Air-Conditioned Paris Tea Salons

During a Parisian heatwave, many of us still love the pretty outdoor summer terrasses but you may prefer the cooler air-conditioned Paris tea salons if you’re particularly sensitive to the more intense heat.

The good news is that, after some homework, most establishments on my list of favourite Parisian tearooms have air conditioning and so I’ve added a new key (AC) to indicate them.

Air-conditioned Paris tea salons

Air-Conditioned Paris Tea Salons

For bars, cafés and restaurants also look out for the air-conditioned sign saying “salle climatisée”.

As indicated on my list, the Grand Magasins (department stores) plus the luxury palace hotels all,  unsurprisingly, have air-conditioning but for the smaller, cosy tearooms, it’s not always to be expected in summer.  Let me show you two of my coolest just to whet your appetite. Alas, I wanted to do a much bigger list here but as I’ve been out sick and it has been so hot, my photos have just had to wait. Most importantly, the full updated list is here.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

Jardin Secret Salon de Thé, Bontemps

When I first discovered this hidden jewel north of the Marais when it opened in October 2018, I almost wanted to keep it for myself! Already the location of being in a cobbled courtyard next to their patisserie is delightful. With a light fragrance of orange blossom indoors, plenty of light, flowers, greenery and mirrors, it has a real happy feel-good ambience.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

Seating is available in the courtyard outside but their spacious tea salon is pretty cool, including comfy sofas for those that arrive first. Luxury indeed. And that’s before even trying their cakes!

Don’t miss their speciality: lightly salted sablés from biscuits to beautiful pastries constructed around them. It never fails to amaze me how the French are so clever at balancing the play of fleur de sel salt in a tart crust or biscuit and topping it with best quality chocolate or fresh berries that’s sweetened but not too sweet.  They have it to perfection.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

I love not only their fruit tarts but try the Mont Blanc in both winter: classic with chestnut, cream infused with Earl Grey tea or summer: the lightest, fluffiest whipped vanilla Chantilly cream served with a fresh compote of slightly acidic Gariguette strawberries.  Not just a relaxed tea salon but great for breakfast, brunch and light lunches too – their scrambled eggs are just like the pastries: light as a feather.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

Bontemps, one of the coolest air-conditioned Paris Tea Salons

Just don’t come without trying the exquisite pastries!

Bontemps, 57 Rue de Bretagne, Paris 3
(Metros: Temple, République)

Air-conditioned paris tea salons

KL PATISSERIE

Head to Avenue de Villiers for this cool new contemporary tea salon created by pastry chef Kévin Lacote.

There’s something so exhilirating to watch chefs prepare your food directly from an open lab while you are sitting in anticipation, waiting for the ‘création à la minute’ where many of their specialities are assembled at the last minute to retain their freshness, as of 11am.

Air-conditioned Paris tea salons

KL, one of the coolest air-conditioned Paris tea salons

Don’t miss the KL vanilla Churros served with an orange-passion compote and dark chocolate sauce, which is remarkably light and not too sweet. Also worth noting is the vanilla-caramel millefeuille or the brioche pain perdu served on a confiture de lait. I tried his breakfast with freshly squeezed orange and a most light buttery airy croissant from his selection of viennoiseries.

air-conditioned Paris tea salons

Calling all vanilla flan fans. You’ll find my favourite kind of creamy vanilla flan with specks of real vanilla in it: the real McCoy!

KL Patisserie, 78 Avenue de Villiers, Paris 17
(Metro: Villiers)

CLICK HERE to see the list of Air-Conditioned Paris Tea Salons
(by arrondissement).

Coolest Paris Tea Salons with Air-Conditioning

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

If you haven’t yet tried the Saint-Germain almond cake, then you’ll probably go nuts after tasting this.

Saint-Germain almond cake

Known simply as le Saint-Germain, this almond-packed cake with a subtle hint of rum was created in 1920 by the Pâtisserie Hardy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

As you can imagine, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to be able to extract the recipe from the patisserie’s creators on rue des Louviers. Each time, however, it’s made clear that the secret recipe has never left the laboratory since it was created in 1920.  So, what’s a girl to do?

