The 'must' of Parisian boutiques
Is Paris anything but a food-lover's bliss? Is the Eiffel Tower monumentally-challenged? Maryanne Blacker takes you on a gastronomic trail.
Whether tucked down side streets or perched on corners you’ll find mouth-watering treats from velvety cheeses and crusty breads to olive oils and ice-creams. You can't fail to bump into a few on any stroll through the city neighbourhoods, or to hear about one or another person's secret address at any meal gathering.
But here are some of the special foody places — la crème de la Parisian crème, if you follow — which we suggest you make a bee-line to, and especially if you're cooking dinner for French friends tonight!
Barthélemy (51 rue de Grenelle, Paris, 7th, 01 45 48 56 75) is a yellow, crumb-sized shop specialising in cheese. No more than three customers constitutes a crowd and there’s always at least that plus white-coated assistants. Barthélemy’s legendary rounds of Vacherin only appear in winter while buttons of chèvre (goat’s cheese) coated in cumin, paprika, pepper, raisins, nuts, cinnamon, pepper and caraway are prepared downstairs year round and there’s always a raw milk camembert, heady brie or blue on hand. There are cheese trays perfect for dinner parties, too.
Now, for the bread. Lionel Poilâne is probably the best known baker in France … the pain poilâne that you see on menus everywhere across the country — that’s his wholemeal *quote1*sour dough bread. Connoisseurs will cross town to buy it fresh from the oven at 8 rue du Cherche-Midi in the 6th or 49 bld de Grenelle in the 15th. He is, quite simply, the king of bread. You can also order decorated breads (pain décoré): huge loaves with wheat sheaves atop for a buffet or individual rolls with people’s names on them, an unusual and edible substitute for place cards! Orders need to be placed at least two days in advance.
Fancy some vinaigrette for your mignonette? Try L’Olivier (23 rue de Rivoli, Paris 4th, 01 48 04 86 59). Here, the bottles of extra virgin French olive oi (cold pressed of course) bob with basil leaves, lemon peel, whole chillies, garlic, wild mushrooms, fennel and Provençal herbs. There are organic oils, too, along with sunflower, sesame, hazelnut and almond. Then, there’s the vinegar: cider, Xérès, red wine, white wine with tarragon, peppercorns or berries. Salad days are here again (almost!) They even have polished wooden bowls and matching servers so you just need to provide the greenery. Founded in 1822, L’Olivier’s workshop is in the heart of the olive groves near Nice.
If it’s truffle oil, or truffle anything, you want, then La Maison de la Truffe (19 pl de la Madeleine, 8th, 01 42 65 53 22) has it. Preserved truffles are available year round and from November to March the freshly dug fungus are on hand. You can eat in, too, in the tiny restaurant.
Sweet tooths adore A la Mère de Famille (35 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 9th), perhaps the oldest, probably the prettiest, chocolate shop in Paris. The chocolate creations include the irresistible Délices de la Mère with almond and rum raisin filling. And, if you’re *quote2*on the lookout for a gift, you’ll find boxes of biscuits and caramel-coated pralines and jars of gem-coloured jams. Chocofiles shouldn’t miss La Maison du Chocolate at 52 rue François 1st in the 8th arrondissement where you can indulge in a sublime iced chocolate and follow it with choc pastries and cakes, or buy them to take home.
Bertillon (31 rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile, 4th) is justifiably famous in French ice-cream circles. Fans think nothing of lining up for hours in the melting sun or icy wind for a cone of bitter chocolate ice-cream, wild strawberry sorbet, or one of 70 other life-enhancing flavours. Go in pairs, that way one can keep a place in the queue while the other peruses the list and checks out the departing boules (scoops). Roam the narrow streets of the 17thC Ile St-Louis once you have your cone of pink grapefruit or rich honey and nut nougat firmly in hand and mouth.
© Expatica France
Subject: France, shopping, food