Easter Chocolate Displays in Paris

If you hop around Paris today on an egg hunt, I promise you’ll be astounded by the immense choice of Easter Chocolate Displays.

As artisanal chocolate shops work flat out for one of the busiest seasons of the year, it’s no wonder that the French so aptly describe the term of window-shopping as faire du léche-vitrine, as the urge to lick the delectable displays couldn’t be higher. Who can resist Jean-Paul Hévin‘s sense of humour with that in mind for his Easter shopfront?

Hevin chocolate window for Easter

Already the choice of eggs in itself is awe-inspiring; but add to that the different-coloured chocolate hens, chicks, diverse other animals (owls, tortoises, sheep, cows), bells, and the fish that we typically find in the French chocolate boutiques.

Where can we start?  Before we get cracking with a sampling of Easter eggs (oeufs de Pâques), let’s start with the most typically French in the Chocolateries: bells and fish.

Easter chocolate bells Hevin Paris

Chocolate bells with golden fish at Jean-Paul Hévin, Paris

EASTER BELLS (Cloches de Pâques)

Listen carefully for the Church bells over Easter weekend: in France they stop ringing from Good Friday when Jesus died to Easter Sunday morning. After Church Mass, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, the bells joyously peel around France as they fly back from Saint Peter’s in Rome, dropping chocolate eggs in gardens as the children are eager to hunt for them.

Even my girls (who are French) have always found it a crazy tradition – perhaps as parents we simply poorly described it – but imagine trying to explain to your kids that church bells had flown with wings all the way to the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope to help everyone in mourning, then returned (with no hands) to hide chocolate.

The Easter Bunny still makes more sense, even if it doesn’t figure that much in France, but over the years, more are gradually hopping into the boutiques – such as these pastel cuties from Hugo & Victor.

pink chocolate easter bunny hugo & Victor Paris

Bright coloured Easter chocolate bunnies at Hugo & Victor, Paris

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHOCOLATE FISH?

I’ve always been intrigued by the schools of chocolate fish in the windows.

Fish are popular for April Fool’s Day since in France it’s April fish or Poisson d’avril as the children’s chorus goes! If you’re any decently duped April Fool in France, you’ll probably be sporting a school of colourful paper fish taped to your back. There was one year I discovered that, after various not-so-discrete pressing to my back, I had been modelling a mobile primary school wall.

1-Poisson-d'avril

Eager to find out the history behind it, I  tried to go to a school of fish myself, rummaging around for more clues but the fishy story remains rather unclear. Various sources cite the most popular: it goes back to the 16th Century under Charles IX reign, who changed the New Year to the 1st January. Until then in France, the New Year started around 1st April and was celebrated by fresh fish to herald the arrival of Spring (following the zodiac sign of Pisces, perhaps). As not everyone was au courant or kept forgetting this new calendar, jokes gradually spread the custom of pinning fish on their backs.

A la Mère de Famille particularly has a huge choice of chocolate fish and scallop shells. Like eggs, many are garnished with yet more miniature fish. The smallest fish and other seafood shapes, called friture, often garnish the insides of the bigger Easter eggs or are sold simply in sachets to eat comme ça, just like that.

This year’s sample of fish can be found hooked up vertically in a line, lined up in a jigsaw pattern, or found randomly swimming in clouds.

Easter chocolate fish Paris

Chocolate fish by Pascal Caffet (praline), Jean-Paul Hévin, Michel Cluizel, Patrick Roger, and A la Mère de Famille

EASTER EGGS WITH PERSONALITY

As with outside of France, eggs are still the most popular at Easter and over the years they’ve gradually transformed from brightly decorated hard-boiled to more chocolate. Symbolising the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday with the rolling stone that covered Christ’s tomb, the rolling of eggs transformed death into life, bringing new life and fertility – much like a chick popping from its egg.

Many high-end chocolate boutiques, confiseries (candy shops), pâtisseries, or top hotels have created their eggs from simply chic, amusing, to popular characters, or impressive giant sculptures as works of art.

Jacques Genin has gone wonderfully wild with a vivid, brilliant lacquered look for his masterpieces this year. Otherwise there are his clowns, fish and hens to choose from.

