Melting Meringue Snowballs

I promised to make a festive dessert for the holidays – even if our Christmas tree isn’t up yet.  Let me introduce you to Melting Meringue Snowballs that are so simple to make and assemble, plus can be prepared in advance.  What’s more, the inside has a generous surprise awaiting. Now it’s just over to you to ‘throw’ a party!

Melting Meringue Snowballs

The recipe may look long but please don’t be put off.  It’s just all explained in detail and so worth the effort.

Thanks to the hosts, Terraillon France, I was invited recently to a special Noël pastry demonstration given by Chef Alexandre Favre at the Michalak Masterclasses, run in their new workshop behind the pastry boutique in rue du Faubourg Poissonnière in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.

French meringue snowballs

For me, this was a meringue revolution! I’m not the biggest fan of meringues as I normally find them too sweet – so imagine my surprise when meringues had been piped out using upturned silicone cake moulds to make a large hollow inside.

French meringue snowballs

Chef Alexandre’s boule de neige meringues were sensational mini meringue snowballs – as he had smaller moulds and piped them out as more realistic snowballs without any swirly effects.  As my moulds were slightly larger, I piped out a spiral effect to make them into larger, rather melted meringue snowballs.

Two separate desserts were prepared during the demonstration, including these impressive Mont Blancs with pear, lemon jelly and praline on lemon cake bases.  I was so smitten with the tart lemon jellies that I added them to my melting meringue snowballs to add that zingy acidity to make the meringues slightly less sweet.

Mont Blanc Poire Marron

The result? The lemon just makes it! Although the lemon jelly recipe calls for sugar, it doesn’t even need it if you prefer a tart surprise inside. TIP: If you’re using organic unwaxed lemons for the juice, grate the lemon zest, place in a zip-lock bag and freeze. You’ll love this for an even quickly-made Moist Lemon Almond Cake, for example.

Chef Alexandre uses the French meringue method for his boules de neige snowballs – just like I use in my recipe for Parisian macarons in both my books. I find it so much easier to work with and there’s no need to fuss about with a thermometer. Why make things complicated when you can keep it simple?

Melting meringue snowballs

Equal quantities are measured out of the egg whites (like the macaron recipes in my books, I use egg whites that have been stored in the fridge for 3-4 days), sugar then whisked together until soft, firm peaks. Then the icing sugar (powdered sugar) is folded in using a good spatula.

Don’t forget that measuring out your ingredients using a good digital scale is vital in French patisserie (read my article here to find out why). Incidentally, I use Terraillon’s Macaron digital scale for precision in my baking.  After constant use for over a year since I’ve had it, the batteries finally gave up on me yesterday.  The good news is that this kitchen scale let’s you know STRAIGHT AWAY with “Battery” flashing up so that your baking is kept consistent.

melting meringue snowballs

The new Terraillon silicone piping bag comes with a variety of exciting tips, easily clipped on to the bag’s holder. To push the batter or whites in the piping bag, use a patisserie scraper (corne en plastique). I used a simple plain tip to pipe out around the moulds.

Two hours later, once the meringues are left to cool, they easily come off the silicone moulds – with a most beautiful hollow ready to fill!

Melting Meringue snowballs

Each meringue base just needs to be filed off using Terraillon’s new microfilm grater, part of their new baking utensils range. This way your melted meringue snowballs can sit perfectly upright without falling over.

Melting meringue snowballs

Surprise!

Split the meringue in the middle and you’ll appreciate how the hollows means less dense sweet meringue and more delicious fillings.

Melting meringue snowball

It’s not just a Melting Meringue Snowball – it’s generously filled with toasted hazelnut praline, bitter lemon jelly, unsugared vanilla cream and I added a candied chestnut (marron glacé) just to complete the French-style festive touch.
melting meringue snowballs filled with praline

Again, weighing out the ingredients carefully, the praline can be made in advance and kept at room temperature for up to a month. Separate the meringues into couples and in each half, fill with praline and lemon jelly; the other half, fill with unsugared vanilla cream and drop in half a candied chestnut (marron glacé).

Melted meringue snowballs

Stick them together with the vanilla cream, add a tiny dollop on top of each melting meringue snowball and top with some gold leaf and white chocolate shavings.

