Friday, January 31, 2014

Hugo & Victor

Métro: Sèvres-Babylone (line 10 or 12)
Address: 40 bd Raspail 75007 Paris
Hours:  9:00 am -8:00pm  Monday-Saturday
             10:00 am -6:00 pm on Sunday
Cost: around 6 euros for a pastry

I've known about Hugo & Victor for a while. It's hard to miss the fancy frontage. So fancy, that I have hesitated entering for months. I wasn't sure if I was entering a jewelry boutique on Place Vendôme. I felt kind of nervous, I definitely did not want to pay 20 bucks for a small pastry. But then, I became really intrigued by the concept: 2 desserts (one by Victor and one by Hugo)  declining the same ingredient. The theme ingredients change with the season, for instance pineapple or blood orange. When I came in, I was immediately hypnotized by the Chestnut display. I adore chestnuts so I fell for this glittery version of religieuse.

The problem was: how do I get one? The experience of getting the pastry was unique and I was a bit lost at first. It was confusing! So you look at the displays around the store, you tell the lady following you around like your own shadow that you have made your choice and she goes back to the secret kitchen to get it. She suddenly reappears with a little black box. You hope that it is a diamond necklace but know it's the second best thing after the pricey rocks.

I went to a little park around the corner and decided to open my present. Was it going to be a let down? First the look is totally rad- even though I don't like glitter dust on my food. I love chestnut cream and I hate it when pastry chefs corrupt its decadent flavor. Religieuses are usually filled with a custard cream (usually chocolate or vanilla) but as I took a bite, I was totally surprised by the lightness of its sublime mousse but I was still able to taste the richness of the Chestnuts. I loved it! Too bad it was only a seasonal treat. I guess I will have to return the other flavors. Litchi is calling my name. How about you: What is your favorite flavor?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Galerie Vivienne

Métro: Bourse (line 3) or Palais Royal (line 1)
Access: 6 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris
             4 rue des Petits Champs
             5 Rue de la Banque
Hours:  everyday from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm


Probably one of the prettiest, if not the prettiest passageway of Paris, Galerie Vivienne is like a free minute of spa. I felt right in my element: Free Luxury! I admit it. I like pricey looking things that I cannot afford so I love when I find a way to feel like I live the high life without spending a dime. Let's just call it as it is: I'm superstar cheap.And walking around Galerie Vivienne fulfills my need for affordable indulgence.

Galerie Vivienne bathes in light thanks to its beautiful rotundas.Everything from floor to ceiling is majestic. This gallery was built in 1823 and is 176 meters long. I'm sure you noticed the beautiful mosaics on the floor made by Facchina, the Italian artist. To sound fancy and all knowledgeable, the style is neo-classical Pompeian (Yep I looked on Wikipedia).


It's not only gorgeous but filled with little boutiques (for your eyes only of course). I love the beautiful bookstore at the corner:  Jousseaume ( which is opened from 11 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jardin Catherine-Labouré

Métro: Sèvres Babylone (line 10 or 12)
Address: 29 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris
Hours:  Check website for hours

Having the urge of running away from the busy Paris? Go right in the heart of it to the Jardin Catherine Labouré! It's a nice and peaceful park with a little countryside feel to it. It used to be part of the convent of the Filles de la Charité (1633).

The view is amazing. You can admire the Chapelle de la Médaille Miraculeuse (140 rue du Bac) where Catherine Labouré saw the Virgin Mary in 1830. Funny story you can see Catherine Labouré's body through a glass coffin but that's another story.

It's bathing in light which can be rare in Paris. It also has a veggie garden and small orchard to help city kids learn where their food come from.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Debauve & Gallais

Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés (line 4)
Address: 30, Rue des Saints-Peres 75007 Paris
Hours:  9:00 am -7:00pm  Monday-Saturday
             Closed on Sunday
Cost: 2 euros for a chocolate piece and about 6 euros for a chocolate bar

I just had to talk about this shop because its story is just amazing. It all happened in the late 1700's when Sulpice Debauve was then the official pharmacist to King Louis XVI. Marie-Antoinette had in horror the taste of her medicine so Debauve had the idea of hiding it in chocolate coins which he created. He was probably the ancestor of Mary Poppins ("spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!"). Marie-Antoinette loved them so much, she probably became hypochondriac from that time on. And so it started, Debauve became the official chocolate maker of the kings, the emperor Napoléon and even a few Russian tsars.

You can definitely feel the apothecary background in the shop. I have to admit I was more curious by the history than the chocolate. It's a beautiful shop and I love the history behind it but the chocolate is super expensive. It goes around 50 euros for a small box. So I only ordered one piece, yes one little piece and a chocolate bar totaling just close of 9 euros. It was good but not jaw-dropping. It was a fun experience, just to say I went.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Métro: Madeleine (line 8; 12 or 14)
Address: 16-18 rue Royale, 75008 Paris
Hours:  8:00 am to 7:30 pm Monday-Thursday
             8:00 am to 8:00 pm Friday-Saturday
Cost: 2 euros for a macaron and about 6 euros for a pastry

Happy New Year! My resolutions are simple: Enjoy my life in Paris without killing my budget! There is however a few times where you have to indulge. I finally went to LaDurée. Now I have known about them forever. Who doesn't? There are renown all over the world. And that's exactly why I have never been before. Usually, when it becomes too big too far, it becomes a huge commercial machine and the artisan loses his soul and craft to become a marketing expert. So yes, I had my doubts as far as the quality of the products.

Once again, I felt a bit doubtful when I saw the line. I like quiet and on the down side places. If it's filled with tourists but not with locals; it's usually not a good sign either. But I have a conscience, I have to give it a try so I could tell you about it. (or in other words: I'm the guinea pig of the story).

They've been in business since 1862. What are they so famous for? Their macarons and their original flavors. So alright, I took a mint and a gingerbread macaron. You have to be really talented to pull off a mint macaron without disappointing me.

I give them my 5 euros bill, not seeing much change back in return and I manage to cross the street to sit on the Madeleine front steps giving me a wonderful view on place de la Concorde. The sun is caressing my face as my taste buds are experiencing the most joyous moment of the Christmas season: a mint macaron. I felt much like that food critic in the movie Ratatouille as he tries the chef's simple dish. It is life changing. I take everything back. LaDurée deserves every single praise they ever got. This is mind-blowing food. If I had eaten a fresh mint leaf it would have been the same. It was fresh and light. Nothing like the industrial mint flavors. Just divine! But wait, nooooo it's gone. Why do they make macarons so small? Don't panic! I have a gingerbread one left! Boom! It's a burst of flavors: ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg! Ahhh christmas in a bite. Next time, I will buy a box instead. Better start saving now!

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