The answer? Taste as many Saint-Germain cakes as possible and develop as close to the recipe myself to share a part of our delicious royal town, so that you can transport a bit of the Parisian life to your own kitchen, wherever you may be.

Le Saint Germain

Le Saint-Germain Versions

In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Le Saint-Germain almond cake is available also at the Patisserie Grandin in rue au Pain. While both versions are full of almonds and clearly have some bits of almonds in there too (not just powdered), Grandin’s version is laced a lot more with rum. In fact, it’s pretty boozy!

Not everyone loves rum but if you’re like our family, we love it and a good splash in the glaze is great. Add another tablespoon in the almond filling just for that extra oh-là-là kick.

Saint-Germain Cake

With or Without the Pastry Base

When I first tasted le Saint-Germain almond cake made by a French neighbour, she didn’t serve the cake at all using sweet pastry like the patisserie versions: it was without the the tart shell and served as a plain – and gluten-free – cake. If you prefer this, it’s just as good on its own, although I’m adding the tart base just to keep the recipe more authentic – even if it’s not from Hardy’s secret laboratory!  After painstaking tasting sessions with Lucie, however, I’m happy with the result as it tastes just as good.

Saint Germain Cake

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

Just like macarons, once you’ve made this try and forget about it for 24 hours as it tastes so much better after leaving it aside for a day to mature.  Believe me, after being greedy and trying it too soon, it really is worth the wait.  Try it for yourself and taste the difference.

Saint-Germain Almond Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Resting Time
16 hrs 40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Known as Le Saint-Germain, this almond and rum cake sits in a pastry shell and tastes even better the next day.  Made with ground almonds and a hint of rum, it's an easy recipe which is also served by locals without the tart base, making it a gluten free cake.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: almond rum cake, Easy almond tart recipes, Saint Germain almond cake, Saint-Germain
Servings: 8
Calories: 260 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sweet Pastry Base:
  • 125 g (4.5oz) butter (unsalted) softened
  • 75 g (3oz) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 egg (organic)
  • 250 g (9oz) plain flour (all-purpose)
Almond Filling:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (3oz) sugar
  • 2 eggs (organic) at room temperature
  • 100 g (3.5oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp good quality rum optional
  • 25 g (1oz) slivered almonds
Glaze:
  • 4 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tbsp good quality rum
Instructions
Sweet Pastry (this part is optional):
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4/360°F.

  2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt together in a mixer or by hand until pale and creamy. Gradually add the other ingredients until well combined then split the dough in two, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour. (You won't need all of this dough - you can freeze the rest or keep it for up to 3 days.)

  3. Remove from the fridge until easily workable. Roll out the pastry to 3-4mm thickness on a floured surface then press into a 24cm (9") tart ring or into a pie case. Leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes then blind bake by topping with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. (For a more detailed step-by-step recipe, see my chapter on tarts in 'Teatime in Paris'.) Set aside to cool on a wire rack once turned out.

Almond Filling:
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs, ground almonds and rum if using.  Sprinkle the slivered almonds on the base of the baked pastry base then spread on the almond filling.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Set aside to cool then chill for 24 hours or overnight. 

Glaze:
  1. Mix together the icing (powdered) sugar with the rum and spread the glaze on to the cooled almond tart. 

Recipe Notes

Set aside in the fridge for 24 hours to mature and serve at room temperature to appreciate all of the flavours. Decorate with red fruits.

Note: Some local friends make this without the tart base and it's just as good, even if not an authentic Saint-Germain cake.  If making this without the sweet pastry base, add another egg to the almond filling.

Nutritional Information: 240 Calories per serving; 6g protein.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

More on Saint-Germain-en-Laye

For your own DIY tours, see my posts on Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s rooftop castle visit, a chocolate and pastry teatime walk, and find out other speciality recipes that were created here, including the Sauce Béarnaise.

Saint Germain Cake

Never Miss a New Post!

