Dreaming of Parisian Pastries!!

When one thinks of freshly baked treats of Paris, images of croissants, macarons, crepes and baguettes dance in your mind…well, at least for me!! Let me tell you, I definitely enjoy some of each!

While spending the week for French language classes, I did a lot of exploring by foot. I purposely didn’t do much research for the ‘must try’ food locations because I wanted to see what I’d discover as I went about town. I think I got really lucky with the places I got to try out!! Take a look at some of the fantastic treats below…

I arrived on a Sunday morning and as soon as I checked into my hotel, I was told about the local, organic farmer’s market held Sundays, le marché Raspail, just a few minutes from my hotel! I headed straight there and the first thing I ordered in Paris were crepes with homemade jams!!

I loved popping in those delicious pastry shops almost as much as I like shopping for shoes! The delicate pastries and cakes were beautifully displayed behind spotless glass domes, some were enhanced with mirrors and of course perfect lighting…wait, could I be in a jewelry store instead??

While walking along the east side of the 7th Arrondissement, I noticed the round display table with unique glass domes  in La Pâtisserie des Rêves bakery on the Rue de Bac. In the “Pastry of Dreams” bakery, all the pastries looked as if you can eat them all and not gain a pound! 😉 I quickly snapped to reality and ordered the ‘must have’  St. Honoré cake, named after the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, St. Honoré (d. 600 AD). It’s pictured in the back with a large amount of what looks to be whipped cream swirled on top. It actually starts with flaky puff pastry, layered with choux pastry, topped with profiteroles dipped in caramelized sugar and finally swirled with chiboust cream, not just whipped cream! It’s a great combination of textures and perfect with a latte!!

One late afternoon, while on my way back from touring Montmartre, I happened to be walking down Rue de Martyrs. It’s a lovely street with great foodie shops and little markets with amazing fresh, yet expensive fruit! That’s where I stumbled upon Sebastien Gaudard. I was immediately smitten with the enticing sweet treats that I could not walk out with just one, but the two above. One was a rich cream filled concoction and the other was a flaky almond croissant. I careful carried them to the Cafe Renard, in the Jardin des Tuileries, where I ordered a latte and enjoyed the surrounding beautiful view of the gardens with the Louvre as the backdrop!

Above are a couple more photos of the enticing pastries and cakes displayed at Sébastien Gaudard. I will have to try some of the others!!

Bakery with very enticing sweets but also great breads!

Bakery with beautiful, delicious sweets but also great tasting breads!

I did munch on half of a whole wheat baguette from another bakery (Can’t remember the name)  while walking to the Jardin des Tuileries where I enjoyed the pastries from Sebastien Gaudard. I wish I could remember the name of the bakery shop, above.  It was near Sebastien Gaudard  and it had the above revolving cake display in one of the windows which is what caught my eye and drew me in. There was also a line of people out the door waiting to purchase baguettes…figured it must be good and so I joined in! It was quite tasty and it held me over until I made it to the Jardin des Tuileries to devour the pastries!

Most perfect looking fruit in Montmarte down the Boulevard de Clinchy

Most perfect looking fruit in Montmarte down the Boulevard de Clinchy

Also while in Montmarte, I bought a box of les mûres  (blackberries) and les groseilles (red currants)  which were YUMMY!! I saved these for my morning snack before French language class at the Alliance Francaise in the 6th Arrondissement on Rue Vavin near the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Angelina sweet treat while at Chateau de Versailles

Angelina sweet treat while at Chateau de Versailles

I was sweetly surprised while touring Chateau de Versailles by the cafe, Angelina Paris! It was just what I needed for an early afternoon snack after touring the gardens and the palace. I had a pecan cream filled dessert and the other was with raspberry cream that I shared with a couple of students from my French class. Both were very delicious!

My last afternoon in Paris, I finally walked to a few museums in Faubourg Saint-Germain in the eastern part of 7th Arrondissement and discovered that this is a very ritzy part of Paris. This is the home of the French high nobility with many hôtel particulier (grand sort of townhouse). There was a different feel in that neighborhood…with more local people than tourists shopping the boutiques. Also, the streets seemed cleaner.

