10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur, Normandy

It doesn’t take long to discover why Honfleur is in France’s top 5 of tourist destinations. With only 2 hours’ drive from Paris, I have enjoyed much testing – and tasting – my way around Normandy’s most charming French coastal town to present at least 10 reasons to visit Honfleur.  

Ten reasons to visit Honfleur

Our most recent stay in Honfleur was for 6 days to sample as many restaurants for you, visit the local museums, walk and discover interesting landmarks, the organic market and soak up the wonderful general ambience of France’s historical and pretty port nestled on the Seine’s Estuary before it opens up to the English Channel.

10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur

So, what is there to do in Honfleur? What is Honfleur famous for? Find out in my 10 reasons to visit Honfleur and what makes it such a special, popular getaway in Normandy.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Old Harbour (Vieux Bassin)

This is the first spectacle that hits you in Honfleur. The Vieux Bassin, or inner harbour, is the heart of the medieval town that has attracted writers, musicians, and painters over the centuries. Listen to the hypnotic bells vying with the tinkling yachts from the nearby churches and at the end of the harbour, is the 17th-century watch-tower, the Lieutenance.  It was here that Samuel de Champlain set sail from Honfleur in 1608 to colonise Canada and led to Quebec’s foundation.

Dotted with bright, colourful clinking boats and lined with bustling restaurants, seafood bars, cafés and art galleries, it’s an ever-changing mix of quietly humming weekly fishing haven to a weekend and holiday cacophany of happy tourists meandering along the port, watching the world go by while artists seated quietly behind easels squiggle their brushes to capture the varying scenes and ambience.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Fresh Fish and Seafood

A giant pot of steaming moules (mussels) sums up the fresh seafood and fish that’s caught daily in Honfleur. We often see bikers whizz up the autoroute from Paris just for their Sunday lunch plate of oysters or mussels sold on the harbour.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Old Town

The old town is what makes Honfleur so particularly charmant and so French. Its quaint narrow streets and pretty cobbled squares are crammed with half-timbered houses, juxtaposed with wooden and slate houses, many on 7 floors. Don’t forget to look up, as you may see plaques indicating famous birthplaces (Eugène Boudin, Erik Satie, Alphonse Allais…).

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur’s Beautiful Churches

St Catherine’s Church dates back to the 15th century. Constructed by local ship-builders, it’s primarily made of wood and resembles an upturned ship’s hull. St Catherine’s tower is separate across the square and houses the bells.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

St. Leonard’s Church – With its 15th century portal, just a step inside reveals two spectacular fonts made out of natural seashells, with gigantic oyster shells crowning them (my photo wasn’t good enough here).

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Notre Dame de Grace (Our Lady of Grace) – this chapel is in the heights of Honfleur and is accessible by a short, steep climb (really recommend the walk) or easily reached by car to Le Mont-Joli. I can’t recommend this highly enough – especially out of peak season to appreciate its special tranquility. Inside, boats and relics high on the ceiling and thanksgiving plaques by the Honfleurais and pilgrims can make this a rather personal experience. Every 15 minutes, the impressive external bells ring and on the hour, don’t miss the bells playing Bizet’s Carmen from l’Arlésienne (I’m a human Shazam!)

It’s also here that the last king of the French, Louis-Philippe and his wife, Marie-Amélie, spent their last days in France before leaving for England.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Pont de Normandie

From the Mont-Joli next to the Chapel of Notre Dame de Grace, is a fabulous view of the River Seine’s Estuary and the Pont de Normandie – 2.14 kilometres across the Seine from Honfleur to Le Havre. Opened in 1995, the Normandy Bridge is the largest  cable-stayed bridge in the world. It’s a motorway toll bridge but for walkers and cyclists it’s free, with a footpath. Check out the monument just at this panoramic viewpoint: it glorifies Notre Dame de Grace for sparing Honfleur during the 1944 Battle of Normandy.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Museums

