Category: Fragrance

Paris – the best macarons in town

Trends often change frequently in the kitchen and in bakeries: New York cronuts or liquid nitrogen ice cream. Only one trend seems to never lose followers, especially in Paris: macarons. Small shells of almond powder with a delicate soft stuffing made with the fanciest flavors, often sold in boxes that remind us of those from jewelry stores. It’s because the joy they give you is similar to the one you get when receiving a ring, but unfortunately it ends right away. 

So, if you want to enjoy the pleasure of trying all the best sweets of Paris, we’ll take you to discover some bakeries that have turned this passion into art.

Pierre Hermé (more than one store, the main one is on 18 rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie).

To talk about this pastry and not mention him would be absurd. Heir of a top bakers line, it’s said that he was the one the lead macarons to their worldwide success, gaining the nickname “Picasso of pastry”. Of course, his flavors are the most extravagant: from miso and lemon to Iucuma (a curious Peruvian fruit) and candied ginger. Obviously, the prices are as high as the quality, but it’s totally worth it.

Ladurèe (seven stores in Paris, the main one is on 14 rue de Castiglione).

Their recipe has never changed (since the middle of 20th century), but the flavors are very impressive, especially lately, since former starred chef Claire Heitzler became the international creative director of Ladurèe, and so the seasonality and the quality of the ingredients have become the core of their products. It’s interesting to find out that Ladurèe has stores everywhere, and that all of its macarons are made in Switzerland, “blocked” (during the cooling time after baking) and awakened by the bakery pastry chef. Except for the French and Paris’s ones: those are made in a laboratory just outside the city. So, it’s definitely better to try them while you are in Paris.

Sadaharu Aoki (more than one store, the main one is a boutique on Port-Royal 56 boulevard de Port-Royal).

If the classic fruity and flower flavors bore you and you prefer an oriental twist, this is surely the most interesting place. In this bakery, the famous chef is Japanese: he switches from classic flavors maniacally perfect cooked, to the absolute creativity of the umeboshi (salted Japanese plum) macarons or wasabi-horeseradish macarons. You may also find his creations at fashion events and shows where he is of course highly requested.

Carette (4 Place du Trocadéro 75016).

Very close to the Tour Eiffel, this ancient bakery, opened in 1927 by Jean and Medeleine Carette, has a classic and less sophisticated style than the others. Flavors are those of tradition, with some curious impulses (like the violet flavor), still maintaining a traditional standard. The service is cosy and informal, and the prices are slightly lower than usual (also on the box sets). All of their carte sucré is incredible tasty, but the Délice aux framboise – a very big vanilla macaron filled with crème brûlée, pistachios and fresh raspberries – is a “can’t miss”.

Paris – the best vintage shops

In a city like Paris, having always had kind of a retrò soul, vintage shops flourish like daisies on a 70s blouse. 

While walking around the arrondissement and the covered galleries, you breathe in an old-time air, where the real charm of the city lies. So, between raspberry macarons and bookstands, where can you find the best vintage clothing prices of the city?

But first, it’s important to know that French people give custom names to everything: you will hear thrifts store being called by the names “fripe” or “friperie”, and you can find them in every neighborhood. We chose the best and the most curious/intriguing ones, to arrive back home with a suitcase full of chic and old-time items.

Kilo Shop Marais (69-71 rue de la Verrerie 75004). Half a pound of jeans and a pound of flower shirts. 

Fill up the bags, weigh it all, et voilà, the price is up to the weight.

There are colthes, dresses and trousers for any taste, just pay attention to the labels, because some pieces have a fixed price and they aren’t included in the “weight”.

Mam’zelle Swing (35 bis Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004). Walking around Marais, it’s impossible not to notice this small boutique, having shop windows that beam with a 20s matte rouge lipstick colored shine. Inside, you can find styles and dresses that range from the Roaring Twenties to the 60s: bon ton suits and chic details. A real marvel-wonder for the eyes (less for the wallet) to the people who are keen on such kind of style. 

L’Objet qui Parle (86 Rue des Martyrs, 75018). Who says that the vintage shopping should be just for clothing? In this incredible shop, that you can find around the rues of the always charming Montmartre, you’ll have to have plenty of patience and time, because it’s a the typical place where you can discover real gems, digging through piles of ugly and useless junk. But, right inside that awful sugar bowl, a mirror could be hiding, and although it may be consumed and old, it could be one that caught a young Brigitte Bardot’s intense eye.

Ragtime (23 Rue de l’Échaudé – 75006). Don’t be fooled by the window shop’s kinda trashy look, behind that door, in St. Germain des Près, hides a real treasure. The property owner is Françoise Auguet, she is a true collector (and expert) of art… in materials. Here you can try high fashion pieces, or wrap yourself in a pure silk scarf, letting its story cuddle you. Christian Dior’s tailleur surely doesn’t have the price of a yard sale shirt, but it will be the most memorable item in your whole wardrobe.

Mad Vintage (more than one store, of these the best ones are those found on 66th Rue Saint-Denis, and on 139th Rue Saint-Martin). No knee length dresses, if to you “vintage” means to immerse in the colorful 80s and dare with faux fur and shiny micro-short, you can find what you are looking for in this huge warehouse. The prices are low (the majority of clothes costs around 15€). If you don’t mind wearing used sneakers, this place isn’t lacking in retro design Converse All stars. Maybe you can match a pair with some skinny jeans, even though right now they are back in fashion, so they’re actually more modern than vintage!

