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So, you think you know Paris? There are hundreds of memorable streets and boulevards in the City of Light. But, for my money, Rue Montorgueil is the best. It is compact, only 3 blocks long, with a Metro stop on each end. In between you have dozens of the kinds of places that symbolize Parisian culture: cafes, high end restaurants, cheese shops, chocolate shops, wine stores, patisseries, a couple of neighborhood type groceries, all topped with classic Parisian apartment buildings. And, what makes it even more unique, it is a pedestrian-only street. For my wife and I, who have always stayed in smaller hotels in years past, it was a throwback to the Paris we first saw 40 years ago. In fact, this street is just off Les Halles, where the heartbeat of Paris was once found in the colorful and vibrant market district. The old Les Halles is now gone, moved to the suburbs. But, there are a few places where the old self-contained neighborhoods still exist, and Rue Montorgueil is the finest example. You won't see many tourists with cameras here. Most are a few blocks away at the Pompidou Center or a short metro ride away at the Louvre or Notre Dame. What you will find is Stohers, the oldest Patisserie in France, where baba au rhum was first made, and eclairs that are world famous. And, this is just one of many gourmet surprises. We just spent a week in an apartment on this street, and fell in love with Paris all over again.
by Samuel Fromartz “People can either be over-the-top romantic about Paris, or they think life is ridiculous here,” says David Lebovitz. “I try to strike a middle ground.” Lebovitz, an American, worked for 13 years in the pastry department at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, then moved to Paris to launch a second career as a writer, blogger, and occasional culinary tour guide. The author of six self-referential cookbooks, Lebovitz most recently published The Sweet Life in Paris, a collection of recipes and stories about life in his adopted city. During a day off from my tour of duty with Arnaud Delmontel (read “Time to Rise“), I wandered through Paris with Lebovitz to pick up some foodie tips. We met at Du Pain et des Idées (34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42- 40-44-52), an artisan boulangerie founded by Christophe Vasseur, a fashion executive turned baker. For bread, Lebovitz’s other favorite boulangeries include Eric Kayser (85 Boulevard Malesherbes, 8th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-45-22-70-30; plus other locations around Paris) and La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc (83 Rue de Crimée, 19th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42-40-64-55). As we walked and talked, Lebovitz insisted we stop for an afternoon snack of chouquettes, palm-size cream puffs covered with sugar and baked until brown. We picked up 10 of them, studded with chocolate chips, at the pâtisserie Aux Péchés Normands (9 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, 10th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42-08-47-73). When I asked Lebovitz about the most pleasing pastry he’s had lately, he mentioned Alsatian kugelhopf, a semisweet confection somewhere between a cake and a bread, spiked with rum and almonds. It’s available at Vandermeersch (278 Avenue Daumesnil, 12th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-43-47-21-66). “The only problem is that they just make them on weekends, so I have to wait all week to get one,” he said. And his favorite morning pastry? The bostock, a disk of light almond cake topped with crackly almonds, which Lebovitz picks up at Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-40-75-08-75). Photographs by Brian Doben. This appeared in the premiere issue, 2009. Read “13 Tips for Visiting a Paris Boulangerie.”
