Mon Eclair

Mon Eclair pastry shop in Paris

I was recently part of a panel on France24 television to debate the subject: “The argument over French cuisine.” Rather than being a debate, though, it was more question-and-answer session once the cameras were rolling. But beforehand, the four of us on the panel had a very lively discussion in the lobby about the subject, which at one point, I stopped and told the producers that this was what should be captured by the cameras. All four of us agreed on a number of points, but came from different places, so each had our own ideas of what French cuisine is today, and where it is going. (And I had a few ideas of where it shouldn’t be going.)

Moving to the studio, I was seated next to Gregory Cohen, a French chef who’s lived in the United States. He’d brought several éclairs along from his shop, Mon Eclair, which they conveniently put right in front of me for the taping. It was hard to concentrate, sitting next to the beautiful creations, while we continued to chat. But when the cameras stopped, I dove right in.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in ParisAmazingly, a day after the show aired, one of my best friends in Los Angeles sent me an email. He’d seen the program and was a good friend of Gregory. I didn’t ask if he usually watched France24 in L.A., but found that pretty incredible he knew the personable fellow sitting to my left. But I was equally interested in Gregory’s new concept of a pastry shop (where you design your own dessert), as I’ve been thinking a lot about how French cuisine will involve, and what it will it look like in the future.

While there are some extraordinary young chefs cooking in Paris today, most of the food reads to me like “global cuisine,” rather than being uniquely French. The ingredients may be sourced in France, but the chef may be Australian, French, Belgian, or American. So what makes a dish “French cuisine”? We apply that label to traditional foods from the past, but how do we define what’s assign provenance to a plate of bulots (sea whelks) tempura that I had at Pirouette two nights ago? Or the unforgettable crab salad with green tomato jelly with coral mayo I had at the Bristol? They hardly were typical “French” dishes, but made with French ingredients by French chefs. Still, if I was served them in Seattle or Tokyo, they would have felt right at home.

For the last couple of years, many of the trends in Paris took cues from outside of the country. But éclair is resolutely French and it’s the perfect palette for invention, and reinvention.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in Paris

In a place where it’s usually “Our way or the highway” (“C’est de notre chemin, ou l’autoroute” doesn’t sound quite right in French), you can have it your way at Mon Éclair. In fact, that’s the whole concept of the shop Gregory started with Johanna Le Pape, who was a Championne du monde des art sucrés, a world-champion in pastry and confectionary.

Gregory has a pretty amazing story. He started cooking when he was 13 in his family’s restaurant in Paris. It was just across the street from Serge Gainsbourg’s house. The famous French singer and actor ate there often and became a close friend of the family.

After Gregory left to the restaurant to do his French military service, he decided not to go back to restaurant work and instead went to Haiti. Shortly after his arrival, there was a military coup and he was trapped, with people marauding through the streets with machetes. The closest airport was a six to eight-hour drive away from where he was. Somehow he was able to get on a small plane from near where he was staying, one that was intended for eight people, but there were eleven of them stuffed on the plane. It was so weighed down that the plane kept sagging and hitting trees as they tried to lift off. But they finally did.

When they eventually got to the capital city, he raced to the French embassy to find it closed and deserted. Not sure what else to do, he went to the American embassy and joined the crowd outside, many protesting angrily. (With machetes, too). In the madness, he managed to catch the eye of a GI guarding the embassy, who saw him waving his hands, and came over to pull him out of the crowd, to the safety of the embassy.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in Paris

When he told them, “Um, I’m French, not American” they said it didn’t matter. They were going to help him. He couldn’t believe how helpful and friendly everyone was to him. They told him he could buy a ticket to America, which he did, and they would get him there. However at the airport, a local official asked to see his passport, took it out of his hand, shoved it in his back pocket and said, “That’ll be $100 if you want it back.”

