Sweet Stopovers in Paris
A gourmand is someone who relishes good food and hearty eating. Those of you who identify with the word “gourmand” have the perfect excuse to visit Paris this coming May and hone your skills at the Taste of Paris. This gastronomy festival, to be held from 18 to 21 May in the Grand Palais, will feature the best culinary creations and products from Paris and environs. Here, we propose a tour of the sweetest establishments in the French capital to whet your appetite. Oh là là!
Among the accolades won by Patrick Roger is his first prize in the Grand Prix International du Chocolat in 1994 and the award for the Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2000. He is unquestionably the most famous chocolatier in France and a sculpture enthusiast to boot. Combining both these passions of his, he works his raw materials into amazing, large-scale chocolate creations, so it’s quite an experience to visit his shop. And, while you’re there, be sure to try his praline with roasted almonds or hazelnuts, his truffles or his dark chocolate, which he coats with bitter orange. Delightful!
A Great Brunch
Brunch is on the up-and-up in Paris, where numerous cafés and pastry shops offer this breakfast-lunch combination. As we were unable to decide which was our favourite establishment, we have opted to recommend two of them. Biglove Caffè makes the tastiest pancakes in town – plump, light and soft. Fillings include caramel, jam, chocolate and others. Then there is Peco Peco, where you will discover the finest Japanese brunch. Here, the traditional scones have been replaced by sashimi, algae salad, tatakis, etc. and they are all scrumptious!
A Fine “Saint Honoré”
The folks at the Hugo & Victor pâtisserie define their creations as “sweet gastronomy”. They have risen to become one of the leading establishments in Paris in just a few years and have earned acclaim mainly for their fruit tarts, choux pastry filled with custard and, above all, their “Saint Honoré”, a French speciality consisting of profiteroles set on a cylindrical base of pastry coated with custard and whipped cream. One of the peculiarities of Hugo & Victor is that they adapt this traditional pastry to match the products in season – chestnuts, strawberries and even mojito. Oh mon Dieu!
Fine Gluten-Free Pastries
Noglu specialises in all kinds of gluten-free pastries – brioches, escargots (snails), chouquettes (sugar-topped pastry puffs decorated with icing sugar), pain au chocolat (a chocolate viennoiserie sweet roll), croissants… The brunch menu is rounded off with jams, butter, honey, gourmet teas, cold soups and natural fruit juices. All homemade. Yummy!
A Great Rum Baba
Pain de Sucre is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious pâtisseries in Paris. Their fare reveals a perfect combination of flavours and meticulous attention to detail in the presentation, so that all their items look mouth-watering. Their chocolate and mint eclair is as intense as it is fresh and refined, while the rum baba (baba au rhum), above all, is unique. Lighter than a sponge cake, it is coated with whipped cream and soaked in rum, with a rum-dripped dropper which allows you to drench this pastry creation to taste.
Macaroons, Cream Caramel and Pain au Chocolat
If you happen to be in Paris and are sweet-toothed, you are bound to have programmed into your tour schedule a visit to Ladurée, an acclaimed pâtisserie with a classical aesthetic renowned for their macarons (macaroons). These are sold in boxes and vary in terms of current trends and seasonal fluctuations. And, they’re really worth getting hold of because, apart from the establishment’s major marketing splurge – which has earned them international fame – their creations are truly exquisite. But, Paris is also home to another master pastry chef who some say makes even better macaroons than his main rival – we are referring to Pierre Hermé. His shop offers an endless array of intense flavours, and you should also taste the vanilla cream caramel (well worth the €5 tab), as well as theirpain au chocolat.
It defies all logic that in the capital of the croissant it has become increasingly more difficult to find a good homemade specimen. However, at Blé Sucré you will encounter a croissant made by the master pastissier, Fabrice Le Bourdat, who has trailblazed his career in the world’s leading kitchens. His puff pastry, which resembles a stack of micro-leaves, wrapped in the most appetising gold jacket, reveals an intense flavour of butter and caramel. Crisp at first bite, giving way to a creamy yet consistent interior. Have one with a good café au lait on the small, pleasant terrace with views over a park to celebrate the return of the good weather.
Fire up and bring out the gourmand inside you – book your Vueling here.
Text by Laia Zieger of Gastronomistas.com
Must See Paris Exhibitions
Everything about Paris is enchanting – its streets, stores, bistros, pastry shops, fashion – but, if there is one thing I’m crazy about its the cultural life. I could churn out post after post about the city’s theatres, street festivals and markets and underground concerts. But, today it’s time to open my diary and review the most exciting exhibitions due to grace the French capital in the coming months. There’s a bit of everything, from ancient classics to contemporary offerings. Pack your bags – we’re off to Paris!
1. Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting in the Louvre
Nobody was able to capture genre scenes of 17th-century Holland as masterfully as Johannes Vermeer. On display at the Louvre is an exhibition at which Vermeer and such contemporaries of his as Pieter de Hooch, Frans van Mieris, Gerrit Dou, Jan Steen and Gerard ter Borch face off in an interplay which denotes similarities and reveals influences. Until 22 May.