Melting meringue snowballs

Melting Meringue Snowballs

Melted Meringue Snowballs
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 50 mins
 

Melted Meringue Snowballs, generously filled with roasted hazelnut praline, lemon jelly, vanilla cream and candied chestnut for a special French festive dessert, inspired and adapted by Chef Alexandre Favre during a Michalak Masterclass by Terraillon in Paris.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: easy meringue method, Filled meringues, French meringue,, Meringue fillings, Praline cream meringues
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 290 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
French Meringue:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) egg whites (I use 3-4 days aged whites)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) icing/powdered sugar
Hazelnut Praline:
  • 50 g (2oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) hazelnuts
Vanilla Cream:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) Whipping cream 30% fat
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean - seeds scraped (or 1/2 tsp powdered vanilla)
  • 50 g (2oz) mascarpone
  • 4 candied chestnuts, cut in half
Lemon Jelly (Optional):
  • 100 g (3.5 fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 25 g (1oz) water
  • 7 g (0.25oz) sugar (optional if you prefer a more tart lemon surprise)
  • 2.5 g (one sheet) agar-agar
Instructions
French Hollow Meringues:
  1. Using an electric whisk or a stand-mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until the whites start to foam.  Add 1/3 of the sugar then increase speed until the meringue starts to form.  Gradually add the rest of the sugar while beating until the peaks are soft, shiny yet firm.

  2. Stop the mixer and fold in the icing sugar using a spatula until well incorporated. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a plain 10mm tip then pipe out spiral mounds around an upturned silicone mini cake mould.

  3. Bake in a cool oven at 80°C fan for 2 hours (according to the chef but I can't make my oven that low - so baked at 110°C fan/130°C/250°F/gas 1/2 for 2 hours. As the meringues were bigger than his minis, it still worked out well at 2 hours.  After 2 hours, switch off the oven, open the door and leave inside for 10 minutes. Remove to cool then lift off the moulds.

  4. Once cool, grate the wispy tops off half of the meringue shells to smooth in order to let the meringues stand upright.

Lemon Jelly:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the lemon juice and water to the boil. Add the sugar (if using) and the agar-agar.  

  2. Pour the mixture immediately into mini silicone cake moulds (preferably the same size as the meringues) and leave to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once set, they're easy to remove from the moulds.

Hazelnut Praline:
  1. Toast the hazelnuts under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. When cooler and able to handle, rub the hazelnuts between your hands to easily take off the skins.

  2. Gradually heat half of the sugar with a few drops of water in a small saucepan until it starts to melt. Add the rest of the sugar and leave to melt until a golden caramel forms.

  3. Immediately transfer the warm, liquid caramel to a food processor and mix together with the toasted hazelnuts until it forms a soft paste. Transfer to a piping bag.

Vanilla Cream:
  1. Using an electric whisk or a stand-mixer, whisk the whipping cream with the vanilla on high until it thickens. Whisk in the mascarpone then transfer to a piping bag.

Assembly:
  1. Separate the meringue shells into couples for each Melting Meringue. Pipe in the praline into one half, top with the lemon jelly. In the other halves, pipe in the vanilla cream and add half a candied chestnut.

  2. Stick both halves of each meringue together with the cream.  Add a tiny blob of cream on top and garnish with white chocolate and gold leaf.

Recipe Notes

Decorate with gold leaf and white chocolate shavings. Sprinkle each meringue with the meringue powder, following grating of each base.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Serve with a semi-sweet Champagne to celebrate.

With huge, special thanks to Terraillon France for hosting the event and to Chef Alexandre Favre for such a wonderful festive demonstration and meringue inspiration from the Michalak Masterclass in Paris. Now it’s over to you – Express Your Chef!

Melting meringue snowball

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Melting Meringue Snowballs

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Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making these Melting Meringue Snowballs?  Please leave some comment love below, take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram or Facebook – or just spread the word about le blog!

*****

I’m thrilled and totally over the moon to be voted as BEST FOOD BLOG IN PARIS 2018 and feature on the cover of Expatriates Magazine.
A HUGE thank you to YOU, my readers and friends for all of your support this year! You’re the best! Copies of the magazine are being distributed this week around Paris so don’t forget to pick up your free copy.

