I genuinely believe that each of us was scattered around the world so that we, guided by the heart, spend our life in search of the place.
The place we really belong to.
I have been changing destinations and time zones throughout my life but at the same time I felt that my place was patiently waiting for me.
I didn’t require a lot:
Give me a bag full of goddamntasty pastries and chocolate (preferably chocolate-coated caramelised almonds or… truffles filled with a crème ganache. Yum), and I will be happy.
Give me an almond meringue topped with whipped cream, and I will stay there forever.
You either hate it or love it
Right now I am hundreds kilometers away from there, there is a leaden rain and grey sky behind a window and I am wrapping myself up with a warm plaid, remembering cozy moments I spent in one legendary city.
Now, make yourself comfortable and imagine a quietly playing accordion, the smell of hot chestnuts, wide boulevards and beautiful buildings in a neoclassical style, pâtisseries and boulangeries…
Does it ring a bell?
They say, either you instantly fall in love with Paris, understand and accept it, or stay completely indifferent to the city for good.
Honestly, I couldn’t even tolerate a thought about not loving Paris.
In the cold country I come from, everyone wants to go to Paris, fall in love with a handsome French guy who would whisper Je t’aime in your ear ( point at any woman who wouldn’t want that), eat a smelly okay, delicious French cheese with wine in front of the blinking Tour Eiffel, go shopping in Galeries Lafayette and most importantly, find happiness there (by default).
Someone said that one may suffer in Paris, but not be unhappy.
During my first visit of Paris, I got up before sunrise and came back home after sunset. I skipped museums (except for 3 hours in Louvre where I got stuck staring at an Egyptian mummy) and just went on my very own tour through the Parisian streets.
I stopped counting calories and became a permanent guest at Ladurée (and compensated this guilty pleasure by climbing the Arc de Triomphe afterwards.
But the absolutely mesmerizing geometric view on Paris was totally worth it!
I would visit the Eiffel Tower every day, spend mornings in Jardin du Luxembourg and evenings in Jardin des Tuileries, buy a crispy fresh baguette in Montmartre “Je voudrais une baguette, s’il vous plaît” and feel so Parisian, smile at a waiter in the café after his “Bonjour ma belle!”, take a ride on the Trocadero carousel, relax on the cool steps of Sacré Coeur, stroll up and down Champs-Elysées (and indulge in Haagen Dazs’ mango sorbet and vanilla caramel brownie) and Rivoli, turning to the narrow streets full of authentic shops or cozy cafés…
By the way, if you go near Notre Dame, don’t forget to stop by “Shakespeare & Co“.
It couldn’t get any better: located just in front of Notre Dame de Paris in the Latin Quarter along the Seine, this awesome shop is stocked with English and American books.
They also organize free French-English conversation exchanges, meetings with famous writers (if you are a writer yourself, you can bring your work there to get feedback from others) and literature festivals. Comfy couch and cushions serve as a bonus 😉
I discovered this spot thanks to a book by Ines de la Fressange “Parisian Chic”.
You should read this pretty book if you want to learn more about the way Parisians dress and learn how to bring some Parisian charm into your own style, discover some beauty tips, secret vintage stores, Ines’s favorite neighbourhoods and museums, or cozy spots to eat and relax.
Let’s talk food!
Beer in Paris?
Since my very first visit to Paris I have been there quite a lot, and yet, I have not explored the city as much as I would want to.
Slowly I started getting more friends here who would show me their city, so I had a chance to visit some other places like a “People drug store” in Montmartre, a shop full of all possible kinds of beer.
Earlier I would never have associated Paris with beer.
I used to think everyone was eating oeufs pochès for breakfast in the posh cafés on Champs Elysées, éclairs and soupe à ‘l’oignon for lunch in Marais and steak tartare for dinner on the top of the Eiffel tower.
But “beer? in Montmartre?
“So german” – was my first thought. However, a small picnic with a fruity Pecheresse became one of my favorite kind of evening.