The historic Androuet fromagerie has been sourcing and maturing exceptional cheeses since 1909. Their shop on rue Mouffetard is staffed by friendly English-speakers who will be happy to explain and vacuum-seal your selections, including the utterly charming manager Patrick who grew up on a goat farm. He wrote a book called "Allo les Chèvres!" (Good Morning Goats!) and makes his own fromage fort (strong cheese paste) on site. 134 rue Mouffetard, 33/(0)1-4587-8505. Photo courtesy of Parisbymouth.com
Now you can sample the cuisine of celebrated local chefs by visiting their walk-in wine bars. Braden Perkins eases his elegant culinary style at Verjus’s downstairs bar (47 Rue de Montpensier), where groups share small plates of succulent pork belly and veggie dumplings. This fall, chef Pierre Jancou, shown, reopens Vivant (43 Rue des Petites Écuries). Next door, Vivant Cave will serve charcuterie, daily specials such as rabbit and andouillette, and natural wines. Photo by Marie Hennechart. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
Frenchie is nearly impossible to get into, but the wine bar across the street provides a taste of chef Gregory Marchand’s housemade charcuterie and pasta, and small plates such as blackened mackerel and burrata cheese with peaches. 6 Rue du Nil, 33/(0) 1-4039-9619. Photo courtesy of Parisbymouth.com
You'd think that having a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (a prestigious crafstman title) at the helm of a restaurant would imply steep prices but at Semilla, you're in for one of the best meals and best deals. The international influence is strong here, where Ferrandi-trained chefs serve up modern interpretations of classic French dishes in a stunning open kitchen. The crowd is mixed, the service is smooth and attentive and the bread, an important element to any meal in France, is rustic and hearty - baked fresh in the adjacent sandwich shop run by the same owners. But the most unique aspect to the menu at Semilla is the option of half-portions on a selection of dishes. It's tapas with a twist and suitable for all tastes - meat, fish or veggie. The left bank is far more interesting (and delicious) thanks to Semilla. Open 7 days a week. (Be sure to call ahead and don't miss out on the shiitake mushrooms!)
The Louvre is at once spectacular and intimidating, and for art novices, the sheer size of its collection may even prove anxiety-inducing. To avoid shuffling through each corridor aimlessly, it's wise to visit armed with an itinerary, or even a guide, to create a tour according to what you'd most like to see. Thanks to one New York expat, there's now a third option. Daisy de Plume (yes, a pseudonym!), art fanatic and entrepreneur, launched THATLou (Treasure Hunt at the Louvre) as a way to give purpose to touring the museum (and make it fun!). She runs a hunt open to the general public on the first Sunday of each month and several thematic hunts throughout the month. Beyond its value as a unique way to explore pieces of history, THATLou is a great way to meet new people. Note: some tours are bilingual, others are all in French. Consult the "Menu of Hunts" for more information.
The Paris café scene has always been compelling, but the actual café (coffee) is often forgettable. That's all changing, thanks to places like Coutume, Kookaboora and Telescope, where obsessive (and often mustachioed) baristas are redefining the French coffee tradition. Using freshly roasted beans and frothy Normandy milk, they're producing delicious fuel for the real raison d'être for any Parisian café—the people watching. Coutume, 47 Rue de Babylone, 33/(0) 1-4551-5047. Kookaboora, 53 Avenue Trudaine, 33/(0) 1-5692-1241. Telescope, 5 rue Villedo. Photo courtesy of Parisbymouth.com.
When deciding where to stay on my first two week trip to Paris, I had some very stringent criteria. I wanted the local experience and felt that a flat was more likely to offer that. So I eagerly began my search for something in a very safe and central location. When I spotted such a flat on I'le Saint Loius, I was sold. The island is located in the middle of the Seine and just across the bridge from I'le de la Cite, the very center of Paris. I'le Saint Louis is the perfect location to explore all the wonders of Paris. What I didn't expect was the wonderful small village charm of the island. You can literally find almost everything you need on this tiny piece of real estate. Patisseries, boulangeries and fromageries abound. There are dozens of boutiques, cafes, creperies and bistros. The plethora of ice cream and gelato stores is enough to put one into a diabetic coma. The island even boasts its own exquisite church and the tiny colorful florist shop above. I'le Saint Louis became my home away from home for two glorious weeks, while I lived my Parisian dream. For two weeks I lived among both locals and tourists and came to know the shopkeepers by name. I have no doubt that staying on this little piece of heaven made my trip a more memorable one... It could do the same for you.
My friend, who lives in Paris, told me about this Boulangerie, Du Pain et des Idees, so in my latest visit to Paris in June, I had to go there and try it for myself. We bought cheese in a local outdoor market and then got some bread and cakes and headed for a picnic lunch on one of the benches near Canal St. Martin. If you love boulangeries, don't skip this one. Highly recommended!
