

The real Chinese quarter in Paris – Belleville

Many visitors to Paris will hear that the Chinese quarter is in the 13th arrondissement. Today I took a fascinating guided walk of Belleville (spread across the 19th and 20th arrondissements) and learned otherwise. The tour was part of an initiative called ‘Paris Face Cachée’, or Hidden Paris – organized once a year in February, it puts on guided visits of lesser known parts of the city or in buildings that do not normally allow access to the general public.

Belleville is home to a large Chinese and Indo-Chinese population. It’s not the oldest Chinese community in the city, dating back only around 15 years, but our guide explained it’s now the most authentic within the city, as the Chinese communities both live and work here. This part of the city has always been, and still is, one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city. Formerly home to the working classes when it was a village outside the city, throughout the 20th century it became home to successive waves of immigrants – Armenians, Greeks, Jews and North Africans – turning it now into a fascinating and diverse part of the city. More recently, artists and young professionals (or ‘Bobos’ as they are known here, bourgeois/bohemians) have begun to gentrify the quarter, but it is so far still managing to hold onto it’s ethnic diversity.

Some of the best places to eat in the neighborhood were pointed out to us during our visit,

along with a supermarket selling everything you could need to rustle up your own Chinese feast at home – Chen Market.

The Chinese part of Belleville is located immediately around the metro. It’s not the most architecturally interesting part of Paris – much of it was redeveloped in the 1970s, but there are still a few vestiges remaining of the old buildings. It is though a fascinating part of the city both culturally and historically, and a wonderful place to stroll around and stop for something to eat.

  • Belleville Chinese Paris
  • area around Belleville metro, 75020/75019/75011/75010

Restaurants: Raviolis du Nord Est: 11 rue Civiale, 75010.  Wenzhou: 24 rue de Belleville, 75020.  Dongfa: 26 rue de Belleville, 75020.  Best Doufu: corner of Bd de la Villette and rue Civiale, 75010.

Paris Face Cachée website (in French)

 

 

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The prettiest squares in Paris – Place Furstenberg & La Maison du Chou

If you want to catch a glimpse of the St Germain des Près of days gone by, you should head for Place Furstenberg. Loved by filmmakers (remember the final scene in Scorsese’s Age of Innocence?) this charming little square is hidden just off the Boulevard St Germain. It’s worlds away from the designer boutiques and crowds on the boulevard, and if you didn’t go looking for it you would never know it was there.

It is, in my opinion, the prettiest square in Paris, at least it’s my favourite and always has been. It’s certainly the most discreet, perhaps the most elegant, and probably one of the quietest. The painter Delacroix had his studio here (now a small museum) and Claude Monet later had a studio above it. Now it’s home to 4 beautiful paulownia trees and a few small shops.

Another excellent reason to visit Place Furstenberg is La Maison du Chou. This tiny boutique sells melt-in-your-mouth choux pastries that are filled for you on the spot with your choice of fresh creamy fillings. Take away or eat in, there are a few small tables at the back of the shop where you can enjoy the cream puffs in the quiet with a cup of tea or coffee.

Slightly tangy and not too sweet (the filling is made with fromage blanc), delicate and delicious, they are a perfect match for the elegant beauty of their surroundings.

  • Place Furstenberg, 75006 Paris.  metro: St Germain des Près
  • La Maison du Chou. 7 rue de Furstenberg, 75006. Open Mon-Sun 11:00 – 19:00
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Rosa Bonheur sur Seine

I recently discovered what I think is going to be my new favourite café/bar in Paris. Rosa Bonheur in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is already a firm fixture both during the day for well priced, simple food and at night as a bar and ‘guingette’. Now you can enjoy the same home cooking and atmosphere on the banks of the Seine, just by the beautiful Pont Alexandre III. The café is on a barge moored on the riverside, and on the river bank they also have a wood fired oven where they make pizzas and a take away tapas bar, with plenty of tables to sit and enjoy. At night there is music and dancing, they have a choir, petanque in the summer…. check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.

Not only is the atmosphere laid back and relaxed, the views from the window are spectacular. My favourite thing (apart of course from the delicious and huge slices of cake)? A traditional ‘baby foot’ with a twist – all female players!

  • Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, Quai d’Orsay, Pont des Invalides, 75007 Paris. metro: Invalides

Open Monday – Sunday, 12:00 – 1:30am (midnight on Sunday) Opening hours change depending on the season, check the website below.

