When in Paris for about the last 5 years I’ve stayed in a very small hotel with very very small rooms on Rue du Bac just off Boulevard Saint Germain. The people running it are really nice, helpful and friendly however each time, because of the size and basicness, I wonder why I’ve booked again. (It’s definitely no good if Mike and I are in Paris together). When I get there I remember why – it’s such a good position in a local neighbourhood surrounded by fantastic little food shops, fashion and antique shops and close to the lovely department store Le Bon Marché and it’s fabulous food store Le Grand Epicèrie.
What has particularly struck me in the last little while is the proliferation of top quality chocolate shops and pâtisseries in the street and very close by. This is a reflection of what is happening in many parts of the city. New-style places have opened and many very traditional pâtisseries have revamped their offers and sometimes opened new branches or have been taken over by a new breed of bakers and pâtissiers. The results are amazing.
I can now step out from my hotel and within a few metres buy stunning chocolates from two different chocolatiers – Chapon and Pierre Marcolini. If I lived in Paris I’d be in Chapon regularly buying a container of chocolate mousse – 4 different chocolate types are available to take home – they’re simply scooped from large bowls. Their chocolates, which I often buy, are excellent. Across the road amongst a variety of chocolates and macarons, Pierre Marcolini sells tablets of chocolate which are single origin from small estates. I’m a great believer in the health benefits of a small square of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) every day. Anyway that’s my excuse for my daily indulgence.
On the next corner a new chocolatier, Jacques Genin, is about to open and right next door is Des Gateaux et Du Pain. Looking at the shop you’d think they sold jewellery or expensive perfume or something similar. It looks sleek and elegant with individually light display cases. Stepping inside you realise that they sell cakes, tarts and bread – all treated as precious objects. It’s seems a bit of an anathema with regards to the bread which is very rustic and sold in big wedges or whole loaves. I understand that this place has the reputation as one of the best in Paris.
Not much further along Rue du Bac is La Pâtisserie des Rêves also selling tarts, pastries, cakes and bread. Here their rustic looking creations are also treated as precious things and are displayed under glass domes looking like industrial light fittings. They describe themselves as making and selling French classics with a modern twist. You need to queue and point to the ones you want. These are then bought from the back room. I embarrassed myself the first time in there by lifting up one of the domes to be told that that wasn’t how things worked here. Oh well.
If I want to sit down with a coffee and pastry I go a little further afield from Rue du Bac, about 10 minutes walk away, to Focteur Le Boulanger des Invalides. It has the appearance of a traditional boulangerie and pâtisserie in a stuffy neighbourhood where the food is good but you feel as though it’s been the same for many years. Appearances are deceiving. This place is lively – the bakers knead dough near the counter, the one waiter struggles to keep up, customers are buying to take home a selection of treats and others such as myself order to eat and drink there, amazing aromas waft through the place. What’s more the coffee is great. I’ll be a regular here from now on.
I could keep going on about many wonderful places around Rue du Bac and close by but finally I must mention Du Pain et Des Idées across the city in the 10th arrondissement. In this very old boulangerie you’ll find a small range of very innovative pastries and breads. They’ve won several awards in recent years and I’m not surprised. In the interests of taking photos for this email and our Facebook page I bought one pastry, called a citron escargot (crystallised lemon peel with finely chopped nuts baked in a snail shell shaped pastry), sat outside at their table and took a photo. Of course I had to sample it. So good!! I promptly went back and bought one each of the other 4 flavours to photograph.chocolaterie, hotel, paris, pastry, patisserie Latest News