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How to Find and Use Free Wi-Fi in Paris

Place des Vosges gratuit Wi-Fi free zone

On a recent trip to New York City, I was surprised (and delighted) to find many businesses are now offering free Wi-Fi, from department and electronics stores to the local coffee shops as well as national chains like Starbucks.

Although the private businesses in Paris have been slow to catch on, the city of Paris hasn’t been and they offer complimentary Wi-Fi in 400 locations around the city, including public parks and municipal spaces. The Wi-Fi (pronounced wee-fee) is available from 7am to 11pm, or during the hours the park or building is open.

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Cookware Shops in Paris

dehillerin copper

Paris is a mecca for cooks, and folks come here from around the world to stock up on French and specialty cookware. Many of the shops are clustered around the Les Halles area, where for many years restaurateurs shopped at the giant market there for produce and other comestibles, as well as professional kitchenware. Although the market is gone, many of those stores exist and you can make a day of shopping in the various stores.

tartrings a.simon

One caveat is to check prices before leaving home. Often items are priced less elsewhere because many goods in France have substantial VAT added (hovering at around 20%). Plus figure in shipping or baggage fees if you plan to haul it yourself as most airlines charge for additional suitcases. So that Le Creuset casserole might cost you more than you bargained for.

verrerie des halles

Service in the shops can range from gruff to helpful, depending on the staff. For years, the shops served mostly professionals. Although that’s changed over the last decade.
As other people starting picking up tart rings and baking sheets, shops are now more welcoming to everyday cooks. But still, much in the places around Les Halles are self-service and getting attentive help can be a challenge. Be sure to measure your oven before you leave since French baking sheets, and silicone baking mats and cookware, are made for European-sized kitchens and appliances.

la vaisellerie

Shops in Les Halles often display prices HT (hors taxes) and that 19.6% is added on the bill when they ring you up, unless you have European tax-exempt status. TTC (toutes taxes comprises) means all the taxes are included in the price. In other cookware and department stores, the price generally includes in the tax. When in doubt, ask.

Tourists can avoid the tax if you purchase €175 worth of goods in the same store on the same day. You need to present your receipt that the store will give you (called the “bordereau de détaxe”, so advise the cashier before they ring up your purchases that you’ll want one) at the counter at the airport before departing, and often show the merchandise at that time. You can check the customs information for Charles De Gaulle Airport.

Also the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores will give tourists a storewide discount coupon at their front desk, generally good for 10% off, if you present a foreign passport. (Some items are excluded.)

argenterie copper pot

The first thing to mention is that you won’t find many bargains in Paris on cookware. It’s usually not substantially cheaper than it is outside of French. Even French-made items, like Le Creuset and Staub cookware. However the big department stores, often run promotions and you can score a cast-iron casserole or another treasure for a good price. Once again, check prices before you leave home if you’re looking for specific pieces. During sale periods (les soldes), in January and in the summer, markdowns can be substantial, especially if you wait until the final days.

For those in for an adventure, scour the outdoor markets: the Paris website has page that lists all the food markets and brocantes (sidewalk sales) in Paris and usually there are people there selling a wide range of French kitchen objects. The most obscure food markets (marchés alimentaires), most notably the ones in ethnic neighborhoods, have the best prices.

I also recommend checking out the discount stores dotted around Paris, which I mentioned in The Sweet Life in Paris, and consequently, many of you have asked me about specific addresses.

You basically need to just walk around everyday neighborhoods (more are concentrated in the outer arrondissements, especially on the Right Bank), and you’ll come across some. Follow signs outside that say “Affairs” or “Bazaar”, but you’ll know you found one when there are stacks of miscellaneous things stacked up outside. Inside is usually a great selection of cookware and baking equipment, as well as some French bistroware. I don’t have many specific addresses, but check toward the Belleville area, off the République on the Rue du Faubourg du Temple, the area around the Marché D’Aligré, or the lower part of Rue Oberkampf, just off the boulevard Richard Lenoir.

(Tip: If you’re up near Montmarte, there is a particularly good shop with lots of housewares at 4, rue de Clignancourt.)

I’ve divided my list into three parts; the shops near Les Halles, other cookware shops around Paris, and department stores and hypermarkets (large discount stores). Before setting out, remember that shops in Paris may be closed at unexpected times, on holidays, and in August. So always call first or check their websites to confirm opening hours.

