Paris Bakeries. The Good And The Bad. Mostly Good.

Part 1.   How to find a good bakery.

whole baguette

A trip to Paris must include many visits to bakeries throughout the city (i.e. boulangeries or patisseries) for a taste of the finest breads and pastries on earth.

But all is not as it seems behind that door.  A false step will find you eating a baked off frozen baguette prepared in a factory miles away and months ago that is full of preservatives.  And it will cost the same as a great one thanks to the French government and the importance of baguette to their culture.

The secret, as George Clinton said, is to pay attention  Like these young men are doing.  Oh, to grow up with those baked goods at your corner.

So many choices.

So many choices.

What to do?

Learn to tell the good bakeries from the mediocre ones.  What you are looking for is an artisan bakery that has maintained the traditions of French baking that date back hundreds of years. It is true that French bakeries are in crisis. But their struggle is no greater than those faced by many food producers in this world as they fracture into camps, artisanal and industrial. Fortunately there are lots of easy ways to identify one. And by seeking out the artisan bakers you keep their traditions alive.

Our neighborhood in Paris features bakeries of all kinds and stripes. As you walk around try to follow these recommendations and soon you will quickly spot the good ones.

DSC_0082 sign

Elegant Paris Bakery

Here are some rules to follow.

  1. Look for the words artisan or authentique anywhere outside of the bakery or for this sign.


  1. Look for the name of the baker somewhere on the exterior of the bakery.  It shows ownership.
  2. As with so many things when you travel, look for and then follow the lines. The neighborhood knows what is going on.
  3. Don’t buy your bread at the supermarket even if it appears they are baking them.
Artisan Flour

Artisan Flour

What is the difference between a boulangerie and a patisserie? Bakeries (boulangeries) in Paris feature baked goods.  And they sell a lot more than baguette and croissants. They also sell sandwiches, sodas, espresso and salads.  They are often your best bet for a quick lunch to go on a touring day or breakfast before hand.  Patisseries specialize in high-end baked goods. They focus on desserts.

Delicate Desserts

Delicate Desserts

But the lines often blur as many boulangeries often sell pastries and desserts as well.  Some carry both names.

Your efforts will pay off. My recent experiences at La Croquandise, the closest artisan bakery to the Yellow Flat, were exceptional. The combination of a solid crunchy baguette, exceptional almond croissants and a wonderful cashier was perfect.  Never did I think I would hear these words in a French bakery as I made a purchase: “I wish you an excellent day”. Wow that breaks a stereotype, doesn’t it.  I went back for a tuna salad that afternoon and it was equally good, clean and fresh.

Pain De Mie

Pain De Mie At La Croquandise

Here are some neighborhood bakeries within walking distance of the Yellow Flat worth checking out:



La Croquandise, mentioned above.  Just follow the link to see where it is located.  It is worth the 5 minute walk as opposed to the shop on the corner of Rue Alasseur, only to be used in emergency.  10 Rue du Laos 75015 Paris France‎.

Les Gouramndise Eiffel. Just across the Champ De Mars, consistent award winner for baguettes. ‪187 Rue De Grenelle, Paris 75007

Polaine.   Famous for a reason. Enjoy the tartlets aux pommes (apples) and all of the breads.  Then head to Rue Lourmel to keep shopping for goodies (here is a guide to shopping that street).  49 Boulevard de Grenelle, 75015 Paris.

Poilane Apple Tartlettes

Poilane Apple Tartlettes

Aux Merveilleux De Fred. Specialzes in massive meringue desserts. If you have a thing for meringue you have to try them.  94 Rue Saint-Dominique Paris

Want to research more?  Here is a comprehensive list of the best bakeries by neighborhood:

And once you there, just what do you order? I will cover that in Part 2 in two weeks.

Do you have a favorite bakery to share with us?  Then please do so in the comments section.  I would appreciate that!

And as always be sure to enjoy Paris at the Yellow Flat.


Is Paris A Deal For US Visitors This Year? It Certainly Was At Le Pario Paris 15.


You may have heard that the dollar has gained strength against the Euro. It certainly has, moving from a high of 1.30 last winter to a range of between 1.06 and 1.10. That is a lot of extra buying power for US visitors.

So, is Paris a deal for US travelers?   My answer is yes, but keep in mind that Paris will always be an expensive city on a par with others like New York. But when the subject eating out comes up, Paris is a deal worth traveling for.