With Honfleur being the birth-town of major artists such as Eugène Boudin (who inspired Claude Monet) and Erik Satie, it’s great to delve deeper and discover more about them and other artists and writers (Alphonse Allais) that worked here. Feel the history of the Honfleurais of its fishing, maritime world and way of life over the centuries. We purchased a reduced-priced collective ticket for the following 4 museums (except the separate salt lofts):

  • The Eugène-Boudin museum is above all devoted to art about Honfleur, daily Norman life in the 18-19th Centuries,  the estuary and showcases nearly a hundred works by Eugène Boudin – known as the painter of the sky and sea, who influenced Claude Monet – among others. I particularly loved discovering artists such as Adrien Voisard-Margerie with his painting of Toulouse-Lautrec and his model. Also featured are 20th Century artists (Dufy, Villon) who worked in the region and more recent works from Denis River, who was also born in Honfleur in 1945.
  • On entry to The Satie Houses – Erik Satie’s birthplace in 1866 – we’re told that it’s not a museum as such; instead a whimsical discovery through sound, light, images and objects to appreciate the musician and composer’s eccentric character. Via movement-sensitive audiophones (tour is also in English), listen to his life and anecdotes to the sound of the Gymnopédies, Gnossiènes or the Morceaux en forme de poire. The final theatrical show is, alas, only in French but you can appreciate the character of Satie, including one-page works that were written, for example, when he hadn’t had breakfast yet and was about to venture out from his home in Montmartre (rue Cortot).
  • Musée de la Marine is about the history of the port, housing a collection of model ships and marine artefacts on just one floor in St Stephen’s Church (the oldest church in Honfleur), on the old harbour. It is paired with the Ethnographical and Popular Arts Museum around the corner – presenting the inside of ten 16th-century Normandy dwellings.
  • Greniers de Sel (Salt Lofts) salt lofts, 17C buildings made of stone and covered with tiles. These lofts were built under the salt tax agreement to store 10,000 tons of salt needed by the cod fishing boats to preserve the fish.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur Normandy

Honfleur’s Markets

In St Catherine’s quarter, under the shadow of St Catherine’s Bell Tower, is the local farmers’ organic market on Wednesday mornings. Here you’ll regularly find an abundance of locally harvested watercress (to see how it’s grown, see my post from Veules-les-Roses, including a recipe for French watercress soup.)

The main market is on Saturday mornings, with fruits and vegetables, other Normandy local specialities such as Cider,  Calvados and cheeses (such as Pont l’Evèque, just down the road), plus plenty of fish and seafood. Head to Place Arthur Boudin for the flower market and for clothes, accessories and souvenirs, you’ll find them at the Cours des Fossés et Rue de la Ville.

Arriving in Honfleur on non-market days is not a problem, as shopping is also great for local produce to quaint antique shops. Try the Crottes de Mouettes (seagull droppings!), morsels of chocolate and caramel.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Restaurants

Whether it’s fine dining in any of the numerous Michelin-listed addresses, enjoying a plate of oysters or mussels by the harbour, or a good quality traditional Normandy crêpe, there’s something for all budgets and tastes in Honfleur. Here is my personal list of favourites. Note that during January and February, many restaurants close for their annual holidays (I loved the humour in one window – although closed it finished off saying “sending salty iodine kisses”).