Jaques Genin easter collection

From Far West Cowboys at LeNôtre; Peter Pan and Captain Hook at Gerard Mulot; to Mangas of Pierre Hermé (along with many others) – what about some cool scateboarding eggs at Dalloyau?

Dalloyau easter skateboarding chocolate eggs

Dalloyau Easter 2016 Paris

Looking through the glass, Pierre Marcolini has chosen an Easter Wonderland theme, complete with this grinning Cheshire cat. Or what about a box of mini praline eggs: including pistachio, almond, nougat and hazelnut?

Pierre Marcolini Chocolate Easter Wonderland paris

Pierre Marcolini’s Easter Wonderland

From Le Manufacture de Chocolat of Alain Ducasse, you’ll find traditional artisan chocolate eggs and contemporary designer hens – but what caught my eye is this original DIY Easter Egg box for you to fill yourself, complete with a white glove for that in-boutique chic experience at home.

Alain-Ducasse-chocolaterie

Henri Le Roux has dressed his eggs Harlequin style – and, talking of clowns, Arnaud Lahrer‘s major act this year is the Circus Chocolate with Plou the Clown, sealions, elephants, and monkeys. Eggs are also clowning around at De Neuville.

Clown easter eggs Paris

Left to right: Henri Le Roux; Arnaud Lahrer; and De Neuville

We’re totally in love with Paris – and eggs disguised in an amusing collection this year from Christophe Roussel, including Paddle La Baule and Udon le mouton. Incidentally, highly glossy sheep also feature at Edwart Chocolatier. You could say they’re ewe-some. Ba-ah!

Easter egg creations by Christophe Roussel Paris 2016

Photos courtesy of Christophe Roussel, Paris 2016

 

FRIED CHOCOLATE EGGS

You’ll notice a few fried eggs (oeufs au plat) around too, such as these smashing takes by Patrick Roger and Georges Larnicol. The eggs in cartons look real – they are: except filled with chocolate praline.

Easter Chocolate Fried Eggs Paris

WHY SO MANY CHICKS and HENS?

During the 40-day Christian tradition of Lent, meat or eggs were not allowed to be eaten. Meanwhile, hens continued to lay their eggs so by the time Easter arrived signalling the end of Lent, there were so many eggs to be used.  Many hens are garnished with miniature eggs, my personal favourite being praline.  And if you’re fond of praline, try Pascal Caffet‘s plump hens, “mini Pious” and pralines made with hazelnuts from Piemonte.

Easter chocolate hens Paris

From top: Jean-Paul Hévin, A La Mère de Famille Below: photo courtesy of Pascal Caffet, and Patrick Roger

HAVE A HEART

A la Mère de Famille have also created chocolate hearts filled with the traditional fritures pralines for the upmarket grocery, Maison Plisson in the Marais.

GIANT EGGS

Just imagine the Easter bells trying to deliver some of the more giant sculptures from Rome.  What about this giant 7.5 kg  (about 17 pounds) Oeuf Plume, packaged giant ready to be delivered at Les Marquis de Ladurée? It’s garnished inside with Les Marquis’s famous mini cameos in dark, milk and white chocolate.

Easter Chocolate Displays Paris

Easter chocolate collection at Les Marquis de Ladurée Paris

 

CLOCK CHANGE

Alas, there are so many more but this is a selection of my personal best Easter Chocolate Displays in Paris. But now that I’ve “wound you up”, don’t forget in France that the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday, so let me leave you with this impressive clock egg structure by pastry chef, Pierre Mathieu at the Mandarin Oriental’s Camélia Cake Shop – available from today.

Egg clock by Pierre Mathieu, Mandarin Oriental Paris

Photo courtesy of the Camelia Cakeshop, Mandarin Oriental, Paris

I’d say it’s time to call it a marathon in chocolate. I’m sure you have enough chocolate here to nibble on until next Easter, although I’ll be posting more Easter treats in Paris every day this week on Instagram and Facebook.

Happy Easter to you from Paris!


I’m thrilled that my article on Easter chocolate in Paris is on BonjourParis.com! Please pop in and say Bonjour…

Bonjour Paris Publication Contributor Jill Colonna

Complete Guide to Macaron Day Paris 2016

As our thoughts are happily turning to the budding arrival of sweet Spring, it’s time to get planning so here’s my Complete Guide to Macaron Day in Paris.

