“Fiona’s Paris trip confirmed that French was indeed the language of love” is how my birthday card from my Mum read this year. Take a look at it and you’ll see exactly how befitting this card was given the fact that not only was I in Paris for my birthday recently, but I spent pretty much the entire weekend scoffing cake as my husband, Jonathan, and I eagerly bounced from one pâtisserie to another.
So, is French the language of love? Oh yeah!
The trip was a gift from my fabulous work colleagues when I left my science job last year. Knowing that I was leaving to embark on a career in pâtisserie and cake design, my lab mates knew that the perfect gift would of course be a trip to the world’s pâtisserie capital to continue my research in earnest. Not only that, but they also provided a brilliant guide book of the top pâtisseries in each Parisian arrondissement. Such perfect gifts, such perfect work mates (I miss them all. I suspect the feeling is mutual as they are now left with a severe sugar deprivation since my parting, poor things).
And so, over four days my husband and I did some serious research and sampled delights from eleven pâtisseries (“Just eleven?!” you say. I know, I know: we didn’t try hard enough. A return trip is obviously a must! Shame that…). In this blog post and several others to follow, I share with you the pictures and the overall experience of nine of these pâtisseries (two we stopped at only briefly for breakfast so it doesn’t seem fair to include them) as well as our scores out of ten for each establishment and their offerings.
So, next time you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this beautiful city, you’ll know exactly where to go thanks to all of our selfless hard work and dedication (you’re welcome!).
So, here we go!
Coming in at number 9:
Aux Merveilleux de Fred, 94 Rue Saint-Dominique
This pâtisserie wasn’t actually in our guidebook but is one we stumbled across that looked interesting and had a bit of a queue, which is often a good sign.
Aux Merveilleux de Fred specialises in one type of sweet only – small meringue bites, called merveilleux, which are Belgian in origin and consist of two meringue shells sandwiched together with whipped cream, smothered in more whipped cream and then (traditionally) coated in chocolate shavings. Aux Merveilleux de Fred has left tradition behind somewhat and has branched out to include several different flavours, including cherry, raspberry and coffee. We bought the cherry one, “L’excentrique”, to try between us (having already a bag full of cake from a neighbouring pâtisserie).
Disappointing. The merveilleux was merely a puff of air with an indiscernible cherry taste. Eccentric it was not!
Scores on the Doors
Ambience: 8/10 (a very tasteful boutique store)
Range: 4/10 (even taking into account that this is a speciality pâtisserie, the range of merveilleux flavours was by no means extensive)
Presentation: 6/10 (the merveilleux were not particularly refined)
Taste: 1/10 (waste of €1.50)
Overall score: 48%
Coming in at number 8:
Fauchon, 26 Place de la Madeleine
Fauchon is one of the famous pâtisseries in Paris, claiming to be an “iconic landmark in gastronomy”. They have a modern, fresh and playful approach to pâtisserie, and is on many a tourist’s cake hit-list.
This was our first pit-stop in Paris and I was pleased to see an array of sweet delights on offer at their extensive counter. I chose the rum-infused “Éclair Baba” and my husband the “Carre Orange Noisette” tart.
Turning first to the pâtisserie: both were excellent, if expensive (€7 for the éclair, €6.50 for the tart). I had never tried a rum baba before but was keen to try the famous Fauchon éclair, so with the “Éclair Baba” I had the best of both worlds. The choux pastry was delicate and slightly crisp and the baba heavily soaked in a sweet rum syrup. The crème pâtissiere filling balanced the textures well and made for a scrumptious eat!
Jonathan’s tart was a complex layered affair with a hazelnut sable pastry crust, orange crèmeux, sponge, orange mousse and finally topped with an orange jelly. It tasted as good as it looked.
Moving next to the atmosphere of the café, Fauchon was one of the few pâtisseries that we visited that offered seating (upstairs) and in which we actually took the opportunity to sit. Whilst the cake counter and the savoury section of Fauchon gave the promise of a cool and decadent seating area, we found ourselves seated in a canteen-like area with uninspiring décor and fairly naff gold-coloured plastic cutlery. Not impressive, I have to say.
Very tasty. Uninspiring seating area.
Scores on the doors
Ambience: 4/10 (better take-away and go sit in the nearby park and admire the view of the Eiffel Tower)
Range: 7/10 (we arrived around 5pm, the café closed at 7pm so perhaps the range wasn’t as extensive as earlier in the day)
Overall score: 71%
Coming up on the blog next time: Maison Georges Larnicol and Piccadis.