Paris, mon amour
Paris is, well – you know – Paris. You either love that city or just go somewhere else, as there is no middle road. You can’t just “maybe love” Paris. Skipping all the tourist nonsense, the reason locals are not always the kindest people in this world is simple – 23 million tourists arrive and leave every year, and to be honest, Parisians just don't care about them, especially in those places close to famous tourist spots. But, there are places away from the beaten path, which are worth looking for. Those are the places to search for. Those are the ones that you can’t seem to find sometimes; you miss the right entrance the first time, swirl around the arrondisement like juice in a blender, until you finally arrive.
For me, Paris has never been and will never be ‘just a city’ to include in my travel wish list. Paris is a friend that I'm trying to get to know more and more. But as someone, who has seen a lot, Paris does not let me in so easily, although we've become quite good acquaintances in the past few years and I'm happy that it is revealing itself, bit by bit. Sometimes I wonder – how many times more will I have to go there to call it my friend? It is still more distant than I wished it were, plus the fact that over the last little while, there have been inevitable changes happening, year by year.
It has changed from a city with awful coffee 7 years ago to a place today where you can not decide where to go for that specialty coffee. A city that years ago served only classic steak fries and lots of poorly-made French food but now blooms with a vegan, organic, and healthy food sector. As it turns out, there are 69 markets in Paris to serve 2 million inhabitants (they sure like their local markets), full of seasonal treats, lazy wine drinkers, obsessed oyster fans, and mean market ladies that will sweep you off your feet with their market trolleys, and they have every right to do so as they are some of the oldest buyers there.
Paris, although a bit more distant than I wished (it’s my fault too, since I do not visit it as often as I should), is and will be mon amour – with that fantastic, sparkling Eiffel Tower, beautiful Champs Elysees, hipster Canal St. Martin, Marais, and chic rue Faubourg St Honore. So you can fall in love, too, here are my favorite places, because as you know – love travels through the stomach. That is so true. And yes, there are lots of options with way too much butter, sugar and flour, but that’s the beauty of France.
Cannelé. Philippe Conticini
There’s no better cannelé in the world than at Philippe Conticini. They are the perfection of everything you've ever had and wanted to have in that one little piece of pastry. Read more Address: 37 Rue de Varenne, Paris. Instagram: @philippe_conticini
Kougin Aman. Stohrer
With its almost 300-year-old history, Stohrer has changed a bit, thanks to the new owners Dolfi group and their new pastry chef Jeffrey Cagnes. The cakes are to die for, but that kougin aman – that is something that just pops back into your memory long after you've had it. Read more Address: 35 rue Cler, Paris. Instagram: @stohrer @alameredefamille
The king of Palmier. Karamel
If I had to choose one palmier to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the one from Nicolas Haelewyn’s Karamel patisserie. Read more Address: 67 Rue Saint-Dominique, Paris. Instagram: @karamel_paris_officiel
Kougin aman and Paris-brest. Yann Couvreur
It would be very modest to say that Yann Couvreur knows how to make things. His croissants are wrapped in the neatest layers, his dark (they call it that) kougin aman is a very beautiful representation of what it should be. Read more Look for his places in the city – in Marais, Galeries Lafayette and the 10th arrondisement. Instagram: @yanncouvreur
Next to tiny Kitsune, there’s one more super tiny place, patisserie Muscade, where one could just stand and look at the displayed cakes, as they are truly amazing. Read more Address: Jardin du Palais Royal, 52 galerie de Montpensier, Paris. Instagram: @lateliermuscade
His works of pastry are more to admire than to eat, as they are just too beautiful to be true. Although his famous pistachio tart looks pretty simple compared to the fruit-shape cakes he makes, it is absolutely divine. Read more Address: 228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris Instargram: @cedricgrolet
Although this is an oldie (since 1761), I love this place for their gaufre de lille waffles. If you’ve not tried anything else and have no desire to, the gauffre they make are all one needs when there. Start with the classic – vanilla – but then don’t forget to try ones filled with speculoos and the macarons. My top favorite. Address: 16 Rue Elzevir, 75003 Paris
Buvette, with their classic croque monsieur and waffles for breakfast, coq au vin and other dishes for dinner, might not be the most classic French place, but it is sure is a place to visit, be it breakfast or lunch or dinner or just for that cup of home-made mulled wine during the winter. I love this place, and it is a great spot on the way to or from Sacre Cour. Address: 28 Rue Henry Monnier, Paris. Instagram: @buvetteparis
There are plenty of chocolatiers and chocolate shops in Paris, but Michel Cluizel on Rue saint Honore is still my place to go for truffles, bonbons, orangette and so much more. Their mediants, the same as large dark chocolate … filled with caramel, are always something to buy. Plus, they have great macarons and the price is very friendly. Address: 201 Rue Saint Honoré, Paris. Instagram: @michelcluizel
Yuzu tea and coffee. Cafe Kitsune
Cafe Kitsune is a small, well-kept secret gem in the heart of Paris. This super tiny and chic place is not just for looking at, it is also to be enjoyed. Read more Address: Jardin du Palais Royal, 51 Galerie de Montpensier, Paris. Instagram: @cafekitsune
The line here never ends. Great specialty coffee and teas, some pastries (more Australian-English style), and simple lunch dishes like quiche and sandwiches. Now with 6 seats in the back of the shop to sit down. Read more Address: 54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. Instagram: @honorcafe
Healthy. Wild & The Moon
Located in 11th arrondisement, this is paradise for lovers of a healthy life style. Smoothies, juices, matcha, and other great drinks with salad options and great ‘healthier’ cakes and cookies. This is different Paris, but at its best, if looking for healthy food.