Paris – 5 things to do for free

Is Paris an expensive city?  

Yes, well, just like all the major capitals, but it can be lived to the fullest even without spending a lot of money. Full of free museums or charming places to visit, in an exciting and economically fair way. Discovering the city for free will make it all better, and maybe a bit of snobby air will pleasantly be relieved from one of the fanciest cities of the world. 

What can you do for free in the French capital?

  1. Free pass museums on the first Sunday of the month. If you have to plan your trip, you’ll have to consider the first weekend of the month, possibly from October to March, so that you can also include a visit to the Louvre Museum in the offer (normally it costs 15 € per person). Other museums that take part in this initiative are: the Centre Pompidou, the National Eugene Delacroix museum, the Musée D’Orsay, the Musée de L’Orangerie and the Picasso Museum, and a lot of smaller museum as well. In addition, people under the age of 26 can always get in free by showing their ID.
  2. Parks and cemeteries. Obviously, all the public parks are free of charge and definitely wonderful (don’t miss Parc Monceau and the Jardins du Luxembourg are two beloved gems of the city, especially by Parisians), but why not to take a tour around the most famous graves? Here, cemeteries have a high historical value and they often are actual pilgrimage destinations. Indubitably, one of the most famous ones is Père Lachaise, in which names such as Jim Morrison (you won’t have trouble finding his grave, it is the only fenced one), Charles Baudelaire, Frédéric Chopin and Oscar Wilde remain some of the most famous. Make a stop at the Cemetery of MontMartre too. 
  3. Paris from above. No doubt, one of the unmissable things to put at the top of your list is to view the city from a strategic position: it’s truly breathtaking. Which are the best spots?

Of course, the hill of Montmartre (a suggestive neighborhood and a massive church dominate the Ville Lumière), the neighborhood of Belleville, is one of them. Here you can enjoy a view of the Tour Eiffel and certainly the upper floors of the Printemps’ department store.

  1. Discovering Paris by bicycle. Velib is the method of bike sharing that will take you around the city for a low price (approximately 8 € per day) or for free! Signing up for a service is a bit difficult – you have to sign up online and complete the process – but it is free for the first 30 minutes. Therefore, you can hand the bike back within 30 minutes and simply get another one. However, as it’s so cheap, most people avoid the hassle.
  2. How to join a free tour of Paris. There are tours of all kind: at night, around the historical neighborhoods, those dedicated to street art or those to film sets and they are completely free. Just look for “free tour Paris” online, and a whole world will open up for you. Discovering the city with an expert is the most curious and in-depth way to fall even deeper in love with the thousand lights city.

Paris – discovering Batignolle

In the north of France, out of the Paris traffic and its stereotypes, in those suburbs ignored by everyone, a vital and sparkling neighborhood is putting itself in the spotlight: Batignolle, XVII arrondissement, the core of Parisian (and not only) hipster life.

Looking at the history, this neighborhood in the Northwest of the city was one of the most beloved by impressionists, so much that in 1860 some of them founded the Group of Batignolle. They would meet in Cafè Guerbois, on Avenue de Clichy, to drink and debate art and their projects.

Manet chose this place because it was near Hennequin’s art store, where the artist bought material for their paintings.

It still has an old-time charm, but in spite of its historical places and pedestrian streets, it is chic and never pretentious. It is full of shops, cloisters, traditional delis, small ateliers and parks, but it is seen as the most “bobo” neighborhood of Paris. 

What does “bobo” mean? It comes from of the shrinking of Bourgeois-Boheme, characterized by a radical chic and condescending connotation, but here is where you can find the most interesting places. 

You can start from Parc Monceau, which is probably one of the fanciest parks of the city: its weeping willows and the colors mixing in the water reflection will for sure remind you of Monet’s paintings. In fact, this is where Monet got inspiration for his paintings.

If you are nearby on a Saturday, you can go to the fully stocked biological market of Batignolle Batignolle (96 bis rue Lemercier 75017, Paris Métro 13 Brochant) to buy croissants, fruit and delicious natural jam to eat with the very typical baguette. Una “déjeneur sur l’herbe” is certainly the best way to enjoy an amazing day at the park.

A nice walk will lead you to discover the most interesting places: here you can find a very special rue. The passage Geoffroy-Didelot, created in the 1843, is a small coloured street, that preserves the characteristic of an out-of-time village, where you can happily discover how the artists of the Atellier du Passage enjoyed painting the faces of shopkeepers and old inhabitants of the village. 

Not too far, just out of the Passage, you can have a look at the famous Hébertot, previously known as “Theatre des Arts”, a fascinating corner of art and culture, still living on since 1830.

Do you love shopping? In that case you should check out The Rue des Dames, the Rue Legendre, the Rue de Levis, The Place du Docteur Félix Lobligeois and the Square de Batignolles:  here you can find hipster and peculiar shops among informal restaurants and café serving food from all over the word. 

If you want high-level cuisine at affordable prices, try La Fabrique de Bouchons (17 Rue Brochant, 75017 Paris), a small restaurant founded in an old cork factory.  A seasonal, creative and of course, delicious cuisine.