I was in the Place de Saint Sulpice the other day, minding my own business. Sitting by the fountain, looking up at the St Sulpice church and nibbling on a Hermé Mosaïc macaron, I realised a few people looked curious as to what was in my bag.
Anyone who knows their Paris pâtisserie bags will recognise it’s not just any old bag. Its leafy holes are Pierre Hermé’s signature: telling passers-by that you’re about to indulge in his Picasso-of-Pastry macarons, pastries or chocolates. This time I did have rather a lot of sweet works of art tucked away, and the wafting temptations of certain viennoiseries were inviting me through these sneaky-peeky-leafy holes. I kept my French art of self-control and resisted, keeping them for the family’s enjoyment later.
Suddenly I became the Paris Pastry Bag Awareness Committee, noticing many more bags being sported in between juggling cameras and umbrellas. Umbrellas? Yes, yes. You’ve heard about the Paris summer? Someone forgot to lay on the sunshine and it has been raining almost every day in July and much of June.
Perhaps the most recognised pastry bag is from Ladurée. Louis Ernest Ladurée would have been amazed 150 years after opening his shop to see how many tourists now show off the characteristic pastel shade of green with his name cameoed in the centre, bordered by leaves. Ah, leaves again, but more as a Versailles look. The golden rope is comfortable poised on the wrist, ladies, and its shape is ideal for positioning Paris guide books after your macaron tastings. To receive a bag like this, however, you need to invest in rather a few macarons or pastries. Most times I go in and buy 4 or 5 macarons, I’m flashed the Parisian shot and they’re stuffed into a pastel green paper bag.
What do you think of this bag with a silvery rope?
Jean-Charles Rochoux‘s chocolates are given the classy treatment with the packaging plus bag to escort your tablets and sculptures. His signature muscular sculptures of male busts in chocolate are amusing. I learned the French phrase the other day from my daughter, who was referring to someone’s “tablette de chocolat”: it simply means they have lovely looking muscles, hence Rochoux’s muscles. Which reminds me (mussels is my wave of thinking here): did you know that Jean-Paul Hévin has a hot chocolate flavoured with oysters? I digress. Back to bag lady.
Christophe Roussel’s large, shiny black bags are rather stylish. Why are they large? When you order just one of his tall Réligieuse pastries, it’s packaged separately in its own tower box to ensure that it’s still perfectly intact by the time you arrive home. As I no longer live in Paris and travel in the RER commuter train, I can tell you that attention to detail like this for top-of-the-range pastries is much appreciated!
He also thinks of the environment with the hessian bags to reuse… Good idea – I think it’s time I paid them a visit in the 7th this time and replenished my stocks since Antoine raves about his pastries.
Patrick Roger, on the other hand, knows how to concoct the perfect little bright green handbag to say, ‘I’ve been there and tasted his chocolates and caramels. They’re chic and dainty, resembling the shape of a Birkin bag but a paper DIY version without the worry of choosing which leather and colours of trimmings needed. Un Dimanche à Paris have also jumped on board with a mini bag for their chocolates, but personally I prefer Patrick’s. Roger; over and out.
Pain de Sucre has chosen a clever colour – resembling the classy signature orange used by the luxury Hermès store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. No, not Hermé, but Hermès. Someday, I’ll earn money to buy a Hermès Birkin bag but while I’m dreaming about winning the Loto (ok, so I never buy tickets in the first place), I’ll continue with the pastries; at least I can change the colours frequently to adapt to sweet mood swings.
So what was in that first Hermé bag? Some macarons, of course, but also Infiniment Vanille (his vanilla tart, amazing!) and these Ispahan croissants, particularly sweet coated in sugar, dried raspberries but somehow we managed them for breakfast next morning…
There are many more pâtisseries to choose from in Paris, bien sûr.
What are your favourite bags that you like to keep as souvenirs of your trips to Paris?
And a double question whammy: what flavours are in Hermé’s Mosaïc macaron?