 

 

 

__________________

Disclaimer: I was invited by Terraillon France to watch this demonstration. I was not compensated for this post and not obliged to write about the experience. As always, all opinions are my own. Huge thanks to Chef Alexandre Fevre for permission to use his recipe.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart – a Parisian Classic

Many a Parisian knows of their Bourdaloue pear tart. It’s a classic found in many patisseries at this time of year and has been glazing around the City of Light since the 1900s.

Just after I took these photos in the pear-fect street of Rue Bourdaloue in Paris’s 9th arrondissement, I bit into this tartlet. The filling fell straight out of the soggy base. Frankly for the price, it was disappointing and not the freshest of pastries.  It can happen but it’s incentive to make homemade at times.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

To get to know the Bourdaloue Pear Tart better, I reached for Larousse Gastronomique. Translated into English it reads:

Bourdaloue is a tart invented by a pastry chef in Paris’s Rue Bourdaloue during la Belle Epoque – composed of poached Pear Williams, drowned in a vanilla frangipane cream, covered in broken macarons and finally glazed in the oven.

The words, “drowned in a vanilla frangipane cream” has me glazed over myself. But who knew it was covered in broken macarons? All versions I see of this tart in Paris patisseries are covered simply in slivered almonds. I’m not keen on breaking macarons – perhaps for a macaron tiramisu – so let’s top with some shells. Now for the tart!

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

The frangipane cream filling is often made using a mix of both an almond cream and crème patissière (pastry cream). While this is absolutely delicious, for this recipe I prefer cutting corners: I skip the pastry cream step and make an easy almond cream adding a dash of good, dark Jamaican rum.

I’m sure the pears won’t mind being drowned in that.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

What Pears are Best for the Bourdaloue Tart?

As in Larousse, I’ve made this tart using Williams, while Comice or Conference are just as good for poaching pears from scratch (see this recipe for Poached Pears in Coffee and Vanilla for the method). I’ve even tried using fresh pears without poaching: just act quickly and sprinkle with some lemon juice to prevent them turning brown. Pick pears that are not yet ripe but not brick hard either. Slightly soft yet firm is perfect.

This recipe, however, is based on the one in the Larousse French Book of Desserts, which uses tinned pears in syrup. If Pierre Hermé can do it, I don’t feel too bad at cutting corners here with tinned. It’s so much easier and just as tasty.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

Let me add that if you’re following a professional pastry course like the CAP Patisserie, then you wouldn’t use tinned pears. After baking the tart, you’d mix an egg yolk with water and brush it on to the pastry sides and bake for a further couple of minutes. Then you’d make a fancy nappage glaze to polish it all off.

For this easier recipe, just brush with about 4 tablespoons of slightly warmed apricot jam after the tart comes out of the oven. I recommend making your own pastry (I use my favourite one from the tart chapter in Teatime in Paris) but if you’re short for time, use ready-made shortcrust pastry (pâte sablée).

Bourdaloue Pear Tart Step by Step

Bourdaloue Pear Tart Recipe

 

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

Bourdaloue Pear Tart
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Chilling Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Bourdaloue Pear Tart, named after the Parisian street where it was invented in the 1900s. A shortcrust tart base filled with Williams pears and almond cream, glazed and topped with slivered almonds and macarons.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bourdaloue Tart, Pear Almond Tart, Pear Tart
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 387 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sweet Pastry (based on my recipe in 'Teatime in Paris') or use ready-made shortcrust
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (3oz) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 organic egg
  • 225 g (8oz) plain (all-purpose) flour preference Type 45
  • 25 g (1oz) ground almonds/almond flour
Pear and Almond Cream Filling:
  • 6 half pears tinned
  • 100 g (3.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (3oz) sugar
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 3 drops almond extract
  • 100 g (3.5oz) ground almonds/almond flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality dark rum
  • 20 g (handful) slivered almonds
Glaze:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) apricot jam slightly warmed
Instructions
Sweet Pastry:
  1. Using a stand mixer with a paddle beater (otherwise mix by hand but use cold butter), mix the butter, sugar and salt until pale and creamy. Gradually add the egg, flour and ground almonds until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.