Rosa Bonheur website

Sparkling water drinking fountains in Paris

Recently I discovered that not only are there 1200 drinking water fountains across Paris, but that they are not only beautiful, like the Wallace fountains, they now include fountains providing fizzy drinking water.

Fizzy-water drinking fountain ParisYou may think that this is just Paris, where people are so chic that they even need sparkling water coming out of their fountains, and it’s true that it’s cool and delicious on a hot day, but it’s more than that. The French drink vast amounts of mineral water, producing the equivalent vast amounts of plastic bottle waste. The fountains known as ‘La Petillante’ – or she who sparkles – are actually dispensing tap water that is cooled and carbonated on the spot, in a campaign to try and make tap water more acceptable to locals. And it seems to be making everyone happy, I’ve stopped by 2 recently, one on the Berges de Seine by the riverside, providing a cool drink to happy runners, tourists and locals enjoying the sunshine by the river, and one in the Parc André Citroen, where a woman in front of me was filling up about 10 glass bottles. This one has even gone a step further, and a vending machine sells reusable water bottles (designed by Philippe Starck of course, this is Paris…)

The other nice thing about these fountains, is that currently they are all located in or near beautiful parks or gardens, so you an always find a place to sit and enjoy a drink.

So keep your bottle handy, and check out the map below for up to date details of their locations as more are installed (as well as locations of all the drinking water fountains in Paris including the Wallace fountains). Sitting by the riverside enjoying the views and a cool, fresh drink of sparkling water isn’t a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon in Paris.

map of drinking water fountains in Paris (in French)

The best views in Paris? The rooftop terrace of the Printemps & lunch at Brasserie Printemps

It’s hard to resist a view of the beautiful rooftops of Paris. I recently discovered perhaps my new favourite place to enjoy the sunshine and some amazing views of the city, complete with gold domes galore. On the top of the Printemps department store, there is a small café with a spectacular roof terrace giving you amazing views right across the city. If you’re not in the mood for eating, you can still go up there and take some great photos.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more glamourous, and are there around lunchtime, head to the Brasserie Printemps on the 6th floor of the Printemps de la Mode. Set under a magnificent glass dome built in 1923, you can have a delicious lunch here in spectacular surroundings.

Menu and prices

  • Printemps Haussmann, 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. metro: Havre Caumartin

The café with the roof terrace is on the top of the Printemps de la Maison, and is called Deli Cieux. The food  is ok, not very exciting and a bit overpriced. If you’re looking to eat, lunch is much better downstairs in the brasserie.

Brasserie Printemps open Monday through Saturday for lunch.

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A walk around the Canal St Martin

The area around the Canal St Martin in the 10th arrondissement is a fantastic place to wander around on a sunny day. The canal, with it’s 4.5km of water shaded by 100 year old trees and overlooked by locks and iron bridges, was inaugurated in 1825 and used for maritime transport, but is now quiet and peaceful. Over the past few years it has become one of the more fashionable areas of the city – try a cold pressed juice at Bob’s Juice Bar, enjoy delicious British fish and chips at The Sunken Chip, feast on good food and great coffee at Holybelly and Ten Belles, or browse for gorgeous art and design books at Artazart. If you’re there in the early evening, enjoy an aperitif and some people watching on the terrace at Chez Prune. Or if you fancy a taste of the country life in the heart of the city, pick up some amazing bread and pastries at Du Pain et des Idees or bring a picnic and relax by the side of the canal.

Rose Bakery

Much as I love French pastries, sometimes it’s really nice to have a taste of home. Rose Bakery has managed the seemingly impossible and seduced the Parisians with their British cakes, lunches and brunches. It was the carrot cake that initially made them popular, and people keep coming back for the fresh, organic, homemade food and juices. All the ingredients are sourced locally and change with the seasons, or even daily depending on what is delivered. The kitchenware is handmade and comes from a cooperative in Norfolk. The food is simple, fresh and delicious.

Part café, part grocery shop, you can eat in or take away. Weekend brunches and lunch times are especially popular, go early if you want to be sure to find a table. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back and the decor minimalist.

There are now 3 Rose Bakeries in Paris, the original one here on rue des Martyrs, one in the Marais and one inside the Bon Marché department store. They are also a great place to pick up English teabags, Marigold bouillon (which I have not managed to find anywhere else in Paris) and some great recipe books.

