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 →

Jean-Paul Hevin: Chocolate Heaven

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Chocolate is serious business in France. In fact, the country’s prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition, held every four years and honoring only the very best craftsmen in the nation, includes a specific category for chocolatiers. And Paris is arguably the hub of French chocolatiers—and sheer heaven for chocolate lovers. There are many boutiques run by world-class chocolatiers in the City of Light that should not be missed by sweets connoisseurs. And near the top of that list is the mini-chain of shops operated by MOF chocolatier Jean-Paul Hevin. Continue Reading →

Lafayette Gourmet: An Epicurean Delight

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There are countless Parisian destinations that provide the highest-quality French food items and cooking products—even for us amateur home chefs—including G. Detou, Hediard, Fauchon, La Grande Epicerie de Paris at Le Bon Marche and scores of smaller specialty shops and boutiques throughout the City of Light. But one epicurean destination I keep returning to time and time again is Lafayette Gourmet, the high-end food hall operated by the venerable Galeries Lafayette department store on the Boulevard Haussmann. And it’s because Continue Reading →

I Always Say “Oui” to Charcuterie

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Whenever I’m in Paris, I indulge in charcuterie platters as often as I can. Continue Reading →

Perfect Confit de Canard? Head to Chez Dumonet

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One of the many French staples served at restaurants, bistros and brasseries throughout Paris is confit de canard (duck confit)—a leg of duck that’s salt-cured and then cooked in its own fat. It seems that it’s practically a requirement that every cook in the city makes and sells this dish. But truth be told, most Parisian eateries serve a poorly cooked canard. More often than not, you’re served a piece of duck with rubbery skin and super-greasy meat or one that’s so overcooked that it’s dry as toast. Fortunately, there are a handful of restaurants in Paris that know how to prepare a perfect confit de canard with crisp, crackling skin and moist, succulent meat, and one of the very best is Chez Dumont in the 6th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Desserts Rule at Le Loir dans la Theiere in the Marais

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The amazing Le Loir dans la Theiere in the Marais is among my very favorite dessert spots in all of the City of Light. This funky, gay-friendly tea room offers a daily changing menu of homemade tarts and cakes, usually with five or six choices available for €8.50 and discounted to just €6.50 after 4 p.m.—if any are left. There’s usually at least a couple of desserts remaining, but if you don’t want to take a chance on missing out, show up around lunchtime when the selection is abundant. Delicious! Continue Reading →

Breton Cuisine, Funky Art at Page 35 Restaurant

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In the heart of the Marais lies a wonderful Breton restaurant that’s as popular for its food as it is for the rotating exhibitions of artwork by a cadre of international graphic artists that line its colorful walls. Page 35, located just opposite the quaint Square Louis Achille, is a hugely popular neighborhood destination for locals, including many families with children in tow. It’s also a hit with Paris’s LGBT community, often drawing a large crowd of trendy gays and lesbians attracted to Page 35’s funky, contemporary vibe and artistic atmosphere. And despite its prime location near several prominentsight-seeing destinations (the Picasso museum, Place des Vosges, the Musee Carnavalet and the many trendy boutiques on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, to name a few), the restaurant is rarely visited by tourists. So if you’re hoping to experience Paris as a local, you’ve definitely come to the right place at Page 35. You’re also in luck if you’re a history buff, as the gorgeous 17th century building that houses the restaurant is steeped in French history. Continue Reading →

Taste the Dessert Revolution at L’Atelier de l’Eclair

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Eclairs today are to Paris what cupcakes have been for the past half-decade to the U.S.—the latest dessert trend. Sure, there are many French pastries and baked goods that are eaten far more often that eclairs by Parisians. Macarons chiefly come to mind, but there are also madeleines, financiers and even croissants and pain au chocolat, all of which are perennial favorites in the City of Light. But much as the humble cupcake rose to beloved status in the U.S. and spawned an entire cottage industry of elaborate, inventive cupcake creation, so has the ordinary eclair led to a revolution in crafting these torpedo-like pastries in Paris. One of the best places in the city to experience this new fad is L’Atelier de l’Eclair (The Eclair Workshop) in the Montorgueil neighborhood.] of the 2nd Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →