Don’t be scared, it’s only French cheese.

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Going to Paris and not enjoying French cheese is a sin. There are hundreds and hundreds of kinds to choose from, a cornucopia of taste, texture and color. But finding the right one is often confusing as they vary by age, % of butter fat, region and the animal that produces the milk to start with.

Cheese lovers traveling to France can be divided into the aficionados, the scared and the curious.   This article is for the latter two groups. Hard core cheese lovers have plenty of books and blogs to enjoy (for example, look at: (chezlouloufrance.blogspot.com).

For the rest of us, French cheese is often a daunting subject.  Just look at this one ooze out of its skin.

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Now I have a confession to make.  I like mild cheese.  White cheese.  Mozzarella.  Jack. Queso Fresco. Always have and will.    And I am here to tell you there are plenty of French cheeses even the timid amongst you to enjoy.  Cheeses that are flavorful, delicious and very accessible.  And better yet, unpasteurized.  No soap box here, those cheeses taste better.  Period.

Still scared? Look at these little squares of fresh goat cheese covered in finely chopped chives.  How could anything so cute hurt you?

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Better yet, with the current exchange rate, cheese in France is a good deal.  Remember, you are buying in grams, so 200 grams (about 7 ounces so almost half a pound) is a good portion and what seems like an expensive price of say 25 Euros a kilo is only $12.80 a pound).

There is really only one place to buy cheese in Paris and that is the local cheese shop.  Take the time to find one close to where you are staying as every neighborhood has one.  Some have special owners that have passed the strict French regulations and been awarded the title of  ‘affineur’.  Affineurs are a part of the process of finding and creating great cheeses as they play a roll in the aging process as well.

In the 7th district there are two affineurs that we enjoy:

Marie Cantin (www.cantin.fr).  Marie and her husband Antoine’s shop has sold fine French cheeses since 1950.  They offer cheese classes as well.  The shop is located at 12 Rue Champ De Mars, metro Ecole Militaire.  Tel: 33 (0)1 45 50 43 94.

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On the other side of the Champ De Mars is Fromagerie Laurent DuBois.  (www.fromageslaurentdubois.fr)  There are three shops, the one we go to is located at 2 Rue De Lourmel, Metro Dupleix.

To get a sense of how an affineur views cheese, here is a quote from the Laurent DuBois website:

“The quality of a cheese depends on a complex series of steps. First, the search for good producers with whom we need to create a lasting partnership, and the selection of the cheeses. Then comes the aging in our cellars, keeping in the mind that the talent of the ripener lies in bringing the product to the point of excellent flavor. This precise moment also defines my taste for cheese, the particular time at which I think the cheese has the reached its peak of flavor. Then you need to know how to sell the cheese at the right moment, and thus advise clients who share our curiosity and our pleasure in the taste of good cheese.”

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Here are some basic vocabulary that you will need to know to select cheese.

Goat:  Chèvre.  Cow:  Vache

Sheep:  Brebis.  Made on a farm: Fermier

Made by a coop. Cooperative.

Artisanal is artisanal.  No surprise there.

Soft.  Doux. Aged: Gardes

Fresh: Frais

Which brings us to a list of five choices for you to try:

Goat cheese is chèvre.  Look for chèvre that is soft and fresh and when in doubt in a restaurant it is always good on a salad. Unless you know what you are getting into stay away from the ones called crotin, they are aged and strong.

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Tomme de Savoie.  Mild semi soft cheese from the French Alps.

Ossau-Itray  Semi soft sheep’s cheese from the Basque Country.

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Comte.  Unpasteurized cows cheese from Eastern France.  Slightly sweet nutty taste.

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Brie. Brie has a reputation for gummy soulless cheese that lack character.  But if you can find an unpasteurized versions of this creamy cows milk cheese in Paris, it will change your mind.

And last but not least, stay away from the Epoisse.  Avoid this stinker at all costs.

To my way of thinking, if you take the time to make a meal out of 30 euros of cheese a baguette and a good bottle of wine you can’t go wrong. It has always worked for us.

Jules and Flo. www.yellowflat.com.

