Dreaming of Paris in the lead up to Bastille Day….
by La Belle Miette's Maylynn Tsoi
Before the birth of my two sons (Luther 3 and Marcel just 4 months old), I used to travel to Paris each year to conduct dessert research and eat a truly embarrassing amount of cake. It was something of a pilgrimage for me, and the places I visited became like temples on my little grand tour.
Here are some of my favourite places, along with some new ones I have on my wishlist for next time. We have a lot of reasons to be grateful to live in Australia. The absence of these merveilles is not among them….
Cédric Grolet is one of the most impressive patissiers working in Paris. He works alongside Alain Ducasse at Hotel Le Meurice to create some of the most beautifully executed desserts imaginable. That feeling you get when taking in the wonder of nature, or looking up at the ceiling in the Vatican – that is how I feel when I see Cédric Grolet’s creations. Talk about eating with the eyes! If you are fortunate enough to be in Paris, please eat with your mouth too – afternoon tea in or you can purchase to take with you from the lobby.
Chocolatier, patissier and confisier Jacques Genin is legendary in Paris. The former Chef Patissier of La Masion de Chocolat is known for his fanatic, obsessive attention to detail, quality and taste. Here you can order millefeuille sur place (that is fresh made to order – unheard of in the world of patisserie!) The éclairs and Paris-Brest are also freshly filled and brought to the patisserie from the kitchen above his Rue de Turenne boutique. Exquisite chocolates, fresh pâte de fruit (and legumes), and a beautiful range of twist wrapped caramels.
Still the master and recently awarded 2016 World’s Best Pastry Chef. Incomparable flavour combinations and his execution of classic flavours is stunning. Infiniment Vanille – his tart in six acts with vanilla from three origins – is my happy place.
When in Paris, a trip to Mariage Frères is a must for for tea lovers. The menu spans over 600 teas sourced from the most prestigious estates in the world. The naturally flavoured teas are masterfully blended. The colonial architecture and décor coupled with genteel service by experts in white linen suits transports you. This is tea as an artform. The most expensive cup of tea you will have is also the most enjoyable. We loved it so much that we became the importer of the largest range of their teas in Australia. Chez La Belle Miette, it is served more affordably and with regrettably less pomp and fewer men in white linen suits.
The Musée Rodin is housed in the sculptor’s former (rather palatial!) residence. The real gem here is the garden. Filled with his sculptures, expansive, manicured, exquisite. One of my favourite places to relax in Paris summertime. Some fun facts are that Dior usually present their Couture collection in a section of the garden, so you might see some freakishly tall women being ambushed by paparazzi at the rear exit (we did!). You can catch a glimpse of the garden in Midnight in Paris (with Carla Bruni as Owen Wilson’s museum guide). Conveniently, Philippe Conticini’s Pâtisserie des Rêves and Hugo et Victor are just steps away so you can collect everything you need for your cake picnic on the way to Rodin’s garden.
My other favourite place for a cake picnic is the Jardin du Luxembourg. VERY conveniently located in the 6th arrondissment. Collect several individual desserts from Pierre Hermé on Rue Bonaparte, then around the corner to Sadaharu Aoki on Rue de Vaugirard for some macarons (the Violet is beautiful), and a last stop at Jean-Paul Hévin on the end of Rue Vavin for an assortment of chocolates and chocolate macarons before strolling into this incredible public garden.
This is just a shortlist of recommendations for "normal people". If you have a sugar appetite that you think can match mine, please get in touch. I would be happy to send you my ridiculous map of MANY MANY MORE patisseries and chocolateries.
228 Rue de Rivoli
(Afternoon tea or cakes from the lobby)
133 Rue de Turenne
(one other location, but this is largest with the whole range)
72 Rue Bonaparte
(Several other locations but this is the flagship with his full range)
30 Rue de Bourg-Tibourg
(other locations too)
21 Boulevard des Invalides