Paris Macaron Week at Pascal Caffet – 18-24 April

When a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) announces a Macaron Week in Paris, you need to make a detour.  Hidden away in a side street in Paris’s fashionable 16th arrondissement, just off Rue de Passy, you’re in for a treat. Remember Pascal Caffet’s award-winning pastries: éclairs, top pralines, and his legendary Las Vegas?

Pascal Caffet Patisserie Macaron Week April in Paris

From 18-24 April, Pascal Caffet is adding three new flavours to his already large collection of exquisite macarons. I was given a special treat to taste them for you in the boutique before they officially come out tomorrow.

Macaron Week in Paris at Pascal Caffet patisserie

For Matcha Green Tea lovers, his Thé Matcha is spot on.  Just the right dosage to taste: subtle but enough for the special tea to shine through the interior fondant ganache. I would thoroughly recommend that you START with this flavour, to fully appreciate its taste.

Next up, is Mûre or Blackberry. All of Pascal Caffet’s fruit flavours are compotes and not too sweet, which is why I love his macarons. Again subtle, it’s as if biting through a tangy soft fruit jelly with the added crisp macaron shell.

New Yuzu macaron by Pascal Caffet, Macaron Week Paris

The third flavour is Yuzu.  It’s a hit!  Slightly acidic with the citrus flavour eventually whacking the taste-buds after the two or three seconds and leaving a wonderful lingering after-taste without it being tart. As they say in France, “Chapeau”, so hats off to you Chef Caffet!

Yuzu’ll be needing to taste this macaron – at least! Add 3 more macarons, since for 4 macarons bought, he’s giving away one free!

Pascal Caffet
13 rue Duban, 75016 Paris

Monday: 12 noon- 7.30pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 10am – 7.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 9am – 7pm

Tel: 01 – 45 20 08 04
Metro: La Muette or a 15-minute walk from Trocadero

A Champagne Teatime in Paris

When the heavens open in Paris and driving Spring rain pelts on even the most chic of umbrellas, the City of Light always has a bright side.

On the popular Rive Gauche (Left Bank of the Seine), near the Sorbonne and Pantheon and just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of Boulevard Saint-Germain, I’ve recently discovered a new quiet haven on rue des Ecoles: the Hôtel des Bulles de Paris.

Bulles de paris Hotel Rive Gauche Pantheon

This charming, modern hotel has a theme around bubbles. Happily we’re talking about my favourite bubbles: Champagne.
Just walking directly into the lobby, the welcoming staff is bubbly. Led (couldn’t resist that one) into the sparkling breakfast and tea-room on even the most gloomiest of days, the room is dappled in light with a very apt quotation from Louis Pasteur decorating the pastel walls:

Un repas sans Champagne est comme un jour sans soleil
A meal without Champagne is like a day without sunshine

Louis Pasteur

Les Bulles de Paris teatime lights

This new teatime brings back the sunshine. There’s no need for a menu since the choice is pure and simple: tea or Champagne – or both – served with the hotel’s signature patisserie.

To accompany the patisserie, two teas have been chosen by master of teas, Madame Tseng of La Maison des Trois Thés, nearby in rue Saint-Médard. Either choose a rather subtle black tea from Nepal, Makalu SFTGFOP 2nd flush. Tasting it on its own before the patisserie, I was trying to pin down the floral, fruity Muscat and rose notes with an accent of honey. It wasn’t until I tried it with the patisserie that the flavours came through, and could then see why it was a good match.

Teatime at Les Bulles de Paris hotel

For those of you like myself who love a more fragrant floral tea, then go for Madame Tseng’s white Jasmine tea, Xiu Qiu, from the Chinese province of Fujian. Even the hand-rolled pearl-shaped tea-leaves evoke the idea of bubbles!

The signature patisserie’s design had been re-modelled as an Easter egg nesting on strands of white chocolate, but the pastry remains the same: hiding inside the pearl-rose white chocolate shell is a Champagne jelly, topped with a raspberry sponge and delicate vanilla mousse.

Easter egg patisserie bulles de paris teatime

The real honour of this new teatime goes to the Champagne, selected by the Hotel des Bulles de Paris by Bocquillon: a Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru with white floral notes, white fruits and a subtle hint of citrus, the perfect match with the patisserie.

Champagne Teatime Bulles de Paris

If you do opt for the tea and Champagne, I would recommend tasting the tea first and finishing off with the bubbles.