The official spring date of Sunday 20 March unveils the 11th annual Jour du Macaron in Paris – but this year we have a bonus: it will stretch over the weekend, starting on Saturday 19th.
Initiated by the Picasso of Pastry, Pierre Hermé, Macaron Day is a charitable event which is followed by the high-end pastry chefs of French pâtisserie throughout France, Europe and the World over who are all members of Relais Desserts.

complete guide macaron day Paris

 

This year, it has been a bit of a secret, and on social media I’ve seen, “It seems quiet in Paris this year…”
It’s rather the opposite!  I’ve been phoning around the boutiques and here’s what’s happening.
So let’s get planning!


Update 2 Feburary 2017: It’s the same this year, as so far nothing is yet mentioned!
However, this guide is still helpful for Macaron Day Paris 2017, as each year the same boutiques take part.

This year The Jour de Macaron takes place 19-20 March 2017.


So, how does it work for Macaron Day in Paris?

It’s that simple: One donation (un don) = One macaron.
Your donations go towards the association, Vaincre la Mucoviscidose – Fighting Against Cystic Fibrosis. Their volunteer workers rally around the Relais Dessert boutiques with their tins and each time you add your donation, you pick the macaron of your choice.
Last year the Association raised a fabulous €50,000 and so this year, let’s help them top it!

To assist your planning of the perfect macaron weekend in Paris, each participating boutique for Macaron Day is listed below as well as opening times. N.B. some boutiques are closed on Sunday.

Pierre Hermé

With a gourmet choice of 25 macarons, you’ll probably be glad there’s a queue on Macaron Day at Pierre Hermé, just so you can decide on a few.  Just look at this list below!
If you need my help, I’d recommend the latest flavours which are divine – such as Mahogany (salted caramel, mango and coconut); Vénus (rose and quince); Céleste (passion fruit, rhubarb and strawberry); and Yasamine (Jasmine, mango & grapefruit).  Or go for the classics such as Mogador (milk chocolate & passion fruit) or his Rose & Jasmine. I’ll leave you to decide!

Choice of macarons Pierre Herme for Paris Macaron Day 2016

4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
39 avenue de l’Opéra, 75002 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
18 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Publicis Drugstore, 133 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-10.30pm)
89 boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Le Royal Monceau Raffles, 37 avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 3-6pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm. Closed Sunday)
185 rue de Vaugirard, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 10am-8pm; Sunday 9am-5pm)
58 avenue Paul Doumer, 75016 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Printemps, Parly 2 shopping centre, Le Chesnay (Saturday 10am-8.30pm; closed Sunday)

complete guide macaron day Paris

Laurent Duchêne

With at least 15 macarons to choose from including the great classics, I’d also pick the more unusual flavours such as his Chocolate-Yuzu or Mojito macarons.
Update: Popcorn & Salted Caramel is a new flavour, launched as of Macaron Day!

238 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-7.30pm & Sunday: 8am-1.30pm)
2 rue Wurtz, 75013 Paris (Saturday: 7.30am-8pm; closed Sunday)

Dalloyau

This historical institution, on the go since 1682 from the original boutique in 101 rue du Faubourg St Honoré, now has ten boutiques in and around the City of Lights offering a range of flavours of our favourite Parisian macarons.

For Macaron Day, Dalloyau are launching FOUR NEW FLAVOURS for Spring:
Damas Rose & Raspberry; Orange Blossom; Caramel Toffee; and Chocolait Coco.

complete guide macaron day Paris

5 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Bastille, 75004 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
2 Place Edmond Rostand, 75006 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
63 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
101 rue du Faubourg St Honoré, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 8.30am-9pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm. Closed Sunday)
69 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8pm)
Galeries Gourmandes, Atrium du Palais des Congrès, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris (Saturday: 11am-8pm; Sunday 10am-8pm)
18 Place du Marché, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine (Saturday & Sunday: 9am-8pm)
67 Jean-Baptiste Clément, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt (Saturday: 9am-7.30pm; Sunday 10am-2pm)
21/39 rue d’Alsace, 92300 Levallois-Perret (Saturday 10am-9pm. Closed Sunday)

