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 
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Calendar of Paris Events

May 15-17
One of the biggest flower shows in France, Journées des Plantes de Courson, takes place this weekend at the Chateau de Chantilly, just 45 minutes north of Paris from the Gare du Nord. Entry €20 (or €17 if you get your tickets online before May 14).

May 16
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 11th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open all night...for free! 

June 21
Celebrate Fête de la Musique in 17th-century aristocratic style at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte for their annual costumes dance event, La Journée Grand Siècle, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the original owner, Nicolas Fouquet. There will be an elegant picnic in the chateau gardens, live music and dancing, as well as carriage rides and sword-fighting shows. If you don't have a costume gown you can rent one on-site from €17. 

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

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to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

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Thursday
Aug272009

The Food Bouquiniste

by Camille Malmquist

If you’re anything like me, you barely give Paris’ bouquinistes a passing glance if you happen to be strolling along the Seine. Assuming that they are selling overpriced art nouveau posters and street sign magnets to tourists, you keep your eyes forward, and may even cross the street to avoid the hassle of dodging the looky-lous.

Well, sometimes (say, when the Tour de France is coming through), you have no choice. The only escape route is along the crowded sidewalk. This is how I stumbled across Alain Huchet’s stall. Making my way up the Left Bank between the Pont des Arts and the Pont Neuf, a very old, possibly first edition, copy of Ma Cuisine by Escoffier caught my eye. Then I noticed Le Guide Culinaire. And the limited edition boxed set of Alain Ducasse’s Le Grand Livre de Cuisine and Desserts et Pâtisserie. It was a veritable treasure trove of French gastronomy in print.

M. Huchet, the genial proprietor, seeing my immediate interest in some of his rarest and most expensive volumes, started pulling out more cool, hard-to-find, and classic French books, all about my favorite subject: food! He tried, unsuccessfully, to sell me a vintage copy of the Larousse Gastronomique (I already have one from the ‘60’s, I explained). But he piqued my interest with a bright yellow paperback tome entitled La Cuisinière Provençale. “C’est LE grand classique,” he told me. I vaguely remembered looking at this book on Amazon.fr several months ago, and seeing that his price was in line with that one, I had a good feeling he wasn’t in the business of ripping people off.

In addition to the impressive collection of old and rare volumes, Huchet also stocks newer, more accessible cookbooks of all types. France’s celebrity chef contingent is well-represented, with books by Joël Robuchon, Pierre Hermé, Paul Bocuse, and Pierre Gagnaire front and center. But I’m sure there are many hidden gems, too, just waiting for the dedicated foodie to unearth them. For the compulsive decorator, Huchet has an array of food and wine-related prints and menus (some original, some mass-produced, priced accordingly).

The shop has been open every time I’ve walked past, and Huchet confirms that he’s there every day, especially in the afternoons. Perfect for that last-minute gift or Sunday afternoon retail therapy. Plus, you might just get some dinner ideas, too.

Alain Huchet: Gastronomie & Oenologie
Quai Conti, across from l’Hôtel de la Monnaie, 6th
Mº Pont Neuf, St-Michel
Tél 06 16 09 79 57

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Reader Comments (1)

This article in French lists a few other bouquinistes who sell rare cookbooks: http://cadran-hotel-gourmand.com/bouquinistes-sur-les-quais-de-seine/
August 27, 2009 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
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