On the first day of a recent visit to Paris, I had the pleasure of putting this math to the test and dining at Le Pario, located about 10 minutes walk from the Yellow Flat. It’s a chic small bistro run by Edward Jacinto, a Brazilian chef who previously cooked for Christian Constant who in turn has several successful and delicious restaurants on Rue St Dominique that were previously enjoyed and reviewed.


Jet lag notwithstanding I was excited to get out and enjoy a good lunch, having suffered (well not really too badly) through years of the 1.35 and up euro.

Le Pario is located at 54 Avenue Emile Zola in the 15th. The setting in this local favorite was warm and not just in temperature. Lunch was full of locals, mostly businesspeople who unlike many of us in the US, they were enjoying a real meal and a glass or two of wine. Why we have stopped enjoying ourselves at lunch I do not know.


After being seated and finding that the prix fixe menu (limited in choice) was not to my liking (it was priced at 18 euro and 23 euro including dessert) I went back to the menu for lunch.


Before the meal a small amuse of gougieres, traditional cheese puffs arrived, warm and tasty. I ordered a glass of rose and a bottle of mineral water, just having landed and not being able to stomach the always a bit nasty Parisian tap water (eau plat) just yet. The rose was as it should be, dry and not cloying.

My appetizer was crab with an avocado mousse. The crab was pressed carefully into a block with served with finely cut leeks celery and potatoes, all showing the fine hand of the kitchen with the avocado mousse painted along side and dusting of Piment d’Espelette for emphasis.


Main course was a confit of cannette, (female duck). It consisted of a delicately braised duck thigh in a classic orange sauce covered with toasted hazelnuts served over a large ravioli stuffed with more the duck confit and a big bowl of what I thought were mashed potatoes but turned out to be a coarse apple sauce contrasting sweet salt sweet salt. The duck melted when touched.


Having a good bottle of mineral water to myself was a pleasure and a necessity for the jet lag I was now feeling with the help of the rose. The meal closed with an espresso accompanied by several mini pastries filled with caramel, a sort of dessert amuse.

Was this a deal? Do the math and decide.

Start with the dollar at 1.07 to the Euro and yes that is a nice place to start. From there compare your meal to US realities to get a true sense of what it costs. On a meal in the US of good quality and service, it is common to tip 20% and tax is around 10%. And here is the key; in France tip and tax are included. That means you have to deduct another 30% and that is before some of the other add-on charges that have started appearing as of late.

Keeping it simple, a 100-euro meal cost 107 dollars at today’s exchange rate.
Deduct 30% for tip and tax and the result, in true cost, that is that a 100-euro meal costs you 75 dollars.

For my lunch the cost 41.50 Euros. Now with a good exchange and our 30 % discount lunch came to 31 dollars. I would say that is a deal with confidence.  And if I had gone with the prix fixe it would have cost $19.50 including the rose.

As lunch came to an end, I sat watching an elegant grandmother feed her impeccably dressed and behaved granddaughter profiteroles in chocolate sauce as she laughed. I looked out at the Paris traffic and the end of the daily lunch scene. There was no doubt about where I was and just how good it felt.

Le Pario

54 Avenue Emile Zola, 75015 Paris, France

Phone:+33 1 45 77 28 82


To reach Le Pario from the Yellow Flat it is a 15 minutes walk.  The easiest way is to turn left out the door and walk to La Motte Picquet Grenelle metro.  Once there continue in the same direction on Rue De Commerce where you turn right on Aveneue Emile Zola, about the fourth street from the metro station.  It is about 10 to 15 minutes walk on Emile Zola, so be patient.

Democracy Is Never Free. Travel To Paris and Honor The Fallen.

eiffel tower night lights 2

For those of us who have had the privilege to enjoy Paris, as tourists, guides, writers and hosts,  the past week’s events came as a brutal shock.   Perhaps they should not have.  Democracy, pluralism, free speech, freedom of thought, the ideals that many of us around the world hold so dearly have never come without a price.  And now, that price was paid again, in the blood spilled on Paris streets, offices and grocery stores.

So the question comes to mind, should we travel to Paris this year in view of what just happened to so many innocent souls.  The answer more than ever is an emphatic YES.

To not travel to Paris is to give in to the very fear that the instigators of this tragedy wish to install in us.  To not speak up, to not enjoy the beauty and majesty of Paris is to dishonor the spirit of those who were lost.  So if you were thinking about canceling your plans to go to Paris and to France this year or considering changing your destination think again.

We are all Charlie, the policeman dying on the street, the 20-year-old proof reader at Charlie Hebdo, the father gunned down at the Kosher Supermarket.  We are free to travel. They are not.  So honor their spirits and go to Paris this year.