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The Eiffel Tower Is Paris. Photos, Reflections And Meditations.

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The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris.  Built in 1889 to celebrate the Worlds Fair, it contains a combination of history, engineering, location and visual power unmatched by any other urban landmark.

It is the sense of visual dominance that amazes during a visit to Paris.  It seems to pop up wherever you whether you are walking near the Seine, taking an elevated metro ride or looking out from a balcony.  When you see it, the Eiffel Tower commands your attention more than 125 years after it was built.  And for bonus points it sparkles every hour at night once in a show of thousands of small lights reflecting against the dark sky.

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It starts with a massive base.  Powerful yet delicate, an erector set gone mad.

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It rises in a lattice work of metal.

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Up into the sky.

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It is beautiful in the day.

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And night.

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Winter.

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Spring.

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Summer.

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Fall.  (Well sort of this was shot in August when it is really quiet).

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Even though it has been photographed a million times, it is often not any easy object to shoot.  It has a sense of scope, size and shape that make it a challenge.  But that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying.  Indeed, it the subject of millions of poses.

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And selfies.

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It is a scene. The scene of numerous weddings.

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And bike rides.  With a stop for coffee of course.

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It peeks out from behind buildings.

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And trees.

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Or just plain dominates the skyline.

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You can enjoy the view from the left bank on a foggy night.

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Or the right bank on a sunny day.

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From the deck of a barge.

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Or the splendor of the Trocadero.

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And many times it is simply a great place to chill on a sunny day.

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The Eiffel Tower is much more than a tower.  It is what makes Paris Paris.

The Eiffel Tower is the subject of our new Yellow Flat fridge magnet.  If you would like one, just drop me an email at jkragen@prodigy.net and I will get it right out.

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Want to dig deep? Here is a link to some history: http://www.history.com/topics/eiffel-tower

The Yellow Flat is a vacation apartment located 5 to 10 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, a very easy walk.  We look forward to hosting you there and seeing your photos of the Eiffel Tower.

Jules and Flo.

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News And Views From The Yellow Flat. And A Deal Too.

The Eiffel Tower Shines On

Change is in the air at the Yellow Flat Paris.

For the past 10 years we have enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie of Thierry, the manager of the Yellow Flat.  He is a large part of what makes it so special.  But he is ready to spend more time with his family, his wife and his 4 grandchildren and will be leaving us at the end of the year.  We wish Thierry the best and thank him for the professional and graceful way he worked with our guests.  We will miss his humor and most of all his laugh.  To his health!

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Sante!

Change is part of life and we take this opportunity to offer new services and options to improve your vacation in Paris.  Let us introduce you to Lisa Elias and Sasha Romary of Savoir Faire Paris (SFP).  Their boutique agency will manage the Yellow Flat starting in January of 2016. Both are fully bi-lingual.  They are also charming, attentive and professional.

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Every guest at the Yellow Flat will receive a welcome basket including tea or coffee, sparkling water and a snack such as a croissant in the morning or baguette and cheese in the afternoon. The apartment will be set with fresh flowers.   The apartment will always be stocked with the things you need to enjoy your stay, dish soap, hand soap, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo etc.  You will still have the package of services we offered in the past including airport pick up and return by a reliable driver for the same price as a taxi or lower as well as the option to stock the refrigerator full of groceries when you arrive. And as always, if you are missing something, just ask.

We have a new espresso machine (Nespresso) and flat screen TV waiting for you.  We are updating our wi-fi to a fast fiber optic system for easy communication.  Free calls home will continue as well.

Do you need help planning your trip, making dinner reservations or travel plans?  Would a personal concierge in Paris be of help to you?  You can purchase 2 hours of planning services through SFP, just let us know and we will send you more information.

The events of November 13 rocked Paris and frankly our family as well.  We want to show support for everyone who works and lives in Paris and to thank those of you who stayed at our Yellow Flat.   We offer a 10% discount on any rental during 2016 to previous guests.  That offer extends to any referral that you make to your friends and family.  Just make the reservation by March 31, 2016 and be sure to let us know when you stayed with us.  Drop us a line and let us know when you want to come.