2. Iconic Henri Cartier-Bresson
One of the great milestones in the history of photography is the book, Images à la Sauvette. Iconic and defiant, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s title was published in 1952 and has now become a cult manual. With the cover design by Henri Matisse, it is the backbone of an exhibition which will appeal to devotees of both photography and the oeuvre of the father of photojournalism. At the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. Until 23 April.
3. Cy Twombly – A Complete Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou is celebrating its fortieth anniversary in style. One of the flagship exhibitions in this celebration is the retrospective devoted to Cy Twombly, who rates among the most influential visual artists of the 20th century. A hundred and forty sculptures, drawings, photographs and paintings yield an exceptional view of this multi-faceted artist, providing a unique angle on one of the undisputed greats.
4. Rodin – The Centennial Exhibition
Any history of sculpture would be unthinkable without mention of Auguste Rodin. He goes down in art history as a fundamental artificer and this year marks the centenary of his death. On display at the Grand Palais are some of the most celebrated works of the forerunner of modern sculpture, in an exhibition which also features pieces by other great masters who were influenced by Rodin. Works by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Antoine Bourdelle, Paul Claudel and Constantin Brancusi will share the space until 31 July.
5. Sky and Mysticism at the Musée d’Orsay
The sky and the stars are a recurring theme as of 19th-century symbolism. Such artists as Gauguin, Denis, Seurat, Monet, Klimt, Hodler, Munch, Van Gogh and Kandinsky were transported by the spirituality of nature and landscape. In the exhibition, Beyond the Stars. The Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky, the Musée d’Orsay, in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario, provides a look at the more mystical side of the work of these artists.
6. Appel Returns To Paris
On loan from the Karel Appel Foundation of Amsterdam, the Musé d’Arte Moderne (MAM) of Paris is exhibiting twenty-one paintings and sculptures by this artist, who died in 2006. Karel Appel, a founding member of the Cobra group, which started in Paris in 1948 and disbanded in 1951, strove to break free of the academicism of the period and produce a more spontaneous, experimental art, including a set of practices inspired by primitivism. Until 20 August.
Book your Vueling to Paris and soak up the art in some of these magnificent temporary exhibitions in the city’s paramount art centres.
Text by Aleix Palau
Photo by Yann Caradec
For Valentine, The Best Boulangeries in Paris
It’s hard, and maybe impossible, to find a bad bakery in Paris. Expert bakers using plenty of butter produce goods that rarely disappoint. But some are especially good. Every year the city honours one of them for making the city’s best baguette or rod-shaped loaf, and the winner gets to supply bread to the President of the Republic for a year. Past winners constitute a roll of honour, and a good indication that they’re worth a visit. Here are a few:
LE GRENIER A PAIN (Abbesses, 38)
Michel Galloyer has 30 branches in Paris and the provinces, but the original in Montmartre is the one awarded the 2010 Best Baguette prize. There’s no room to sample the fare in the shop, but the nearby stairway to the gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica is a good alternative, thanks to the incomparable view of the city. The bakery boasts a large variety of breads that are baked in sight of the customer, as well as sandwiches starting at 3€ pizza or a bit more than 2€, and wonderful fougasses (flat bread roll stuffed with savoury ingredients). The goat cheese and tomato version costs only 2.20€. The croissants are out of this world, as are the chausson aux pommes, or apple turnovers.
PAIN DE SUCRE (Rambuteau, 14)
The success of the boulangerie-patisserie that opened a decade ago in Le Marais necessitated the opening of additional premises almost next door, with two tables indoors and five outdoors for sampling the sweet pastries. The main shop sells bread, sweet and savoury pastries, quiches, pain roulé (bread stuffed with spinach, bacon and cheese, spicy sausage and plums, etc.), focaccias (special flat bred topped with herbs and other ingredients), homemade creamy soups (try the pumpkin and chestnut!), and other treats. The décor is avant-garde, the food itself is colourful (check out the marshmallows), and you can order coffee. It’s a bit pricy –like almost everything in Paris—but worth everysou. You should consider the roule au pistaches (breakfast snail with pistachios) and the pain au chocolat.
LEGAY CHOC (Ste. Croix de la Bretonnerie, 45)
Le Marais is one of the city’s most gay-friendly district and the owner of this little bakery is not only gay and proud, but his surname is Legay. And indeed, his shop is famed for its penis-shaped loaves and brioches (2.30€), but everything in the shop is of the highest quality, including the hot dogs, wraps, and pizza, as well as the bread, pastry, quiches, and small pies. There are no tables, so it’s a take-away, but not at all expensive.
MURCIANO (Rosiers, 14)
This is a charming traditional Jewish bakery in Le Marais, featuring a menorah (Hebrew candelabra) in the window. The speciality is apple and cinnamon strudel (2.80€ per portion), as good as it gets. There are also traditional Jewish bread like the braided challah eaten on the Sabbath and other holy days, or rogallah, a sort of croissant with chocolate edges.
