Quatrehomme: Arguably Paris’s Best Cheese Shop

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Parisians and tourists alike have their favorite cheese shops, and commit to them with a fierce loyalty. But a consensus for one of the city’s best — and possibly the best — is Quatrehomme, a mini-chain of fromageries founded in 1953 with its headquarters at the incomparable Quatrehomme: La Maison du Fromage on the Rue de Sevres in the 7th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Saint Honore Pastry: A Classic French Dessert

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An iconic French pastry—and one I always order multiple times when I visit Paris—is the Saint Honore, a decadent dessert made of puff pastry, pate a choux (cream-puff dough), creme chiboust (a thick pastry cream made with stiffened egg whites) and creme Chantilly (the French term for whipped cream). Named after the patron saint of French patissiers this stacked pastry comes in such flavors as caramel (also called the “classic” Saint Honore), pistachio, rose-raspberry, chocolate, vanilla-chocolate, chocolate-strawberry and pistachio-sour cherry. Continue Reading →

Fantastic Fromage at La Fermette

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Fromage! Like so many other visitors to France, I have fallen in love with French cheese. Brie de Meaux. Camembert. Epoisses. Reblochon. Bleu d’Auvergne. Chaource. You name it, and I’ve tried it—and loved it. Even what some call “stinky foot cheese.” While every fromagerie in the City of Light carries the most popular cheeses, there are two Parisian fromageries that I go to again and again when I want to sample my favorites or try something new: La Fermette on Rue Montorgueil and Fromagerie Quatrehomme on Rue de Sevres. Continue Reading →

The Medici Fountain: A Luxembourg Gardens Gem

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Many tourists in Paris make a trip to gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th Arrondissement to admire its exquisite landscaping, children playing with toy boats on its circular basin, more than 100 statues and other monuments scattered throughout the park’s nearly 57 acres and the ornate Luxembourg Palace, which today serves as home to the French Senate. One of the true gems of the Luxembourg Gardens, however, is not as frequently visited—the Medici Fountain. And that’s a shame, because the fountain is not only beautiful, but is deeply rooted in Paris’s rich history. Continue Reading →

Porte Saint-Denis: Once a Medieval Gate to Paris

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Not as large or well-known as the Arc de Triomphe, the Porte Saint-Denis is another massive arch in Paris that is well worth checking out. Technically a “porte” and not an “arc” since it marks the site of an ancient gate through ramparts surrounding Paris’s Right Bank, the Porte Sainte-Denise was designed by sculptor Michel Anguier and architect Francois Blondel in 1672 when the fortification was razed. The engravings and reliefs on the structure symbolize King Louis XIV’s military victories in the Netherlands and along the Rhine River. Continue Reading →

A Visit to the Home of the Man Who Saved Notre Dame

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A great—and free!—way to spend a delightful and informative hour or two while in the City of Light is to visit the one-time home of one of the most famous of all Parisians: artist, poet and author Victor Hugo. Hugo lived in a 17th century mansion overlooking the gorgeous Place des Vosges in the Marais for 16 years, from 1832 to 1848. In fact, it was at his second-floor apartment in this very house that Hugo penned one of his most famous works, the novel Les Miserables. But perhaps his most significant work is the novel Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame), a book that is credited with saving Notre Dame Cathedral from possible demolition. Continue Reading →

Paris’s Oldest Candy Store: A la Mere de Famille

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Some of the best chocolatiers in the world live in and operate out of Paris, including such renowned chocolate makers as Christian Constant, Michel Cluziel, Pierre Herme, Jean-Paul Hevin and Patrick Roger, to name just a few. But in addition to the shops operated by these sultans of sweets, there’s another chocolate emporium that is highly regarded by Parisians and well worth a visit by any tourist to the City of Light—the A la Mere de Famille chain of boutiques. Specifically, the Rue du Faubourg-Montmatre outlet in the 9th Arrondissement, which is the oldest chocolate shop in Paris, founded in 1761. Yes, this charming and enormously photogenic shop, both inside and out, has been open for 254 years. Continue Reading →

Saint-Michel Fountain: Well Worth a Short Detour

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Just a stone’s throw from the Sainte Chapelle church is one of Paris’s most glorious “monumental” fountains that is surprisingly not as popular among tourists as other sights in the area—the Fontaine Saint-Michel. Although many guidebooks include the fountain in their sight-seeing recommendations, it usually doesn’t fall on traveler’s “must-see” lists for the City of Light, particularly for first-time visitors. And that’s a shame, because a less-than-five-minute stroll from either Sainte-Chapelle or equality popular Notre Dame puts you directly on the charming Place de Saint-Michel, which is dominated by the gorgeous (and extremely photogenic) fountain at its southern end. Continue Reading →

Le Grand Palais: A Lot More Than Just a Pretty Photo

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Here’s a paradox that is very specific to the City of Light: One of Paris’s buildings that is among the most photographed by sight-seers is also one of the city’s facilities that is least visited by tourists. If you’ve been to Paris, chances are you’ve had a glimpse (and taken multiple photos) from Les Invalides, the Orsay Museum, the Champs Elysees or especially from the ornate Pont Alexandre III. Any guesses what it might be? Continue Reading →

Place des Vosges: Paris’s Most Beautiful Square

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There are many beautiful parks, squares and “places” throughout Paris, each with its own special charm. But ask a Parisian–or even a visitor to the City of Light–to name Paris’s most beautiful square, and the answer is routinely the Place des Vosges. Continue Reading →