Let them eat cake! (Paris Part 3)

Dear Reader(s),

You could easily be forgiven for deserting this blog after that horrible trick I played on you last week. Thank you once again for your patience. The time has finally come for your reward and we are about to embark on a little Parisian cake tour.

Let them eat cake … or that phrase that never seems to die down! Allegedly uttered by Marie-Antoinette, serious historians – and I’m not looking at you, Sofia Coppola – tell us the ill-fated Queen of France never said those words. Yet the myth surrounding it still persists today and, isn’t it a little bit ironic, that these days a crème brûlée éclair featuring an edible picture of Marianne, the emblem of the French Revolution, is taking Paris by storm?

eclairrevolution

Liberty Leading the People … to a Cake Shop? Eugène Delacroix revisited by Christophe Adam.

fauchoneclairclose

Éclairs have been celebrating a bit of a revival this year in Paris, with Christophe Adam’s L’Éclair de Génie shop (a pun on the expression ‘a stroke of genius’) being the toast of town.

Before setting up his own concept store, Adam used to be the pastry chef at Fauchon, a food emporium on the Place de la Madeleine, which is a good place to start off our trip. First established in 1886, this younger, more stylish cousin of Fortnum and Mason often breaks with tradition and delivers innovative cakes with a design twists or two. Always a delight!

fauchonfraisierone

Fauchon’s Fraisier carefully manages to balance style and substance.

angelinanapkinIf you feel tired of strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries or shopping on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Angelina is a very pleasant place for lunch or tea. Founded in 1903, this salon de thé has become a bit of an institution. A no non-sense hostess, with nerves of steel, tightly rules over this teeming ship while waitresses, dressed in French Maid uniforms, swiftly serve you. A bit stuck in time, this charming tearoom plays on nostalgia and is always great for people-watching.

angelinamontblanc

Trying to set the scene. You see, I failed food styling class!

Angelina’s signature pastry is the Mont-Blanc, a meringue-based cake topped with whipped cream and sweetened chestnut cream. With a famous mountain for namesake and the ‘earthy’ nature of the crème de marrons, it’s no wonder the Mont-Blanc is very popular in Japan too. Angelina is also quite famous for its thick hot chocolate, which, to my shame, I haven’t tried out yet. I fear @notjaMilla will be kicking me for this omission all the way from Tokyo as she extols the virtues of L’Africain – ‘rich, delicious and worth every calorie’ – on her blog. If Milla says so, it must be true!

angelinaeclair

Angelina’s famous Mont-Blanc reworked into a trendy éclair.

While I usually don’t like queuing for food (or exhibition tickets for that matter), I’ll make a rare exception for Pierre Hermé. I know, I’m full of contradictions, but aren’t we all? Time is precious, but rules are meant to be broken, especially when it comes to cake! Priorities. (I’m sure, @MarDixon will agree with me on this point, right?)

hermerainbow

Sweet dreams are made of this and who am I to disagree? Well, I don’t actually.

Hailed not only as the Dior of Desserts but also as the Picasso of Pastry, Hermé’s mouth-watering creations are actually worth waiting for and the chef pâtissier’s sleek boutique on Rue Bonaparte – @LondonSE4‘s ears just perked up – has quickly established itself as a must destination for me when I visit Paris. Indulgences range from (the now rather ubiquitous) macarons and cakes to pastries, pâtes de fruits, chocolate spreads, etc.

hermesthonore

Don’t these St. Honorés look almost like people wearing stylish hats and scarves?