Our very comfy couch is waiting for you and so is that view from the terrace. Come visit Paris and enjoy the Yellow Flat in 2016.

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My favorite spot to relax.

All the best,

Jules and Flo.

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We Feel The Pain Of Paris. What Can We Do Now?

The Eiffel Tower Shines On

The Eiffel Tower Shines On In The Night

The city of Paris has a Latin motto which is: ‘Fluctuat ned mergitur”. The translation to English is ‘tossed by the water but not sunk’.

When visiting Paris the week the before the November 13 massacres, I enjoyed the hospitality of a city full of spirit, wonder and warmth. The first night there I had long-planned a visit to the wine bar at Verjus to enjoy the explosion of informal drinking and enjoying smaller plates that has spread across the city.  Imagine my surprise. When I arrived I found that it was closed for a private party.  We lingered for a moment on the street and struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be the host of the party. Seeing our disappointment, he invited us into his birthday celebration for a glass of red wine.

Doors opened to us.

Verus Wine Bar Paris

Verjus Wine Bar Paris

Now doors need to remain open for them.

I walked the streets of the 10th and 11th.  The district was packed with people out enjoying their lives in these vibrant neighborhoods.  7 days later hell would break loose.

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The decision of whether to travel and where to travel will always be personal. Only you can decide whether to travel to Paris, or for that matter Beirut or Tel Aviv or whatever city struggles with the horrors of this modern world.

I ask you to go. When you do, think about this: By doing so you stand in defiance of those that who act without regard to human life. You stand in support of the working people of Paris, from the maid that cleans your room to the chef at a gourmet restaurant to the bartender who pours your wine.

Parisians are returning to their cafes.  They will not back down. Will you join them?

A glass of Calvados at Odeon.

A glass of Calvados at Odeon in the 6th.  The way to finish a night.

We are tossed by turbulent waters but our spirit must not sink.  When you wonder, when you doubt, do not give in.   Go to Paris for the first time or the 10th.  It is the loudest statement that you can make to honor the 128 innocents who died.

Walking The Marais: Charlie Hebdo Is Not Forgotten.  And You Can Find World’s Best Sandwich Too.

Walking The Marais: Charlie Hebdo Is Not Forgotten. And You Can Find World’s Best Sandwich Too.

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The world was overwhelmed by the events that stunned the City of Paris on January 7, 2015. While events quickly fade into the collectively memory of new tragedies, short news cycles and equally short attention spans, a recent walk around the Marais showed that the spirit of those cut down that day lives on in graffiti and street art throughout the area. This brings a new dimension of interest to an already authentic and historic part of the city, perfect for a mid day walk featuring a self-described ‘worlds greatest sandwich’ and a visit to an up and coming new bakery for dessert.

Start this walk at the metro station Republique. Take a moment to enjoy this bustling square in the heart of the theatre district and be careful as you exit, it is easy to lose direction and get confused.  Once you find Rue Beranger head away front the square, turn right on Rue De Picardie and continue to Rue De Bretagne.  Once there and if your walk is early stop for breakfast at the very neighborhoody Cafe Charlot where you can enjoy poached organic eggs and a good cup of coffee.

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Lunch is a toss-up, you can have it there the cafe or continue on to the Marche Des Enfant Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris dating to the XVI century.  The Marche is just across the Rue De Bretagne, you can’t miss the entry sign. It is a beautiful covered market full of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

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And this massive block of cheese.  Think about it.

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This man has a food stall in the middle of the market with the longest line.

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He said that he makes the world’s greatest sandwich.  We had already eaten lunch but I would love to hear from a reader who has tried one to see if this true.  It looked amazing and he may be right.

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As you continue to walk you will see posters and graffiti reflecting the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. They are everywhere.

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This one really got me, it translates to maybe it is time to start to get back to playing with paving stones again, a shout out to the 68 demonstrations.

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Continuing on Rue De Bretagne you will reach the Bontemps Patisserie with their amazing ‘sable’ cookies that I mentioned previously on my post on Parisian bakeries.  Worth the stop.

