Secrets of Paris 
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About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Christmas in Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

Calendar of Paris Events

November 7-15
The 40th annual Salon Marjolaine, the largest organic fair in Paris, takes place this week at the Parc Floral (Bois de Vincennes) with 550 stands selling everything organic you could imagine: produce, meats, cheeses, artisan oils, wines, essential oils, herbs, teas, cosmetics, beauty products, household cleaning products, clothing, shoes, accessories, home decor, books, gardening supplies, as well as stands for environmental tourism, different green activist groups such as Greenpeace, etc.

November 12 - Seattle
Heather will be at Seattle's Paris Eastside cooking school and French boutique for the November Sip & Meet event with copies of Naughty Paris for a special price of just $27 (cover price $39). From 6-8pm, wine and nibbles, €5/person. Come say hello if you're in the area!

November 18-22
Shopping for some supplies for your creative projects? Head down to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles for the annual Création & Savoir Faire show. Scrapboooking, knitting, gardening, baking, sewing, crafts, and decorating ideas for the holidays. Entrance €13-15, €22 for the two-day pass, open 9:30am-6:30pm (until 9:30pm Friday).  

Click here to see the full calendar of events...

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Entries in Eating & Drinking (93)


Best Artisanal Pastry Shops in Paris

"artisanal (adjective): Food made fresh daily, by hand, in small batches that requires skills from a maker/master with a combination of science and art derived from experience" (from Artisanal Defined)
There are many "Top Ten" style lists of Paris pastry shops, but there are also several hundred to choose from (there are over 350 selected by author and pastry chef David Lebovitz in the Paris Pastry Guide). Although mosts lists are completely subjective, this one only includes pastry shops that fit the following strict criteria for inclusion:
  • "Only in Paris": These pastry shops can only be found in Paris, with a maximum of three locations within the city. No international chains allowed, no matter how good their pastries might taste! 
  • "Artisanal Pastries": Because it's not regulated, anyone can slap the word "Artisanal" on their products. But these shops make their pastries fresh on-site each day by hand by professional pastry chefs. No industrial production in factories or freezing allowed!
  • "Quality Ingredients": High-end pastries don't just look pretty, they're made with the highest quality of carefully sourced, seasonal ingredients. These not only means they taste superior to pastries made with processed or artificial ingredients and preservatives found in average pâtisseries, it also justifies a higher price tag.   
  • "A Certain Je ne Sais Quoi": Being able to faithfully produce the classics is important, but the best pastry chefs also know how to wow us with daring flavor combinations, surprising textures and creative flair that turns each pastry into a work of art almost too beautiful to eat! (almost)
After thoroughly researching about two dozen contenders, the following baker's dozen of 13 pastry shops made the cut. All things being equal between them in terms of standards, ranking them within this list would depend on personal tastes and preferences, so I've simply ordered them alphabetically:
Pastry chef Arnaud Larher has two contemporary pastry shops on the west end of Montmartre and one in St-Germain. He's known for his macarons as well as his award-winning chocolates.
- 53 rue Caulaincourt, 18th (closed Sun afternoon and Monday)
- 57 rue Damrémont, 18th (closed Sun afternoo, Monday, and Tuesday)
- 93 rue de Seine, 6th (closed Tuesday morning and Monday)

Pastry chef Fabrice Le Bourdat's little boutique near the Marché Aligre has won awards for his madeleines. A musician neighbor made this tribute video to Blé Sucré (and the ungodly working hours of artisanal pastry chefs everywhere).
- 7 rue Antoine Vollon, 12th (closed Monday)

Pastry chef Carl Marletti has an elegant little boutique at the bottom of the Marché Mouffetard. He's known for his millefeuilles and prize-winning strawberry fraisier
- 51 rue Censier, 5th (closed Sunday afternoon and Monday)

Pastry chef for the Plaza Athénée palace hotel, Christophe Michalak has a pastry school and shop in the 10th and another boutique in the Marais. He's known for his contemporary pastry creations and his rock star personality (his face, rather than his pastries, graces the covers of his many books).
- 60 rue du Faubourg Poissonière, 10th (closed mornings, Sunday, Monday)
- 16 rue de la Verrerie, 4th (closed Monday and Tuesday)

Pastry chef Gérard Mulot's first boutique opened in St-Germain in 1975. There's now a separate tearoom nearby, and a second boutique in the charming Butte aux Cailles district. His macarons are my personal favorite.  
- 76 rue de Seine, 6th (closed Wednesday)
- 12 rue des Quatre Vents, 6th (tearoom; closed Sunday and Monday)
- 93 rue de la Glacière, 13th (closed Monday)

Pastry chef Claire Damon teamed up with bread maker David Granger to open two luxurious, almost theatrical boutiques on the Left Bank. She's famous for her saffron-infused Kashmir pastry. 
- 63 boulevard Pasteur, 15th (closed Tuesday)
- 89 rue du Bac, 7th (closed Tuesday)

