Recently in Paris and France category

Le Bonbon au Palais

le bonbon au palais

I just realized that I haven’t used the word “astonishing” in a while. I’m not jaded or anything. I still walk around the streets of Paris sometimes and think, “Wow, this place is pretty spectacular.” And on my travels, including a recent trip to Chicago, I was wowed by everything from terrific Mexican food to a wonderful bakery.

But sometimes adjectives aren’t enough, and every so often you drop into a place and your jaw just kind of drops as well. Le Bonbon au Palais is such a place.

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A Visit to Patrick Roger Chocolate (Video)


Recently I visited the laboratory of master French chocolatier Patrick Roger. His shops in Paris are some of my favorite places to swoon over chocolate and it was wonderful to have the chance to step behind-the-scenes and watch him make his extraordinary confections and impressive chocolate sculptures, as well as visit his garden and apiary.

(To view the video in a larger format, you can watch it at Vimeo.)


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Un Dimanche à Paris

chocolate truffles

Even though it wasn’t Sunday, I decided to go to Un Dimanche à Paris anyway. This sleek showcase of chocolate is located in an under-utilized arcade on the Left Bank, near where the saleswoman told me has become “The quartier of chocolate.”

The owner of the shop is Pierre Cluizel of the famed French chocolate family, but he’s striking out on his own. Un Dimanche à Paris features a large chocolate shop, and exhibition kitchen, a tea salon, and a full-scale restaurant. And that’s just on the first floor.

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Hirsinger Chocolate

Jura chocolates

I wasn’t expecting to find a great chocolate shop in the Jura, a region of France known best for its exceptional cheeses, namely Mont d’Or, Comté, and Bleu de Gex. But a friend had arranged a visit for me since he knew I loved chocolate, and I was surprised (yet happy) to see such a sleek store run by a master chocolatier in a lesser-known part of France, where I was visiting.

sesame chocolates French chocolates

It’s a bit unusual to find sophisticated pastries in the smaller towns in the countryside. One of the main reasons is that, as you can imagine, they’re expensive to produce because of the work involved and the ingredients. So many of the chocolatiers and pastry makers set up shop in Paris. But Édouard Hirsinger the forth generation of chocolatiers and pastry makers in his family, who’ve been in business for over a hundred years in the charming little town of Arbois, seems to be doing pretty well right where he is.

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A l’Etoile d’Or

bonnat bars

You get a little lazy living here. At least I do. And because I’m not as spry as I used to be, if someone proposes a trip that’s more than one métro change away, I usually find a way to opt out of it. Arrondissements that are far, far away, like the 15th or the 17th, may as well be on the outside of the périphérique (or l’hexagone, for that matter) and I haven’t stepped foot in the likes of them in years.

One place that’s worth going out of my way for is A l’Etoile d’Or, and I broke my cardinal rule when Cenk from Café Fernando came to Paris for a visit and he asked me where to meet up.

cenk & denise french chocolates

I’ve known Denise Acabo, who lords over her confectionery wonderland, even before I moved to Paris, when I’d stop in and gawk at all the amazing chocolates and confections.

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Puerto Cacao

chocolate chaud

I keep a piece of paper near my front door. On it are places in Paris that I want to visit. When I hear about a place that sounds interesting, on the list it goes. Unfortunately, it seems as soon as I cross one off, a few more get added. And the list gets longer and longer and longer and longer and…

One particular spot that I’ve had my eye on for too long was Puerto Cacao, located in the farthest part of the city from where I live, requiring more than my limit of two métro changes. The focus of the shop is chocolate équitable, or fair trade chocolate.

So I was surprised when I was walking near the Marché d’Aligre and the store with the pricey mid-century modern furniture that I used to covet was gone. And in its place was a new hot chocolate spot.

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Bernachon Chocolate

bernachon coffee bar

For my birthday, back in December, Romain presented me with a Kalouga bar from Bernachon, handwrapped personally for me by Denise Acabo of A l’Etoile d’Or, one the best, and wackiest, candy and chocolate shops anywhere in the world.

I’ve been afraid to open it since I know what’ll happen once I do. So I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, or a WTF moment. And yes, I’m aware that it’s a long time, but I guess things have been going pretty well lately.

sideofbarsblog

Well, that is until a recent trip to my bank to simply change the status of my account since I found out I was being overcharged up the wazoo for services I didn’t understand or use. (Like, even though she insisted I did, do I really need two free money orders a month? I think the last time I used a money order was in 1998. But I’ve learned that not speaking picture-perfect French can easily tack on 20-30% to the cost of things.)

The banquière hefted a thick dossier of paperwork so voluminous, it made the Sunday New York Times look like a pin-up flyer for a lost cat. It took my breath away, and I spent an hour and a half going through it and just to get out of there, I signed away whatever it was they wanted me to sign away.

When I got home, that bar was certainly tempting me. And I held off.

But I don’t need to hold off any further.

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Les Barres Anti-Stress

anti stress bars

All I can say is—I hope they work…

Les Chocolats Bernard Dufoux
32, rue Centrale
La Clayette
Tél: 03 85 28 08 10

Also available at:

A l’Etoile d’Or
30, rue Fontaine (9th)
Paris
Tél: 01 48 74 59 55