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

From here you have a wide choice of designations.  You can turn right and head up Rue De Temple and back to Republique or go straight on Rue Reamur to the metro at Arts Et Metiers.  For a longer outing the Musee de Picasso, newly reopened, is only 10 minutes to the south towards the Seine.  Another alternative is to see if there is an event at the refurbished event center, Le Carreau Du Temple.  It’s worth it for the architecture along and features everything from jazz to food trucks.

Cafe Charlot, 38 Rue de Bretagne, 75003.  01 44 54 03 30

Marche Des Enfants Rouge, 39 Rue De Bretagne, 75003

Bontemps Partisserie 57 Rue De Bretagne 75003 01 42 74 10 68

Le Carreau Du Temple,  4 Rue Eugène Spuller, 75003 01 83 81 93 30

Pots, pans and pigs. A walk around Les Halles to enjoy the remnants of this ever changing neighborhood.

Pots, pans and pigs. A walk around Les Halles to enjoy the remnants of this ever changing neighborhood.


DSC_0792Les Halles was once the great produce market of Paris, a thriving early morning cacophony of noises, smells and sights that supplied this grand city with vegetables, meats and fruit.  As well documented in print and in the photography found in the great Robert Doisneau’s book on the same subject, the stalls and life that surrounded it were redeveloped into a soulless mall in the 1960’s.  Over the past few years the City has tried it’s best to correct these mistakes with yet another redevelopment of the mall and the jury is still out on the last efforts.  So instead of mourning the past, this short walk focuses on elements of the old neighborhood that remain.

The walk starts at metro Etienne Marcel. On exiting head towards Les Halles down Rue Turbigo.  In two blocks you will reach the entry of one of the largest gothic churches in Paris, Saint Eustache.  Take time to walk through the church to view its imposing structure, massive organ, stained glass and the sculptures that honor the prior habitants of the area pictured above.

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On exiting the church turn left unto Rue Montmartre, the right onto Rue Du Jour and then left onto rue Coquilliere.

DSC_0759At 18-20 you will find E. Dehlerrin, one of the most eclectic, well-stocked cooking and restaurant supply stores in the world, two stores of toys for chefs and the rest of us.

Need a soup pot to boil your enemies in?  I think this one would fit some of my smaller ones.

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The shop is full of copper goodies and yes, they ship outside of France.

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From gigantic ricers to scales it is all there.

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If you time it right, you it might just be time for lunch or an early dinner.  Here are some options:

Continuing on Rue Coquillere at number 6 you will find one of the most beautiful brasseries in Paris, Au Pied de Cochon.

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Even if you aren’t hungry go in for a drink sit at the bar and enjoy the interior deco driven furnishings.

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And if you do go to eat let me know how the pied du cochon, the pig’s foot, tasted. I didn’t have the stomach for it.  The brasserie is known for being the first place where Julia Child enjoyed sole meunier, and you should stick to the classics.  Have some oysters and wash it down with a cold glass of dry Muscadet as you watch workers at the French Stock exchange, the bourse, which is located just blocks away enjoy theirs.

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You can finish your walk on one of my favorite streets in Paris, Rue Montorgueil or head towards the Seine via Rue Du Louvre.

And if you are really lucky, you are finishing the afternoon with a drink at Frenchie Wine Bar on Rue Du Nil.  It’s a hassle to get in but awfully good.  Reservations are hard to find so go at off hours.

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Enjoy this vision of the past (well except for Frenchie at least) tucked in the modern changing city that is Paris.

jules

Eglise Paroise Saint Eustache

2 Impasse Saint-Eustache, 75001 Paris, France
+33 1 42 36 31 05

E. Dehlerrin

 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris, France
6 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris, France

RESTAURANT FRENCHIE


5-6, RUE DU NIL 75002 PARIS
+33 (0)1.40.39.96.19

 

Cakes, Desserts And Lots More. Paris Bakeries Part 3: Enjoying The Patisserie.

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The Patissier

Exploring and Enjoying Parisian Bakeries Part 3.