This boulangerie now has about a hundred branches all over the world, thanks master baker Eric Kayser, whose latest honours are for “Best Croissant” and “Best Bread” in Tokyo. His first bakery stands on rue Monge, 6, near Notre Dame cathedral, and features a bar and outdoor table –all branches have some seating facilities. A 100% ecological branch now operates at number 14 of the same street. Aside from bread and pastries, there are sandwiches, salads, tarts,quiches, and various combination for the lunch menu.
POILÂNE (Cherche-Midi, 8)
There are often long queues outside this little bakery in Saint-Germain des Près, one of the most celebrated in all Paris. The bread is believed to taste exactly the same is it did when the shop was opened in 1932 by Pierre Poilâne. The recipe calls for sea salt from Guérande, stone-ground organic flour, and fresh yeast, and baking is done in a wood-fired oven. There are two more branches in Paris and two in London. Don’t fail to try the delicious nut and raisin bread!
DES PAIN ET DES IDEES (Yves Toudic, 34)
Paris’ most “hipster” bakery, near the Canal Saint Martin, has a one large wooden table for all in front of the shop. With a lovely interior and show windows filled with charming knick-knacks, the shop features baked goods made with top-quality organic ingredients, and the bread is called “des amis” (for friends), Though his background is in fashion, proprietor Christophe Vasseur was named Paris’ best boulanger by the prestigious guide Gault&Millau. He offers traditional product, but also likes to experiment, and he also sell croissants made with matcha tea, Mouna (brioche with orange blossom), and even escargot made with lemon and almond nougat.
Ready to try some of this? Check out our low fares here!
By Isabel Loscertales / Gastronomistas.com
Paris Weekend Getaway
Paris is the city of artists and art lovers, a source of inspiration for writers, the capital of fashion, a classic venue for romantic escapades, the epitome of a chic metropolis and a beacon for gourmets, as well as a long list of etceteras. It is one of those places that never let you down when you get to visit them and which has something for everyone, be that the shop windows of luxury stores in the Place Vendôme, enjoying a glass of wine in Le Marais or soaking up the ever-lively atmosphere in the square where the Pompidou Centre is located. Although – we have to admit – the city is a little on the dear side, it is, however, suitable for all audiences and all tastes, and well worth a getaway, however brief that may be.
Paris In Two Days?
We regret having to disappoint you but you cannot see Paris in all its splendour in one go – you simply have to return. However, you can squeeze quite a lot into a well-planned, 48-hour stint in the “City of Light”. The most important thing is to limit the number of areas and monuments you aim to visit, organise your time properly and avoid panicking if you can’t get it all done, which is likely to happen.
Don’t be shy about being a guiri in Paris. We recommend you take the tourist bus as your first way of coming into contact with the city. As you won’t be able see all the sights on foot, the bus at least gives you an idea of what there is, and the places you see along the route will help you choose where you would like to go back for a visit.
For sightseers, one of the essential activities is touring the banks of the river Seine and its magnificent bridges. Not for nothing were they listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. So, strike out on a boat ride along the river – towards evening is the best time to see it.
To avoid long hikes across the city, be sure to book strategically placed and – above all – well connected accommodation.
Following is a list of the places you should seriously consider visiting when planning your short stay in Paris:
- An infallible classic is a walk along the Champs Élysées, from the Tuileries Garden to the Arc de Triomphe. From there, you stroll down towards the Trocadero gardens and cross the Seine to behold the city’s best known landmark, the Eiffel Tower.
- Go to the Île de la Cité where you can see two other beacons of the French capital –Notre Dameand the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic jewel with a stunning interior, thanks to its spectacular stained glass windows. While you are in this area, head for the Pont Neuf, which affords splendid views of the city and the Seine.
- Stroll along the narrow streets of Montmartre, also known as the “artists’ quarter”, and go up to the church of Sacré Cœur. Nightlife addicts can take a night-time stroll through the Place Pigalle, famed for its cabarets, especially the popular Moulin Rouge.
- Art lovers will be hard put to make choices on such a short getaway. You can easily spend a whole morning wandering among the vast array of masterpieces in the Louvre, so we would be more inclined to head for the Rodin Museum,as your expectations will be amply met by both the exhibition areas and the museum gardens. The Musée d'Orsay, with its 19th-century artworks, the Musée de l'Orangerie, with its Impressionist paintings, and the Pompidou Centre, featuring an excellent repertory of modern and contemporary art, are also good options, as long as you restrict the areas you intend to visit.
- Have a walk around the Place Vendôme, its centre presided over by a column modelled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, where you will find the leading luxury stores in Paris.
- Trend-seekers would do well to include Le Marais in their itinerary, as this is the city’s trendy district par excellence. Here you will find the most fashionable designer stores, art galleries, bars and restaurants.
Succumb to the delights of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities – book your Vueling here.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Sean X. Liumore info