  • La Fleur de Sel – Chef Vincent Guyon sets the bar high with gastronomic dishes at great value. Ensure to book, as this small gem has already been discovered. Perhaps my favourite.
  • SaQuaNa – Chef Alexandre Bourdas shows just why he received 2 Michelin Stars. Just watch opening times, as when we were there previously, they were shut for their annual holiday. Ensure to book.
  • Le Bréard – I mention this, as it serves great food but, from our experience, the service needs work: not in speed but in politesse.  It’s up to you if you don’t mind and just concentrate on the dishes, although it’s the first time I’ve been served bread and told not to eat it yet.
  • Entre Terre et Mer – although also a super restaurant, just across the road we love their oyster bar where a simple, fresh plate of oysters or mussels are great value.
  • La Chaumière – slightly out of town, this characteristic thatched hotel-restaurant has a homely feel.  Outside eating in summer with views over to Le Havre, and cosy nooks by the roaring fire, friendly service and super menus. Great for celebrating a birthday, too.
  • Le Manoir des Impressionnistes – Also slightly out of town, this is an ideal quiet haven away from it all with good, simple yet beautifully presented food. We just found the wine list a bit pricey but the list is excellent. If you’re looking to speak English, the British owner, Brigitte, usually comes around the tables to say hello.
  • La Crêperie des Arts –  We’ve tried many crêperies in Honfleur and this one gets our top vote each time as the buckwheat galettes (savoury crêpes) are beautifully lacy thin and all fillings use fresh ingredients (alas, more establishments serve the likes of tinned fruit with the local cheesy galettes or on sweet crêpes). Great friendly service.
10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

2 Hours Drive from Paris

With only 2 hours drive north of Paris, Honfleur is particularly accessible. It’s pretty much a straight drive up the Autoroute (A13), passing Giverny. So, if you have time en route, visit Monet’s house and garden. However, if you’re looking to spend time between Paris and Honfleur, it’s a “straight” sail on the buckling River Seine all the way up to the Estuary.

Good Base for Visiting Normandy

If you’re staying in Honfleur for a few days, it’s a great base for visiting the nearby towns of Étretat, Deauville, Cabourg, Veules-les-Roses (check out the summer sea festival), and Le Mont Saint-Michel. It’s also great for discovering the nearby Cidre and Calvados farms, as well as cheese in nearby Pont l’Evèque.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Top Tips for Visiting Honfleur

  • If you can, do try and speak as much French as you can.  The locals appreciate visitors but, as we are in France, it’s only polite to try and speak the language. No matter how little you speak, if you show willingness to try, it helps keep the lovely Honfleurais smiling.
  • If arriving by car, try to park on the outskirts of the town using the various car parks as much as possible.  Busy periods mean busy traffic and, as many streets are one-way and pedestrian only, this will make everyone’s lives easier. Please note that the harbour is closed to traffic after 1 May.
  • For boat trips, information on timings for museums and other visits including Calvados tastings, see Honfleur’s tourist information office
  • Personally speaking, our best time to visit Honfleur is out of tourist peak season (particularly avoiding the French summer holidays in July to August), as it is less crowded. If you do make it during a tourist wave, ensure to book your restaurants and do some advance planning using the links on this post.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way. This was a personal trip and as we live in Paris, I just want to share the best things to do if you’re visiting Paris and want a weekend or short getaway not too far from the Normandy coast.

10 reasons to Visit Honfleur

Poire Belle Helene – A Musical Story

I do love a story – especially when it’s about something as delicious as a poached pear sitting on good vanilla ice cream and given a warm, clinging thick coat of French chocolate sauce. Did you know that the Parisian classic dessert, Poire Belle Helene, was born when a famous chef fell in love with a  silky soprano’s voice? It’s a pair-fectly scumptious love story between music and dessert.

Poire Belle Helene

The scrumptious musical inspiration happened in Paris, 17 December 1864 at the Théâtre des Variétés on Boulevard Montmartre. The French soprano, Hortense Schneider (known as la Snédèr) was singing the title role of Helen of Troy (or Sparta) in the first performance of Jacques Offenbach’s opera bouffe, La Belle-Hélène.

Funnily enough, the soprano was originally turned down by the Théâtre des Variétés when she came to Paris from Bordeaux. It’s thanks to Offenbach who invited her to the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens in Passage Choiseul, which the composer founded in 1855 for the performance of his operettas and opera bouffes. From then on, Hortense Schneider became a real Parisian celebrity – even if she was renowned for being a bit of a Prima Donna.