Completely out of cash, he was desperate and didn’t know what to do because he needed to get on that plane, and would certainly need his passport upon arrival. All of the sudden, someone from the U.S. Embassy appeared, went over to the man, had a few words with him, and the man turned over his passport. Gregory was good to go.

In case there are any talent scouts out there from Netflix or Hollywood, get in touch with Greg. And the rest of us can give thanks to the folks that do such excellent work at embassies overseas that he’s still with us.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in Paris

Now safely in Paris, he and Johanna spend their days making éclairs, baking off the shells to be filled with the various creams, custards, and toppings at Mon Eclair. The concept is simple, but brilliant. Start by choosing if you want a regular éclair shell, or gluten-free. Then pick out a filling, then a topping, and then a garnish.

So you might want praline, caramelized pineapple with Tahitian vanilla, or apples caramelized in the style of a tarte Tatin inside. Then you choose the next layer, perhaps it’ll be caramel? Or maybe creamy lemon? Or chocolate ganache? Finally you decide if you want pear or passion fruit marshmallows, caramel tuiles, lime meringue, or granola. And those are just partial lists of the many options, made fresh every day in the shop.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in Paris

Once you’ve decided, they’ll go ahead and prepare it to order for you, right there in front of you. Yes, taking pictures is encouraged*.

Speaking of granola, I was very smitten with their “almond granola,” a mix of toasted nuts with maple syrup and fleur de sel de Guérande that I could eat by the jarful. There’s a “healthy granola” as well, with less focus on nuts, more on oatmeal flakes, but this is the one to order. They also sell it by the bag as the shop is also an épicerie, a place to buy jams, jellies, and creatively flavored pâtes de fruits.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in ParisIn addition to pictures, tasting is also encouraged. I stuck a spoon in a jar of bitter mandarine and yuzu jam, and another with pears and a ruddy blend of spices (including star anise, cinnamon, and vanilla), that I absolutely loved. But I was especially intrigued by whatever was in that far jar on the right. It was Dulce de café with coffee and ground coffee beans…la vâche – was that good!

For those of you who can’t decide, they’ve got some standard éclair combinations that they do. And if you can’t make it there, you can have them delivered via TakeEatEasy, although to me, the fun is visiting the shop and checking out all the creams, custards, ganaches, and guimauves (marshmallows), and letting your imagination run wild.

Mon Eclair pastry shop in Paris

Mon Eclair
52, rue des Acacias (17th)
Métro: Ternes (Or Argentine, or Charles de Gaulle Étoile)

Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 8pm, Sunday 10am to 1pm.


*One of the many topics we didn’t discuss on air, but beforehand, was taking pictures in restaurants and pastry shops. In the last few years, especially with the rise of Instagram and Snapchat, it’s become much more of a topic of discussion and from what I’ve seen, important for a lot of restaurants and other businesses when people share photos from them. Yet I’m often asked why many shops in Paris don’t let you take photos and visitors have told me they’ve gotten scolded (myself included) for doing so.

Gregory laughed and quipped, “But don’t people think it’s kind of charming when they get scolded for taking a photo?” I said, “No, they don’t.”

So if you want to go somewhere in Paris where it’s a-ok to take pictures, head over the Mon Eclair. And if he gives you a hard time, tell Gregory that I said it’s okay ; )

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59 comments

  • January 23, 2016 3:02pm

    This was an interesting read on ‘Mon eclair’. I think french patisseries are wonderful and I would definitely visit Mon eclair when I next visit France (and take lots of photos) ;D

  • January 23, 2016 5:14pm

    Outstanding idea. Ice cream shops here in the US have been doing that for years. I was thrilled to see it taken to France in such a novel way.

  • Elaine Jacobs
    January 23, 2016 5:16pm

    I have several of your cookbooks and I made your fab nuts/pretzels. My grandson kept picking out the nuts so now I sometimes make it with “nuts” only! I also loved the brownies with the spanish caramel! It is my husband’s favorite right now. Thanks for all the good recipes.