Healthy. Magasin Welcome BIO
All organic, healthier than not, this is a place for a simple and great lunch with some fresh juice and coffee. Next to it, there is their fantastic concept store with all you need for home – from pants to plates, everything for kids, and then decorations. A truly great shop and eatery next door. Address: 11 Rue Boule, Paris. 11th Arr. Welcome BIO
For sourdough and lunch. Ten belles bakery
Learn from the locals, and get your coffee and a plate of bread with butter and jam for breakfast; come back for lunch to enjoy one of their sandwiches, soup, or salads, and take some bread home. Read more Address: 17-19 Rue Breguet, Paris. 11th Arr. Instagram: @tenbellesbakery
Not to be missed. Merci
This is more than just a shop. It’s a dream of different, more personal shopping, where it’s all about the concept and great products. Easy to miss, but once you enter, time just flies. It’s all there – small decorations, fabric, everything for the kitchen, bathroom, garden, and so much more. Plus, locals come here for a light lunch and great brunch. A place not to miss in Paris. Truly. Address: 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris. Instagram: @merciparis
Concept store. Fleux
Another beautiful and must-visit concept store in Paris in Marais. Not just one, but three of them, next to each other. Clothing, home design, a kids’ section, and everything you would like to see in a concept store. I don’t know how I have missed it before. That’s a mystery. Address: 39 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Paris. Instagram: @fleux
Les deux Plateau. Palais Royal
I wonder how on earth I haven’t been here, passing by this place dozens of times, especially when considering that Daniel Buren's artwork has been in the Palais Royal courtyard since the 1980s. It is one of the most inspiring places to visit in Paris (great for pictures too), because it just feels like a different Paris here. Plus, just a few steps further, you’ll find the Palais Royal garden with Cafe Kitsune and the pastisserie next to it. Address: 2 Rue de Montpensier, Paris.
More to visit
Galeries Lafayette – the 1st floor gathers together almost all of the best pastry chefs and also some bakeries. Get bread at Chez Meunier. Their baguette looks as it looks, but the crunchiness is just amazing. Get the famous Sadaharu Aoki macarons and his matcha croissant, or go to Yann Couvreur for everything mentioned above, sit down at the truffle bar, or just get some L'Éclair de Génie for later. And do go up to the roof of the other Lafayette building, as the view over the city is spectacular.
Marlette – for pastries, a light lunch, and great coffee.Address: 51 Rue des Martyrs, Paris. @marlettecake
Sebastien Gaudard – still one of my favorite patisseries in Paris. His pastries, starting from croissants to the cakes are excellent in every possible way. @sebastiengaudardpatissier
Coq Rico – if you want a true poulet roti, this is the place to go. The restaurant serves chicken and poultry dishes from local farms, and that's all you get here. And don’t forget those fries and their bread. With a glass of champagne, life gets much better here. Address: 98 Rue Lepic, Paris. @lecoqrico_paris
Coutume cafe – I still love the specialty coffee they make, as well as their breakfast menu with pancakes and sandwiches, and lunch with all that’s in season and fresh. And yes, they have cakes too – more English/American, but excellent, nevertheless. Address: 47 Rue de Babylone, Paris. @coutumecafe
Maison Plisson. Looking for local delicacies, starting with wine, cheese and fruits to fresh fish and selected meats? Then Maison Plisson is the place to go. @lamaisonplisson
Du Pain des Idees – still the most amazing boulangerie I think I’ve ever been to. Because of their exterior and interior, because of their escargot with praline or pistachios, because of their fresh apple chausson and bread. It gets crowded in the mornings and afternoons, as everyone wants their treats. Address: 4 Rue Yves Toudic, Paris. @dupaindesidees
Liberete – I love their cakes and breads. They are amazing and they have to be tried. 39 Rue des Vinaigriers, Paris. @libertepatisserieboulangerie
Craft cafe - locals use it as a co-working space and coffee freaks as their coffee shop – where freshly-made light lunch bagels, buns, soups, and quiches are served, too. Address: 24 Rue des Vinaigriers, Paris. www.cafe-craft.com
Story and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s