It’s Bastille Day, a great time to listen to French music.

Paris on your mind?  Lets take that thought into your ears.  Whether you are thinking about your upcoming holiday and want to get into the mood or already in Paris, here is our Yellow Flat short and subjective guide to French (or at least French singing) artists to enjoy.  Tune into your favorite streaming service or buy some CD’s, a baguette some cheese and a dry rose.  Can you see the Eiffel Tower in the distance?


eiffel tower night lights 1


1.  It will always begin with Edith Piaf,  France’s answer to Billy Holiday, a tragic figure with a powerful voice all her own.  Nicknamed the little sparrow, her music was covered by countless jazz stars from Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald.  Must listen to:  La Vie En Rose and  No, Je Ne Regrette Rien. (I regret nothing).  She rolls her rien de rien like no other.  You can learn more about her at  

2.  Django Reinhardt.  The father of what is now called Gypsy Jazz., born in Belguim of Romani or “gypsy” heritage.  His jazz hot style of guitar playing inspires countless musicians today in festivals throughout the world.  Try his work with violinist Stephane Grapelli with the Quintette De Hot Club De France form the 1930’s.  Timeless.  Learn more at:

3.  Jacques Brel.   Brel, another Belgian born singer, is cited as a powerful influence on many well know songwriters throughout the world and covered by singers from Ray Charles to Frank Sinatra.  Listen to Ne Me Quittez Pas to start and keep the tissues handy.

4.  Serge Gainsbourg.  Gainsbourg is widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of our century.  A provocateur and satirist, his late 60’s hit Je T’aime, featuring some rather explicit sounds drew a rebuke from the pope as is considered one of the most erotic songs ever recorded.’aime…moi%20non%20plus

5.  Johnny Halliday.  Is there a French Elvis?  If so, it is Johnny Halliday. Sure the music is derivative, but isn’t all of rock and roll just that?  Listen to Souvenier Souvenier as he sings in French with a country twang.  Following what seems to be a trend, he is of half Belgian, half American family roots.

6.  Carla Bruni.  Model.  Wife of Nicolas Sarkozy.  And decent singer too.   A good source of current French songs delivered in a variety of musical styles.  Follow her at:

7.  Keren Ann.  Contemporary, smooth and sensual, this Israeli born singer resides in France.  Her music could be described as easy listening but that would be unfair.  It is easy but not simple.

8.  Benjamin Biolay.    One of the younger stars of the French music scene and gossip pages.  Ennui lives on even when you are dating supermodels and look like one.

9.  George Brassens.   French song writer and poet.  Known for his scathing indictments of high French society, it’s just him and his guitar.   An amazing life story, like Gainsbourg, that influenced his songwriting.

10.  Maurice Chevalier.  OK, I couldn’t get through the list without it.  Finish the day with Maurice and try not to smile, you won’t succeed.  As he sings, ‘Paris sera toujour Paris.  Paris will always be Paris’.  He will always be the voice associated with cabaret and France.

Now where is that baguette and the rest of the Rose…..









Cooking, Shopping and Touring With Paris Passioinista EJ Keller, Much More Than A Lesson.

DSC_0819When visiting Paris earlier this year we (myself and three of my closest friends) had the opportunity to take a market/neighborhood tour with our  friend and Paris Passionista Chef Edward EJ Keller seen here piping blue cheese into slices of endive (our appetizer). EJ is a former resident of the US living in the 2nd arrondissement near the great shopping and pedestrian street, Rue Montergeuil.   Classically trained at some of the greatest restaurants in Paris including La Grand Vefour, L’Escargot Montorgeuil, Jacques Cagna and Cabaret, he now works with private clients offering home meals and culinary events including the market tour and cooking class that we enjoyed.

We met him on a Monday morning near metro Sentier and began our walk through his district going from the 2nd to the 1st visiting several institutions of French food and history along with way.

There was the always beautiful classic bistro Au Pied De Cochon:  DSC_0782

The famous kitchen supply store Dehlerrin, which I will blog about in more detail soon.


The beautiful church across from Les Halles,  Saint Eustache, wonderfully understated and with a touching memorial to the wholesale food market which dominated the neighborhood until the 1960’s when it moved to the suburbs and the controversial mall constructed and now being reconstructed again.


From there we walked about Rue Montorgeuil, one of the best shopping streets in Paris where Edward met his butcher to get the proper cut of veal for our lunch.  It was the further thing from buying packaged meat in a Safeway you could imagine, the butcher asked for what he was cooking first and then gave the alternatives.  You can find the movie where EJ talks about the pleasure of his local butcher by going to this you tube address:


We continued our tour up the street past the famous Patisserie Stohrer, home to what are arguably the best eclairs in Pairs (read the blog on this here).