Champagne Bar Paris

Peeking inside the Champagne bar, I couldn’t help being drawn in to its quirky bubbly decor, and can just imagine finishing off the day after my chocolate and pastry walk nearby in Saint Germain with a glass of one of their wide choice of Champagnes in a bubble chair.  I hear another of their walls speak to me:

Start the day with a smile and end it with Champagne

I can see clearly now the rain has gone.

Champagne Bulles de Paris flute bottle

The new Champagne Teatime is served Wednesday – Sunday, 2.30pm-5.30pm

Signature Pâtisserie with choice of two teas or a glass of House Champagne: 15€
(for all 3: €20)

Hôtel Les Bulles de Paris
32 rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris

 


This article is published on BonjourParis.com

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!

Valentine Chocolates in Paris

Preparing a taster of Valentine chocolates in Paris has not been the easiest task – craving aside as I’ve been drooling in the windows – since most chocolate shops only set up their windows about a week in advance for Valentine’s weekend. Not all chocolatiers are necessarily attracted to a Valentine theme, so I’ll concentrate on them later as they gear up instead for Easter chocolates.

As you can imagine, we’re spoiled for choice in Paris, so I can’t possibly mention them all, but I’m sure you’ll find something here that tickles your fancy from 14 of the best Parisian chocolate boutiques.

If you’re into hearts, then you won’t be disappointed: the majority of chocolates are either heart-shaped or come in red-ribbon heart-shaped boxes. Some of the luxury chocolate boutiques have more emphasis on their windows, others on particularly beautiful packaging – while others are perhaps not quite as wow-factor on the presentation side, but their chocolates are definitely worth falling head over heels. Speaking of heels, Jean-Paul Hévin or Georges Larnicol will have you swooning over their chocolate stilettos, Eiffel Towers, mopeds or even pianos filled with macarons. There’s something for every budget – from the cutest of mini boxes to more decadent assorted arrangements to say I love you.

Pierre Marcolini Valentines Chocolates Paris

Pierre Marcolini’s Falling in Love Valentine theme

Pierre Marcolini – the double chocolatier who makes his own chocolate from cacao bean to bar – centres around his red heart raspberry chocolates available year-round but it’s all in the packaging, ranging from a mini duo box for under 5 euros to a giant cone for 99 euros.  Other hearts have been designed to join in with names to create the mood: Seduction (raspberry pulp), Passion (milk chocolate-passion fruit), Frisson (white chocolate-lime), Tendresse (Montélimar nougat praline), Plaisir (Iranian pistachio praline), and Douceur (salted butter caramel).

Chapon and Dalloyau chocolate shops St Valentine Paris

Patrice Chapon is another chocolate maker who creates his tablets and stunning chocolates from bean to bar.  His window in rue du Bac shows off his famous Smileys along with Valentine pink hearts and rather catchy-kissy red lips.  Chocolate-moulded hearts and lips are also featured at Dalloyau, but admittedly my heart is beating to unlock their duo of pastries for two. Also well known for his chocolate kisses, Christophe Roussel continues his seductive selection of kisses and sweet hearts in Montmartre.

Foucher chocolaterie Paris St Valentine

Foucher Chocolaterie in rue du Bac, since 1819

Foucher, also in rue du Bac, has been there since the shop opened in 1819. Their heart-shaped milk and dark praline-filled chocolates are perhaps for those with a sweeter tooth. Red fruit calissons (sweet marzipan confections from Aix-en-Provence) add a different red touch.

It’s still hearts galore at Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse with a large heart to be enjoyed à deux: either a dark chocolate coconut-passion, or a milk chocolate praline.

La Maison du Chocolat Paris St Valentines

La Maison du Chocolat in Paris

La Maison du Chocolat is celebrating Valentines not just with heart-shaped boxes but the emotion of love’s infatuation with that frisson feeling or quivering. Nicolas Cloiseau explores this through his chocolates and has created a “Pop” gift box containing four themed chocolates, each provoking a slight shudder with the play of chocolate and fruity acidity or salty surprise.

There are two milk ganaches: Yellow Fusion (praline, caramel and nuts with a hint of lemongrass and lemon notes), Orange Passion (passion fruit with lime, mango and vanilla); and two dark ganaches: Striking Red (acidulous punch of redcurrant, strawberry and raspberry), Dashing Blue (Persian blue salt with praline and blue poppy seeds). The red fruits are indeed particularly striking, with the clever shuddering effect taking hold – I’m in love!