While my friend Laura patiently went off to Place Saint-Sulpice, I joined the aforementioned queue which often sprawls right onto the pavement. Luckily for me, this happened to be a sunny day and I didn’t mind waiting for 15 minutes. (I might have rapidly changed my tune in winter though!) A few moments before setting foot into the shop, a British couple suddenly stopped dead in their tracks and asked me, in English, why people were queuing here. Of all people, they must have instinctively thought, ‘Oh, this chap here knows how to queue properly, a vital skill in Britain, so he must be one of us!’. I solved the mystery for them and they swiftly joined the file d’attente. Good call!

hermecroissant

Oops, I couldn’t resist biting into this delicious croissant! Trouble …

In a nod to horticulture, Pierre Hermé’s signature flavour is called Ispahan and consists of a frivolously pink mixture of rose petals, raspberries and lychees. Floral notes can be tricky to master, however, this combination works well together and is absolutely divine. It’s highlighted in the Croissant Ispahan, which has often been named one of the most decadent croissants in Paris. I’ll confirm that, yes, the hype is completely justified! (For more glossy pictures of this pastry, check out Paris Pâtisseries. Click at your own risk – you’ve been warned!)

Un/Fortunately this brings us to the end of our Parisian cake tour today. (Maybe I should be thinking of organising one of those IRL?) I hope you enjoyed this post and that it hasn’t made you too hungry. I’ll be back next week with my first post on London – I don’t want you all to think this blog is just about Marie-Antoinette and Paris! (I wish.)

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17 thoughts on “Let them eat cake! (Paris Part 3)

  1. Hi Yannick

    OMG, what can I say. I want cake and I want it now. Blog post don’t always live up to the hype but in this case they do. I enjoyed both the photos and your text. Looking forward to your first London post next week, unless you surprise your adoring public again. Can’t write any more I’m on a mad dash to catch the Eurostar, see you all in Paris.

    • Hi T,

      How did your trip to Paris go? I gather you caught the train back home this morning, so I hope you’ve smuggled in a few croissants for us. Glad to have you back in London though!

      Thanks you very much for the lovely comment and I’m glad to hear this post lived up to the hype. Alas, a few pictures only made it to the cutting room floor.

      I’m trying to keep the blog unpredictable, so surprises might come up from time to time, but I’m fairly certain next week’s post will be on London.

      y.

    • Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot coming from the Our Lady of the 30,000 Blog Clicks! 😉 That being said, did you notice I broke one of your cardinal rules? #trouble

      BTW, did you ever have try a Mont-Blanc in Japan?

      y.

  2. Simply love Pierre Hermé! Their cakes and specialties are always delicious… I might just have to go out and get one now.. Thanks =] By the way.. if they ever have “surprise” pastries… try them! They are always the best and most creative!

    Love this blog post and can’t wait to keep following! Since my first visit to London a few weeks ago I’m already yearning to go back. Excited for your tips!

    Katie
    http://www.kissandbehappy.com

    • Hi Katie,

      Welcome to the blog and thank you very much for comment!

      Pierre Hermé is absolutely divine! I wish I could pop out a visit the store now … Well, I could. We have a store here in London, in Belgravia close to Harrods, but they sell *only* the macarons, chocolates and such, i.e., no fresh pastries, which is a bit of a shame. Oh well, that makes Paris the more special. I’ll definitely try a ‘surprise’ next time I’m in Paris.

      Yes, London is quite addictive and you’ll have to come visit us soon again. The Eurostar makes traveling back and forth so convenient. (If Gare du Nord wasn’t so grotty, it’d be perfect …) What did you do when you were here in the Big Smoke?

      y.

  3. This is such is delicious post, talk about patisserie heaven! Such a tough job trying them all 🙂
    Hmmm a Parisien trip – you know I’m in, weekday or no!

    • Thank you very much for your nice comment and including a link to the post on your blog. You are a star!

      I agree, you are spoilt for choice in Paris and there are many places I still have to try! 🙂

      We should totally do a day trip to Paris and I’m looking into options this week. More soon.

      y.

    • Hi Milla,

      How funny! I’m off to Paris with a few tweeps (to see the new Frida Kahlo exhibition) in a couple of weeks and guess where we are heading for lunch? Angelina, of course. I’ll make sure to test the hot chocolate this time.

      I know it’s not quite the same, but if you pop into Harrods, they sell (cold) hot chocolate from Angelina. That might be a way to get your fix until you are off to Paris next.

      Take care,

      Yannick

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