And then on to his home kitchen.


Edward is a teacher full of techniques that you can take home with you.  Anyway, they say a photo tells the story so enjoy this pictorial with minimal commentary of the meal we made.

Cutting the endive for the appetizer.


And the result (stuffed with bleu cheese and home-made confiture and nuts)


As it was spring white asparagus was in season.




And the result?  Amazing.  But everything is better with bacon and a warm vinaigrette


 Mark patiently tossing the cous cous for 15 minutes.  It made a difference.


The veal before.





Along with this we enjoyed an easy to make vegetable soufflé and for dessert, a chocolate cake.

Somewhere along they way after several glasses of wine we forgot to take pictures of the finished plates.  Oh well,  just too much fun.



You can learn more about EJ at his website  When visiting the Yellow Flat Edward offers you a wide variety of cooking options including market tours, cooking classes and should you wish, he will come to the Yellow Flat and cook for you.  We had a great afternoon with Edward learning about French cooking and the area around Les Halles.






La Regalade. The Now Classic Bistro Holds Its Own.

IMG_5856La Regalade has long been on my list of I have got to get to this bistro soon destinations in Paris.  But something always got in the way or steered me elsewhere.  The restaurant sold in 2004 and worse yet there were soon a second and then another location.   Despite these questions, I booked a late reservation for our group of 4 for dinner a few weeks ago.

For those who wish a little history, La Regalade was one of the first ‘nouveau’ bistros that opened in the past 20 years as chefs left the more rigid Michelin starred restaurants to start places of their own in less popular districts like the 14th.  Yves Camdeborde was one of those chefs in this movement and his restaurant was legendary.  The food was traditional, forward and reasonably priced.  He was also part of great group of chefs that remain large on the Paris bistro scene as the anniversary parody poster to the left attests with his compatriots Christian Constant and Jean Pierre Vitagot.

The chef who has been running it since 2004 is Bruno Doucet, with an equally strong culinary background he has continued to build out this vision of a updated traditional french food served in a brusque but warm atmosphere.  Camdeborde has moved on Le Comptoir in the 6th where I enjoyed a quick meal at their less formal space Avant Le Comptoir (you can read about that meal here).

We arrived on time at 930 to a crowded house with people spilling out the door onto Avenue Jean Mouliln.  The host/bartender saved the day, quickly getting us a bottle of bone dry bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc and directing us onto the street  where a bench and a large oak barrel awaited us.  There sat a huge terrine of very rustic homemade pate, sliced baguette and a crock of cornichon (pickles) and onions, plates knives and forks.  Just try that under most health codes.  The message was clear, eat as much as you want.   We tried but after 30 minutes we were growing cold, impatient and hungry.  They did not forget us, brought us inside and apologizing (yes in Paris) seated us around 1015pm.  Here is our motley crew, out in the dark just before being seated.


The house was loud and rocking. Servers moved throughout the small farm house like room telling jokes and keeping the place loose.  I can’t remember a meal where I laughed as much in recent times.

My appetizer was particularly delicious while light, Coquilles St. Jacques marinated in lemon juice so it cooked ceviche style with wild mushrooms and what was called pesto but was more of a basil vinaigrette.  Although I wound not have guessed it, the slice of parmesan provided a good counterpoint to the barely cooked scallops.


My main course was properly cooked (rose) magret (duck breast) over a bed of wilted spinach with small potatoes and sliced garlic.  No sauce to annoy either.


Fred’s 14 oz Entrecôte  (rib eye) came with a warning that matched the attitude of the house, it is served cooked only one way: Signant.  And it was gorgeous covered in chopped shallots and parsley and some butter perhaps.  And was it rare.  Note the lack of a side dish. Why bother?

blue steak

As we finished the bottle of Cotes de Brouilly (a clean dry Gamay from Beaujolais) another question emerged.  Could it be that some of the best wines never make it out France?  At 38 euro it was an easy pour and not overpriced.  Hmmmm.

Things actually got better from there when dessert appeared.  Now I am not a dessert person so maybe my opinions are not the most erudite but the Grand Marinier Souffle jiggled and shook like a willow tree (thanks BB).  It was light as a feather though to me so sweet!  The soufflé is famous for a reason.  Order it as it must be cooked in advance.