A two-course lunch costs only 13 euros at this new gastropub. The menu changes all the time, but I like the pumpkin soup, the squid risotto, and the faisselle (fresh soft cheese) with maple syrup. —Matali Crasset 4 rue Lemon, arr. 20, 33/(0) 1-71-32-71-77. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Mari Bastashevski. Read more about Matali Crasset's Belleville neighborhood.
The great macaron debate may forever wage on but from the first time I tucked into a small box of Pierre Hermé's dimunitive cookies, perfectly crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside, I knew I'd remain loyal to his interpretation. Perhaps best known for his unique flavors - foie gras and chocolate, lemon and fennel, vanilla and basil among many others - it's his Ispahan croissant - with rose almond paste and crushed raspberry flakes - that really keeps me going back.
Booking a room at Le Relais Saint-Germain, managed by the beloved chef Yves Camdeborde, is the only surefire way to score a table at his bistro next door, Le Comptoir. Each hotel room is dedicated to a prominent author who was inspired by Paris, and guests enjoy a satisfying Basque breakfast. You’re also just steps away from L’Avant Comptoir wine bar, Patrick Roger chocolates, and other Saint-Germain food pilgrimage sites. From $344. 9 Carrefour de L’Odéon, 33/(0) 1-4427-0797.
There is nearly always a line at Angelina's on Rue de Rivoli, but you don't have to wait to enjoy her luscious pastries, certainly not when the Jardin des Tuileries beckons you from across the street. Step through the crowd, walk about to the glass, pick your fancy and head out to the garden to people watch as you enjoy your patisserie made in heaven!
Paris boasts an unusual elevated park, La Promenade Plantée, built atop an abandoned elevated railway viaduct in the 12th arrondissement. The Promenade starts a block east of the Place de la Bastille, just beyond the Opera Bastille, and stretches for 2.9 elevated miles. What a clever way to create green space in a neighborhood that badly needed more! The Promenade features many roses, trellises, shrubs, and trees and is amply provided with benches for relaxing. It is a unique experience to stroll along peering into third story windows while enjoying the flowers, foliage, and architectural detail up close. The work required to create this park is impressive. Landscape architect Jacques Vergely and architect Philippe Mathieux designed the Promenade, which opened in 1993. The arcades of the Viaduc des Arts were renovated in 1989. The Promenade was the only elevated park in the world until the famous Highline in the Chelsea area of Manhattan copied the idea, opening in 2010. Chicago and Philadelphia plan to follow suit with similar elevated parks built on old railway viaducts. On a spring day, people from the neighborhood sit and chat, a jogger trots by, and office workers enjoy their lunches in the sunshine. At the Bastille end, arts and crafts shops are nestled in the viaduct arches under the parkway, called the Viaduc des Arts. After an elevated stroll, it is fun to window shop.
Paris wine shops routinely host free tastings, often led by the growers who make the wine. Paris by Mouth publishes a calendar of tastings, but two shops can be depended upon to have something interesting on the weekends: Les Caves Augé and La Dernière Goutte. The latter has a mainly French clientele but, because it's run by Juan Sanchez, a Cuban-American who has been in Paris for more than 20 years, the winery prides itself in helping English-speakers discover the wonderful wines of France. Les Caves Augé, 116 Boulevard Haussmann, 33/(0) 1-4522-1697; La Dernière Goutte, 6 Rue de Bourbon le Château, 33/(0) 1-4329-1162, ladernieregoutte.net. Photo courtesy of Parisbymouth.com
My wife and two friends were tired of "museums" so they mistakenly decided to go shopping while I went to the Rodin Museum alone. It was breathtaking, the flowers were all in full bloom, the art on display inside was rare and beautiful, but the sculptures outside were displayed the way art should be seen. Here in three planes is the original design by Eiffel for the Tower, Rodin's Thinker, and mid ground with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The gardens were just perfect, and I was sorry for my friends who'd decided to go into a department store to shop instead.
