Perfect picnics in Paris

Picnics in Paris was my latest adventure.

See below for my Youtube video and anecdote about the delightful eats we had 🙂

I have to begin this story not in Paris but in Gran Canaria. I was in a cheap cafe with my beau Mario, who was enchanted by the good looking cakes, more because he was hungry than anything else and not because of the quality. I was adament that the mille feuille he was eyeing up was no good. The cream was brilliant white and the pastry was dry as a bone. But instead of taking my advice not to buy it, he listened to the rumble in his belly. Poor fool. It was so bad he decided that he didn’t like mille feuilles.

Fast forward three months and we were in a patisserie in Paris surrounded by artfully structures cakes. Colour combinations of pink and chocolate brown, gold sprinkled bombs and towers of cream stood before us in all their glory and there in the counter were perfect mille feuille with custard cream sandwiched between delicate melt-in-the-mouth pastry. Now this was the place to eat! But Mario screwed up his nose with the memory of Gran Canaria and tentively bought a cookie. A goddamed cookie! sigh.

“You have to try my mille feuille, ” I said.

“Nah,” he replied.

“But this is the real thing,” I explained.

I bit into it. Cream oozed out of the sides.

He stared.

I groaned with pleasure: “Mmm!”

He agreed to taste it.

I think his words were: “OMG that is awesome taste!” (He’s German but I didn’t correct his English for not wanting to ruin his sugar high, or mine).

And so the love affair with food in Paris began.

I prised my mille feuille from Mario’s fingers and sat on a bench staring at the Arc de Triomphe, eating it slowly.

He fished around in his bag and took out his silly little cookie. I couldn’t help but laugh.

The city of lights is magnificent. In my opinion the quality of food, art and clothing cannot be surpassed.

All of this comes at a price so we were careful to choose only the best foods, cafes and retsaurants within our budget. Quality bio produce, such as wine, cheese and meat, from marche de Raspail (5th Arrondissiment) and the rotisserie chicken, pates and fruit juices at Marche Bastille (11th Arrondissiment) were awesome.

We stopped at many patisseires along the way: Maison Landemaine in Oberkampt and Valentina Boulangerie on Rue de Voltaire became our regulars – I mean we went to these places daily.

Another highlight was chocolatier Chapon, on Rue Du Bac. It was a very posh experience indeed! Mario did mousse tastings as the chocolate expert gave him intricate details – in the same way a sommelier would with wine. It’s a memory that has imprinted on Mario’s mind.

On the last night, he woke me up saying: “The chocolate mousse in very fluffy.”

I wondered why he felt the need to tell me this at 3am and turned around in bed to find him fast asleep.

My German boyfriend was sleep talking in English about French food. Only in Paris! C’est la vie!

 

 

Best haunts in Paris to get your read on

These four places should get you started on a literary adventure in Paris.

Shakespeare and Company bookshop is not just an ordinary store that sells books.

© Paris Tourist Office - Photographer : Amélie Dupont

This haunt on 37 Rue de la Bûcherie is a major attraction for anyone who is even remotely interested in books because there is always some happening going on whether it is a famous author reading, a debate, party or workshop. One of the most fascinating things about this place is it allows writers to live inside for free. An estimated 30,000 travelling writers (affectionately called Tumbleweeds) have slept among the texts in the store since the 1950s when the late George Whitman opened it.The shop’s history goes back to 1919 when American expat Sylvia Beach founded the original business on 12 Rue de la Odeon. Back then it was a shop, library and home-from-home for great writers, including Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce, in fact Sylvia was the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Bouquinistes is where you rummage for a unique discovery.

bouquinistes © Paris Tourist Office - Photographer : Marc Bertrand
Stroll along the River Seine at Les Bouquinistes, where more than 200 used booksellers offer their wares along a 3km stretch on both sides of the river.
Les Bouquinistes is a UNESCO world heritage site and feels like an openair bookstore, which is the reason the Seine is often described as the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves.
You can rummage all the way from the Pont Marie to the Quai du Louvre. Who knows, you may find something rare or you may find something useful – but what you will definitely have is a unique experience.
Follow in Hemingway’s footsteps.

deux magots
There has always been a popularity contest between Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots and which one is best is a matter of opinion, so if you have time best go to both. Why not, Café de Flore, on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Saint-Benoît, is only a one minute walk away from Les Deux Magots on 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés. During the 1920s wordsmiths like Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre and James Joyce flitted between the two all the time.

The cosy place to read.

editeurs paris
You don’t even need company when you’re losing yourself in a book over lunch at Les Editeurs, which fuses cafĂ©, restaurant, tea shop and library all into one space on 4 Carrefour de l’OdĂ©on.
This popular spot is no stranger to holding book signings or prize givings, but what makes it special is you can reach out and pick one of 5,000 books that align the walls from floor to ceiling. They were donated by some of the many publishers who used to frequent the place when the area was central to the publishing business.