SHOPPING—Part 2—Some More Parisian Places
Well, it’s time to go back to our shopping list. I did tell you that it would take many posts. After all, Paris is probably, with new York, the shopping capitol of the world. So, for today, I think I will stress food stores. Paris is full of them, each more beautiful than the last. The only trouble is that often you are in a hotel, so unless you like the secret thrill of sneaking the food into your room and eating, a la style pique-nique in your bed (shades of being twenty again!), these might not be perfect for you. But at each of these places, you will find things to take home, either for presents or for your own later greedy consumption.
30 Rue Bourg Tibourg
For all of you tea lovers out there, the Marais is the home of Mariage Freres, the great French purveyors of tea. It’s easy to find, just off the Rue des Rosiers. Just to go in here is a wonderful experience: the smell and all of those beautiful black containers. I love smoky teas, and there is a plethora of them here, and if you like perfumed teas, well, here they are.
Of course, tea is just the beginning. Not only do they have the tea, but they have biscuits and jams and chocolates to serve with it
And tea pots galore
And of course, they have a tearoom. This is just a wonderful spot.
And you can also buy tea, and everything else you ever thought of foodwise, in Fauchon back over in the eighth.
26 Rue de la Madeleine
Although this is the 8th arrondissement, it’s so close to the first as not to count. Just leave the Ritz (and why not?) In the Place Vendome, go out to the rue St. Honore and go up to the Rue Royale and go to the front of the beautiful Madeleine. You will definitely have to go inside here to get some elevated thinking before you attack all the food spots of which I am going to tell you. Mens sana in corporo fatso as the philosopher might not have said.
Fauchon is at the end of a dear little place, and you will know it instantly by its bright pink storefront. Si francaise.
Inside there are amazing cheeses, tasty savouries, chocolates, delicious baked goods all of which you can buy for friends or for greedy consumption of the airplane home (or, as I said, if you can’t wait, in your room!).
You can have a very nice lunch or tea at Fauchon while you are there
Decorator’s aside: we carry Fauchon in our boutique, Leta Austin Foster, in Palm Beach. Sadly we can only have the candies, jams, a few savouries (which are amazing) and they come in fresh around the first of November. Any of these make wonderful Christmas presents, so if you’re not going to Paris before then, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and she’ll gladly e-mail you back with what’s in stock, etc.
Right across the place is that most wonderful store, Hediard
21 Place de la Madeleine
I can’t help but think that this store is the most beautiful of all the epiceries and it’s right there, so go on in and feast your eyes if not you tummy. I am always swept away by the towers of caviar, the game with the still fully robed pheasant announcing its spot in the store, the amazing fruits and vegetables., an amazing array of cheeses. One of my favourite French treats (only in season which is late summer and early fall, of course) is red currants with fromage blanc on top (now this is something you can eat in your bed!). Hediard also has wines and champagne
If you happen to be in Paris in December, seeing Hediard all wrapped up with a big red bow
Will remind you that you can do some very good Christmas shopping. All those red tins are so holiday looking, and would be beautiful under anyone’s tree.
Don’t forget the peach and passion fruit comfiture—and get enough for yourself, too.
Hediard has a wonderful little tearoom where you can get quite a snack—even a meal
Thinking about cheese reminds me of my cheese experience with customs. Ridgely and I were returning from one of our sojourns, and we were in the waiting area for our flight at de Gaulle. Ridgely discovered some leftover euros, and he has the strange dislike of exchanging small amounts of money at the bank at home (not me! I go for every sou!), so he told me to spend it in one of the shops there. Well, everything was so expensive that I decided that the only thing I could buy was some unpasteurized cheese which Ridgely adores. When we boarded, I took my bag avec les fromages and put it, with some other little purchases in the lockers they put by your seat, which apparently get quite warm as the plane wings its way home. Anyway, just before we were approaching New York, the stewardess handed out the customs declaration forms, and I began toting up the purchases I had made. We had been in Paris quite a while, and I had bought presents for, it seemed tout le monde. Yow! I was going to have some kind of bill at the other side. But I am a law-abiding soul, and I wrote down everything. We gathered together all our purchases and our bags including the cheese which I rescued from the little locker, and got in line for passports and customs. Just before we went through, I saw a sign warning people entering the u. S. To declare anything that came from a farm or agricultural endeavor. I was horrified! Surely that included my cheeses.
It was quite a long line, and when I got up to the customs inspector, I started to explain to him about the unpasteurized cheese. But he just took one look at me, breathed deep, and said, “What is that that ungodly smell? Just go on through and get out! Of here” he didn’t even take all my duly filled-out forms. Well. I did try.
Anyway, away from the dreariness of the customs room and back to the beauty of the city of light—while you are over in the neck of the woods with Fauchon and Hediard, just head on back to the Rue Royale and go to Laduree.
16 rue Royale
And adorable as it is on the outside, it is just as good on the inside—if not better. They have a wonderful tearoom where you can sit and sip heavenly oolong tea and nibble away at
Macarons, maid ouis…
Or Carre chocolate
Or heavenly lemon tart or tarte tartin.
And while you are sitting there, you will see perfect little French children, dressed so nicely, coming in avec les mamans, tres chic, very politely to gaze with huge eyes at the pastries and make their choices for their afternoon treats. You will just wish you could come every week.
While you are there, you can choose future treats to take home with you for you or your friends, les langues de chat in an adorable cat decorated box, or les souris cherie in a mouse decorated one. Or you can buy champagne or tea
Or jams and honey
Or coffee and cocoa. Or, best of all a buttery salted caramel sauce—for your own ice cream back home. Yum…yum…And Laduree has come out with a wonderful line, all in their beautiful, beautiful boxes, of bath salts or face cream or body lotion or soaps in fragrances such as the, amande, rose, violette. Wonderful for presents; wonderful for you
And just to finish out that great idea, a whole line of candles in scents such as rose or pois de senteur (sweet peas)—what could be better?
And if you were wishing you had had your little ones with you in the tearoom, you can at least get the babies started back home with bibs embroidered just for them.
Very exciting decorator’s aside: we have just heard from Laduree who might be opening a tres petite branch in Leta Austin Foster. Will let you know later.
Now, if you are exhausted after all this food shopping (and Christmas presents and friends’ presents) and were able to withstand temptations along the way—or maybe you just feel like feeling even a bit better, you can go to Harry’s American Bar while you are (somewhat) in the neighborhood.
Harry’s American Bar
5 Rue Dau Nou
Not to be confused with Harry’s bar in Venice—another wonderful spot, Harry’s American bar in Paris claims to be the oldest bar, per se, in the city. Since it was started by in the early, early 20th century, this may be so. It was just called the New York bar then or the American bar, but it got bought very early on by a man named Harry Mac Elhore, and Harry’s bar it became. Frequented by sophisticated (and serious) drinkers such as Ernest Hemingway (who must have tried every bar in the city) and Rita Hayworth and Coco Chanel, this is the home of the bloody Mary, so go on in and have one. You probably need it. If you’re ready for lunch, they have American lunch with a good French flair, club sandwich, chef (called chief’s) salad, chile con carne, etc., so if you’ve been gone from home awhile and need your roots, here’s where you can get them.
On weekend evenings, it turns into a piano bar with very good French American music
Well, I still haven’t made a dent in Paris shopping, but
This should keep you going for a while—try not to get too fat. Remember all those chic women, and show some restraint.