Shops and bakeries are introducing spruced-up versions of classic Parisian foods. Here are the best addresses to try traditional and eclectic takes on three iconic French treats. 1. CROISSANT The Classic: The flaky pastries from Poilâne are made with rich French butter and fired in a wood-burning oven. 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 33/(0) 14-548-4259, poilane.com The Twist: Sadaharu Aoki sweetens his pastry layers with green tea powder. The black sesame éclair is also delicious. 35 Rue de Vaugirard, 33/(0) 14-544-4890, sadaharuaoki.com 2. BAGUETTE The Classic: Sébastien Mauvieux, who supplies President François Hollande with his daily bread, won the honors for best baguette in Paris at this year’s Grand Prix. 159 Rue Ordener, 33/(0) 14-262-7670 The Twist: Baker Gontran Cherrier uses squid ink to turn his baguette black before rolling it in sesame seeds. 22 Rue Caulaincourt, 33/(0) 14-606- 8266, gontrancherrierboulanger.com 3. MACARON The Classic: Ladurée has lured cookie enthusiasts since 1862 with traditional flavors such as chocolate and salted butter caramel. 16 Rue Royale, 33/(0) 14-260-2179, laduree.fr The Twist: Pierre Hermé surprises customers by sneaking asparagus and foie gras flavors into his creations. 72 Rue Bonaparte, 33/(0) 14-354-4777, pierreherme.comIllustration by Michael Hoeweler. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
My check list when traveling to a new city: 1. Taste from the local markets. 2. See the "must see" sights 3. Eat the traditional cuisine. 4. Go to the highest point. Only having four days in Paris, this is the check list I accomplished. 4. Go to the highest point. This is Basilica del Sacro Cuore just above The Dali Museum, Moulin Rouge, and dozen of other attractions. Paying the small price to get to take the journey up small passage ways to the 360-degree view of Paris was nothing. Every shot was gorgeous but nothing as incredible as the Tower Eiffel would have had the impact this photograph does. It inspired me to feel on top of the world.
It had been years since I last stumbled upon the Passage du Grand Cerf in the 2nd, a long and narrow gallery of creative shops. Though I wasn't the only shopper, part of me felt like I had happened upon an untouched jewel. If I share this spot today it's because I know it will charm those seeking an original memento that lives outside the well-worn Paris souvenir vacuum. Like a much younger version of myself in a candy store, I spun from wall to wall admiring the original posters, prints and greeting cards, wishing I had more free space on my walls to hang something new. Considering my Francophile friend in Brooklyn, I opted instead for a spacious canvas tote painted with an illustration of Paris's 20 arrondissements - the last one in stock. On this particular day, the space glowed for the holiday season, bedecked in warm, yellow twinkle lights, wreaths and garlands. Though filled with last minute shoppers, the only sound to be heard was the clanging of tiny bells hanging from shop doors and the ensuing chorus of "bonnes fêtes" (happy holidays). Outside an antiques shop, vintage ornaments spilled over the edge of old baskets just waiting to be snatched up. I ambled along past card stores and independent clothing boutiques, stopping in my tracks as I arrived in front of L'Illustre Boutique, a charming little shop specialized in limited edition illustrations by French artists.
Silvia Beach opened the original Shakespeare and Company in 1919. Forced to close during the German Occupation of Paris in WWII because she refused to sell books to a German officer, the bookstore was reborn in August of 1951 when George Whitman decided to turn his collection of books into a library and then store. The employees are ex pats that work in the bookstore by day because they sleep under its roof by night. All artists looking for a place to tuck in, while following their dreams in the City of Light. The history and the spirit of this bookshop brings you in, but the tiled floors, wishing well, hidden nooks and poetry readings keep you coming back for more. It was Sylvia Beach that risked everything and published James Joyce's Ulysses, so it is no surprise that there's an annual Bloomsday celebration here at Shakespeare and Company. In the spirit of all things literary, make sure you visit this exceptional bookstore next to Notre Dame on your next visit to Paris. Make Walt Whitman's ghost proud by honoring his late son's institution to all things creative.
