It’s my second time back to Paris but my third time back to France. Truthfully, the first time I visited Paris back in 2013 I wasn’t all that impressed. I had heard heaps of good things about Paris so I think had set my expectations too high. Coupled with the fact that both Tom and I had food poisoning during our entire week there as well as our awkward choice to visit in the dead of winter, Paris wasn’t all that I expected. When we headed to France the second time in 2015, we totally gave Paris a skip because of this. A couple of years later, with my sister’s first time to Europe, I decided it was time to give it a chance again. It was spring this time so at least we had that going for us. With better trip planning skills under our belt and no expectations whatsoever, we ended up having an absolute blast!
We booked our accommodation in a beautiful apartment in the Opera Garnier (9th arrondissement). We chose Opera because it seemed near a few of the typical tourist attractions (Louvre, Tulieries, etc) and had good transport access. Turns out, we later found out that Opera was the home of all things Japanese! We lived near a road of Japanese restaurants and even a Japanese grocer. I was so tempted, but did not succumb. Knowing me, that’s an amazing feat because I’ve eaten Japanese food basically everywhere I go (London, Indonesia, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Taiwan and almost even in Iceland..). Anyway, instead, I decided to dedicate all my stomach space to trying out the local specialities in Paris. Here is a list of some of our favourite places.
We don’t have any photos of the food from Paul because it was so good we’d often finish it before we even got home or as soon as we were home. We first stumbled upon Paul whilst walking to the Louvre. It’s your typical Parisian boulangerie (bakery) but we were drawn to it because it had a long line of people waiting to order. They make baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolat and the like and we tried quite a few of their breads over our three visits there (one visit, per day). Their baguettes were hands down the best baguettes I’ve had in a while – I totally recommend them for breakfast, every single day. They’re crunchy and tough on the exterior, but soft and moist on the interior. They totally melt in your mouth. We bought like, 6 baguettes and just snacked on bread all the time! Their croissants (well actually, all French croissants) are like the fancy ones from Lune, sans the price tag. It’s really one of the things I miss most about Paris.
2. BRUNCH AT LE CAMÉLIA, MANDARIN ORIENTAL
We had the opportunity to try the shopping brunch menu at Le Camélia at the Mandarin Oriental and loved every bit of it. Le Camélia is situated near Place Vendome, an area packed with luxury brands and stores so it’s the perfect stopover for some food mid-shop. Their shopping brunch is a superb balance of buffet and a-la-carte. Starters are done buffet style – help yourself to a full buffet spread of sandwiches, salads, meats & cheese, pastries and more. Mains are served per the menu. Select from the choices on offer or be adventurous and try one of the chef’s suggestions for the day (what we chose – two splendid options of fish and chicken which we absolutely loved). If you still have room for dessert, then head to the dessert bar to finish off your meal with a delectable selection of sweets on offer. Le Camélia is such a great place to take a break during the day – it’s indoor seating is cosy and warm and it’s outdoor seating (where we sat) is amongst the stunning Mandarin Oriental landscape garden.
3. L’ÉCLAIR DE GÉNIE
I love Maitre Choux in London so was intrigued to also visit L’éclair de Génie to see how eclairs are done in Paris. When in Melbourne, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but when it comes to Paris, I’m open to everything. After all, patisserie is one of their specialities. The eclairs at L’éclair de Génie are a piece of art. The detail that go into creating them makes it hard to want to eat them. We tried a range of their flavours, a caramel, raspberry, chocolate ganache, passionfruit and lemon meringue. I love all the fruity flavours they have! Plus, their shops are totally cool and have an edgy feel to them and also sell an assortment of gifts that we took home for friends.
We passed by Laduree whilst wandering Place Vendome. Their visual merchandising in the front window right now is totally 300% Instagrammable and beautiful. Those floating macarons and neon light sign was legitimately what caught our eye. We picked up a small box to snack on before heading to Jardin des Tuileries. It’s seriously hard to resist macarons in Paris. They somehow always taste better when in Paris.
5. MICHELIN STAR DINING AT L’ORANGERIE, FOUR SEASONS HOTEL GEORGE V
We had the pleasure of dining at the Michelin-starred L’Orangerie at Four Seasons Hotel George V (by the way, if you’re a foodie, this hotel boasts three Michelin-starred restaurants for a total of 5 stars, so definitely check it out!). Everything here was absolutely delicious and flawlessly presented and the ambience and service at the restaurant was just as on point. We chose an entree, main and dessert each and were also surprised with numerous courses in between. There were so many stand out dishes but I will list them anyway:
- ‘Amuse-Bouche’ (a surprise before our entree): Chiboust of green bean, white peach and milk almond sorbet – an absolutely delicious mix of unique flavours put together.
- ‘Poached Langoustines, citrus, rice espuma’ (another surprise before our entree): This dish was like, out of the world amazing delicious. So fresh, so light and so full of flavour. The langoustine (in Australia we call it scampi) is poached with citrus fruits, served with rice mouss and caviar from Sologne.
- King Crab, lemon water and spiced cauliflower (entree): they really do their seafood well here. The king crab is served with lemon water and spiced cauliflower and the flavours just go so well together.
- Pigeon in a bran crust (main): wanted to try something adventurous and gave this a go. I tell you, it’s super French tasting haha! Served with turnips, truffle and black olive.
- Meringue flower (dessert): that intricate flower you see above is the meringue flower dessert. Made of little, little petals so carefully arranged together. It’s a mix of raspberry and peppermint which gives a subtle sweet texture to the meringue and a refreshing mint aftertaste.
- Sweet petits-fours (a surprise after dessert): we were so full by then but tried our best to make room of these!
Everyone claims Berthillon to be one of the best places to get ice-cream in Paris so we made sure to check it out. I guess you could say the hype is pretty real. I tried two sorbet flavours – raspberry and blackcurrant and loved just how full of fruit it was. It basically tasted like frozen raspberry and blackcurrant in ice-cream form!
We came to Amorino to try their macaron topped rose shaped gelato. Cause why not, right? It’s a fun place to get ice-cream because of the novelty factor and whilst it tastes amazing, I still think the Berthillon ice-cream place was a notch better. At Amorino, you can choose as many flavours as you want to create the rose. There are heaps of flavours to choose from so it can get quite stressful trying to figure it all out haha. We ended going with about 4 flavours each, as well as topping it with a ice-cream filled macaron (another choice to make).
I hope you find this food guide interesting and helpful for planning your Paris eats. Do let me know in the comments below if you’ve visited any of these places and what you think of them as well. Thanks for reading!
Photography: Connie and Rowena.