Patrick Roger chocolate Paris

Patrick Roger’s filled chocolate hearts and marzipan faces

Patrick Roger, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (or MOF, the highest accolade given to French craftsmen in their field) is known best as the chocolate sculptor who thinks outside the box.  You’ll find his latest masterpiece,  Rodin’s “The Thinker”, sculpted in chocolate in all of his nine Paris boutiques – you can still see his work in the entrance of the newly renovated Rodin Museum in Paris until 21 February.  While his love hearts are filled with an assortment of chocolates, I can’t help falling for his bright-eyed marzipan hearts.

Valentine Chocolates from Hugo & Victor, Paris

No need to “book” your Valentine Chocolates from Hugo & Victor, Paris

Have that fluttery feeling of butterflies in the stomach? Then head to Hugo & Victor with their heart and butterfly theme – and there’s no need to “book” your valentine chocolates here!

I adore their presentation this year with the cutest little dusky pink box holding four dark chocolates: a delicate jasmine tea ganache and deep love-hearts containing runny cranberry caramel. If you’re frustrated at stopping there, the sophisticated book presentation encloses more dark and milk jasmine tea ganache chocolates, along with crispy milk chocolate pralines.

Pascal Caffet award winning Chocolatier and pastry chef

Pascal Caffet, Paris

Another Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Pascal Caffet is King of pralines, using hazelnuts from Piemonte. But first I was introduced to Adam, a dark 70% Venezuelan chocolate with a heart of salted caramel ganache, and Eve, a subtle cherry blossom ganache dressed in white chocolate. On the other hand, Romeo, an Ivorian 40% milk chocolate with his crispy praline heart doesn’t yet have a Juliette – so I’ll just take at least a couple of Romeos, please. I’m hoping that next year Juliette turns up as a dark praline seducer like her other half but in the meantime, I found another “Dark Favourite” of 70% dark chocolate topped with a heart, containing a praline mix of Valencian almonds and Piemonte hazelnuts.

Pascal Caffet Paris, chocolates and pastries

Pascal Caffet – for a MOF, he’s just as wonderfully nutty as his pralines

I know. This was meant to be just about chocolates but I couldn’t resist the look of Pascal Caffet’s frozen Valentine’s dessert for two, the Cocooning: 70% dark Venezuelan chocolate mousse and biscuit, red fruits and Bourbon vanilla crème brûlée.  See? Don’t get me started but I’m swooning at the patisseries again.  Philippe Conticini says “Say it with a Cake” and entices us into the Pâtisserie des Rêves with his glistening red Pommes d’Amour.

patisserie des reves paris Valentine gifts

There are many more new stunning patisserie beauties arriving in the shops at the end of the week, just in time for your Valentine’s weekend.  Pastry chefs are showing some tempting teasers of classic large macaron hearts filled with raspberries: Pierre Marcolini adds vanilla and yuzu, Angelina adds rose and redcurrants for a “Heart to Heart” and although Pierre Hermé couldn’t have a Valentine’s Day without his famous Ispahan macaron heart of rose, raspberry and litchi, his 2016 creation is a “Venus Heart” of quince, apple and rose. Dalloyau may still have a heart but also a second pastry for two shaped as a love padlock. The most incredible I’ve seen so far is the “Cache-Coeur” from Un Dimanche à Paris with a heart suggesting a rather heart-shaped bust below a plunging neckline. Oh-là-là!

In the meantime, for multi-taskers, celebrate the Chinese New Year and Saint Valentine’s together. The Pâtisserie des Rêves are saying it with fortune cookies containing love messages.  And if you’re planning on Popping-the-Question, then even that hidden message can be easily organised too!

Happy Sweet Valentine’s Day from Paris! Go on – melt your other half…


 

This article is featured on the Bonjour Paris Publication.

Circus Teatime in Paris – Homage to the New French Film “Chocolat”

News is spreading in Paris this week of tomorrow’s release of Roschdy Zem’s new French film, “Chocolat”.

Chocolat French film Paris advert

Thankfully the shiny billboard’s image of a clown dispels any confusion with the previous film about a woman and a daughter opening a chocolate shop in rural France. Instead, this film is based on the true-life story of Raphael Padilla, nicknamed “Chocolat”, a former Cuban-born slave who became the first black circus artist in France at the end of the 19th Century.