Passages were designed in the 19th century to give Parisians protection from mud and horse-drawn vehicles. The Passage Verdeau is one of the remaining 100 passages in Paris. There are only about 20 passages which are still left until today and they are an excellent way to journey back into Parisian history. Located across from Passage Jouffroy in the Les Grands Boulevards area of Paris, Passage Verdeau has shops carrying antique cameras, books, and engravings. The passage takes its name from Sir Verdeau, one of the promoters and shareholders of the who also was the inventor of the concept of linen rentals for hotels. Many of passage entrances are easy to miss, so be on the lookout! Sometimes where you emerge at the other end can be quite a surprise! Many are closed at night and on Sundays. Not only are passages free but they are great on a rainy day.
Most visitors venture to the Marais for two things: falafel and shopping. I go for the gelato. Unlike the majority of Italian ice cream shops who brandish their mountainous flavors in the windows to entice passersby, Pozzetto (Italian owned and run) stores their ice cream in wells which allows for precise temperature and texture control. The menu never exceeds 12 flavors (all-natural, prepared daily) which means you're guaranteed the highest quality scoops possible. If, like me, you enjoy an espresso with your dessert, head inside their shop - they have some of the finest brews in town.
Paris is rife with some of the most magnificent spots to watch the sun dip behind the horizon and recently, I discovered that one of the most awe-inspiring among them was at the world's most visited museum. Watch as the Louvre, inside and out, is suffused with golden light and illuminates I.M Pei's glass pyramid.
A quick 40-minute train ride from the Gare de Lyon in central Paris takes you to one of the best day trips out of the city: a forest preserve surrounding a palace that dates back nine centuries. The Forêt de Fontainebleau offers a hundred square miles of protected land for hiking, biking, and horseback-riding—all surrounding the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau. Although a castle has been here since the 1100s, most of the current construction dates from the Renaissance. Site of Napoléon I's abdication in 1814, this château is much less crowded than Versailles. When I lived in Paris, this was the closest 'wilderness' available. If you want a break from the hectic urbanity of Paris, come to Fontainebleau mid-week; you'll feel as if you have a forest and château to yourself.
These days a lot of the bridges in Paris (and now other cities in Europe) are full of love locks. Some people don't like them. Whether you agree or not they are certainly fun to look at! I prefer studying the ones on Pont des Arts, it is pedestrian bridge without cars and you can take your time. The locks are from all over the world, each one representing someone's love story. It is an absolutely free way to enjoy Paris bridges, the Seine and the celebration of love!
This exquisite jewel box of a chapel is located inside the Conciergerie on Ile St.Louis in the middle of the Seine. Seek it out. If you come to Notre Dame, you are steps away. It is tiny and well hidden, but worth the effort to find. There are actually two chapels: one downstairs (servants' chapel) and this one upstairs with its amazing masterpieces of stained glass for the royalty.
Hold forth with the French about coffee and you'll quickly understand its purpose. It's not meant to be consumed leisurely but rather serves to clean the palate after a hearty meal. They think of it as a digestif which they tend to down in one slurp. It's wincingly acrid and unpleasant, only worth ordering for the accompanying speculoos cookie or chocolate covered almond. For someone as fanatic about quality coffee as me, the java scene was dismal when I arrived 6 years ago. Things improved drastically a few years ago with a couple of roasters diving in to shake things up but it's Télescope, which opened in the spring by Nicolas Clerc and American barista David Flynn a few blocks from the Palais Royal gardens, that peddles what I think are the most expertly prepared artisanal coffee drinks in town. Their claim to fame: filtered coffee. It may look innocuous, even weak, but the strong, rich notes in each cup put the average French brew to shame. It quickly became my weekly hangout. Though the space is small, its affable owners give it heart. They know my drink - a noisette with an occasional iced coffee (filtered!) - and my vacation plans. It's the neighborhood place I always dreamed of frequenting and whether or not it's actually around the corner from you, it merits your time.
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