Ahh Paris! The city of love, shopping and most importantly: the capital of French Cuisine!
Notre Dame Cathedral
We started off our first day in Paris with a healthy petit déjeuner:
Les petite pain trio and an espresso shot for €2
After travelling to so many different countries, I was really impressed by McDonalds! They cater to the preferences of every culture around the world. In this case, baked pastries and espresso for breakfast is just so Parisian. We also found some McCafes with pies, tarts and macarons:
Even the specialty drinks at the McCafes were much more impressive than Canada's McCafes:
After grabbing breakfast, we went to meet up with a Sandeman tour. The final stop was near Les Invalides and our tour guide took us to a cozy neighbourhood French restaurant for lunch. The meals were simple, filling and most importantly - reasonably priced for about €10 - €15 an entree.
I didn't really know frog legs were so meaty. The mean was pretty lean with a string-like quality - the cream sauce was pretty nice as well.
Cafe Le Flores
(not to be confused with Cafe de Flore, the famous coffeehouse)
We saw the Cafe de Flore recommendation in our travel guides; little did we know how different the restaurants were (and the difference was "le" instead of "de" and a "s" after Flore!!)
Mmmm snails with lots of butter and cheese!
Duck confit (at the top) and duck a l'orange
It was an average meal and pretty filling for €20 a person (appetizer to share and entree). I found it very touristy. I wonder if people confused Cafe Le Flores for the famous Cafe de Flore.
The next day, we decided to explore Montmatre:
Moulin Rouge in Montmatre
We took in the scenery at the top of butte Montmatre near the Sacré-Cœur Basilica:
And grabbed a bite to eat in the touristy area near Place de Tertre and Sacré-Coeur
Croque Monsieur €8
I actually really liked the croque monsieur! It was nicely crispy on the outside and cheesy with ham inside. It's way more gourmet than any grilled cheese I've had in North America (with the exception of Clafouti)
We decided to treat ourselves after that crazy walking tour up butte Montmatre and we went to Angelina on Rue Rivoli for the famous pot au chocolat and the Mont Blanc.
Angelina's Pot au Chocolat et Mont Blanc €15
The Pot au Chocolat was rich,decadent and super indulgent. It was so heavy that it almost felt like a meal.
The Mont Blanc was made of meringue, sweet whipped cream, chestnut puree vermicelles. I wasn't very impressed by it (most likely because I don't really like chestnut as I find the grainy texture and taste off-putting). Also, I think I might have gotten food poisoning from the Mont Blanc I had because the next few days my stomach felt off. (What a nightmare...food poisoning in Paris of all places!)
We also got some snacks in the Le Marais area:
A pistachio cookie shaped like a mouse. It was so adorable that I couldn't help buying it. The cookie was pretty hard and didn't really taste like pistachio, but oh well, I bought it for the novelty.
Pain au chocolat aux amandes (chocolate and almond pastry)
French bakeries are amazing! No matter if they're boulangeries or patisseries, the French have taken baking to a whole new level and it's evident wherever you go in Paris (even McDonald's)
For dinner, we stopped by food floor in Galleries Lafayette and picked up some Thai food, as well as some macarons from Pierre Hermé!
Galleries Lafayette - The Thai food stall
Salmon quiche from a shop on our way back to the Hotel and Macarons from Pierre Hermé
I love these Department stores with everything! Tokyo's Mitsukoshi and Matsuzakaya, Berlin's KaDeWe, Paris' Galleries Lafayette and London's Harrods all have these fantastic floors serving ready-to-eat gourmet food. The Canadian equivalent of Holt Renfrew Gourmet pales in comparison.
Clockwise from the top right:
Infiniment Pistache (pistachio), Huile D'Olive À La Mandarine (Olive oil with mandarin orange), Mogador (Milk chocolate and passionfruit), Infinitment Rose (Rose and rose petal), Réglisse & violette (liquorice & violet), Huile D'Olive & Vanille (Olive oil and vanilla) and Métissé (carrot, orange and cinnamon). €11.10 for 7 macarons (and well worth it)
I can't rave enough about Pierre Hermé macarons: they are the BEST in the world! From the exotic and unique combinations, to the perfect execution of each delightful morsel - he really is the master of macarons.
My absolute favourite has got to be the réglisse & violette combination! I should probably give a little background: I really dislike flower flavoured macarons (rosewater, lavendar, etc.). I find the perfumed fragrance distracts me from the actual taste (and subsequently enjoyment) of the macaron (especially rose macarons - it's like eating a puffy rose petal confection and I just can't find eating it enjoyable). Then there's liquorice and for someone with such a big sweet tooth, liquorice has got to be my least favourite candy. So my first thoughts about the Réglisse & Violette combination was "Ew! A combination of my two least favourite flavours - what a disaster!"
Little did I know....
Something about the crazy combination just works! The liquorice has no resemblance to any liquorice candy and the violet is subtle but adds a nice balance to the liquorice side of the macaron along with the perfect finish of the delicately crunchy outside and moist, chewy inside make this the BEST macaron ever.
Heavenly - Pierre Hermé macarons are a MUST TRY in Paris!
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe
Unfortunately, due to tummy problems, I was reduced to eating on a soup and bread (mostly melba toast!) diet for the next few days:
However, I did manage to splurge a bit and get a French onion soup at some restaurant on our way to the Panthéon. I was actually expecting a puff pastry French onion soup and so I was quite surprised to get this soup with a thick layer of cheese on top and a hearty stew of caramelized onions. I find you can't really go wrong with French food in Paris...yum!
When I finally recovered, I went all out at another well-known macaron maker:
There's 5 locations in Paris and quite a few around the world.
Rose, lychee and raspberry come together in this delicious dessert. The raspberries and cream filling are sandwiched between large rose lychee feet. It's such a treat!
Gigantic Pistachio Macaron
It's probably a true testament to Ladurée that they can make such a large macaron consistent with the same texture as a smaller bite sized macaron with the textbook perfect crunchy shell and chewy inside. Considering it was about 4 times the size of a normal macaron - it was quite a feat (and really well done).
Delicious! Crunchy pastry with delicious strawberry custard all layered in a perfect package!
Pistachio Griotte Saint-Honoré
Macarons: traditional flavours of pistachio, rose, vanilla, coffee, lemon
Very classic macarons and they held true to the French receipe. They were picture perfect and classic (and beautifully executed), but I love the creativity and genius of Pierre Hermé more.
Then we went to Dalloyau
I actually recognized Dalloyau from Tokyo (they have 5 shops in Tokyo and in all the major areas).
I didn't get the chance to try Dalloyau (or Pierre Hermé for that matter) in Tokyo, so I figured this was a perfect opportunity to try it in the city that it originated from.
This is the most famous cake that Dalloyau is famous for! Classic and delicious.
Another famous Parisian thing was street crêpes
Street crêpes €5.30
I thought the crêpes would be a lot more popular, however, we actually had difficulty finding places that sold them. This street crêpe place we found was across the street from the Galleries Lafayette at Montparnasse.
It was a nice snack - convenient and cheap in a town full of delicious expensive food.
Conclusion: Contrary to popular belief that French portions are tiny and not-filling, I found the opposite to be true when I was in Paris. The food is pricey here, but the size of the meal didn't differ so much from any other countries (except maybe the portion sizes in America which are insane). I had a lovely time in Paris eating all the desserts and macarons and I can't wait to go back again (hopefully with a bigger food budget).