Poire Belle Helene - French recipes with a story

Captivated by Schneider’s silky smooth voice as the beautiful Helen at that first performance, the young chef, Auguste Escoffier – who would be a mere 18 years old – dreamt up this symphony of flavours: a pear poached in vanilla syrup, served with vanilla ice cream and topped with the silkiest smooth French chocolate sauce. Could the soprano have been a bit pear-shaped?

Here was chef Escoffier’s Beautiful Helen Pear or Poire Belle Hélène. Somehow it sounds so much better in French, doesn’t it?  Like a good tune, it’s all in the mixing of simple, good ingredients.  So, please use good quality chocolate for the sauce, good fresh Pear Williams (ripe but firm; not turnips, either!) – and if you don’t use homemade ice cream, then use good quality which uses vanilla beans/pods rather than just an aroma.

Poire Belle Helene #pears #dessertlove #parisian

As you can see from some of the photos, the chocolate sauce thickened as it became cool in taking these pictures. If you prefer your sauce to be more liquid, then add just a little more cream before reheating.

Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #pears #chocolatedesserts

Normally the Pear Belle Helene dessert is garnished with grilled flaked almonds but, as I adore chocolate and hazelnuts together, toasted broken hazelnuts add a cracking crescendo to a delicious finale.  A chocolate hazelnut macaron adds a fabulous Encore (recipe in Mad About Macarons)

Pear Belle Helene Recipe

Poire Belle Helene – the Recipe

5 from 6 votes
Poire Belle Helene
Poire Belle Helene Dessert
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

The Classic Parisian dessert of a poached pear, vanilla ice cream and thick French chocolate sauce was invented by legendary chef, Auguste Escoffier, after hearing the French soprano, Hortense Schneider, sing the title role in Offenbach's Belle-Hélène in Paris, 1864.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 238 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 250 g (9oz) sugar
  • 500 ml (18fl oz) water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
  • 6 pears (Williams, ripe but firm) peeled, stalk and core left intact
  • 1 litre tub vanilla ice cream
  • 40 g (1.5oz) broken hazelnuts, grilled (for garnish)
Chocolate Sauce
  • 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) double cream (Crème fleurette 30% fat)
  • 50 ml (2fl oz) full cream milk
  • 125 g (4.5oz) dark chocolate bittersweet (at least 64%)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, boil the water and sugar to form a syrup. Add the vanilla powder, if using.

  2. Peel the pears, leaving the stalk and the core intact. Ensure the pears are covered by the syrup by placing parchment paper on top and cover with a lid.  Poach in the syrup for about 30 minutes until tender.

  3. Remove the pears from the syrup and finely cut the ends off so that each pear can stand up right without falling over. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Chocolate Sauce:
  1. Heat together the cream and milk over a medium heat until nearly boiling. Break the chocolate into a bowl, pour over the hot cream and stir until the chocolate sauce is smooth.

Assembly:
  1. In each serving dish, serve 2 scoops of ice cream, top with a pear and pour over the sauce.  Garnish with grilled or toasted hazelnuts and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Serve with chocolate or chocolate-hazelnut macarons or with chocolate hazelnut cookies.

Nutritional Information: 238 calories per serving; 4g protein; 12g fat; 29g carbohydrates.

 

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Poire Belle Helene Hazelnuts #dessertstory #dessertrecipes #chocolatepear

To bring out the tasty crunch of the toasted hazelnuts, serve with Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Cookies – another perfect duet that sings along with Hortense’s interpretation of Offenbach and a Poire Belle Helene dessert!

Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #Parisian

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Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #chocolatedessert #dessertrecipes

Poire Belle Helene – a Parisian Recipe with a Story

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding

With winter thankfully fast disappearing around Paris, it’s about time I posted my favourite comfort-food dessert recipe, known affectionately in our family as S.T.P. or Sticky Toffee Pudding. Except I make this with a grated apple twist to the classic into a Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding – just to add a little extra fruit to the decadent luscious toffee scrumptiousness!

sticky toffee apple pudding dessert

Why haven’t I posted this before? It goes against my Frenchie-style eating habits: I love dessert but shy away from over-sugared filling puddings.  This is the one exception – and the version below is my final answer to this most delicious dilemma called Sticky Toffee Pudding Syndrome.