Choose your daily, weekly or monthly free email alert to be informed when new articles or recipes are fresh on the website. Your email is NEVER SHARED and you can easily opt out at any time at the bottom of every email.

Béarnaise Sauce – Recipe & Origins

How many times have you seen the French classic Béarnaise Sauce on a menu and thought it was perhaps too difficult to make? Well, let me show you how easy it is to whip up the real McCoy at home. It also tastes 100 times better than the jarred stuff in supermarkets!

Moreover, did you know that there’s at least another herb in it, apart from tarragon? Read on from the birthplace of the Sauce Béarnaise itself in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris and discover the  simple Béarn-ecessities of life!

Sauce Béarnaise

Difference Between Hollandaise & Béarnaise Sauce

In the 1800s, Chef Antonin Carême noted that in French cuisine, there were four basic sauces – each called a “Mother Sauce”. Later, Auguste Escoffier took Câreme’s rules of Haute Cuisine a step further by adding a basic fifth sauce, the Hollandaise sauce, an emulsion of egg yolks, white vinegar and wine (or lemon juice) plus melted butter.

The Hollandaise’s most famous offspring, the Béarnaise sauce, has the fragrant addition of shallots, tarragon and chervil – yet had nothing much to do with the French Province of Béarn. The Béarnaise Sauce was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.

Béarnaise Sauce

The Origins of Béarnaise Sauce, near Paris

It took place at Le Pavillon Henri IV, a hotel in Saint-Germain-en-Laye which was built over the original spot of the Château Neuf, where Louis XIV was born in 1638 – for more on this part, see my post here.

In the 1830’s, Head Chef Jean-Louis Françoise-Collinet experimented with a shallot reduction then, taking the basic recipe for Sauce Hollandaise, replaced the lemon juice with white wine vinegar, shallots, chervil and tarragon and the Sauce Béarnaise was born. It’s the tarragon and white wine vinegar that makes that fragrantly addictive acidity that we associate with the star of sauces with serious steaks.

Why did Collinet call it Béarnaise? Inspired by the name of the hotel, Henri IV, it was the King’s previous home at the Château Neuf before it was a restaurant and he came from the province of Béarn. Shortly after, the chef also accidentally invented the soufflée potato and served both of his creations at the opening of the hotel in 1836.

Béarnaise sauce

Le Pavillon Henri IV, SaintGermain-en-Laye, the birthplace of Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise Sauce – Tarragon, Chervil and Parsley

Today, the hotel’s chef, Patrick Käppler, has posted the Béarnaise Sauce recipe in French, published by the Hotel Pavillon Henri IV here, without the actual quantities. As you can see, to continue the sauce’s tradition, he doesn’t just use the classic tarragon (estragon) – but also chervil (cerfeuil), another essential ingredient, and parsley (persil) too.

Following my challenge from L’Office de Tourisme in les Yvelines, this Béarnaise Sauce recipe was also cited by the novelist, Alexandre Dumas.  More known for his Three Muskateers and The Count of Monte Cristo, as a serious gourmet and cook, he also published his Grand Culinary Dictionary (only in French).  He cites using a good vinegar from Orléans, uses oil instead of butter and parsley or tarragon:

Alexandre Dumas: Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (1873), under “Sauce”,

Sauce échalote à la béarnaise.
Mettez dans une petite casserole deux cuillerées à bouche d’échalote hachée et quatre cuillerées de bon vinaigre d’Orléans ; la poser sur le feu et cuire les échalotes jusqu’à ce que le vinaigre soit réduit de moitié ; retirez alors la casserole, et quand l’appareil est à peu près refroidi, mêlez-lui quatorze jaunes d’oeufs, broyez-les à la cuiller et joignez-leur quatre cuillerées à bouche de bonne huile. Posez alors la casserole sur un feu doux ; liez la sauce en la tournant, retirez-la aussitôt qu’elle est à point, et lui incorporez encore un demi-verre d’huile, mais en l’alternant avec le jus d’un citron ; finir la sauce avec un peu d’estragon ou de persil haché et un peu de glace de viande.

