My Paris Is Better Than Yours
Clotilde Dusoulier adores food the way we adore Paris--so we invited her to share all her culinary favorites in the world's most delectable city.
What you'll find in this story: Paris restaurants, Paris culture, Paris attractions, Paris neighborhoods, Paris bistros, Paris markets
When I left Paris to live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area at the height of the Internet euphoria, there were some things that I expected--sunshine, freeways, a cool job in a start-up company--and some that I didn't. Among the latter was that I'd develop a passionate interest in food and cooking, discovering at age 21 how much fun could be had in the kitchen and how much pleasure at the table.
It was also from this new perspective, one continent and one ocean away, that I really saw the beauty, charm, and wealth of my birth city, which had all but eluded me when they were my daily bread.
I came home after two years in California, and my love for Paris and gastronomy only burned brighter as I settled in again with intense happiness, hungrily catching up with the City of Light (and Good Food), this time with fresh eyes and alert taste buds. This passion prompted me to create a food blog, Chocolate & Zucchini (chocolateandzucchini.com), where I could share my culinary joys with like-minded readers.
I enjoy nothing more than spreading the word about the gems I find, recommending them excitedly and relishing the description of this shop or that restaurant. Of course, there's always a measure of risk in directing someone to go somewhere. When they come back to tell me about it I always get a flutter in my stomach (did they like it?), usually replaced by a sweet tide of relief (the food was fabulous and the service super-kind).
What follows is a reflection of my Paris, the one I love so dearly. I can only hope you'll make it yours.
One of my greatest pleasures is to walk around with no particular purpose, breezing into shops, exploring little streets, and going just a step farther to see what's beyond the next corner. A welcome side effect of all this walking is that you build up quite an appetite, and it is of utmost importance to know where to stop for a quick and tasty lunch.
Cojean is the epitome of hip and healthy fast food in Paris. The tempting menu at the six Paris locations features the three S's (sandwiches, salads, and soups) and changes seasonally, to focus on the freshest products. The toasted veggie and provolone sandwich ($7.75) is bound to win you over.
Opened by Alain Ducasse and Eric Kayser, Boulangépicier (a.k.a. Be) is right at the crossroads of a bakery, restaurant, and gourmet store; Kayser's famed bread is baked on the premises and gastronomic goods line the shelves. The sandwiches are among the city's best, and I'll go out of my way for the mini-sandwich skewer ($11), which allows you to sample three sandwiches: pesto and tomato on basil bread, duck fillet on tomato bread, and goat cheese and tapenade on olive bread. Another example of the restaurant/grocery formula, Les Vivres is a cozy, bright room where you can load up your plate with different preparations of seasonal vegetables or choose the daily combination of starter, main course, and dessert.
Rose Bakery is owned by an English/French couple, and it offers fabulous salads, cute square quiches, and quality goods from the U.K., including sumptuous cheese. It's enough to make you change your mind about British food. This is the ideal spot for tea and a dessert; I say try the sticky toffee pudding ($5).
While you're shopping at Le Bon Marché department store, take a look at Delicabar and its bubblegum interior design on the second floor. The creative menu features savory twists on standard French patisseries (vegetable mille-feuilles with salad, $16) and hard-to-resist pastries.
The concept of brunch has taken off here only in recent years. The first to get it right was Le Pain Quotidien . At wooden communal tables, barely awake Parisians are served café au lait, soft-boiled eggs, cheese, and charcuterie (from $25.50). Large trays carry the signature chocolate and praline spreads, to be sampled on artisanal bread. More upscale, A Priori Thé is nested in the Galerie Vivienne, one of the 19th-century shopping passages that drill through whole blocks. This salon de thé, or tea salon, serves a weekend brunch of warm sandwiches, egg dishes, and fruit tarts (from $30). Sit at the indoor terrace and bask in the sunlight shining through the glass arcade.
Although frequented mostly during the day, R'Aliment is where I go for dinner with the girls. The menu leans toward organic products and always offers at least one vegetarian option. I recently delighted in a beet and lime soup ($8) followed by a mushroom and chestnut tart ($15.75).