I realise the title of this post makes it sound like I may be up for heckling people in the street who happen to be eating a baguette or a croissant. “Hey! You over there! You should be eating that in Paris! How very dare you!?”
While that would be fun, that is not my intention. Rather I’d like to recommend to you five wonderful culinary moments you simply must experience during any visit to the stunning French capital.
I gingerly made the step from my twenties to my thirties last summer and I knew there was only one city that could make me feel like this decade was going to be my classy, sophisticated and oh-so cultured decade. Only Paris would do.
The city was everything I’d dreamed it would be. Crammed with beautiful, elegant buildings, endless people watching opportunities and buzzing with an unmistakable joie de vivre. But the thing that truly bowled me over, was the delicious food that I indulged in for every meal of the day.
Now I know Paris is considered to be a top foodie destination, I haven’t been living under a rock cake. But what really struck me was that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give your tastebuds their holiday of a lifetime.
Here are five of the best things that passed my lips during my birthday week in Paris…bon appetite!
Macaroons from Ladurée under the Eiffel Tower
I trotted into this plush little cafe en route to the icon of all Paris icons, the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t serendipitous, I’d done my research – Laudree is famed for producing some of the very best macarons in the French capital.
I felt my breath quicken as I took in the array of their pretty pastel coloured delicacies. And while the interior was almost intimidatingly bijou, the staff were warm, attentive and happy to help me select my flavours. I got a little carried away and immediately chose rose, coffee, salted caramel and chocolate flavoured macaroons. Then I remembered, it’s only nice to let my boyfriend pick some too, and he went for raspberry, peach, strawberry and vanilla.
Sitting on the long stretch of grass in the shade of the epic Eiffel Tower nibbling these little beauties is one of my best memories of Paris.
From Laudree on Rue Bonaparte to the Eiffel Tower, it’s a 40 minute walk, but you can take in the charming streets and burn off those calories before a macaron even touches your lips, so why not.
Boeuf Bourginon in Montmartre
Few things could be more French than a steaming bowl of Boeuf Bourginon. Our apartment was on the border between the rough and ready Pigalle area (think Moulin Rouge and a sex museum…) and the quaint, pretty Montmartre – the setting of the film Amelie.
On our first evening we wandered the busy streets of Montmartre in search of some dinner. The majestic Sacre Cour crowns the hill, but the surrounding streets are like a Parisienne Disney Land, jam-packed with tourists and tacky souvenir shops. Instead I’d recommend that you head a little downhill, to the quieter streets, where restaurants are better quality and locals meet for late night chats over a glass of wine.
We were tired and hungry, so alas I did not note down the name of the restaurant, but Boeuf Bourginon is a classic dish and the key component here is the setting – Montmartre is quite magical.
Opera cake from Dalloyau
I first tried Opera Cake in an Edinburgh cafe and bakery called Falko in Bruntsfield. Upon finishing, I calmly placed my fork back down on the plate and proclaimed the Opera cake to be the best cake I had ever eaten. And the trip to Paris offered the perfect opportunity to trace this little slice of heaven back to its roots.
Cyriaque Gavillon of Dalloyau patisserie is credited with creating the Opera cake in 1955. Its layers of almond sponge soaked in coffee, chocolate and ganache tick all my boxes, and the slice I ordered on my birthday was everything I dreamed it would be.
What could have been a better birthday cake?
Strawberry champagne cocktail while people watching
If there’s one activity I’d recommend in Paris – it’s people watching. Parisians were fascinating to me, with their effortless style, endless midday glasses of wine and nonstop smoking that somehow did not ravage their complexions.
Hop off the metro at Cite and you’ll emerge in a lovely market that sells all kinds of wonderful lanterns that you simply cannot buy because it will destroy your luggage allowance. Then head toward the Palais de Justice and on the corner you’ll find a busy restaurant called Les Deux Palais. It isn’t cheap but it’s a great place to rest your weary legs and watch the world go by.
My boyfriend enjoyed their beef carpaccio, while I opted for a light salad. The strawberry champagne cocktail from the specials board, however, was the real star of the show.
Ice cream beside Notre Dame
And finally…a proper little hidden gem. Just five minutes from the aforementioned Palais de Justice, on the corner of Boulevard du Palais and Quai du Marche Neuf, you’ll find an unassuming ice cream shop window attached to brasserie Le Soleil D’or. Buy ice cream from here – it’s insanely good. I had strawberry and my boyfriend had caramel, and it was such a meltingly hot July day we had to scoff them down before they turned to liquid. But, oh my, so good.
It was incredibly hard to narrow the list down to five things, but if you try any of these I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve been to Paris, I’d love to hear what tasty treats you’d recommend? After all, something tells me it won’t be long until I return…