Béarnaise Sauce

What Goes with Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise Sauce can transform a simple grill and is the perfect accompaniment with salmon, chargrilled steaks, chicken and asparagus. If you love Eggs Benedict, you’ll know that poached eggs marry well with Hollandaise sauce – but try it with Béarnaise sauce, with its added herbs, and it is sheer luxury.

Béarnaise Sauce

Can Béarnaise Sauce Keep?

Béarnaise sauce is best when made as close as possible to serving.  Ideally, serve within an hour (no more than 2 hours max.), keeping the sauce slightly warm (not hot!) over a pan of simmering water. If the sauce gets too hot and starts to split, add a little warm water.  Frankly, I’ve not had problems with the latter, as the recipe is so easy and as long as it’s served reasonably quickly, the results are light and fluffy. The sauce also freezes well.

Sauce Béarnaise

Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Many chefs make this straight in the pan using the same quantities in the recipe, just like Dumas describes above.  I prefer making it over a bain-marie (bowl over simmering water) and, although this method sounds more hassle, it’s actually much less easy to curdle the sauce and the result is light and sabayon or mousse-like. However, if you prefer to make the sauce in the same pan, then carefully ensure that the temperature doesn’t get too high.

 

Béarnaise Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

An easy recipe for the classic French Sauce Béarnaise, inspired by the creator in the 1830s near Paris, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bearnaise, Bearnaise history, French cuisine, French sauces, Hollandaise, Parisian cuisine
Servings: 6
Calories: 280 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 50 g (2oz) white wine vinegar
  • 90 g (3.5oz) white wine
  • 2 small shallots chopped finely
  • 3 branches fresh tarragon branches separated from finely chopped up leaves
  • 3 grinds black pepper
  • 3 egg yolks organic
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter gently melted
  • 1 tbsp fresh chervil finely chopped
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley (flat-leaf) optional
Instructions
  1. Bring the white vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon branches and pepper to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat and leave to reduce for about 5 minutes until there's about a couple of tablespoons. Pour into another bowl and set aside to cool then filter out the shallots and herbs using a sieve.

  2. Fill the saucepan with 1/4 of water and bring to a simmer.  Place over it a large bowl with the cooled vinegar reduction, yolks and water then whisk constantly until the sabayon becomes mousse-like.

  3. After about 5 minutes, as soon as the sauce starts to thicken, take the bowl off the heat and, continuing to whisk, incorporate the warm, melted butter. Add the chopped tarragon, chervil and parsley, if using.  Season with a little salt and it's ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

If not serving straight away, keep at room temperature and return the bowl over the simmering water before ready to serve to re-heat, adding a little hot water if necessary.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

The Béarn-ecessities of life
They’ll come to you …

Béarnaise Sauce

More Links

Never Miss a New Article or Recipe!

Sign up for your free email alert, straight to your inbox: choose from daily, weekly or monthly to be informed when new posts are fresh on the website. Your email is NEVER SHARED and you can easily opt out at any time at the bottom of every email.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit (Paris Day Trips)

I promised you this taster of the Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit. It’s a fabulous way to discover this royal town’s history which breathes around the Château and boasts a rooftop view over the River Seine to Paris.

As Paris visitors flock further west to the Palace of Versailles – also in les Yvelines – this visit will uncover the importance of Saint-Germain-en-Laye with the Kings of France before the court moved to Versailles in 1682. Birthplace of Louis XIV and also the composer, Claude Debussy, you will find that Saint-Germain has had a few surprising culinary births too.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Following on from this introduction to Saint-Germain-en-Laye as part of my series of easy-to-do day trips from Paris, guided visits on the castle roof run between May and end September, and are easily reserved in advance (see all practical details at the end of this post).  Although visits are only in French, English can be organised in advance if done in a group.

In the meantime, before your visit, let me whet your appetite as a Scottish-French local and guide you on your own DIY tour.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

There were two castles: the current pentagon-shaped Château Vieux and the Château Neuf . The latter newer castle was built under Henri II, finished by Henri IV and dismantled under Louis XVI and his brother, future Charles X. It’s one of the rare castles dismantled before the French Revolution, with the bricks and stone recycled by the Saint-Germanois.