  2. Leave to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes then roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm on a lightly floured surface. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin to transfer to a loose-bottomed tart tin (28cm diameter).

  3. Using your fingers, press the pastry right into the sides of the tin. Roll the rolling pin over the top to even off the pastry, prick with a fork then chill for 30 minutes.

Pear and Almond Filling:
  1. Drain the pear halves from the syrup on kitchen paper. When dry, cut them in slices horizontally (optional).

  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, almond extract, ground almonds and rum.

  3. Spread over this mixture evenly over the tart base using a palette knife (or pipe it out in a spiral). For a 28cm tin, this will look quite thin but it will puff up in the oven and keep your tart golden and crispy.

  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Using a (palette) knife, carefully transfer the pears evenly over the top and sprinkle with the slivered almonds.

  5. Bake in the oven for 30-35 or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from the tin and brush over with the apricot jam. Top with macaron shells (recipe in both my books).

Recipe Notes

Nutritional Information: 387 calories per serving; 6g protein; 29g carbohydrates; 26g fat.

For more detailed instructions on the tart's pastry, see the tart chapter in my book, Teatime in Paris.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this Bourdaloue Pear Tart recipe?  Please leave some comment love below, take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram or Facebook – or just tell your family and friends about le blog! Thanks so much – I love to see you enjoying the recipes.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

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Butternut Walnut Gratin – Playing Winter Squash

This is my form of playing squash in Autumn and Winter – with delicious butternut. This Butternut Walnut Gratin is so simple, it’s not even much of a recipe. When the family is craving cheesy comfort food, it’s a healthy meal in just one dish.

Butternut walnut gratin recipe

Butternut squash is great with this dish but any other kind of your favourite pumpkin will do. I often use the popular French potimarron (marron meaning chestnuts in French), that are everywhere at our markets, more than the regular pumpkin. Known as Japanese pumpkin or Kuri – meaning chestnut in Japanese as it actually tastes of chestnuts – we love potimarron, as the skin is edible whereas butternut it’s preferable to cut it off.

How To Prepare Butternut Squash

For this butternut walnut gratin recipe, I’m lazy and find it too difficult to cut it up raw as it’s far too hard. Perhaps I don’t have good enough knives but my lazy method is to just prick the skin with a fork and pre-roast the butternut on a baking tray in a medium oven for up to 15 minutes.

This makes it much easier to remove the skin and cut into chunks for the dish (which will end up being cooked again to perfection with the other flavours). However, you could (to save time) prick the skin and place on a microwaveable dish for about 10 minutes and continue with the recipe below.

Chestnuts – the French’s Festive Favourite

As you can tell from previous recipes, such as the chestnut flour tarts and the pumpkin crumbles, the family love the association of pumpkin and leeks – and above all, chestnuts!  I know, I understand they may not be that easy to find chez vous, but the French are MAD ABOUT CHESTNUTS, especially during the festive season.

Instead of chestnut flour this time, I’m adding vacuum-packed pre-cooked whole chestnuts (I keep a store of them like a squirrel, as there’s no need to keep in the fridge). If you can’t find them, replace with mushrooms.

To top it all off, toasted walnuts add that essential crunchy texture, clinging and adding some earthiness to the cheese. I have added smoked paprika but if you prefer the real non-vegetarian thing, then if you’re a bacon lover, add some pre-fried smoked bacon slivers or lardons (bacon bits or cubes of poitrine fumé).

Butternut walnut gratin

What to do with Butternut or Pumpkin Seeds?

Don’t discard the seeds, as you can toast them with spices, salt and pepper and serve with drinks before the meal! The French are particularly into no waste (myself included), so never throw them out! I haven’t posted the recipe yet but my Scottish friend, Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen, has a super recipe for toasted pumpkin seeds which is also just as good with squash seeds.

Butternut Walnut Gratin

Butternut Walnut Gratin
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Precook
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A winter comforter in one dish with pre-roasted butternut squash, leeks, ready prepared chestnuts, a subtle warming sprinkle of smoked paprika and topped with toasted walnuts for the crunch that cling to a layer of melted cheese.

