On our last day in Paris, we had to work up the courage to brave the worst weather we’d had in the first two weeks of our trip. Heavy rain and high winds were in the forecast and would play a part in the day.
We started by heading way out to Paris’s 11th arrondissement for what might be the city’s best crepes at West Country Girl. The set menu offers a savory crepe and a sweet crepe, both made with buckwheat flour, and a cider for a reasonable price. We both had variations on an egg and cheese crepe for our savory choices and chose blackberry jam and WCG’s homemade salted caramel for our sweet crepes. Everything was excellent, especially the salted caramel, and the dry crisp cider was the perfect side.
After lunch, in which we dodged most of a passing storm, we headed back to the metro station when we accidentally stumbled on Père Lachaise Cemetery, the famous final resting place of author Oscar Wilde and The Doors frontman Jim Morrison among other notables. The cemetery is usually open to the public, but entrance was restricted to funerals only that day due to the high winds creating a danger of falling branches.
Thwarted by the weather, we took the train back into the city center to follow one of ChocoParis.com‘s walking tours of the city’s most popular chocolate shops. From the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe, we covered 2.6 miles visiting two chocolate shops and two macaron shops.
At Michel Cluizel’s shop we sampled a few of the single-origin chocolates. Cluizel has been making chocolate since 1948 and is one of the few chocolatiers in the world who processes its own cacao.
Our next stop was Jean-Paul Hévin’s shop. Hévin is widely considered as the top chocolatier in Paris and has five shops in Japan and a pair in Hong Kong in addition to his four Paris locations. The two-floor flagship store features a variety of pastries and chocolates downstairs with a tea room serving his famous hot chocolate upstairs. We bought a sampling of chocolates infused with Earl Gray tea-infused, pistachio and coffee and headed upstairs. We skipped the hot chocolate since the heat was cranked up way too high in the tea room, but the chocolates were delicious.
Further down the road, we walked into Pierre Hermé. The vibe was more high-end jewelry shop, but the diamonds were replaced with chocolate and macarons. Hermé, a fourth-generation pastry chef, is famous for macarons, a multi-layered, cream-filled, merengue cookie. We went with the favorites—milk chocolate and passion fruit, pistachio and raspberry and a salted caramel. These were my favorites of the day thanks to the light, fluffy cookie layer and rich fillings.
A short walk away is Hermé’s competitor for macaron dominance, Ladurée. The shop has been a mainstay in Paris since the 1860s. Credited as the inventor of the macaron, the shop offers a variety of different flavors. We tried the cherry almond, pistachio, rose and salted caramel. Viktoria favored these over Hermé’s, so I guess the macarons war will continue to rage on.
Unfortunately, the weather turned to a steady rain as we left Ladurée and we missed the final two stops—Patrick Roger and La Maison du Chocolat—as we ducked for cover from the rain. We did eventually reach our end goal, the Arc de Triomphe. A memorial to France’s soldiers in the Revolution and Napoleonic wars, it marked the end of our battle vs. the weather and our time in Paris.
More Photo of the Day posts from our January-March 2016 trip to Europe