I’ve read several theories on how Parisian women maintain their enviable figures. One theory is that they never eat until they are full but just until they are no longer hungry. In a city full of culinary delights, that takes some serious willpower! I tend to eat until my petrol tank is completely full not just enough to keep the engine running.
All the sweet temptations though are quite handy when you are walking around Paris with young, tired children. I hear that the French restrict children from snacking between meals. I, however, say “let them eat cake so long as they keep walking” – a much more pragmatic approach on holiday!
So, in the name of research, we decided to find some of the best Parisian sugar rushes. Here are our top 3 choices:
The old standbys, Laduree and Fauchon, are always good for standard varieties of macaroons such as vanilla and pistachio.
For something special, however, the winner has got to be Pierre Herme which has several branches in Paris (including Galeries Lafayette). He is a chef who has been lauded as the “Picasso of Patisserie” by French Vogue and has even written books on macaroons. They come in innovative flavours such as apricot and pistachio or olive oil and vanilla. I personally loved the caramel and rose variety, Mr N liked the chocolate and passionfruit and the children liked jasmine.
Yes, they taste as good as they look – lightly scented, a fluffy yet crispy shell and filled with generous, creamy ganache.
Apparently, the French are having an eclair “moment.” I say, anytime is an eclair moment. We found the best eclairs at this shop, L’eclair de Genie, tucked away in Le Marais. It’s apparently a concept store by French chef Christophe Adam – sure, whatever … hand over the eclairs, and no one gets hurt.
These eclairs are just divine – small, beautiful and scrumptious. Almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. They come in innovative flavours such as strawberry and chocolate or vanilla cream and caramelised pecan.
They are quite small (and hardly classify as good value for money) but that is not the point. We had ours cut in half to try each other’s flavours and they were all equally decadent. What a concept!
Jacques Grenin for chocolate and jellies
Although Pierre Herme does fabulous chocolate, I did not want to shortchange our Parisian chocolate tasting experience. So we dutifully trekked to the northern tip of Le Marais to Jacques Grenin for some of the best chocolates we have ever tasted. And let me assure you, I have tasted many a chocolate in my day.
The chocolates and fruit jellies are beautifully displayed. They are served up by black-clad and gloved sales people in chic silver metal boxes lined with black tissue. Customers wait patiently behind velvet rope lines and are guided to their server by a hostess. She might also serve bouncer duties because Parisians are famously impatient.
The store itself is achingly hip with exposed brick, industrial metal beams, wide-planked aged oak floors, red velvet curtains, marble bathrooms and a marvellous modern brushed steel circular staircase. You feel like you are in a high end clothes boutique.
You can munch on chocolates (and cakes) and sip delicious tea and coffee in the cafe area as you take in the sight of chocolate raised to an art form. If you are a discerning chocolate lover like Mr. N, this store is heaven. I consider myself more of a every-chocolate-is-special type but even I could admit they were something phenomenal.
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