  • 46 rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris. metro: St Georges
  • 30 rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris. metro: Filles du Calvaire
  • le Bon Marché, 24 rue de Sevres, 75007 Paris. metro Sevres Babylone

Pain Poilane

Pain Poilane is reputed amongst many to be the best bread in Paris. A family run bakery established in 1932 in St Germain des Près, the bread is made the traditional way, using stone milled flour, water, sea salt from Brittany and yeast. Cooked in a wood fired oven, the big 2kg loaves are instantly recognizable, both in their texture and flavour.

Around 1000 loaves a day are exported to the US, Japan and the Middle East (I even heard a story about an American who loved it so much he placed an order to have a loaf couriered to him and then to his children in the US each week for life). You will often find it used for sandwiches in brasseries around the city, and you can buy a quarter or half a loaf if 2kg seems like too much!

  • 8 rue du Cherche Midi, 76006 Paris.  métro: Sevres Babylone or St Sulpice, closed Sunday
  • 49 Boulevard de Grenelle, 75015 Paris.  métro: Dupleix, closed Monday
  • 38 rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris. métro: Filles du Calvaire or St Sebastien Froissart, closed Monday

Japan meets Paris – Sadaharu Aoki

Imagine a tiny shop, filled with jewel coloured cakes, each more beautiful than the last. Then imagine the best of French patisserie, infused with Japanese flavours – green tea, yuzu, wasabi or sesame. To me it’s a match made in heaven.

Sadaharu Aoki has been living and working in Paris for the past 20 years. He has 3 shops (the one at Port Royal is also a tea room) and a stand at Lafayette Gourmet, as well as supplying many of the couture houses during fashion week.

I’m a die hard fan of Pierre Hermé macaroons, but I have to admit that Sadaharu Aoki’s are amazingly delicious too. I love the flavours he uses, particularly the wasabi, earl grey and thé matcha. Slightly firmer than Pierre Hermé’s, the flavours are intense and beautiful.

Drop into one of his shops if you get a chance, they are a visual feast and a wonderful treat for your taste buds!

  • Sadaharu Aoki, 35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris / 56 Bd de Port Royal, 75005 Paris     25 rue Pérignon, 75015 Paris / Lafayette Gourmet, Bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris

Where to find Sadaharu Aoki in Paris

Passage des Panoramas

I seem to be spending a lot of time in the covered passages around Paris at the moment, but as the days get shorter and colder they are lovely places to escape the chill. Recently I discovered the Passage des Panoramas, and was lucky enough that it was lunchtime, as it’s packed full with cafés and restaurants and is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat.

passage-des-panoramas-paris

Built in 1800, the Passage des Panoramas is the oldest of the covered passages in Paris. Like many of the others it feels like a tiny village hidden within the city. There’s a great choice of restaurants, many of them with tables spilling out into the passageway. It’s lively and full of atmosphere. And the food is pretty good too!

There’s a gluten free restaurant, grocery shop and take away – NoGlu – quite rare in France, that also has a bakery opposite. Of course we couldn’t resist a cake, or two…

There are also several shops to browse. If you’re nearby and it’s around lunch or tea time, drop in for a visit and something to eat, and then pop over to the Passage des Princes just nearby, especially if you have children, as it’s full of toy shops.

  • Passage des Panoramas, 11 Boulevard Montmartre / 158 Boulevard Montmartre / 10 rue St Marc / 38 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. metro: Grands Boulevards

Open daily 06:00 – midnight.

Eclairs in the Marais

Who can resist an eclair in Paris? Or anywhere else for that matter. I certainly can’t…

As we know, when it comes to food, the French take things to a different level, and eclairs of course are no exception. If you find yourself in the Marais, make a detour to the rue Pavée and a tiny shop called l’Eclair de Génie. You won’t regret it.

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The eclairs are absolutely beautiful, they look almost too good to eat. There is a wide array of delicious flavours and they change regularly so you can go back often and always find new ones.

I’ve been twice recently, the first time I chose raspberry, this time lemon and yuzu. Both were delicious! Get one and take it to the nearby Place des Vosges to enjoy on a bench. That way you get a double treat – eat an amazing French pastry in one of the most beautiful squares in the city.