Sweets, Desserts and Much Much More.

There is truly no way to do justice to the depth and variety of delectable goodies available at a good Parisian Patisserie in one article.  You will find an often overwhelming selection of tarts, chocolates, pastries, cookies and macarons (which seem to be everywhere these days).  Some will be familiar to you, others will be new and they are worth seeking out.   Think variety and you will not be disappointed.

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Classic Bakery Counter

Tarte Aux Fruit or Fruit tarts are commonly found in both individual and large. The quality is very reliable even in less than great bakeries. Choices include mure (blackberry), citron (lemon), fraise (strawberry), framboise (raspberry) and poire (pear).  Many tarts will mix fruits for design and color.  Fillings range from simple glazes to rich creams.  The best ones run simple like this:

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Perfect glaze and crispiness

Eclairs. I confidently wager that Paris has the best eclairs on earth with a variety of fillings including chocolate, coffee and vanilla creams.  Take a moment to read my review of Patiserrie Stohrer and then consider going there.  It was that good, the bakery is a throwback to Paris in the 1700’s and Rue Montorgeuil and the area around it are worth the trip.

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Yes, since 1730.

Macarons.   These small almond based cookies or cakes with creme fillings have conquered Paris and apparently the world.  But honestly, is it worth waiting hours in line for one at La Duree? Better to pick some up at their stand at CDG airport on the way home and wow your friends. Macarons come in a cacophony of flavors and colors and are not in any way to be confused with coconut Macaroons.

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Praline

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Pistachio

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Raspberry

Creampuffs are called Choux. The name means “little cabbage”.  If you can find them, try a Chouquette: small puff pastries without filling covered in sugar. Sort of a French donut hole.

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Les Chouquettes

Opera.   An intense rectangular chocolate mousse cake covered in dark chocolate and often decorated lushly even featuring gold flake on occasion.

Canele.  This Bordeaux specialty has a distinctive caramel burnt sugar flavor and unique shape.  They are dense almost chewy perfect along side a shot of espresso.

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Canele, pride of Bordeaux.

Chocolates.  Many bakeries will feature a display of chocolates to add to the party.

Bakery Chocolates

Bakery Chocolates

Recommendations in the neighborhood:

There are two pastry shops worth seeking out close to the Yellow Flat.  First is La Patisserie De Reves located across the Champ De Mars on Rue De Bac.  A visually engaging combination of classics and innovation that is really quite spectacular.  About 20 mins walk. 93 rue du Bac, 7th, +33 1 42 84 00 82. Métro: Rue du Bac. lapatisseriedesreves.com

The second is Desgateauxetdupain, an easier walk and again a lighter and innovative take on traditional cakes.  63 boulevard Pasteur, 15th, +33 1 45 38 94 16, desgateauxetdupain.com. Métro: Pasteur. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 8am-8pm

Though not in the neighborhood, Bontemps Patisserie, a young and dynamic new bakery in the Marais is turning out heavenly cookies called sable’, a cross between shortbread and sugar cookies with a crumbly nutty texture. Small drops of intense flavor made with a fine delicate hand.

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

bonempspatisserie  57 rue de Bretagne in the Marais+33 1 42 74 10 68  Metro Arts et Metiers.

For a completely different experience try these two patisseries, unusual in terms of both flavors and experiences with very different lineage.

While you many not think of Algeria as home to baked goods, consider visiting La Bague De Kenza. Think dates, almonds, baklava, rosewater and honey.  Order an assortment. 233 rue de la Convention, 15th, +33 1 42 50 02 97. Métro: Convention. labaguedekenza.com

Sadaharu Aoki As obvious by the name, this Japanese owned patisserie turns out exquisite chocolates that must be seen to be appreciated.  Located at the border of the 6th, 7th and 15th districts. 35 rue de Vaugirard 75006   +33 01 45 44 48 90 www.sadaharuaoki.com

exquisite candy

To learn more about how to enjoy Paris bakeries go to the first two blogs in this series.  You can read more about how to find the best Breads and get an overview of how to choose a great bakery here.

As always enjoy!

Jules