Another reason? I already have a version of it in my first cookbook. For some fun, I converted the Sticky Toffee Pudding into a macaron for Mad About Macarons – making it an entirely gluten-free version.  I also made them into a giant macaron dessert for the book’s macaron dessert chapter, a kind of Xtra Large S.T.P. macaron!

Funnily enough, some American critics initially thought that S.T.P. was a “bit too British” for a macaron book – but little did they know that the recipe for sticky toffee pudding may well have originated in Canada, just like my Scottish Granny’s Matrimonial Cake (oaty date squares).

Sticky toffee pudding #macarons #glutenfree

As a youngter, my parents would often drive my wee brother and I down to the Lake District. It didn’t take us long to discover THE highlight of any of our trips there: we’d make a mandatory stop at the legendary Cartmel Village Shop for a S.T.P. dose from their “Home of Sticky Toffee”.
I distinctly remember the difference over many other sticky toffee puddings we tried in Scotland: it was distinctly dark and lush, covered in the darkest ever toffee sauce.

Living in France has meant the necessity of making this at home, as it’s not something we can just run out to our local pâtisserie or boulangerie and find – so this Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding was created along the way. It’s often requested by my beau-père, Jean-Pierre, who’s accent is adorable: can we have more of that steeecky toafee pood-eeeng?

Well, here it is, beau-papa.

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding

sticky toffee apple pudding #dessertlove #puddings

There are two ways of making this recipe:

Normally it’s made as a flat cake, batter sitting (nearly floating) on top of a pool of toffee sauce in a buttered ovenproof pie or gratin dish and serve spooned into pudding bowls or – in this case – teacups, inspired by Carina Contini’s family recipe for Sticky Ginger & Date Pudding in her Kitchen Garden Cookbook. I adapted the recipe, cutting down slightly on the butter and sugar and added apple, since my Granny always mixed dates with apple – it’s a deliciously nostalgic thing I can’t help continuing.

sticky toffee apple pudding #puddings #dessertrecipes #stickytoffee

Sticky Toffee Pudding Syndrome

If you’ve been smitten with this pudding, you’ll totally understand. The cake version has one HUGE problem: we normally have at least second portions and it can get out of control. It’s what we call the Sticky Toffee Pudding Syndrome. So, to avoid such sticky toffee impulses, my preferred method is to pour the batter into individual silicone moulds. It’s just enough. Full. Stop.

Moreover, they’re so easy to freeze when removed from their silicone moulds and reheat when needed – making them so handy to serve stress-free for a dinner party later!

sticky toffee apple pudding

We eat half and freeze the rest before anyone can ask for more.

No second portions – unless you want a sticky toffee pudding macaron?

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding Recipe

sticky toffee apple pudding sauce recipe

Firstly, make the sticky toffee sauce: you’ll need this not just for pouring when it’s served, but also for pouring underneath the batter to make the cakes beautifully sticky.

In order to get the best, dark sauce, use soft dark muscovado sugar. If you can’t find this in speciality épiceries in France, then use Vergeoise Brun.

sticky toffee apple pudding method

Prepare the date paste adding water, bicarbonate of soda and grate in a peeled apple. Make the batter and fold in the date and apple mixture.

sticky toffee apple pudding recipe method

Pour in the toffee sauce to about 1/4 of the way then top with the batter, leaving 1/3 space at the top for the cake batter to rise. Bake for about 30 minutes and serve with the toffee sauce. That’s it!

sticky toffee apple pudding #dessertrecipes #bestofbritish #classicpuddings

5 from 5 votes
sticky toffee apple pudding
Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Cooling Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

