Earlier this week I escaped the frigid temperatures of New England and landed in Paris. The warmer temps, while no means that warm, feel practically balmy. It’s a relief to walk outside with only one pair of gloves on at a time. So, I flew from Beantown (Durgin Park, anyone?) to Pâtisserie land. Merveilleux!
Here are a few highlights while they’re fresh. First, a stroll along rue Cler, which is one of the main market streets in Paris.
I enjoy returning to my favorite cheese and flower shops along rue Cler.
For dinner, top choice was David Toutain’s new restaurant in the 7th arrondissement. Food photos don’t do justice to the inventiveness of each course.
This wasn’t culinary experimentation at the cost of flavor; each bite burst with an unusual blend of tastes and textures. The physical space with its spare, modern barnhouse look and the unusual plateware were equally pleasing. It’s not light on the wallet nor easy to get a reservation, yet I highly recommend it.
The American School of Paris invited me to present Markets of Paris to their community, and I was enormously gratified by the large turnout. The audience was eager to learn about Parisian markets. I appreciated the opportunity to see the campus and be a guest speaker.
Of course I can’t be in Paris more than 24 hours without going to another market, so off I went to Marché Raspail (the regular version, not the Sunday bio/organic market). Even in January, this open-air food market draws many local residents as well as a handful of tourists. The market is well stocked all year round, as is true at other markets as well. Vegetables and fruits, cheeses and meats, and lots of non-edible temptations as well such as scarves, leather goods, and other gifts.
Having heard about the facelift at La Grande Épicerie in the Bon Marché department store, one of two major gourmet food halls in Paris, I stopped in to take a look around. It has undergone a full renovation. The shelves have been rebuilt and rearranged. An escalator now ushers customers downstairs where a full selection of wines awaits. The store gleams with a dazzling assortment of local specialties as well as some items that will be familiar to American visitors.
Winter is an especially fine time to visit this city. The crowds have thinned out, the January sales tempt, restaurant reservations are easier to get, plane trees stand bare but proud and, despite the (ever so slight!) chill in the air, the Parisian markets are filled with abundance.