Macarons Paris Jean-Paul Hevin chocolates

Arnaud Larher

I love to pop into the boutique in Rue de Seine, especially after one of my chocolate-pastry walks in the Spring and Summer in  Saint Germain-des-Prés. Choose from the normal selection of exquisite flavours (Pistachio is good; and Café – infused Grand Cru coffee ganache from Southern India), or opt for something different, such as his Mille Fleurs (raspberry ganache with flower essence); Marrons-Cassis (candied chestnut with blackcurrant marmalade); or Chocolate-Lime with dark chocolate from Brazil.

93 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris (Saturday: 10am-8pm; Sunday: 10am-7pm)
57 rue Damrémont, 75018 Paris (Saturday: 9.30am-1.30pm & 3.30pm-7.30pm; Sunday: 10am-1.30pm)
53 rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris (Saturday: 10am-7.30pm; Sunday 10am-1.30pm)

Parisian macarons from Jean-Paul Hevin chocolate

Jean-Paul Hévin

As I write, the pastry chefs are busy working on a special chocolate macaron for the event. What will it be, we wonder?  A double-coloured chocolate duo or a single cacao cru to nibble on? Watch this space – as soon as I hear from the boutique, I’ll update this here and let you know on my social media networks (see links above).

231 rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
41 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
3 rue Vavin, 75006 Paris
23 bis avenue de la Motte Picquet, 75007 Paris (all 4 boutiques open Saturday: 10am-7.30pm. Closed Sunday)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussemann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm. Closed Sunday)

Sadaharu Aoki

This Japanese-French pâtisserie is highly Japanese but I can assure you that the Japanese macaron language helps gets the ooh and aahs of communication going, macaron-munching style! Try spectacular flavours such as Matcha Green tea; Black Sesamé; Genmacha; Hojicha; Earl Grey; or I find this perfectly acidic citrus Yuzu macaron always hits the spot.

complete guide macaron day Paris

56 Boulevard de Port Royal, 75005 Paris (Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm)
35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris (Saturday 11am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Saturday 8.30am-9.30pm; Closed Sunday)
25 rue de Pérignon, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 11am-7pm; Sunday 11am-6pm)

Christophe Roussel

This boutique, “Creative Duo with Julie” (Christophe’s wife) at the bottom of the Montmartre hill, has come up with the launch of a new macaron in time for Macaron Day weekend: Strawberry-Passion Fruit.

Strawberry Passion macaron from Christophe Roussel for Macaron Day

Photo of strawberry-passion macarons courtesy of Christophe Roussel

 

gateaux a Bord sticker for Macaron Day in Paris

Also created for the event by Christophe Roussel is this French car sticker, meaning “Cakes on Board”, with 3€ of each sale given to Cystic Fibrosis and it’s so clever, he’s trademarked it.

For other macaron flavours, why not try the Morello Cherry and Chili; Passion Fruit and Lemongrass; or Apricot and Lavender, making us dream of a hot, fragranced summer in the South of France. One of my all-time favourites, however, is his Cheesecake macaron – you have to try it!  On second thoughts, try them all.

 5 rue Tardieu, 75018 Paris (Saturday and Sunday 10.15am-8pm)

 

 


Enjoy yourselves, happy tastings and make a charitable weekend out of eating macarons in Paris.  Not only is it gourmand, but it’s all in a good cause.  Why not share your macaron experiences together on the MadAboutMacarons page on Facebook? I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Macaron Day in Paris – or make yours the perfect Parisian macaron weekend!

Spring Around Paris with Oranges for UK Mother’s Day

Somebody responded to this photo of an orange tree on Facebook by saying, “Thanks Jill but I don’t have to be Parisian to enjoy oranges”. Of course she was right. But she didn’t get the point.

Clementines in a Florist in Paris

For a start, I’m not Parisian – although I do have a French-Parisian diary.  It’s useful to note that Mother’s Day in France is on Sunday 29 May but each year I’m taken by surprise and suddenly remember what my diary doesn’t tell me: in the UK, Mother’s Day comes on 6 March.  So now we know I’m dead for forgetting my Mum’s day on time for Sunday, let’s walk around Paris together and talk about oranges.

