Bonne année – and happy birthday to Adventures of an Anglaise! One year ago today, this blog was born, kicked off with a short post (no precedents set there) sharing my New Year’s resolutions. I started off with frequent postings, multiple times per week, but as I settled into my life here in Paris, I found myself with less and less time to write about it because, simply, I was too busy doing it. There are more half-finished drafts sat in the ‘Blog’ folder on my computer than I care to admit, but I don’t enjoy the writing any less than I did when I wrote that first post – sat up in bed at 3am, laptop protesting hotly at being nestled in my duvet. When I go to bed with any kind of creative project on my mind, I simply will not be able to sleep until I have done something about it, even if ‘something’ is just jotting a rough bullet-point plan down in a notebook. On this particular occasion, though ‘something’ was creating a whole new website. I don’t remember quite how long I was sat up at work, but I do remember that I did not fare terribly well in team meetings the next day. No regrets.
Anyway, enough reminiscing! To mark the ‘anniversary’, I thought I’d compile a sort of ‘best of Paris’ list, featuring a few of my very favourite ‘go to’ places for specific things. And yes, of course they’re all food/drink-related. What else did you expect, really?
The Best… Croissant
- Maison Pichard
- 88 Rue Cambronne – 15th arrondissement
It’s with good reason these guys have won “best croissant in Paris” on multiple occasions. The shop counters are littered with well-earned trophies and prizes, but they certainly haven’t gotten complacent with their golden melt-in-your-mouth masterpieces. When I first wrote about this particular boulangerie, I said that although superb, I couldn’t say whether or not the croissants were truly the best in Paris, because I simply hadn’t tasted enough croissants here to make a reliable comparison. Happily, I have tasted a great many more of Paris’s croissants since then and I’m now fairly confident in agreeing with the numerous awards and accolades won by Maison Pichard. They are indeed the best.
If you decide to check it out for yourself (and you absolutely should), don’t be perturbed if there’s a large queue – it invariably moves quickly, and it is SO worth the wait. Bear in mind that they close Monday and Tuesday – disappointed guests of mine have learned this the hard way, after being regaled with tales of The Croissant To Rule All Croissants.
P.S. The olive & rosemary fougasse is also divine – eat whilst warm!
The Best… Fondue Savoyarde
- Les Fondus de la Raclette
- Multiple locations – 11th, 14th & 18th arrondissements
I was once told (by a woman from Savoie) that only a true Savoyarde can properly make this classic cheese fondue – certainly, hers was spectacular. Now, I don’t know where the owners of this 3-restaurant-chain hail from, but good grief, do they give my Savoyarde cook a run for her money. The restaurants are designed to evoke an Alpine chalet (think lots of light-coloured wood) and all the tables have heating plates set in them, for you to keep your bubbling vat of cheese nice and melty.
There are plenty of choices on the menu, and I’ve noted (on my many visits) that the raclette looks fabulous too, but their traditional fondue Savoyarde is just so completely delicious that I’ve never even considered ordering anything else. Best paired with a vin de Savoie, although I have a tendency to forget about my wine when presented with the opportunity to eat my weight in baguette and liquid cheese.
The Best… Street Crêpe
- Chez Suzette
- 12 Rue de la Harpe – 5th arrondissement
For a sweet, street snack, my favourite vendor is this little crêperie in the Latin Quarter. They do have a sit-down restaurant, but I’ve always ordered from the stand facing out into one of the winding, cobbled streets across the road from Notre-Dame. I’d very strongly recommend the crêpe caramel au beurre salé – their homemade salted caramel sauce is unbelievably good. My mouth is actually watering a little just thinking about the glorious pocket of the stuff you’re left with by the time you get to the last few bites of warm crêpe. Just make sure you’re armed with napkins of some description; they don’t skimp on the sauce, and your crêpe/paper envelope will only contain it for so long. And it is sticky.
The Best… Galette
- La Crêperie
- 12 Rue Soufflot – 5th arrondissement
They definitely recognise me in here by this stage. I was half expecting a Christmas card. These guys do an amazing take on the savoury buckwheat galette; the menu features an extensive variety of sensationally flavoursome topping combinations, ranging from the classic to the creative. Whatever I’ve gone for (and it’s been something different on every visit), I can honestly say I’ve never had a galette from here that I wasn’t blown away by.
The place itself has a sort of ‘café’ vibe, tastefully decorated in a relaxed, casual sort of way, and the people are all super friendly and accomodating. Order some of their smoky-but-sweet Breton cider (to be sipped from bowls, in the traditional fashion) for the full experience.
Added bonus – as all galettes ought to be, they’re completely gluten-free! (The sweet crêpes aren’t though, be warned.) Read ‘Paris Sans Gluten‘ for further GF recommendations in Paris (and also for a more detailed review of La Crêperie).
The Best… Hot Chocolate
- Les Deux Magots
- 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés – 6th arrondissement
I’ve written at some length about this before, so I’m not going to go in to loads of detail here, but you should definitely add the Les Deux Magots hot chocolate à l’ancienne to your bucket list. Right now. I have a suspicion that it’s literally just (excellent-quality) melted dark chocolate and cream, judging by a) the creamy, velvety richness of the stuff, and b) the fact that any remnants left at the bottom of your cup (assuming you managed to restrain yourself from licking the thing clean) start to look an awful lot like ganache as they cool. Don’t quote me on the recipe, though.
I do have to admit that I have not yet sampled the hot chocolate at Angelina, which is rumoured to be the best in Paris, so I’ll give you my verdict once I’ve gotten around to finding out for myself. Purely in the interests of research, of course. However, I can say that I’ve been to Les Deux Magots’ rival of over 100 years – Café de Flores – and I found the hot chocolate at the latter clearly inferior to that served at the former. If you’re interested in reading more about the comparison, you can do so in my post ‘Let It Snow’.
When I started writing this post, the list was much longer – I have established a lot of ‘go-to’ places for specific treats over the last year and a half. However, as usual, the writing ran away with me a little, so in the interests of keeping this post readable, I’ve curtailed it to five recommendations for now. I do intend to create a ‘Part 2’ at some point, but I’d better not make any promises. You know what they say about good intentions, after all…