  • January 23, 2016 5:27pm

    Très intéressant David. The idea of customizing to individual tastes is relatively new in France. I would like to watch the France 24 discussion, can you send me a link or the date and time ?

    And let’s have some cuisine française together soon …

    Paule

  • suedoise
    January 23, 2016 5:30pm

    there is also the Profiterole Chérie which like Mon éclair uses only the petit choux dough for everything on sale managed by Phiippe Urraca carrying that exclusive title of excellence: “meilleur ouvrier de France”. Tiny shop and café at 17 rue Debelleyme, Paris 75003, a tiny street by rue de Saintonge and rue de Bretagne. What you order is assembled as you wait.

  • Alene
    January 23, 2016 5:31pm

    Gluten free? Be still my heart. ♡ Eclairs were not my 1st choice before my gluten issues. But, of course, now that I cannot have them, I want them desperately! Mon Eclair is now officially on my list for my next trip. Thank you!

  • Laura Harsoyo
    January 23, 2016 5:39pm

    Love eclairs!

  • Nikki
    January 23, 2016 5:46pm

    If “you can’t decide”!?? My gosh you get 1 of each!! These look stunning and the jars of jams look jewel-like so shiny with bits of goodies. And the Dulce de cafe gives me a great idea for a “riff” on your Dulce de Leche Cheesecake.
    Thanks for a great story and Gregory should play himself in the movie. He has the looks to do so!

  • Caroline Jacobs
    January 23, 2016 6:17pm

    Apres your chitchat, je expect le recipe. Ou est le recipe, mon cher???
    Caroline de Santa Monica CA

  • Bret
    January 23, 2016 6:25pm

    Great post. I loved the Haiti story. It would also make a great book.

  • January 23, 2016 6:33pm

    I grew up on eclairs from an Italian-American bakery, and I must say these are so innovative and modern…love all the fillings and toppings. The Dulce de cafe has also given me some new ideas. As for Gregory, what a story!

  • Lynn Morris
    January 23, 2016 6:44pm

    I was “scolded” in Carette’s on my first visit to Paris back in 2009. I didn’t find it charming but I did respect their right to request no pictures and promptly deleted the photo I had taken. Their pastry was delicious and service quite good. On our second visit, we frequented the one near the Trocadero, and were treated some of the best service we experienced!

  • Bev
    January 23, 2016 7:26pm

    Sounds delicious – but I am curious to know how much it would cost for one of these assembled-to-order éclairs.

  • Frank
    January 23, 2016 7:29pm

    What a great story. Please, if it is possible, give us a photo of the outside of places like this. We visit Paris yearly and love to track down the places and shops that you and other bloggers suggest. They are sometimes quite hard to find and an ID shot would make it easier. ME is on my list for my next trip

    • January 24, 2016 9:47am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve pretty much got my hands full when I write about a place and take photos at the same time as talking to the owner. So it’s hard to take pictures of everything and still experience being there. Plus in this case, I did go outside to do a shot but there were garbage cans from all the neighboring businesses out front, which I didn’t think was very attractive : )

      You can use Google “street view” to search an address and find what the outside of a building looks like.

      • Don Dunaway
        January 28, 2016 6:11pm

        How about “Ma route, ou l’autoroute”?
        As to the concept of Mon Éclair, it amazes me daily that so many people have come to believe that all ideas are equally good. They’re not. I am an excellent eater and a modest cook. That is why I sometime pay certain individuals good money to cook for me. My job is to appreciate and enjoy the difference.

  • Elle
    January 23, 2016 7:55pm

    I absolutely love eclairs.
    That’s it. You’ve persuaded me – must go to Paris. Soon.

  • Ann
    January 23, 2016 8:22pm

    David, Congratulations on the article in the February Food & Wine. Great spread and photos.