An apple addition to the lush Sticky Toffee Pudding classic recipe, served individually in a pool of the darkest toffee sauce. The puddings and sauce also freeze extremely well. Just reheat them separately and serve when you need a dose of Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding! I use briochette or muffin silicone moulds, but traditional buttered dariole moulds are also good.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British, Canadian
Keyword: date pudding, sticky toffee pudding, toffee sauce
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 450 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sticky Toffee Sauce:
  • 175 g (6oz) butter, unsalted
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
  • 250 g (9oz) dark Muscovado sugar Vergeoise Brun or soft dark brown sugar
  • 225 g (8oz) whipping cream (30% fat)
Pudding Batter:
  • 175 g (6oz) pitted dates roughly chopped
  • 175 ml (6fl oz) water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 apple (e.g. Granny Smith) peeled & grated
  • 75 g (3oz) butter, unsalted
  • 110 g (4oz) soft dark brown sugar (Muscovado)
  • 2 eggs organic
  • 150 g (5.5oz) plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (no need if use self-raising flour above)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger optional
Instructions
Sticky Toffee Sauce:
  1. Melt the butter, sugar and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat, then once dissolved, turn down the heat to low and stir occasionally until the sauce becomes smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.

Pudding Batter:
  1. In a saucepan, cover the dates with the water and bring to the boil. Add the baking soda then mash until a smooth paste. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then stir in the grated apple until well combined.

  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4.

    Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl or in a large stand-mixer until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, flour and ginger (if using). Fold in the date and apple mixture until mixed together.

  3. Pour 1/4 of the sauce into the bottom of each silicone mould (or into a buttered gratin dish if you prefer the cake-like version). Top with the batter until 1/3 from the top, giving enough room for the batter to rise. Bake for 30 minutes.

  4. Remove from the moulds after 5 minutes cooling and place directly on serving dishes. Reheat the toffee sauce and pour over each pudding. 

Recipe Notes

The puddings and sauce freeze well. Once the puddings are cooled, chill then transfer to a zip-lock bag or containers - likewise for the sauce.  Just defrost and reheat before serving.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

PIN me now to make later …

sticky toffee apple #pudding #desserttable #bestofbritish #stickytoffeepudding

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The Hottest Paris Food Tour

Do you love your food and planning your first visit to Paris? Then a warm, tasty introduction to traditional French foods is a delicious way to start your trip. I recently discovered that The Paris Guy has an evening food tour, that’s quite literally the hottest Paris food tour in the Marais!

While most walking Paris food tours focus on markets, ingredients, bread and cheese plus the sweeter side (like I used to lead in Saint Germain-des-Prés) on chocolates, pastries and macarons while walking, discussing and tasting in and between boutiques, Le Marais Paris Food Tour concentrates on primarily sit-down restaurant tastings of oysters and Champagne, wine, cheese, galettes (savoury crêpes) with cidre, Boeuf Bourguignon, more wine and crème brûlée – and that’s not all.

HOttest Paris Food Tour

Thank you to the Paris Guy for sponsoring this post by inviting me to experience Le Marais Paris Food tour. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Affiliate links are included in this post, as The Paris Guy has kindly offered my readers 5% off their tours in Paris if you use the unique code, MADABOUTMACARONS.

The Hottest Paris Food Tour

The Hottest Paris Food Tour in the Marais kicks off with a warm welcome early evening near the metro, République. Our English-speaking guide for the 3-hour walking tour was Erica.

Hottest Paris Food Tour The Paris Guy #parisfoodtours

Our group was made up of a maximum of 12 so, along with the food tastings, anecdotes and history thrown in, it ended up being a fun social evening too.

Oysters and Champagne

To get us in the French mood, the POP sounded as our bottle of Champagne was opened with some explanations on the French’s famous bubbly. Platters of N°4 and N°3 oysters arrived in this lovely seafood bar. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see I love flowers and so this was a perfect spot to appreciate them too.