Paris Cookware and Specialty Shops

Atelier du Cuivre et de l’Argent
113, avenue Daumesnil (12th)
Tél: 01 43 40 20 20

Ultra-modern cutlery share space in this shop that specializes in copper cookware made in their atelier, outside of Paris. Located just under the viaduct, by the Gare de Lyon, they also re-tin copper as well.

Au Petit Bonheur la Chance
13, rue Saint-Paul (4th)
Tél: 01 42 74 36 38‎

Filled with old French charm, this shop was recently squeezed into tinier quarters. Lots of linens, café au lait bowls, and kitchen knick-knacks. Nearby is Virtuoses de la Réclame (5, rue Saint-Paul) for old café pitchers and memorabilia, and in the Village Saint-Paul (25, rue Saint-Paul, in the courtyard), Folle du Logis is worth a stop for rifling though their stacks of French plates, serving pieces, glassware, and other curiosities.

Bachelier Antiquités
Marché Paul Bert
18, rue Paul Bert (St Ouen)
Tél: 01 40 11 89 98

In the Clignancourt flea market, Bachelier sells vintage copper, linens, and cooking utensils. Open only on limited days, so be sure to call or check the website before venturing up there.

Bouquiniste Gastronomie

On the quai Conti, this bookstall has an amazing collection of used and rare cookbooks. Not inexpensive, but quite impressive. I’ve been told you can bargain him down.

Cuisinophile
28, rue due Bourg Tibourg (4th)
Tél: 01 40 29 07 32

This tiny slip of a shop is tucked next to the Mariage Frères tea salon and boutique. Not a big selection, but worth a look if you’re in the Marais.

Culinarion

A French chain of upscale cookware shops, with various addresses across Paris.

Eurotra
119, boulevard Richard Lenoir (11th)
Tél: 01 43 38 48 48

Large selection of cookware, and items geared toward professionals. A local favorite, Chinese and Asian items are a specialty, although you’ll find French goods, most notably for restaurants, here as well.

Kitchen Bazaar

With shops scattered about Paris, Kitchen Bazaar has the latest in ultra-trendy bakeware and appliances, plus cooking tools that are hard to find in, or out, of France. Certain times throughout the year the store has 30% off sales which makes shopping particularly fruitful.

La Carpe
14, rue Tronchet (8th)
Tél: 01 47 42 73 25

Just off the swank Place de la Madeleine, La Carpe is packed with cookware of all types. Good selection and you’ll likely find things not available elsewhere.

La Vaissellerie

One of my favorite places to shop in Paris, and the cheapest, these shops scattered across the city are packed with inexpensive porcelain baking dishes, glassware, café au lait bowls, shopping bags, and French novelties, like glasses for verrines.

Le Marché aux Puces de Vanves

Less-famous than the other Clignancourt market, the Porte de Vanves flea market in the 14th is less-expensive and more of a real flea market than a collection of antique stores. The market is both Saturday and Sunday morning.

Marché d’Aligré

Primarily a food market nowadays, the origins of this terrific market was a place where used items where sold and traded. Today, in the center of the marketplace is a daily flea market. Quite lively on weekends, the market is open daily, except Monday. Bargain hard here.

Marché Saint Pierre
2, rue Charles Nodier (18th)
Tél: 01 46 06 92 25

This giant fabric store sits under Sacré Coeur, and not only can you find cotton tablecloths, bistro napkins and lovely torchons (kitchen towels), but they sell étamine, French muslin cloth, which is a good replacement for cheesecloth. It’s sold by the meter and is very inexpensive.

Pylones

Pylones creates fun, yet functional, housewares, like cheesegraters in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and knives with colorful handles. Not really for serious cooks, but great for poking around and finding gifts. Stores across Paris.

Restomat
147, rue de Bagnolet (20th)
Tel: 01 40 30 00 70

Perhaps too professional for most people, but they do carry equipment for hotel and restaurants and is interesting to poke around in if you’re in the neighborhood.

Saint Kioko
46, rue des Petits Champs (2nd)
Tel: 01 42 61 33 65

This shop specializes in Japanese foods, but up on the first floor are tools for preparing Asian foods. The nearby Ace Mart (63, rue Saint-Anne) also has some Asian cookware and in the quartier Chinois you’ll find Tang Frères and other large Asian markets.