Pastry chef Ludovic Chaussard's pretty little pastry shop across from Jean-François Piège's famous Thoumieux restaurant is known for its best-selling chou-chou (a cream puff within a cream puff), but the lemon tart is also delicious.
- 58 rue St-Dominique, 7th (open daily)
Pastry chef Jacques Genin is actually more famous for his caramels and chocolates, but his lemon tart and millefeuille -- currently only served in the North Marais tearoom or by special order -- have diehard fans. 
- 133 rue de Turenne, 3rd (tearoom, closed Monday)
- 27 rue de Varenne, 7th (closed Sunday and Monday)

Pastry chef duo Nathalie Robert and Didier Mathray have two boutiques (the smaller one has deli food) side-by-side on a market street just behind the Pompidou Centre. They're famous for their Rosemary pastry made with rhubarb, raspberry, and a rosemary-infused cookie base. 

- 14 rue de Rambuteau, 3rd (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)

Pastry chef Sébastien Dégardin and his wife Sandrine took over this pretty-as-a-postcard Art Deco pastry shop with the historically listed interior in 2013, just around the corner from the Panthéon and Luxembourg Gardens. Try their Passiflore, made with coconut, passion fruit and mango.
- 200 rue St-Jaques, 5th (closed Monday and Tuesday) 

Pastry chef Sébastien Guadard has an old-fashioned Parisian boutique in South Pigalle and a tearoom overlooking the Tuileries Gardens by the Louvre. Focused on the classics, he makes one of the best Mont Blanc pastries in Paris. 
- 22 rue des Martyrs, 9th (closed Monday)
- 1 rue des Pyramides, 1st (tearoom, closed Monday)

 12. Stohrer
Pastry chef Jeffrey Cagnes maintains the ancient traditions of the oldest pastry shop in Paris. Dating back to 1730 (the listed decor is from 1830), this is the boutique where Louis XV's pastry chef Nicolas Stohrer created the famous Baba au Rhum, a rum-soaked brioche with whipped cream adored by Louis's father-in-law, King Stanislas of Poland.

- 51 rue Montorgueil, 2nd (open daily)

Pastry chef Nicolas Bacheyre is quietly making magic at one of the most underrated pastry shops in Paris. Located in a hidden 18th-century passage near Odéon, Un Dimanche à Paris is a chocolate concept store created by Pierre Cluizel (son of the famous chocolate-maker Michel Cluizel) and Sylvie Valette, with an open kitchen, tearoom, restaurant and cooking school. This is my favorite shop on the list, not just because the pastries are delicate in their design and daring in their flavor combinations (this month's special is a pear, coffee, and green anise tartelette), but also because each pastry's main ingredients are helpfully listed in French and English (some are even gluten free). I love to pop in for a shot of their wonderfully creamy, lightly spiced hot chocolate for just €2.20 (you can also enjoy a whole pot of it in their tearoom). 

- 4 cours du Commerce St-André, 6th (open daily)

That's a Wrap!

It’s possible I've missed a shop, but before you leave any indignant comments below, note that many of the usual suspects didn’t make the list, including Angelina, Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, LeNôtre, Pâtisserie des Rêves, Jean-Paul Hévin and Hugo & Victor, because they didn’t meet the four criteria clearly outlined above. The reasoning behind my choice of criteria can be found in the article I wrote for Medium: “Why Ladurée’s macarons are so hard to swallow, and other problems with globalization”

A New Wine Experience at Les Caves du Louvre

You'd think 18th-century wine cellars once used by Louis XV's sommelier would be interesting enough to impress people, but I've never known Olivier Magny and Nicolas Paradis to do things half-assed. These young Frenchmen behind the popular wine bar and wine-tasting school O-Château have spent the past 18 months transforming the cellars of the Hôtel de Trudon into a beautiful, high-tech interactive wine experience for the whole family, Les Caves du Louvre.

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Parisian Meals that Come To You

Food delivery is nothing new in Paris, but the choices used to be pretty slim unless you happen to adore pizza, sushi, or tandoori chicken. Now there's a new generation of services offering delivery of food we actually want, whether it's from popular restaurants, gourmet home-cooked meals, or just breakfast in bed. And of course, there's an app. Being lazy just a whole lot easier...and just in time for the chilly season when all we want to do is snuggle up inside! Here are just a few of the latest ones that look appetizing.

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Peloton Café and Bike About Tours

Last week, when the temperatures in Paris briefly took a dive below 50°F, I finally got a chance to pop into the newly-opened Le Peloton, a café run by Christian Osburn and Paul Barron, founders of the city's popular Bike About Tours.  

I had just finished a walking tour of the Marais and needed to thaw out, so I thought I'd just try a cup of their locally roasted Belleville coffee, but when I sat down at the large counter, the first thing that caught my eye was the apple tart. "Freshly baked!" said Christian. It's okay to eat dessert before lunch if it's home-made, right? I also had a bottle of their Luscombe hot ginger beer (as in spicy, not warm), another weakness of mine. The cold removes all of my resistance, I'll admit it! 