This heaven of sweets beckoned me as I was strolling by!! Des Gâteaux et du Pain had not only lovely dessert but also freshly baked breads. The young man behind the display case wore a black glove on one hand, that he used only for picking up your choice of the delicate cakes. I find this photo amusing because of how one of the female client’s feet are reflecting below the guy, making it look like they’re his!

The bakery used many floor to ceiling mirrors just to enhance their baked goods! It worked… because I was taken by all the “smoke and mirrors” and bought several things! You can tell by my large pink bag reflecting in one of the mirrors above.

As I was leaving the shop, I couldn’t help myself from taking one more photo of some of the customers inside…notice the lady at the register has way more shopping bags than me!! Phew!!!!

My last evening, as I was walking back to my hotel in the 6th Arrondissement, I stopped at a beautiful boutique called Hugo et Victor on the Boulevard Raspail to finally get some Parisian macarons. I saved getting macarons for last since I planned to bring some back home to share with my family…my girls love them! I did get to sample a few, so I wouldn’t have to dip into the boxed ones. They were airy and crispy with surprising flavors like combawa lime and mango but also more traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate.

What is unique about Hugo et Victor is that the owners, Hugues Pouget who is the former head pastry chef at the Michelin three-star Guy Savoy and his childhood friend Sylvain Blanc, teamed up creating what looks and feels like a hybrid between Cartier and Chanel. They feature seasonal flavors that all coordinate. For example, They had strawberry macarons, strawberry cake, strawberry filled chocolates and strawberry champagne to wash it all down! All of these synchronized items were beautifully displayed vertically behind glass and special lighting.

I also purchased a ‘book’ of fruit filled chocolates were that were delectable! These were neatly placed in a box that looked like a leather-bound book. the macarons and the chocolates made it home and were enjoyed by all.

Finally, I saved this sumptuous beauty for last! This magnificent raspberry tart curved my hunger on my early drive to the airport for my return home. Perfect way to end my week in Paris!!

À bientôt Paris!!!

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French Student in Paris

 

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Not everyday one thinks of taking a solo trip, especially to Paris. Yet I did! I went in search of learning the language a bit better and getting more familiar with the culture. I knew no one there, but now I have several new friends! They are from all over and have a variety of different backgrounds from students to mattress makers to  book authors. It’s an amazing place, a city like non other. Parisians really are friendly 🙂

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I attended the Alliance Francaise de Paris for a week of French language courses. Class began promptly Monday through Friday at 9AM and we wrapped it up around 1PM. I had a vibrant and expressive professor that would NOT speak one word of English to me nor any other language to the class except FRENCH. I was captivated and kept focused as she explained and enthusiastic acted out until we all understood! The students in my class were just as focused and it made for an engaging experience. I was the only English-speaking student while the majority were from South America, some from China with one from Israel. Some spoke a little English, so it made communicating with them outside of class very entertaining using some English and what French we’ve learned!

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Wish I would have seen this little contraption sooner…I would have rented one!

I favored walking over the Metro because I wanted to experience the sounds, sights and some “scents” of Paris, especially walking past the patisserie shops. I did take the Metro once and after feeling like a sardine, I quickly reverted back to walking or at times, taking a taxi. I like personal space.  A lot of people ride bicycles in Paris, but I wanted to live so I can someday come back to visit…weaving in and around cars, people and buses just didn’t appeal to me! I went to Paris to observe and learn, eat and enjoy the city, not peddle like a mad woman, for my life! 😉

Several miles were trodden by my weary feet! Not only were my footsies sore, but I developed some whopping blisters on some of my toes. Luckily for you, I was so grossed out by the blisters that I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures.

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I toured a couple of museums, Versailles was one of them, and walked by several more. Since the weather was so perfect (no rain!), I didn’t want to be inside. I’ll save museum touring for rainy visits 🙂

 

Dessert and coffee while at the Tuileries Garden

Dessert and coffee while at the Tuileries Garden

…And now to talk about the food!! I ate mostly at the local cafes. They had fresh ingredients and nice portions too. I did find the patisserie shops to be FANTASTIC, of course!! Some, at first glance looked like jewelry stores! The delicate cakes were carefully displayed under glass domes and mirrors, with just the right lighting showing them off. And it worked since that’s where I spent most of my cash! 😉

All in all, I had a great experience in Paris and I hope to visit again soon!

A bientot!