At this chilly time of year, orange trees feature in many Parisian florists, decorating their entrances to brighten the path.  I always dream when I pass them, wishing I was living in Versailles with an Orangerie to look after them in style. We don’t live far from Versailles, but I’m sure if I took an orange bush home, they would just wilt and die on me so I prefer to window shop.

Oranges florist Paris winter

Just around the corner from this little florist off Rue du Bac, is a rather highbrow gourmet patisserie, Hugo & Victor on Boulevard Raspail.  The decor is stunning: dramatic black walls highlight their exquisite pastries which all centre around a seasonal theme. Oranges being the sweet seasonal jewels of the day, I know Mum would be so impressed watching the chic assistant pack this glistening blood orange tart into a simple black interior pastry box. The black box emphasises that this is pure pastry art, decorated with supreme segments and cubes of marshmallow.

Hugo & Victor orange tart and oranges in Paris

Back home, tasting the tart’s sumptuousness with different layers from compote to cream to its shiny glaze, I wanted to rustle up something with orange too – but a LOT simpler.  The signs were all there: our local market (Mum loves coming here each time she visits) was piled high with clementines and untreated oranges, begging to be grated, juiced and segmented for some kind of citrusy dessert.

While a creamy orange curd is just perfect as a topping on crêpes, I couldn’t help opening up Teatime in Paris and playing around with a few recipes.

Dessert Ideas from Teatime in Paris

The idea behind Teatime in Paris is to mix and match some of the recipes and I give ideas for variations throughout the book. One of my favourites in the Tart Chapter is a Lemon and Passion Fruit Meringue Tartlet. As the orange doesn’t have the same tart zingy taste as lemon, there was no need to add the sweet meringue and so the tartlet was even quicker.

It’s also just as simple to change the citrus juice – as I weigh the juice in the book rather than give it in volume (I give the exact amount needed for the juice which is far more exact). So I added just one passion fruit and made up the rest in orange juice to create an orange and passion tart.  It’s certainly not as arty and professional looking as the tart in Hugo & Victor here but I can tell you the acidity of the passion with the orange was divine.

Orange and passion fruit tartlet with macaron

I show you how to make crumble choux puffs in Teatime, with discs of craquelin or crumble before baking. This time, I added a pinch of orange powdered food colouring as I creamed the butter for the crumble and this was the result: Orange Crumble Choux puffs.

orange citrus French patisserie ideas

Filled with the passion fruit and orange tart filling, these crumble puffs are given the macaron hat look with a few macaron shells stored in the freezer bank.

Orange choux craquelin crumbles with macarons

Orange and Passion Fruit Crumble Choux Puffs

There are perhaps no orange primroses at the Eiffel Tower, but these white and yellow primroses have been cheering us up with their bright colours while we’re now dashing in between les giboulées de mars (rain storms of March). Our UK “April showers” are in March in France: again, our French vs UK diaries are reversed! Yesterday in between sunshine, we even had snow and today a hailstorm! Which reminds me: my Mum always looks beautiful in scarves.

Primrose flowers at the Eiffel Tower winter spring Paris

There’s something warming and exotic when you add a touch of orange blossom to cooking or baking. I guess  it’s too late to send Mum these Chocolate, Honey and Orange Blossom macarons from Teatime in Paris.

Chocolate and orange blossom macarons Teatime in Paris

So if you’re in the UK and live near your Mum, spoil her like mad this Sunday. I know my Mum would love these lusciously rich and buttery chocolate chip Financiers from the first chapter of Teatime in Paris. I simply added the grated rind of an orange to them for some extra zing with a cup of tea.

Chocolate and orange financiers from Teatime in Paris

I know you don’t need to be in Paris to enjoy oranges or daffodils at this time of year, but here’s wishing all of you wonderful Mums the most lovely Mothering Sunday this weekend in the UK – and with a copy of Teatime in Paris, why not bring a touch of Parisian spring to your kitchen?  And to my own, dearest SuperMum, I look forward to spoiling you on your next trip. Hurry and spring back to Paris soon!