Today, the Château Vieux now houses the National Archaeological Museum. A model in the museum gives us an idea of both castles’ grandeur, terraces and gardens which, at the time, cascaded all the way down to the Seine (now the town of Le Pecq).

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Rooftop visit

The layout of both castles in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (apologies for the unavoidable reflections on the glass case)

Today the castle’s inner courtyard is one of the Renaissance’s most beautiful.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

A visit on the castle’s rooftop is pretty special, showing off a panorama of the Seine Valley – including a skyline view of Paris to La Défense and Sacré Coeur. Look carefully, and you catch sight of the Eiffel Tower, poking out behind the Mont Valérien.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Just by visiting the Castle roof in the space of 30 minutes, we gathered nuggets of delicious history as we walked around the chimneys.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

The fortified castle originated in 1122, when Louis VI le Gros built on the plateau of Laye. Only the dungeon (the square tower on the left of the museum entrance) retains the original shape, with a Campanile tower stuck to it, much like that of the Louvre in Paris.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Louis IX (Saint Louis) completed the castle and by 1238 had a chapel built, the only part of the castle to survive the fire during the Hundred Years’ War from 1337 between Philippe VI Valois and the Black Prince. It was Charles V that re-built the castle by 1367, adjoining the Gothic Chapel.

Saint Louis Chapel

Louis IX’s Gothic Chapel was probably good practise for his Saint Chapelle in Paris built ten years later, constructed on much the same lines.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

It’s here that the story starts to get deliciously interesting at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, as it’s where François I married la Reine Claude in 1514. Since then, the rosace was filled in, as the banquet hall he added on was right behind it.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Each time I walk around the Chapel, I can’t help thinking of greengage plums. What? Plums? Did you know that the Greengage plum is known as Reine Claude in French, named after François I’s Queen as she adored them so much? Speaking of which, have you tried my Spicy Plum Jam? La Reine Claude would have surely approved with it spread on her royal baguette over breakfast with François I.

François I at Saint-Germain-en-Laye

This was François I’s favourite residence. He loved the castle so much, he turned Charles V’s fortress into a Renaissance palace.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

He is said to have spent 1000 days at Saint-Germain-en-Laye which, considering the sumptuous castles in the Loire Valley and Fontainbleau, is quite something!  François I’s symbols are not difficult to spot on the roof: his crowning initial with the Fleur de Lys carved in stone and flaunted on the imposing chimneys high above the town. Spot also his salamander, especially on the enormous banquet hall chimney inside.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye castle roof visit

François I’s son, Henri II continued with more of the building work, including the new castle which was completed under Henri IV. During the reigns of both Henri IV and Louis XIII, the Château Vieux was left to royal children and their household staff.

Louis XIV and Saint-Germain-en-Laye

The Sun King, Louis XIV was born in Saint-Germain’s Château Neuf, 5 September 1638. All that’s left of the “new” castle is the red-bricked Pavillon, now part of the Hotel Henri IV that looks over the Seine to Paris. This hotel boasts a couple of other births from the culinary world: soufflé potatoes and the legendary Béarnaise sauce.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

I was lucky to see the original birth and baptism papers from the local archives during an enlightening conference of Louis XIV in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, thanks to our local historian, François Boulet. The baptism took place in the St Louis Chapel when Louis (le Dauphin) was 4 years old in the presence of his parents, Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.  It was such a long awaited royal birth that 30,000 bells peeled all around France to celebrate!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Visit

Following Louis XIV marriage in 1660, he moved into the Château Vieux, breaking with tradition with the new castle.