  • l’Eclair de Génie, 14 rue Pavée, 75004 Paris.   metro: St Paul

Eclair de Genie website

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Tea time at Angelina

Angelina is a Parisian institution that has been around since 1903.

A beautiful Belle Epoque tea room, Angelina was opened by a confectioner and named after his daughter in law. The decoration inside the tea room has not changed to this day. It quickly became the fashionable place to be seen. Coco Chanel was a regular, she always sat at table number 10 by the mirror and legend has it she came every day for the hot chocolate. Marcel Proust was also often to be seen here, as were many of the great French couturiers.

It is not to be missed by anybody who takes their cakes and pastries seriously.

However my favourite thing at Angelina, and one of the things that has made it most famous, is the hot chocolate, known as l’Africain. It’s so thick you almost need a spoon to drink it, it’s beautifully rich and comes with a pot of whipped cream for even more indulgence. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, as is that of it’s other iconic treat, the Mont Blanc, a ball of meringue covered in cream and chestnut purée.

Be prepared to stand in line for the tea room on busy days, however it’s well worth the wait. There is also a beautiful shop selling all of their cakes to go, as well as bottles of the famous hot chocolate. Otherwise, you can skip the line and go straight into the shop, buy a cup of the hot chocolate and take it into the Tuileries just over the road to enjoy on a chair in the sunshine.

  • Angelina, 226 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

Angelina

Angelina can also be found in the Louvre, the Palace and Petit Trianon at Versailles, and the Luxembourg Gardens.

The farmer’s market in autumn

As the seasons change so do the fruit and vegetables available at the farmers markets in France. I love the way people still buy and eat locally and seasonally here, it encourages us to experiment with new foods and recipes, and ensures that what we eat is fresh and at it’s best. Even the colours have changed to match those of autumn!

When we lived in the countryside near Bordeaux, we would forage for mushrooms, wild leeks and salad leaves. We used the wild elderflower to make drinks and our cupboards were full of jams, fruits in syrup, dried mushrooms and fruit compotes. We even made fresh ice creams with fruits from the orchard. It’s much harder with a small Parisian garden, but local markets are all over the city and growers come from the countryside bringing fresh, local produce. You can find a market somewhere every day, just make sure you go in the morning, by lunchtime everyone has packed up and gone home.

And nowadays we can even find kale in Paris, thanks in a large part to this wonderful blog, The Kale Project. I used to grow it, and really missed it when I got back here. Running around Paris looking for it (use the great map on the blog) allowed me to discover all kinds of wonderful farmers markets that I may not have otherwise got to.

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The above photos were all taken at the Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais.

 

Berthillon on the Ile St Louis

Summer in Paris wouldn’t be the same without Berthillon ice cream. A family run establishment that has been situated on the Ile St Louis for 60 years, they are generally acknowledged to be the best in the city.

The list of flavours of ice creams and sorbets is incredibly long, and they are made with all natural ingredients, no preservatives or artificial sweeteners here. In a year they will produce over 60 different flavours, depending on the season. Their main shop is situated on the rue St Louis en l’Ile but they are sold by other shops on the island, we bought ours at one just around the corner to avoid the long lines.

Be careful, their main shop closes for the whole month of August! They are also closed Monday and Tuesday. The others retailers remain open though.

Make sure you don’t miss it – I can of course vouch for the fact that they are extremely delicious! Even friends who are not crazy about ice cream and who I insist try one end up agreeing they are wonderful.

  • Maison Berthillon, 31 rue St Louis en l’Ile, 75004 Paris. Metro: Pont Marie

Ice cream at Pierre Hermé

We’ve been back to Pierre Hermé, it’s hard to stay away…!
As the weather is so beautiful we decided to try the ice cream – I’ve been wanting to for a while, especially as it has such a fantastic name. Miss Gla Gla: ice cream in French is ‘glace’, and ‘gla gla’ is what tiny French children (or cartoon characters!) say when they are cold.

I chose Ispahan, which was originally the macaroon flavour which contributed to making him famous: rose, litchi and raspberry.

What can I say?

P1060557Heaven…

It’s sandwiched between 2 thin layers of macaroon and needless to say is amazingly delicious. Sitting on a shady bench on the square by St Sulpice Church on a Saturday afternoon and eating this was a real treat.