Toquades
70, boulevard Malsherbes (8th)
Tél: 01 45 61 03 13

Interesting and unusual cookware, a bit off the beaten path.

Zwilling JA Henkels
12, boulevard de la Madeleine (9th)
Tel: 01 42 68 88 00

This boutique of the famed German cutlery company not only carries a complete selection of their knives, but also cookware, manicure implements, and modern housewares.

Cookware and Specialty Shops in Les Halles

All of these shops are clustered around the same area, accessible from the Les Halles métro. Many are professionally oriented but cater to all. Generally speaking, to get service, you’ll need to take your own initiative.

In these shops, when you buy something, a clerk writes your purchases up on a receipt, which you take to the cashier and pay for, then return to pick up your purchases. Some stores will ship, although the cost may be rather high.

A. Simon
48 + 52 rue Montmartre (1st)
Tél: 01 42 33 71 65

An especially good selection of glassware and heavy-duty, professional quality white French porcelain. The shop is under new ownership and the stock is ever-changing.

E Dehillerin
18-20 rue Coquillière (1st)
Tél: 01 42 36 53 13

Brace yourself and step inside. Two stories of cramped aisles packed with cookware and specialty gear. Famous for their gorgeous copper, in the basement, the staff can be overtly eager to help you to buy something, or disinterested. The staff is well-informed, but don’t let them talk you into something expensive just because they recommend it. The plastic pastry scrapers with their logo on them make inexpensive, and excellent, gifts for baker and cooks back home.

G. Detou
58, rue Tiquetonne (2nd)
Tél: 01 42 36 54 67

One of my favorite shops in Paris for specialty foods, including chocolate, mustard, honey, and olive oils. During December, prepare for a crush of Parisians stocking up on holiday goods.

La Bovida
36 rue Montmartre (1st)
Tél: 01 42 36 09 99

Lots of cookware, but my favorite part of the store is the top story, which has food wrappers and other French cad bakery-style emballages.

La Verrierie
15, rue du Louvre (1st)
Tél: 01 42 36 80 60

Hidden in a courtyard, push open the gate and visit this dark shop. Mostly glassware and earthenware, you’re expected to go in the back and comb the aisles for yourself.

Librarie Gourmande
92-96, rue Montmarte (2nd)
Tél: 01 43 54 37 27

This two-story bookstore has an extensive collection of cookbooks. There are some used books amongst the stacks, but on the upper floor is an impressive collection of oversized books by European chefs which are hard-to-get outside of Europe.

MORA
13, rue de Montmarte (1st)
Tél: 01 45 08 19 24

Pastry chefs come from all over the world to visit MORA, which has a great selection of tart and cake molds, whisks and spatulas, and just about everything else. Plus the best selection of chocolate molds in Paris.

copper ports verrerie des halles

Department Stores and Hypermarkets

The department stores of Paris have excellent cookware departments, which carry professional-quality cookware as well as items for everyday use. Hypermarkets, large discount food stores which have extensive cookware departments, are prohibited from operating within the city limits. But I’ve given the addresses of Auchan and Carrefour, that are just at the edges of Paris, easily reached by métro.

Auchan

This hypermarket chain has two stores, one at La Defense and the other at Porte de Bagnolet (M: Porte de Bagnolet), in large shopping centers. Several aisles are filled with cookware and bakeware.

BHV
55, rue de la Verrerie (4th)
Tél : 01 42 74 90 00

The third floor of this department store in the Marais, has an excellent cookware department. Hardware fans should stop in the basement and those looking to expand their cookbook collections should visit the book department.

Carrefour

France’s mega-chain stores sell food as well as cookware and other kitchen tools. They’ve recently opened smaller grocery stores in Paris, but a close hypermarket is at Porte de Montreuil (M: Porte de Montreuil).

Galeries Lafayette

Large department store, with several locations in Paris boasting extensive cookware departments. Be sure to check out the gourmet food hall at the Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann.

Le Bon Marché
38, rue de Sèvres (7th)
Tél: 01 44 39 80 00

The only department store on the Left Bank of Paris. The name of the store means “good deal” in French. Known for their amazing La Grand Épicerie food hall next door, the main store stocks cookware.

Metro

This membership-only store has huge aisles filled with foods, including French cheeses, specialty butters (for pastry-making), and bakery-size boxes of chocolate and sugars. Half of the store is devoted to professional cookware. (Use their store finder to locate the nearest address.) You’ll need to find a friend with a card to go. And to get a card, one needs to prove they have a business. Best visited by car.

