Old-World and Jewish Goodies at Sacha Finkelsztajn

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Prior to World War II, the Marais was the center of Jewish life in Paris and the Rue des Rosiers (Street of the Rose Bushes) was the heart of this Jewish enclave. But much has changed in the old Jewish quarter over the past 70 years. The street now boasts considerably more trendy and overpriced boutiques (even a number of international chain stores) than Jewish businesses. But there are still remnants of Paris’s once-thriving Jewish district along the five block-long street and its adjacent lanes: the Agudath Hakehilot orthodox synagogue, Judaica bookstores Librairie Bibliophane and Diasporama, and a number of kosher restaurants and delis. A must-stop destination among these is Sacha Finkelsztajn, a bakery and delicatessen dubbed by locals as La Boutique Jaune (the yellow shop)—so-named because of its bright yellow facade—that’s been operated by the same family for nearly 60 years. Continue Reading →

Rue Quincampoix: A Perfect Medieval Parisian Street

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One of the most enjoyable experiences in Paris is to wander along a medieval, cobblestone lane lined with ancient stone buildings and massive arched doorways that is so narrow that is seems barely able to accommodate a Smart Car, much less any other modern mode of transportation. Yes, you can certainly meander the City of Light’s many streets—particularly those in the twisty, turny Marais—to find your own favorite byways to stroll. Actually, one of the most popular tourist experiences is “getting lost” in Paris’s charming neighborhoods and stumbling across that perfect Parisian street on your own. But there’s a quaint, ancient lane that’s literally within a stone’s throw of a major tourist destination that somehow escapes most visitors’ attentions—and yet delivers wholly on that medieval Parisian experience: the tiny Rue Quincampoix just west of the Pompidou Center. And it’s well worth a visit. Continue Reading →

Tracing the History of the Croque Monsieur Sandwich

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As anyone who has visited Paris knows, a very popular lunchtime meal at cafes and smaller eateries in the City of Light—and indeed throughout all of France—is the croque monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich that is one of the true staples of simple French cuisine. But how did it become such a famous French dish and land on the menus of countless casual restaurants? No one knows for sure, but a commonly accepted story involves a brasserie on Paris’s Boulevard des Capucines, a shortage of baguettes for that day’s lunchtime crowd, and the presence of the neighborhood butcher in the eatery when a patron asked about the newly created sandwich. Continue Reading →