The delights of eating in Paris are so numerous, that sometimes it helps just to limit yourself to one category (a perfect macaron, say) or one area.
So, if you’ve finished seeing one of the Pompidou Centre’s world-class art exhibitions, perhaps something sweet from the surrounding neighbourhood, Beaubourg, may strike your fancy.
Anyways, it’s a lovely buzzy area to walk around, and why not stretch your legs. Start with a treat from Monsieur Benjamin, open only just longer than a month, on the pedestrian street, rue St Martin at number 63.
Their specialties are perfect rectangular creations they call ‘Street Tarts’ that may allude to classic French desserts, like a tarte au citron, or an eclair, but in a different form. Their innovation is recommending each of them to be served with its own tea from the company Tea Forté. I chose Litchi, with a delicate shortbread base, flavoured with green tea, a contrasting morello cherry jam and a silky litchi cream.
It was so delicious I almost forgot to drink my White Ginger Pear tea, though admit it’s a lovely combination.
The store is lit up like a jewel, I wonder if I was served by Monsieur Benjamin himself (as he had an impressive moustache, much like in their logo) and they also serve up macarons. There’s also a small table for you to sit down, if you’re lucky enough to grab it.
A little further into the Marais is Christophe Michalak who expanded from being a master pastry chef to being a TV presenter and star.
Certainly, the first time I walked by there was the buzz of celebrity, and there are some mighty fine looking cakes within.
The specialty seems to be these rather convenient and pretty desserts in jars. I mean, they are pretty cool looking, although on the other hand, French supermarkets produce some pretty tasty treats in individual jars…
Obviously then, I had to go for the slightly fancier item, not as fancy as the cakes, but these interesting deluxe chou pastries, covered in plastic, and shaped like Minions.
My ‘religieuse’ had as its main flavour salted caramel… and wow, yes it cost 9 euros, but with all the pieces and packaging, including a chocolate spear to keep the creation perfectly upright in its container, it was a sweet miracle. Perhaps too sweet, but impressive nonetheless.
Go on, treat yourself. You know you want to. You can always blame it on celebrity madness, or a sweet tooth, or France, or something. Anything. Really.
But I have saved the best of last. There are Aux Merveilleux de Fred all over Paris, but there is a branch tucked away behind the Hotel de Ville.
If you’ve never tried one of these amazing meringue and cream concoctions, well, what are you waiting for?
With six flavours, Fred, reinterpreting a traditional recipe from the north of France and Belgium, places a whipped cream on a meringue base, and then covers this with another dome of meringue, which is then rolled in more cream, and then another flavour, perhaps shavings of white chocolate, or crystallized meringue. It’s both incredibly decadent and light at the same time, and since I first tried one, I’m completely obsessed. The large ones are just under 3 Euros, and comparing this with the cost for complicated pastries is rather a bargain. You can also get a selection of miniature versions, perhaps to impress guests. I myself will be meanwhile sucking back a large one, rubbing my belly in happiness, and shouting ‘Vive la France!”