From his reign in 1666, Louis XIV spent a staggering quarter of his reign at the castle before eventually moving to his newly embellished Versailles in 1682. In Saint-Germain, it wasn’t merely for hunting but for the Court, where the greater part of his powerful and personal decisions were made. We often just associate Versailles with Louis XIV but we can frequently forget just how important Saint-Germain was for the the Sun King and the court. It’s also where he learned to dance and where Lully performed many of his premières in the giant ballroom.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Improvements were made to the castle by Jules Hardouin Mansart and André Le Nôtre designed the French gardens and the vast terrace overlooking the Seine before his other wee gardening job at Versailles.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain Pharmacist Treats Royal Headaches with Chocolate

As the longest reigning monarch in France, Louis XIV probably ate extremely well at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. I suspect one of the ingredients to a long and prosperous life was chocolate, introduced to the French court by his mother, Anne of Austria, and his wife, Marie-Therèse who both brought over their chocolate luxuries – in the form of a chocolate drink – from Spain.

Later at  Versailles, it was under Louis XVI that chocolate finally flourished outside of the French court in Paris, thanks to the pharmacist in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Sulpice Debauve, appointed King’s Physician in 1778 to help cure the Queen Marie-Antoinette’s headaches through chocolate coins or pistoles. More on that later, as this addictive subject merits its own post – but again, Saint-Germain is one of the ingredients!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

James VII of Scotland in Exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye

When Louis XIV and his court permanently moved to Versailles on 20 April 1682, the Sun King ‘lent’ the Château Vieux to his cousin, James VII of Scotland (II of England) while the Stuarts were in exile from Britain during the Glorious Revolution. He stayed here with his family for 13 years until his death in 1701 and is buried in the church across the road from the castle.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof

Many of the Jacobites stayed in Saint-Germain-en-Laye until the French Revolution and finally left in 1793. For a brief summary of the Jacobites, read this great article here. Did you know that Saint-Germain is twinned with Ayr in Scotland?

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

French Revolution, Wars to Today

During the French Revolution the castle was used as a prison, then a hospital for the treatment of contagious diseases, a cavalry school under Napoleon Bonaparte, barracks then a military prison.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Visit

Thanks to a visit from Queen Victoria to Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1855, eager to learn more of its British past with the Stuarts, she urged Napoleon III to save the castle from abandon and so it was restored. In 1862 Napoleon III created the Museum of Celtic & Gallo Roman Antiquities as part of the castle and the following year it was listed as a historical monument. Restoration work was carried out by Eugène Millet, who studied under Viollet-le-Duc (of Notre Dame restoration fame).

The Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was signed at the castle on 10 September 1919, officially ending WWI with Austria.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

The Castle was used as Headquarters by the German Army in France during the German Occupation (1940-1944), as was the Château d’Hennemont, which is now the Lycée International. Many German bunkers are reminders throughout Saint-Germain of around 18,000 soldiers occupying the military town. Thankfully, and astonishingly, Saint-Germain wasn’t bombarded by the allies. There are two bunkers right next to the castle in between the hôtel particuliers or mansion houses.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye castle Museum

Today, the castle houses the National Archaeology Museum. It includes the world’s largest collection of prehistoric art, illustrating the life and inventions of men from their origins to the merovingian period. Furniture is replaced by countless exhibition cabinets, showing a fascinating insight into life to the middle ages.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s Speciality Cakes

No visit can finish without a taste of the local culinary specialities.  Both puffed potatoes or some Sauce Béarnaise, born at the Henri IV hotel’s restaurant, are not the easiest to sample on the street (see the recipe for Sauce Béarnaise here), so I’d recommend popping in to at least two patisseries in particular for their speciality cakes.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

Teatime in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Since 1920, the Pâtisserie Hardy has been making Le Gâteau Saint-Germain, of which I’m constantly told that the recipe’s secret has never left their boutique. It’s a sweet tart filled with almond paste with bits of almonds and glazed with a light icing – see my recipe for le Saint-Germain here.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Debussy

Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s chocolate speciality, Le Debussy, was created by the Patisserie Grandin to celebrate the birth of composer, Claude Debussy on the same street on rue au Pain, the oldest street in town (called bread street, as at the time of François I, this was where the bread was baked as there was no oven at the castle.)