Miss Gla Gla is available all summer and there are several fantastic flavours to choose from, so don’t miss out!

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Pierre Hermé

  • 72 rue Bonparte, 75006 Paris. Metro: St Sulpice
  • 4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris. Metro: Concorde
  • 39 avenue de l’Opera, 75002 Paris. Metro: Pyramides or Opera

 

Cocktail party by Le Notre

The French have this wonderful thing called a ‘cocktail dinatoire’, which is drinks – usually champagne – accompanied by lots of little snacks, enough so that you don’t need to have a dinner. And in France food not only sometimes becomes an art form, but is always more than delicious.

The other evening I went to one catered by Le Notre. The food was so beautiful it almost seemed a pity to eat it.

Then I realised it would be impolite to not to try some, so I made sure I had one of each, at least.

They have several shops dotted around Paris. Maybe a good place to pick up a picnic! Or at least some good ideas…

Le Notre

The farmer’s market in early summer

One of the things I love about living in France is that people here enjoy eating food when it is in season. Of course you can get all types of fruits and vegetables all year round, but I like shopping the French way, going to the market and buying local produce when it is at it’s best.

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We look forward to the first French strawberries and asparagus in late May, and gorge ourselves on them knowing that the feast will soon be over. Not only does it mean you eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables throughout the year, but it really seems to add to the pleasure knowing that you only have a short window of time to enjoy them in. And of course they are always at their best just harvested, it’s hard to beat the first fresh apricot of early summer.

At this time of year we are spoilt for choice… below is what was on offer at the market in Chartres this morning. You can find markets in and around Paris every day of the week, many of them like this one with local producers selling what they grow. Just make sure you go in the mornings – by lunchtime everything and everyone will have disappeared.

 

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

Created in 1615 under Louis XIII, the Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest market in Paris. It was named after the orphans from the nearby orphanage – dressed in red as a sign of charity, and was set up to feed the new neighbourhood of the Marais.

Today it is a small but vibrant and diverse covered market. Saved by locals in 2000 who petitioned vigorously to have it reopened, it now houses various stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meats, bread and flowers, but also an eclectic range of eateries, always busy at lunchtime and a wonderful place to grab some lunch and sit on the terraces amongst the market stalls. I went on a Sunday, and had a choice of Japanese, Italian, Lebanese, Moroccan, farmers burgers, brunch, traditional French bistro fare, crepes or charcuterie and cheese plates from a wine bar. The atmosphere is lively and local, the setting picturesque (the market is now a listed historic monument) and the food delicious.

The market is located in the top end of the Marais, or ‘Haut Marais’, now even more fashionable and still less known to tourists than the lower end. A visit and lunch in the market followed by a stroll down through the lively southern end of the Marais is a great way to spend a day.

Open daily 8:30 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 19:30. Sunday 8:30 – 14:00. Closed Mondays.

  • Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris. Métro: Arts et Metiers

The best macaroons in Paris?

As far as I am concerned, Pierre Hermé is the king of macaroons, and believe me I have tried many…

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His shops are like tiny jewel boxes, filled with a mouth watering array of beautiful coloured gems, especially the one on the rue Bonaparte. He also makes the most beautiful and delicious cakes and chocolates, but the macaroons are what most people go for. Flavours change regularly with the seasons, so you can go often and never get bored. The thing that amazes me the most is how you can taste each flavour separately within often quite a complex mix, and yet they all harmonize together perfectly.

If you buy them in the shop on rue Cambon it’s just across from the Tuileries gardens, a perfect place to find a seat and enjoy them. If you’re at rue Bonaparte, the square outside St Sulpice church just opposite is lovely, and the café staff don’t seem to mind people having a coffee and eating them in there or on their terrace.

And this year I have discovered something even better, if you are a regular visitor to Paris, each month he brings out a new flavour in a series called ‘Les Jardins’. These are all based on fruit and flowers, and each time you buy one you get a card with it’s picture on. It’s a nice way to be encouraged to try new flavours, some strange sounding ones that I may have otherwise hesitated over turned out to be surprising discoveries!

Pierre Hermé

  • 72 rue Bonparte, 75006 Paris.  Metro: St Sulpice
  • 4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris.  Metro: Concorde
  • 39 avenue de l’Opera, 75002 Paris.  Metro: Pyramides or Opera

Where to buy Pierre Hermé macarons