Printemps

The main store, 64 boulevard Haussmann, has a nearby ‘Maison’ store filled with cookware and housewares.

e.dehillerin

Related Posts and Links

La Trésorerie (Contemporary and classic French cookware and housewares)

How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned on the Site

Paris’ Oldest Kitchen Equipment Shop (FX Cuisine)

Paris Culinaire (Hard-to-Find Items, in Paris)

G. Detou

Goumanyat

American Baking Ingredients in Paris

Cooking Schools, Classes, and Wine Tastings in Paris

Barbés Market

Hedley’s Humpers (Overseas Shipping)

Will My KitchenAid Mixer Work in Europe?

Bouquinistes Who Sell Cookbooks (Cadran Hôtel)

Antiquing Outside of Paris

Rue Montorgueil-Les Halles

French Sugars

Two Delicious Dining Guides to Paris



10 Things to Do If You’re Stuck in Paris

Air France mob scene

Yesterday, I was passing through the Place de l’Opéra, and saw this mob outside the Air France office. And the line snaked around the block. I took a picture and went home to happily finish packing for my trip, which was going to start tomorrow.

I must be living in a volcanic cloud of my own, and indeed, when I woke up, there was an e-mail that my trip has been canceled. So instead of facing the dreaded task of unpacking my suitcase, which included a swimsuit (grrrr….) I made a list of things you can do if you’re stuck in Paris:

1. Book a spa day. I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I’m waiting for my confirmation. But many folks like the Mosquée de Paris, which is inexpensive and located in a lovely building where you can sip mint tea after your steam. There are specific days for men and women and prices start at just €15. I’m not sure if the treatments there are as luxe as one might want, but my friend Heather is a bit more generous than I am and has a list of spas in Paris that are a bit more posh.

2. Hit each and every place on my 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris.

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Great Dining Deals in Paris

homard bleu / avocats

You’re probably thinking that I’m a little crazy saying that a meal that’s going to set you back a hundred bucks is a bon marché. I don’t know about you, but that’s not pocket change, even for a bon vivant like me.

merlan argenté rôti su la peau

The first time I went to a three-star restaurant in Paris was about six years ago. After my female friend and I got our menus (women don’t get menus with prices; high-end French restaurants are not always equal opportunity operations), she grabbed the menu out of my hand, allowing us equal opportunity to both almost pass out at the prices.

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Rue Montorgueil-Les Halles

l'escargot

You might not remember the days before the internet, but when we used to travel somewhere, we’d ask a friend to scribble down a list of suggestions. And we’d often be asked to do the same in return. Then when computers became widely used, other ‘favorites’ lists started circulating, including suggestions posted in online forums and in blogs.

So think of this list as my modern-day scribblings of places to go on the rue Montorgueil. Aside from it being perfectly located in the center of Paris, it’s a great place to take a stroll, and is pedestrian-friendly and wheelchair accessible, as it’s flat and closed off to cars. It’s a lovely walk, and everything is in a three block radius, making it easy to sample some of the best food shops, bakeries, chocolate shops, and kitchenware stores in Paris in one fell swoop.

roast chicken list meringues

The area was, for centuries, the home of the famous Les Halles covered market, which stood in the center of the city. As part of the modernization of Paris it was dismantled in the 1970s, replaced by an unattractive shopping mall (which is widely reviled), and the merchants were dispatched to Rungis, a large industrial complex on the outskirts of Paris. Still, reminders of Les Halles remain, including restaurant supply shops, late night dining spots, and the rue Montorgueil, which has become a vibrant street lined with restaurants, food stores, chocolate shops, and lively cafés.

The street is the perfect place go if have just a short time in Paris, as there’s a lot to see—and eat, in a very concentrated space. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can take the métro and get off at Etienne Marcel, Les Halles, or Sentier.

You’ll probably want to visit the restaurant supply shops, which you might want to schedule at the end of your stroll, so you don’t have to lug purchases around with you.

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10 Romantic (and Sexy) Things to Do In Paris

For those of you who have The Perfect Scoop, you may already be familiar with my friend Heather Stimmler-Hall, who writes the popular website, Secrets of Paris. She’s the one who attempted to seduce her Parisian neighbor with a batch of my ice cream. Not that she needs my assistance (I didn’t ask her how it turned out since I’m such a gentleman, and she’s the model of discretion). But for the rest of us, I tend to take help whenever—and wherever, I can get it.