Hottest Paris Food Tour #parisfoodtours

A touch of smoked salted butter served with the most delicious bread is delicious – but be careful: go easy on the bread in the initial stages, as you need to pace yourself on this food tour!  There’s still more to come.

Sipping on Champagne, I also loved the refreshing minty touch to their carafe water. If you know me, however, I usually prefer more Champagne than grabbing (or “crab-bing”) that bottle of water!

hottest paris food tour #parisfoodtour

Crab a bottle!

See anemones at the Parisian seafood bar?

Hottest Food Tour in Paris

See Anemones in front of this seafood bar in the Marais?

Say Cheese – French Fromage!

Normally the Paris Guy Food Tour starts with the Oyster tasting with Champagne but exceptionally, as it hadn’t yet opened at our meeting time, we started with the cheese. With over 1000 cheeses in France, no savoury tour is complete without it!

Hottest Paris Food tour

I’ll leave you to discover the cheesy stories and tips on the tour but the tasting platter had a good variety of many of my personal favourites. If you’re a couple, ensure you both have a taste of the stronger types together (just saying…), absolutely delicious served with fig jam (see my Corsican fig jam recipe here).

Hottest Paris food tour Marais #paristravel

Walking past many landmarks in the Marais, such as the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement above, we headed for the famous rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter. The speciality? Falafel.

Falafels, deep-fried chickpea balls, are one of those deliciously “Did you know that they’re vegan?” types of foods that we enjoyed outside (the only tasting outdoors on the tour), with finger-licking sesame sauce coupled with a vibrant, festive ambience.

hottest paris food tour #Paristravel

Galettes – Savoury Crêpes

Next up on the tour was a walk to a cosy Crêperie. Typically served in Brittany and in Normandy, traditional wafer-thin buckwheat galettes – savoury crêpes – are enjoyed with cider served in giant cups. We tasted a couple of varieties: Forestière (chicken and mushroom) and the popular Complète with ham, cheese and egg washed down with some Cidre Brut.

hottest Paris food tour #Paristravel #Parisfood

I did tell you you need to pace yourself! Our last stop was a most relaxed setting in a quiet, slightly hidden Parisian Brasserie for not one but TWO finale tastings.

hottest Paris Food Tour restaurant tastings #paristravel #Parisfoodtours

As more wine was served, so was a generous tasting of Boeuf Bourguignon, a typical hearty beef stew from Burgundy, slowly cooked with mushrooms and carrots in Burgundy wine. Served with purée (also wonderful with Gratin Dauphinois), this is the ultimate French comfort food.

French culinary favourites on the hottest paris food tour

This is when Amelie Poulin would adore coming here too.  Her favourite part of this Parisian dessert, crème brûlée, is cracking the burned sugar surface and discovering the eggy vanilla cream underneath.

Incidentally, I have a recipe for a milk chocolate crème brûlée here.

hottest paris food tour creme brulee finale #paristravel

As we said Au Revoir to Erica, our cheerful Paris Guy guide, Paris by Night awaited outside. The 17th Century Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis was glistening in all its glory before heading back into the metro home on rue St Antoine.

hottest Paris food tour Marais

Hottest Paris Food Tour – 5% Reader Discount!

Looking to try traditional French food in Paris on your first trip? Prefer to sit more in restaurants than mainly eat outside? Then this is the ideal evening walking tour – indeed, literally the hottest Paris food tour for couples, solo travellers, families with older children and amongst friends – and great as gifts too if friends or family are going to Paris!

Just don’t forget to bring your appetite…

Hottest Paris Food Tour

 

DisclosureThank you to the Paris Guy for sponsoring this post by inviting me to experience their Le Marais Paris Food tour. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Affiliate links are included in this post, as the Paris Guy has kindly offered my readers 5% off their tours in Paris if you use the unique code, MADABOUTMACARONS (also includes their tours in Italy).

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

5 from 4 votes
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

5 from 5 votes
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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