Le Peloton is located in the Marais district on a quiet street between Rue de Rivoli and the Seine, just behind Hôtel de Ville. Most of the seats are around the bar, so as people came in and sat down for a coffee, it was easy to chat. It's not the kind of coffee house where people hide in a corner with their laptop. While Christian performed barista duties, Paul welcomed a group of cyclists who finished up their Bike About Tour at the café. These expats (from the US and New Zealand) started Bike About Tours ten years ago, so we often cross paths on our respective tour routes around Paris. 

I'm always impressed when anyone can start a small business in Paris and make it work, but their tours also happen to be really good! (and I sincerely hope you'd trust me before you'd trust TripAdvisor, but they are #1 there, too) So many other bike tour companies hire guides who either barely speak comprehensible English or are so new to Paris they have no knowledge of the city beyond the Wikipedia text they've memorized (yes, I've been spying; I'm the one pretending to to be checking my phone when a bike tour stops for "commentary"). 

Much like Secrets of Paris, this grassroots tour company gives a real insider's look at the city (and Versailles and Champagne, too), keep their groups small, and avoid the typical generic Paris tour circuits followed by most bike tours. They also support the international charity, World Bicycle Relief, which I think is awesome. And now they're keeping Parisians well-caffeinated! For the moment the only snacking options are baked goods made fresh locally (pies and cookies), but they hinted they might look into waffles. Who doesn't like waffles?

Le Peloton Café
17 rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 4th
M° Pont Marie or Hôtel de Ville
They're currently open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm, but since they're less than a month old they may adjust that as needed, so check the Facebook page

Cycling and coffee fans can also read the excellent article in Sprudge, In Paris, Exploring Coffee by Bicycle


Good-Value Lunch in Paris: Comptoir Tempero, 116 and La Cantine de Quentin

Three completely different neighborhoods, but very similar dining experiences: laid-back bistros, excellent food, amazing value.

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Calm Down, There's No Baguette Crisis in Paris

In what could probably be a regular segment called "Busting the Click-Bait Misinformation", yet another "news" story circulating in the English-speaking press about Paris needs correcting.

France fears baguette crisis as bakers allowed to take holidays (Daily Telegraph, UK)

What a pain! Parisians are facing a baguette crisis after change to French law gives bakers the summer off (Daily Mail, UK)

Paris faces 'baguette crisis' as government axes archaic law banning mass exodus of bakers (Evening Standard, UK)

SACRE BLEU! Parisians fear baguette shortage as bakers go on vacation (NY Daily News, US)

Exaggeration and fear-mongering apparently get clicks (duh, no breaking news there). As usual, they all seem to have rehashed the exact same story (typical when reporters no longer do original research), all quoting some mysterious guy, Anthony Stephinson as the expert on the subject of Parisian bakeries (he happens to be a British desiger living in Paris). No actual stats or bothering to do even the most basic research to get the facts straight.

These are the facts:

- Yes, France had a law dating back to the end of the French Revolution that would assure access to bread by requiring bakeries to alternate their summer closing times (so only half would ever be closed at any given time), and to post the address of the nearest open bakery when they were closed. Pharmacies are subject to a similar law.

- For years many French bakeries who were losing money by staying open when too many of their clients were on vacation simply closed anyway and paid the fines. 

- In 2014 the French government decided to do away with the archaic law, thus removing the bureaucratic nonsense of having to enforce it, and allowing the bakers the freedom to decide for themselves what would best serve their clients and their bottom line.

Editorial aside: This is what should be getting headlines! 

Instead of the English-language press focusing on the newsworthy fact that France has modernized and streamlined their laws to give French boulangers the right to make their own business decisions, they look for the negative angle. And when there isn't one, they just make it up.

- Not only did half of the bakeries in Paris stay open anyway (particularly in any areas where there are tourists or a majority of the locals who stay and work all summer), the danger is that they still have too many unsold baguettes, not a shortage.

The French press had a lot of fun discrediting the badly-researched articles:

- Plenty of bread in Paris: French media deny reports of 'baguette crisis' (RFI English Version)

- Don't panic, there is no 'baguette crisis' in Paris! (Du Bon Pain)

- Tous les Boulangers du quartier fermes au mois d'Août, c'est normal (BFM TV, in French

- Non, Paris n'est pas menacée par une pénurie estivale de pain (Le Figaro, in French)

Cet été, les boulangers parisiens partent en vacances quand ils veulent (Le Parisien, in French)

- The France-based British tabloid The Local also "reported" on the supposed crisis with a whopping one reader quoted as proof of the "crisis", but had to "amend" their article due to all of the mocking by none other than Buzzfeed, who actually did their own research (I can't believe I'm saying anything nice about Buzzfeed) to demonstrate the sheer stupidity of this non-crisis. 

In my neighborhood at the edge of the Latin Quarter and the Butte aux Cailles, three of the four bakeries within a block have remained open all of August (two closed for a week or two in July). Within three blocks there are four more bakeries, two which are closed for two or three weeks this month. All of them are excellent, although of course I have my preferences and don't always like walking the extra block. 

Call it a First-World Problem, but don't call it a "crisis".