Ron practically sank under the weight of an enormous porcelain tub of Riz Au Lait (rice pudding) with the usual warm caramel sauce.  Enough dessert for 2 or 3 which he somehow ate.  Yes, that is a wooden spoon and that is the serving dish.


We spilled out onto a quite sidewalk after midnight fully satisfied.  The tab was 60 euro each, about 75 dollars a person.  Remember, this is a 35 euro prix fixe diner.  I can’t imagine matching this meal in terms of food quality, fun quotient and wine in the States.

La Regalade is a place to go have fun. Rub elbows.  Relax.  For us to enjoy a meal so thoroughly after being seated 45 minutes late is testament to their approach.  Keep the client happy.  That can happen in Paris too.


La Regalade

49 Avenue Jean Moulin

33 1 45 68 58

We secured our reservation through The Fork, the on-line reservation service about a month in advance.  I suggest you do the same.

Closest Metro: Alessia

About 20 minutes cab from the yellow flat.

How To Order The Steak You Want Cooked The Way You Want On Your Visit To Paris (and for that matter France).

IMG_0331Has this happened to you? You are seated in a wonderful French restaurant and the time has come. You want a steak. An identifiable cut of beef.  You have had enough guts, lamb, duck and fish and you ready for some serious meat eating. Yet you have no idea what to do.

The waiter is looking at you with a Gallic eye tapping his pen on his order pad. “Monsieur?” he asks. The table looks at you. Well what are you going to do?

Don’t panic. Here is a guide which will teach you how to order a steak during your  visit to France with confidence. We start with what kind of meat you are going to order and more importantly focus on how you want it to be cooked so you will be looking at plate just like this when your arrives.


Let’s start with cooking methods and meat quality.  On the menu French steaks are referred to as grilled or grille.  This means cooked on a very hot and hopefully heavy metal plan. It does not mean on an open fire. Open fire cooking is referred to as Charbon (charcoal) or Feu Du Bois (wood fire). Don’t be put off by this, the heavy hot pan sears the meat wonderfully and creates a great crust.

French cattle are typically grass-fed although the use of feedlots is creeping in. Quality is good to very good but as grass-fed meat, steaks will be tougher and as such don’t lend themselves well to longer cooking times due to the lack of fat.

French cuts are very different from those in the US and UK.  Look at this guide to french butchering for help:



OK, Now what is on the menu?

Entrecôte. The most likely steak that you will encounter on the menu is referred to simply as “steak frites”. The cut of meat will be an entrecôte, throughout most of the world known as the ever-reliable rib eye. Portion size will vary from 250 to 400 grams, or 8 to 14 oz. Smaller sized stakes are much more likely and weight is rarely spelled out. Be careful here, a 250 gram steak is going to be very thin so don’t over cook it.

Chateaubriand. A very thick cut from the tenderloin. Never ever to be ordered well done.

Filet Mignon. Well known in the US, it is the same filet cut.

Bavette. Now familiar and called Skirt Steak.

Onglet. Now common in the US, called a Hangar Steak.

Rumsteck. Sometimes called a Top Butt in the US and UK and often in France a ‘Pave de Rumsteck”.

Faux Filet. Closest to our Sirloin.

Steak Tartare. Not a steak at all but a plate of raw ground steak not ground meat.

Steak Hache.  A hamburger.

How will it be cooked?

French terms for how to cook steak are much more complex and nuanced then those in the US and even vary from meat to meat. With thanks to Chef EJ Keller of Carottes & Caviar in Paris, here is your guide from least cooked to most.

Bleu. Used on beef only. This means what it translates to, bleu means blue, cooked on a very hot grill pan very briefly so as to sear both sides. Inside should be very very rare and liquid should pour out onto your plate.

Saignant. Pronounced ‘signon’.   Rare and on the rare side of rare at that.  Many restaurants want to serve their steak this way and why not? Look at this entrecôte, cooked the only way they will let you order it at La Regalade in the 14th:


blue steak


Saignant Plus. Not used frequently but essentially between rare and medium rare.

A point. Medium Rare. Chef’s choice.  Grilled crusty on the outside, pink inside.

Rose. More likely to be used with veal and or lamb. Medium

Rose plus. Medium well.

Bien cuit. Well done. Be forewarned that this will be well done and subject to you to the wrath of your waiter.

And don’t forget the fries.  What is a great steak without them?




Some thoughts on where to get a great steak in Paris:

La Regalade, mentioned above, 49 Avenue Jean Moulin, Paris 75014.  Email:

The very trendy Beef Club Ballroom.

For more choices go to:

Had a great steak in Paris?  Then add it to our list.