Heather is the author of Naughty Paris, a guide to the sexiest and most romantic things to do in Paris. Because so many people come to Paris looking for a little romance, on our recent dessert date, I asked Heather for a list of her favorite, most sensual things to do in the city…just in time for Valentine’s Day. So here is Heather’s list of Ten Romantic (and Sexy) Things to Do in Paris. Merci ma chèrie! -David

heart-shaped tart

A lot of people ask me advice on romantic things to do in Paris, and if they’re visitors, I usually reply, “It’s Paris, what’s not romantic about it?” After all, you’ve got a gorgeous setting of historic monuments and scenic bridges over the Seine, a fashionably-dressed cast of Parisians sans baseball hats and “Who dat?” emblazoned sweatshirts, and some of the most mouth-watering cuisine on the planet.

Well, that is if you know where to go.

I can already hear the locals and Paris habitués groaning that they’ve already done all of the Valentine’s Day clichés: a show at the Moulin Rouge, a cruise on the Seine, dinner on the Eiffel Tower, macarons at Ladurée…and I think everyone should try all of those things at least once in a lifetime (okay, once a week for the macarons). But then what?

Then you ask me, the woman who wrote Naughty Paris, for a few ideas—of course! Some of these are obvious, others less so, but all are perfect for a romantic rendez-vous when you’re hungering for more than just a kiss. ; )

1. Oysters and Wine at Le Baron Rouge

Candlelight, soft music and a quiet table in the corner? Please. There’s nothing more intimate than being crammed against each other in a cozy wine bar, jostling with the friendly locals and market stall-holders from the neighboring Marché d’Aligre for a glass of Burgundy and a platter of cheese and charcuterie.

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10 Common Ordering Mistakes People Make in Paris

steak, "Tuscan-style"

The other night I was sitting at Le Garde Robe, minding my own business, trying to get down a glass of natural wine. Being seven o’clock, naturally, in addition to being thirsty, I was starving, too.

And the lack of food (and sulfides) must have started affecting my brain because I started thinking about how I often hear tales from visitors, such as when they told a Parisian waiter they didn’t eat meat and shortly afterward, were presented with a plate of lamb. Or they ordered a salad, that was supposed to come with the sandwich, and was actually just a single leaf of lettuce. Hoo-boy, and yes, I’ve made a few gaffes of my own, too: I once ordered a glass of Lillet (pronounced le lait, which isn’t well-known around Paris) and the perplexed café waiter brought me out a long, slender glass of le lait (milk), presented with great panache, on a silver dish with a nice doily. Of course, everyone was staring at the grown man who ordered a tall glass of milk. And I don’t think it was because of the starched doily.

Anyhow, I was scanning the chalkboard at Le Garde Robe, looking at the various charcuterie and cheese on offer, and noticed filet mignon, and thought, “A steak is a funny thing for a wine bar to serve, especially one that doesn’t serve hot food.” Until I remembered what it is in French. And if everyone wasn’t already staring at the idiot at the wine bar, nursing a stemmed glass of milk, I would’ve kicked myself for thinking that’s a big, juicy steak. Which it’s not, in France.

1. Mixing Up the Mignons

Mignon in French means “cute”. And to my pork-loving friends and readers, that can only mean one thing: pigs. French people think cows are attractive.

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Paris Gastronomy Tour

Doing a culinary tour in Paris is always fun, because not only do I get to meet some new people and make new friends (important…since the old ones keep deserting me), but I get to revisit my favorite places in Paris. And this week, we made a detour in Lyon as well. So there was a lot more to see, and eat…

bernachon chocolates

Lyon is a wonderful city. Kind of a miniature version of Paris, but younger, more spacious, and more relaxed. The people are plus cool, and in less of a rush—perhaps because they are so busy digesting all that rich food down there.

thermometer dial chocolategrinder

I’ve written about Bernachon before, and this trip, we had an especially warm greeting in their adjacent café, starting with puffy brioche and warmed pitchers of hot chocolate, made with the famed bean-to-bar chocolate that’s fabricated just a few doors away.

brioche copper pots

It’s no secret that I love Bernachon chocolate.

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