Like McDonald’s and Starbucks are to America, boulangeries (bakeries) are seemingly found on every corner in Paris, selling what else but breads and pastries. So how to pick a good one? One tip I hold dearly to is to look out for boulangeries with the word “Artisan” on the window or awning, i.e. the bread is (usually) baked on the premises and not imported from elsewhere.
Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement is one of Julia Child’s favourite hangouts in Paris. It’s said to be home to the best street market in the city but it was real quiet on the morning I went. While exploring the cobbled streets, we found this fabulous boulanger by the name of ‘Le Fournit de Mouffetard’. Impossible to miss the bold black and red awning.
And that’s where I had the bestest-best buttery croissant, delicious pain au chocolat (imagine golden and slightly crispy on the outside, with melted chocolate swirls inside) and cute mini chouquettes (little “pâte à choux” pastry puffs, topped with coarse sugar) ever eaten! Sometimes, the best eats are really the ones that’s unplanned for.
I’ve already wrote about Poilâne previously and Maison Kayser is another famous French bakery worth mentioning. Eric Kayser is a 4th generation French master baker who has numerous boulangeries throughout Paris as well as branches in Japan, Russia and Taiwan etc. The sweet pain au chocolat was flaky and buttery, and that’s after keeping it for one night. Imagine how awesome it’d be if it’s fresh out of the oven!
There’s a stand at Galeries Lafayette Gourmet so you can get your hands on Pierre Hermé and Sadaharu Aoki at the same time!
I was lucky on my last day in Paris cuz while visiting the Notre Dame, there was a huge bread carnival near the cathedral. It was a noisy flurry of activities inside the large pitched tent, bakers were busy baking breads and tarts on the spot, and the smell of freshly baked goods was incredible!
And of course, we got to buy the end products. See that guy slicing the apple tart in the bottom right photo above? That’s what I bought! The crispy pastry with thin tart apple slices was gorgeous and we also tried the croissant, baguette and raisin rolls~ By the way, do you know that Parisians carry their baguettes without any cover? I often spotted naked baguettes sticking out of their bags on the streets and in the metro, ha.
Just as easily available in Paris are galettes/crêpes (though they originate from Brittany) and they were my daily must-have while I was there. There’s nothing not to like about these thin soft pancakes — they’re cheap, quick, delicious and oh-so-versatile.
My first savoury crêpe was at one of the sit-down restaurants along Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre (en route to Angelina). It’s a very touristy area and I wasn’t expecting a good one but maybe cuz I was really hungry, I thought my smoked salmon with soft cream cheese was tasty though it was quite thick!
I did a lot of research on crêperies in Paris prior to the trip and A La Côte Bretonne (12 Rue des Deux Portes, near Versailles) was raved by many online. It was full house on a weekday afternoon and we were the only Asians there! Very authentic and local kind of place. They only serve crêpes and galettes, and the menu is very extensive with all sorts of fillings possible.
As usual, I had my smoked salmon and the family had the classic ham-egg-cheese combination. Love how thin and delicate the batter is! And tangy apple cider is a traditional accompaniment so that’s a must-try too. For desserts, the Grand Marnier crêpe (bottom left) was boringly plain so we had a more elaborate version doused in orange liqueur and topped with vanilla ice cream. Délicieux!
Bastille Market is where the locals go on Sunday and it’s a good thing that I went on a quiet weekday so I don’t have to dodge rolly shopping trolleys. The open air market has 3 aisles with vendors on each side and stretches about 2 blocks between rue Amelot and rue Saint-Sabin. We saw a take-away stand and had a sweet paper-thin nutella+banana crêpe this time. It was fun watching the owner deftly folding and wrapping it right in front of us!
Quoting Rick Steves: ‘Café du Marché (38 rue Cler) is the place to sit and enjoy the action. It’s rue Cler’s living room, where locals gather before heading home, many staying for a relaxed and affordable dinner. For a reasonable meal, grab a chair and check the chalk menu listing the plat du jour.’
That’s exactly what I did — for 2 nights in a row, no less! That’s right, I like it so much that we went to the trouble of taking the metro there for dinner the next day. Portions are good, ingredients are fresh, and prices are fair (less than €20 for a main). The decadent duck confit (bottom right) is a definite must-try and get the day’s special for fish at its best. I had tasty pan-seared seabass on the 1st night and whitefish on the 2nd.
My last proper meal in Paris was at Le relais de l’isle (37 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile), a hidden gem near Berthillon and Amorino. This was a completely random pick and I struck gold! It’s a very small restaurant and the lady of the house was very warm and friendly. We had salmon tartine, salad with parma ham and cheese, trio of meat in kebab style, trout with almonds and carrot puree, and duck au vin. Wonderful service and excellent quality! Best of all, it’s typical bistro prices that won’t blow the budget.
Writing this makes me miss Paris for her food now =(
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