Nouveau Cirque rue saint honore paris 19th century

Photos currently on display at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris

Historical Address

Most of the film’s story takes place at number 251, rue Saint Honoré – now the modern location of the Mandarin Oriental Paris. The hotel is proud of its prestigious historical past: previously a convent, a hippodrome, royal equestrian school then the Nouveau Cirque. The film centres round the renowned modern circus popular with the elite Parisians from 1886 during the Belle Epoque era.

Mandarin Oriental Paris plaque Foottit et Chocolat Paris clowns

On 20 January, a commemorative plaque was unveiled outside the hotel by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and the “Chocolat” film crew. It reads:

“Here, at the Nouveau Cirque Raphael Padilla known as the “Chocolate Clown” (c. 1868-1917), born a slave in Cuba, and Georges Foottit (1864-1921) invented the clown comedy, associating the White Clown and Auguste”.

 

White Clown and Auguste; Foottit and Chocolat

It’s no surprise that the role of the more sophisticated, “sad” White Clown, George Foottit, is played by James Thierrée, a celebrated circus performer himself – and grandson of Charlie Chaplin. Known on film as a character clown, Chaplin wrote and directed the blockbuster silent film, The Circus (1928), considered one of his best comedies.

Clowns Foottit et Chocolat poster

Omar Sy plays the role of Raphael Padilla. Padilla was sold into slavery at age 9, then escaped to Europe to be discovered by Foottit when he was 18. As the outrageous Auguste clown, Padilla was known as “Chocolat” on stage. It’s a term that made it into French slang, as the expression “Être chocolat” (to be chocolate), means to be ridiculed or abused.
Foottit repeated, “Monsieur Chocolat, I’m obliged to hit you”. After being regularly duped, Padilla announced to his captivated audience, “I’m Chocolate” – a formula that would lead to 15 years of phenomenal clowning comic success.

Bento Circus Teatime Paris

Candy Floss, Clown Bow Ties and Red Noses

To celebrate the historical duo and such a glorious history of the Mandarin Oriental’s location, Thierry Marx and pastry chef Pierre Mathieu have created an exceptional gourmet duo together with their afternoon tea in Paris – with a difference. Be prepared to tickle your taste-buds with the “Bento Circus” at the Camélia restaurant and Cake Shop.

Three mysteriously stacked dishes gradually unveil a clown-inspired feast of nine entertaining treats for the senses.

Circus Bento Teatime Thierry Marx Camelia Paris

The three mini “starters” are perhaps savoury but with a Pomme d’Amour of fresh goats cheese rolled in piquillo pepper, sesame and parmesan, the first smiles are guaranteed.
An adult version of candy-floss has us deliciously tricked with hidden foie-gras, but for me the showstopper is the more serious mini tart of smoked duck, sweetcorn cream and caramelized popcorn.

Smoked duck tartlet sweetcorn cream and caramelised popcorn

The Auguste clown comes more into play with the next sweets on stage: a pistachio flowered hat, a crispy praline chocolate mousse with a lion ring – and a memorable coconut star crowning an exotic fruit tartlet that has me believe my feet have outgrown their shoes.

pistachio exotic fruit praline tartlets Thierry Marx Paris

As our charming server poured more tea from an oversized pot, he seemed surprised how little milk was used for a cloud of milk (“une nuage de lait”). No clowning about: for just a drop of milk, next time I’ll remember clowns’ tears: “Une larme de lait.”

At this point, it’s hard to believe that the show still goes on. The finale demonstrates an inventive vanilla clown’s eye, an explosive lemon bow-tie and an oversized red nose, concealing blackcurrant-blackberry confit and a vanilla-rose mousse in white chocolate.

Clown bento teatime Paris for French film Chocolat

Service is faultless: attentive, friendly yet relaxing – all ingredients for the perfect teatime of stylishly clowning about in Paris!

In true French slang, let’s say we’re not chocolate: at 38 euros for such a prominent address, this celebratory Circus Teatime at the Camélia is great clowning value.

Bento Circus Teatime (until 31 March 2016)
Camélia Cake Shop
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
251 rue Saint Honoré
75001 Paris

Tel: (+33) 01 70 98 78 88

 

This article is published over at BonjourParis.com


 

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to taste the Circus Teatime. I was not required to write a review. As always, all opinions are my own.