Le Debussy is a hazelnut sponge with praline mousse with raisins soaked in rum and coated in dark chocolate. You’ll also find a Saint-Germain cake at Grandin. If you love rum, then it’s guaranteed to satisfy with its boozy glaze!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

 

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

We loved the compact yet relaxed 30-minute roof tour: simply book on the morning itself directly at the Museum ticket office to ensure your place. Alternatively, book a longer visit by telephone or email in advance, and you’re good to go (precise details below). Note: I may add that I suffer from vertigo but I honestly had no trouble on this Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit.  As groups are small with a guide and another member of museum staff behind us with clear footpaths, it’s very secure. No children under 10 are admitted, however.
So, on a lovely day, jump on the RER A express train line from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, pop into the ticket office just across the road to book if it’s not done already, then enjoy a walk around. There’s so much to see and do.

What Else to do in Saint-Germain-en-Laye?

I often call Saint-Germain a mini royal Paris, as it’s so beautifully compact for boutiques and there’s plenty to do. I thoroughly recommend wearing good walking shoes as there’s plenty to do:
  • The farmers’ market (Tuesdays, Fridays & Sunday mornings – the latter is the biggest);
  • The quaint boutiques! Even the several cheese shops alone are worth a stop. Check out Foucher’s interior – it’s like stepping back to 1923 when it opened.
  • Walk in the extensive castle grounds (it’s free), including the long terrace built by Le Nôtre overlooking Paris, plus a walk through the beautiful forest (the walks are all well signposted);
  • Have a picnic in the park, or why not do it in style by ordering a gourmet version straight from Monsieur Fine Bouche, who offers €10 off your first order when you use the code, ‘MadAboutMacarons’;
  • Visit the church across from the castle, where James VII Scotland rests;
  • An afternoon visit to the Claude Debussy Museum, recently refurbished at N° 38 rue au Pain (closed Mon/Tues);
  • Maurice Denis Museum – this is currently closed for renovation until 2020;
  • The Fête des Loges in July-August is one of Europe’s biggest fairs. Shuttles run from the RER station.
  • An absolute must? My DIY chocolate & patisserie tour – Patrick Roger, Pascal le Gac (formerly from Maison du Chocolat), Gontran Cherrier, Eric Kayser, to name a few more, plus an ice cream stop at La Fabbrica de Luca, a few doors away from the oldest house in Saint-Germain on rue de la Salle. Have I missed anything?
Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

Practical Information

SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE CASTLE ROOF VISIT: Open 2 MAY – 30 SEPTEMBER
2 Types of Visits are possible, organised directly at the Chateau Museum in FRENCH ONLY. For a guided visit in English, advance reservation should be done for a group.
  • Historique du château et visite des toits” (1h weekly visits – 1h30 on weekends Full price each 5€/7€)
    ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ONLY by telephone (01-34 51 65 36) or by email  (Reservation.man@gmx.fr)
  • Promenade sur les toits (Duration: 30 min Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 2.45pm Full price each €4). Reservations to be made on the day itself, weather permitting, directly at the boutique/ticket office of the Museum.
Musée d’Archéologie nationale – Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Place Charles de Gaulle
78105 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Billetterie/Ticket Office: Tel 01-39.10.13.22
www.musee-archeologienationale.fr
Jardin des Arts
3 rue Henri IV
78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Getting There from Paris:

Only 20 km west, this makes for an ideal day trip from Paris with a short 30 minute train-ride on the RER A line (red) west (ouest) to the terminus at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Never Miss a New Article or Recipe!

Sign up for your free email alert, straight to your inbox: choose from daily, weekly or monthly to be informed when new posts are fresh on the website. Your email is NEVER SHARED and, as always, you can easily opt out at any time at the bottom of every email.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored.  As a local, I’m proud to introduce new ideas for your day trips from Paris.

DIY Paris Day Trips Saint Germain

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

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

Never Miss a New Recipe or Article!

Sign up for your free email alert, straight to your inbox: choose from daily, weekly or monthly to be informed when new posts are fresh on the website. Your email is NEVER SHARED and, as always, you can easily opt out at any time at the bottom of every email.

PLUS if you’ve signed up for my seasonal newsletter, you’ll receive the next issue this week!

Melting Meringue Snowballs

PIN me, share me and throw a party for me!

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.