  • Helen
    January 23, 2016 8:32pm

    David…Pardon my naiveté, but why does French food have to evolve at all? It is perfectly yummy as it is!!!! And you always bring it to my computer with style…Thank you! Helen

    • Jolivore
      January 24, 2016 3:56am

      In some quarters France has had a reputation for being stuck with its food in old glories and methods. I notice that the wonderful new cooking is not about new tastes or spices but the subtle rules: the French are fond of elegance and subtlety, but that’s exactly what is being questioned by some of the new approaches, especially the Asian ones. How to cut things, leaving herbs in big pieces instead of small ones. Yes, there is a virtue to elegance, but there is also a virtue to virility, to forthrightness.

    • January 24, 2016 9:44am
      David Lebovitz

      I think everything eventually evolves, with different generations and various cultures adding to the mix. Classic French cuisine is still with us but a majority of the young chefs in Paris aren’t interesting in making Coq au vin, but prefer pressed pork belly with herb emulsion and root vegetables, or sous-vide eggs, and dishes like that. I like them both but I’m not sure one could call the second “French cuisine” exclusively, hence my question about the nomenclature.

      • January 24, 2016 10:11am

        Hello David, Bonjour, yes I fully agree like everything cuisine has to evolve and we can like both traditional and modern. The modern part, I’d call it INternational cuisine as you can find the creativity everywhere, it is not only French. Just came back from a trip in UK where I ate haggis, fish and chips, and delicious international food, BTW very Asian and Middle East oriented, lots of vegetarian and cereals recipes.
        Both were good… Why having to choose ?

    • January 24, 2016 2:28pm

      I could not agree more. I teach cooking lessons in Dordogne and there is still lots of love for classic French food. I am actually making a pot au feu as I type this.
      Vive la cuisine Française!

      • January 24, 2016 2:44pm

        Pot -au-feu ? I ahve a recipe and technic for a fabulous one with different pieces of meat, slow cooked for hours, roots vegetables, Brittany blackwheat bread, mostaza di cremona besides other spices and mustards. Would love to share your recipe and mine. Love the “mijotés” : pot-au feu, daubes, blanquettes, “poulet aux chicons” ( chicken with endives)… and tajines !! :-) Anychance we meet somewhere ?

  • Raven Braut
    January 23, 2016 9:08pm

    Have you ever written an article on making eclairs at home? Since all of your recipes are fabulous and eclairs can be a bit tricky to master, could you please pass on how to get pate a choux right?

    • January 24, 2016 9:41am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, there’s a recipe/article in my recent book, My Paris Kitchen, for making éclairs at home.

      • Raven Brault
        January 24, 2016 6:13pm

        Thanks! I’ll check it out. You have made a rainy day in Southern Oregon sunny!

  • John
    January 23, 2016 9:09pm

    Not only do the contents of those jars look wonderful, so do the jars – I’m as bad as DB alleges he is about old or unusual cookware/
    packaging/serveware – my daily cutlery was my grandparents. There appears to be no moulded screw thread around the tops of these jars (a rarity these days). Don’t suppose anyone knows where they’re available from?

    • January 23, 2016 9:40pm

      Those look like apothecary jars. You can find them on-line or at places like target

  • January 23, 2016 9:44pm

    I often wonder how much French cuisine has influenced other cuisines! Traditional French food is delicious, though I do know that not everybody would care for the snails followed by kidneys I enjoyed in a Paris restaurant last year…. At that, nor would I enjoy them every day!

  • Francky
    January 23, 2016 10:12pm

    Just got to Paris to celebrate my mother’s 97th bday!!!…and of course I have a long list of places discovered by my friends back home (San Francisco)that I need to go and visit, thanks to your blog!
    I’ll have to add this one to the list!…it looks fabulous!

  • GB
    January 23, 2016 10:13pm

    Such a delish and fun article to read. I too visited Profiterole Cherie last November and hard to decide what filling to choose. Enjoyed the exploits of Gregory, a movie for sure.

  • January 23, 2016 10:31pm

    I definitely need to reinvent my desert. I love éclair. I will love a place where I can try different ingredients.