Course: Main, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: French
Keyword: butternut dishes, cheesy, gratin
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 400 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (18oz) butternut squash (weight with seeds removed), cut into rough cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks cut into slices
  • 200 g (7oz) pre-cooked chestnuts I use vacuum-packed but in jars or tins are good too *
  • 110 g (4oz) half fat thick crème fraîche 12% fat
  • 175 g (6oz) Emmental cheese grated
  • 50 g (2oz) walnuts
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.

    Prick the butternut squash's skin and roast it whole (or pumpkin) in the oven for 15 minutes until the skin starts blistering. Remove and leave to cool slightly. Alternatively, prick the skin and put on high in the microwave for 10 minutes.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and gently sauté the sliced leeks for about 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

  3. When the squash is easier to handle, peel off the skin and cut in 2 using a good knife. Remove the seeds with a spoon (don't discard) and cut the softened squash into rough chunks.

  4. In a gratin dish, throw in the slightly softened squash chunks, the leeks and cooked chestnut. 

  5. Top with the crème fraîche by dolloping on some spoonfuls in regular intervals, add a touch of salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle lightly and evenly the smoked paprika. 
  6. Top the lot with the cheese, walnuts and parsley. 

  7. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Recipe Notes

Serve with a good French baguette and a chilled white such as a Riesling from Alsace. If you can't find chestnuts, replace with fresh mushrooms that have been dry fried separately until they lose their juices (so beautifully concentrated in flavour).

I've added smoked paprika but if you prefer, add 100g of pre-fried lardons or bacon bits.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this butternut walnut gratin?  Please leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram / Facebook – even better, just share it with a friend and tell them about le blog!

Butternut walnut gratin

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Renoir Tour: Chatou – Carrieres-sur-Seine

Want to avoid the Parisian tourist crowds and venture out of the city for something a bit different?  This Renoir Tour between Chatou and Carrieres-sur-Seine is a must walk along by the Seine when the weather is as beautiful as this – and expect a few surprises!

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Only 10 km west of Paris, Chatou is remarkably quick to get to by express commuter train. A few visitor friends from abroad have been surprised to discover that coming to les Yvelines is such a breath of fresh air. So, what’s better than taking one of the four Impressionists’ walks in the area, compiled by the Office de Tourism?

The Renoir Tour lasts about 1h30. Here’s our map at the ready so let’s do it together now. Sitting comfortably?

Renoir Tour Chatou - Carrieres

Part of the boucles (buckle) de Seine, following the Impressionists

Renoir Tour: Chatou to Carrières-sur-Seine

The Renoir Tour starts at the Hameau Fournaise, situated on the Impressionists’ Island on the Seine in Chatou looking over to Reuil Malmaison. There are a few buildings, notably the Fournaise Restaurant and Fournaise Museum. This houses temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of what life resembled at the end of the 19th century.

It’s a time when bourgeois Parisians and artists were attracted outside Paris by les Guingettes, the good life on the banks of the Seine – drinking, eating simple, hearty food and dancing – thanks to the new railway line that brought them to Chatou.

renoir tour chatou carrieres

Pierre-August Renoir was a regular at the Restaurant Fournaise in the summer, painting a few portraits of the owner’s daughter, Alphonsine.

During the summer of 1879, it’s here that Renoir met Aline Charigot who became his wife. She figures in perhaps his most famous painting, “Le Déjeuneur des Canotiers”, painted in 1880.

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres

It never ceases to amaze me that Renoir and his friends were here.  Here on that balcony under the orange-striped awnings. Each time I look up at it, it’s as if we can hear the laughter and the clinking of wine glasses echoing along the Seine.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

It doesn’t stop there.  Just a few metres away is another billboard showing us the other Renoir masterpiece painted in 1881, “Les Canotiers à Chatou”.  Next door, the boating workshop is worth a visit, as they prepare the same boats. Just smell the wood and the varnish!

Renoir tour chatou carrieres

Sadly the restaurant doesn’t open for teatime so I tend to bring my own box of macarons with me! Now the actual 4km walk begins by crossing over the bridge, past Notre Dame church and a walk right down to the Seine along the pretty Quai du Nymphée.