Where can you find the best macarons in Paris? It’s not what you think…
I also got to discover other pâttiseries besides Laduree and Pierre Hermé.
If you are in Paris, you’d rather go to Sadaharu Aoki, a pâtisserie opened by a japanese pâtissier, enjoy their tasty macarons (much better than Laduree ones!) and delicious almond croissants or eclairs.
There is a big chance you will stumble upon their shop as one of them is located on the first floor of Galeries Lafayette Gourmet.
What about chocolate?
I am a big fan of chocolate and from my experience, other cities can’t be compared to Paris when it comes to chocolate.
There are so many chocolate & candy shops to be discovered, such an emotional rollercoaster for chocolate lovers.
Most of all if you read David Lebovitz’s list of insanely delicious things you shouldn’t miss in Paris
With the help of the book Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas and after doing my own research, I made a list of all the taste-tempting pastries and chocolates I was dying to try.
Every single food journalist praised the candy shop “A L’ètoile d’Or” as one of the very few places (and the only one in Paris) that sell Bernachon tablettes, the creation of the Lyon based chocolatier Maurice Bernachon.
In addition, “A L’ètoile d’Or” has chocolate from the whole country and other top French masters, like Jacques Genin (you can also visit his shop in Marais) or Henri Le Roux (a chocolatier from Brittany, mostly famous for his salted caramel.
Orange, fresh mint, hazelnut, espresso, Sicilian pistachio, herb and spices, almond, grapefruit…There is necessarily something for you, and don’t forget to have a little chat with the owner of the boutique Denise Acabo, who is considered a “cult character in Paris” when it comes to chocolate.
Some of my favourite chocolate shops include:
- Patrick Roger with original flavours Sichuan peppercorn or lemongrass
- Fouquet with chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate spice cookies
- Jean Paul Hévin with chocolate mousse whipped with tart passion fruit
- Michel Chaudun with pavés of ganache dusted with cocoa powder.
These chocolatiers are among the top 5 chefs in Paris which is already a great excuse to come by 😉
Tired of chocolate?
Tired of chocolate? Okay,that is hard to believe though!
What about (cup)cakes then?
Many people recommend the American style French bakery “Berko” as a must place to go to when you are in Paris.
They are conveniently located in the touristic area of Marais and Montmartre).
M&M’s, Nutella, white chocolate with raspberry, dark chocolate, Oreo, lavender, rose, mango with coco…
The flavours of their cupcakes will bring a warm-hearted American touch to your Parisian stay.
Those who have American nostalgia would probably enjoy a BBQ burger in “Big Fernand” near Gare du Nord as well.
Let’s go back to something more Parisian, bread.
Although every bread I have tried in Paris so far tasted super tasty and perfectly crunchy, my French friends were far more critical of the baguettes we bought in boulangeries.
They didn’t hesitate to blame my not-so-high standards considering I live in the land of currywurst (Germany).
So I decided to go for the best of the best.
The award of the best baker in Paris in 2010 seemed pretty convincing, and the fact that the French president ate this bread every morning made my adventurer-self take a walk early in the morning to get some bread for breakfast (just like ex president Nicolas Sarkozy did).
Whoops, I hope my French friends won’t hate me.
This charming boulangerie named “Le Grenier à Pain Abesses” is located in my favourite district Montmartre (That’s all Amélie Poulain’s influence).
Those of you who consider 2010 to be outdated may want to visit the bakery “Au Paradis du Gourmand” on Rue Raymond Losserand .
The baker, Ridha Khadher, won the award of the best baguette maker in Paris 2013.
Sounds good, right?
Over to you
Ahhh, guys! Writing this post made me want to go to Paris again so bad.
Why don’t we all book tickets right now and have a pique nique at the Tour Eiffel? Meeting point – Champ de Mars. Bring wine, grapes, brie and macarons in cute pink boxes – voila, la vie est belle 😉
Oh and don’t forget to share you favourite places in Paris in the comments below :).