  • Anne Wright
    January 24, 2016 1:27am

    I enjoyed reading about this great place in Paris. As Paris is sleeping across the big pond, my mouth is watering looking at the wonderful photos! Many thanks!

  • naomi d.
    January 24, 2016 2:08am

    Forget the movie, where’s the eclair cookbook?

  • Kathleen
    January 24, 2016 2:33am
  • Victoria
    January 24, 2016 5:49am

    That’s an amazing story about the American Embassy getting him out of Haiti — thanks for sharing.

  • January 24, 2016 7:41am

    Years ago I used to live on rue des Acacias and years before across avenue de la Grande Armée on the 16th Arrondissement. To be honest I have no regrets leaving this side of Paris, preferring my 2nd Arrondissement… Until today…. Won’t move back but will definitely visit this Eclair address. Your recommendations are always worth to give it a try, or maybe 2, 3….

    • Nadia@maisontravers
      January 24, 2016 2:25pm

      At least you are not far away. I also lived nearby but now am in Dordogne. Love it here though!

      • January 24, 2016 2:36pm

        Hello Bonjour Nadia, thanks for your comment from a foodie to another one. For 4 years, I shared my life between South West of France, close to Marciac ( Gers) where I run a 5 BR B&B with table d’hôtes and Paris. Now I am 100% in Paris still running a tiny 1 BR Chambre d’Hôtes.Like you , I love cooking and sharing. In the SW I had access to excellent meat, generous recipes.In Paris I enjoy spices, cooking “all over the world” and being able to visit David’s addresses. Together we have the best of both worlds…

  • Nadia@maisontravers
    January 24, 2016 2:23pm

    Oh my God! A Dulce de café eclair or passion fruit. I was in heaven just reading your post. What a superb idea for a pâtisserie concept.
    Pity they were not open 20 years ago when I lived just around the corner from rue des Acacias. Now, I have to make a trip from Dordogne to Paris.

  • Tamara
    January 24, 2016 5:43pm

    Hi David, I don’t know if it’s just me but the link to your segment on France24 doesn’t work, it just takes me to a blank page! Cheers :)

    Oops! One of those pesky coding errors. Fixed! : ) -dl

  • Jan
    January 25, 2016 3:23pm

    I was last in Paris about 7 years ago. I found it interesting that the big name patisseries like Fauchon and Ladurée had no signs about photos and didn’t mind at all that I took photos. In contrast, I was taking photos of a small storefront window display of “les brownies” and “le crumble”, neither of which looked true to form, or even made in house, and I was lecture for a good 5 minutes on ” le droit du photo” and how I had no right to take that photo as I was standing on the sidewalk…who knew?!?

    • January 25, 2016 3:55pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve always thought that it would be a good idea for shops that don’t allow photos to post a discreet sign that says something along the lines of, “We’re happy that you’ve here to appreciate our pastries. To maintain a certain atmosphere, we request that you refrain from photos in our shop.” Some of the “big name” shops actively discourage people but it’s be nicer to just have a clear note about it.

      As for taking pictures on the sidewalk, I’ve been scolded as well. (One guy came out and flipped out that I took a picture of something he had on the sidewalk.) I talked to him for about 5 minutes about it because it was a simple clay cooking pot that was pretty and he was acting as if I had stolen a great treasure from his family. I am pretty sure that you can take pictures anywhere from the sidewalk, but don’t know the finer points of the laws. But I do know that it seems ridiculous to yell at people and lecture them for doing so.

      • January 25, 2016 5:58pm

        Privacy laws in France are among the strictest in the world. People can and have sued for compensation and won! Even for simple shots that we consider to be banal and mundane and take for granted in the US. It is best to ask for permission before you shoot.

  • Kimberly
    January 25, 2016 8:38pm

    Daivd,
    what about asking for the Dulce de café with coffee and ground coffee beans recipe? (or you re-creating) that does sound amazing. Nice alternative to nutella or jelly/jam on toast in the morning.