Pass the Barrage de Chatou, the hydroelectric dam. This feat of engineering was re-constructed in 2013. In the distance are the locks for the barge traffic plus a fish ladder. Keep your eyes out for some magnificent birds.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Making the most of the glorious birch yellows and golds along the walk, the view over to the Impressionist Island includes the club-house of the 9-hole golf Ile Fleurie. Thankfully the Seine levels have gone down since I was last there, as I tend to shoot most of my balls in the river!

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres Sur Seine Walk

Turn left into the Parc de la Vallière, listed as one of the prettiest gardens in France. Designed by Le Nôtre, it took its name from Louis XIV’s favourite mistress, who stayed in Carrières-sur-Seine from 1661 for 9 years.

Renoir Tour secret walks just outside Paris

The park in summer at Carrieres, inspiring Monet’s painting – Secret Paris

At the entrance to the park, is the billboard showing the exact location of Monet’s painting, Carrières-Saint-Denis (1878) in the Musée d’Orsay.

Renoir Tour Chatou to Carrieres sur Seine

Carrières-sur-Seine was previously known as Carrières-Saint-Denis, as the rocks that were used to build the royal chapel of Saint-Denis came from Carrières. It’s possible to visit the Carrières, although this is currently only 3 times a year. Thankfully I took part in the visit very recently so I’ll post it soon before the next French tour.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Why mushrooms? Because the carrières were also used as Champignonnières. Caves are perfect for mushroom-growing and, although they don’t grow as many mushrooms here now, local mushroom producers are not far away and sell their excellent fresh champignons blonds, full of flavour, at our local markets in les Yvelines.

Speaking of mushrooms, have you tried these recipes yet? Mushroom Cappuccino, mushroom truffle savoury macaron filling, Blanquette de Veau?

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres sur Seine

The majestic Mairie sits at the top of the park. Incidentally, did you know that locals from Carrières are called  Carillons (masculine) or Carillonnes (feminine), which translate into “Chimes” and “Ringing,” respectively.[1]

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres sur Seine

This is where this walk took on new meaning recently. During a discussion with my friend, Emilie at the Saint-Germain Boucles-de-Seine Tourism office, I realised that for years I’d completely missed a little street just across from the park and the Mairie.

Follow the little lane of Rue Victor Hugo and the house at N°14 shows us a first glimpse of les maisons troglodytes, houses built into the limestone.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres Cave Houses

Following the lane further emits a relatively spooky ambience.

These mysterious caves echo Medieval times when the first habitants settled while looking for stone for the eventual gothic buildings constructed in Paris.

Renoir Tour Secret Paris

I wonder if we can open that door?

No doubt is has centuries of stories to tell.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

The curious built-in rock dwellings serve as cellars, caves, barns or garages.  Just walking around, however, it’s not that obvious when everything is closed. Silent. Muffled.

Secret Paris Renoir Tour Walk Along Seine

Imagine that this is just 10 km and about 20 minutes by train from central Paris?

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres

This is my kind of Disneyland.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Further up the lane is private property but the view across to the Park from rue Victor Hugo is testament as to the Impressionists’ love for the area.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Venture up the hill past the Mairie, the trickling fountain

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

and at the top of the steps on Passage de Fanil is another billboard depicting “Le Village” painted by Maurice de Vlaminck.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres

Just across the road is a renovated beauty, complete with rose-tangled balcony. Imagine the view over the Seine overlooking the west of Paris and La Défénse?

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

By this time I can imagine you’re peckish for a French teatime goûter? Venture up to the centre of the village, enjoying all the little lanes and steps.

renoir tour chatou carrieres

Simply follow the fragrances of chocolate, tarts, éclairs from Le Carillon Gourmand (Maison Boé). They make macarons just on the weekends so, for the sake of art, I took a coffee éclair (recipe in my book, Teatime in Paris) for you to enjoy in the park before returning back to Chatou.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Follow that barge and continue back on the same walkway along by the Seine.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

How to Get There

RER Line A (red) from Paris to Chatou (direction Ouest, Saint-Germain-en-Laye).
For more information on the area, boat rides on the Seine etc. visit the Saint-Germain Boucles de Seine Tourism Office in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres

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