  • January 27, 2016 11:04am

    David,
    Fantastic post, really so interesting. Merci!

    Susan

  • January 27, 2016 12:48pm

    I love eclairs there are so many flavour combinations. I think they are the new macaron in the sense they look beautiful and the different types you can make are endless!

    I keep lusting over the eclairs in Maitre Choux in London – they ate beautiful, not to mention Fauchon.

  • January 27, 2016 5:51pm

    Hi David, There is a wonderful episode of Apostrophes from the early ’80s wherein Bernard Pivot discusses French cuisine and wine with Michel Serres, Maurice Bernachon, Pierre Escoffier, Martine Jolly, and none other than Richard Olney. You can see it here (https://www.ina.fr/video/CPB85106653) if you pay a small fee. Well worth it!

  • January 28, 2016 6:34am

    This shop looks like heaven! There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a perfectly made eclair! Can’t wait to check it out on my next Paris visit!

  • Lore
    January 28, 2016 5:12pm

    Loved reading this and many other articles! My only issue is that I’ve been brought up on éclairs, and I am Belgian. Which brings me to a question that you might not have an answer to, but I am asking anyways. When people abroad ask me what Belgian food is, I tend to answer it’s like French cuisine but then different. Here comes the question: What to you is Belgian cuisine, and how is it different from its French counterpart? (I don’t know whether you have had the chance to experience it often, or the country in general -it’s well worth crossing the border ;-) ). Thanks!

  • Susan
    January 31, 2016 10:41pm

    I enjoyed reading about Mon Eclair. Are they going to be a part of your October tour ? I have requested information, but sadly no reply. We would love to join you !! Just keep trying ??? Thanks !

    • February 1, 2016 11:24am
      David Lebovitz

      hi Susan: We don’t include Mon Éclair on my tours but it’s certainly a place one could visit on their own and see how things are done, since the éclairs are assembled to order. Apologies you didn’t get a reply from the administrator for my tour. It may already be full. If you’d like to send another inquiry, you can do so at the address/link on my Tours page. Thanks.

      • Susan
        February 1, 2016 2:56pm

        Thank you. I will keep trying.

  • Kathy K
    February 2, 2016 1:52am

    Thanks so much for this post. Heading to the 17th this week and can’t wait to try this out. Any other suggestions for this area?

    Also loved seeing you “In Conversation” in October!

    • February 2, 2016 8:16am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, be sure to go to the rue Poncelet nearby, which is a small, but interesting market street with some very good food shops. The most famous is Alléosse cheese shop, which is vary famous, and spectacular. Stubli has German pastries a good, very friendly Italian restaurant nearby is La Fabbrica, which you should reserve if you plan to eat, lunch or dinner time.

      • Kathy K
        February 3, 2016 8:40pm

        Thanks so much! Rue Poncelet and Alleosse are always among my first stops when I get there (along with the Monoprix). Can’t wait to try Stubli and La Fabbrica.

  • c
    February 13, 2016 2:26am

    If you are ever in Lisbon (Portugal) you should try a place called L’eclair – the owner and chef moved there from france – a small shop which specializes in eclairs (they change them each season).

    I think that what they are doing is nothing short of magical: savory eclairs with duck and foie gras, or salmon, and a larger variety of sweet eclairs (eg: fig, mint, salted caramel, tiramisu, etc.)

  • Tammy
    February 19, 2016 1:30am

    Hello Chef Lebovitz,

    The article is awe inspiring I have never traveled outside the US, but if I ever get the opportunity, my choice would be to spend the entire trip traveling for regional French food. And you keep my dream scrapbook alive with things to taste.

    The custom eclair is genius. I wonder if anyone in the US has ever done something like this.
    BTW, I love classic french cooking. I don’t think in my opinion, there is anything better.
    Thank you for taking us on this virtual trip.