Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King

40 In France: Paris (3rd in a series)

posted by in Food Tripping

Cafés for the coffee purist, witnessing the Eiffel Tower’s transformation, and my favorite shops.
The last Paris installment.

Up next: Lyon, France.

Paris – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

LyonPart 1, Part 2

Aix en Provence - here

Marseille - here

In Paris, cafés for the coffee purist.
There are two constants when I visit a new city: go to a market, and seek out a specialty coffee shop. Paris is notorious for serving what some people describe as “swill” served in the regular cafés, an afterthought meant to accompany a cigarette. Thankfully, I’ve never had a really bad cup in Paris, or all of France, come to think of it. Still, I’m excited to visit two of the specialty cafés that are part of Paris’ burgeoning third wave coffee culture. (Note: a detailed explanation about third wave coffee here).

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La Caféothèque is hidden in the Marais just across the river from the Île Saint-Louis. Its name means “the coffee library” and the people here are serious about what they do. Sourcing the world’s finest beans by trading directly with small plantations is pride of place here, as is the massive yellow roaster in front. The café uses the famed La Marzocco espresso machine from Florence to brew the vast selection of beans behind the counter.

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There’s no menu but they enthusiastically push the coffee of the day. When I’m here, it’s the Finca Herbazu from Costa Rica. I order it and a latte for my Bin, who drinks coffee occasionally to keep me company.

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La Caféothèque is huge with several rooms, and sofas for lounging while sipping. The mid-afternoon light dapples the low tables and cushions, a chiaroscuro of sorts that makes for dramatic shots. Our coffee arrives; I’m amused by the Post-It listing our orders and am impressed by the addition of two nuggets of chocolate from master chocolatier Michel Cluizel. It makes for a nice chaser especially since a (coffee) mocha is unheard of in France.

I have an allongé, my coffee of choice in this country because I take my coffee black. Without getting into technicalities, it’s also called a lungo. The Finca Herbazu produces a clean cup with only slight acidity and a somewhat sweetish finish. Can’t complain either about my Bin’s latte, it’s creamy throughout and the art atop is pure whimsy.

Ten Belles

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Over in the 10th arrondissement, a stone’s throw from Canal Saint-Martin, is Ten Belles. Unlike La Caféothèque, it’s narrow and I almost miss it if not for the blackboard outside proclaiming (in English, at that) that “Drinking good coffee is damn sexy.” Damn right!

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These chalkboard declarations are a common theme in the store apparently. Once inside, a soundtrack courtesy of Dr. Dre pumps through the room, and scribbles on another blackboard greet him a happy birthday. Standard orders given – allongé for the madame, latte for the monsieur – and what is the best financier I’ve ever had.

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Apparently Ten Belles takes its food as seriously as it does its brew. Their pastry chef is English and worked in venerable London establishments. The financier, gosh how I wish I order more, is moist and dense; its crumb suffused with orange, hides caches of crumbled pistachio rounded out with breaths of almond essence.

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On our way out, I guffaw at the sticker stuck on one of the coffee bins.

The Eiffel Tower: from dusk to dark.
During our stay in Paris, my Bin and I are enchanted with Eiffel, as we start calling it. It peeks unexpectedly from around street corners, looms in full view in certain parks, and on our last day in the city, we gaze at it for hours, transfixed, even though we see it daily, constantly. I think that this icon imprints itself uniquely on everyone who visits Paris.


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4.56 pm: Eiffel viewed from a river cruise we take on the Seine. Can you spot the bird in the photo?

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6.03 pm: Eiffel’s final blaze of glory before darkness descends.

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6.37 pm: Eiffel clutched in the deep blue of an evening emerging.

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7.19 pm: A gem blazing brilliance on a backdrop of black.

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7.00 pm : Every hour on the hour from dusk until 1 am, Eiffel puts on a minute-long light show. 20,000 lightbulbs shimmering excitedly, pulses of magical, scintillating splendor; or as Paris-based English author Stephen Clarke describes, “…sparkles with unfailing regularity like an explosion in a diamond factory.”

Shops for food lovers

Sure, there’s the Galleries Lafayette, La Grande Épicerie de Paris, and Fauchon, but if you’re as serious about baking as I am, I recommend these two shops to fulfill your needs.
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G. Detou, a French play on words: ‘J. Detou’ meaning “I have everything”. An exhaustive supply of baking ingredients for the baker: high end European chocolate in slabs, pearls, and nibs, dragées, praline pastes, sugars in every form…I can go on. The shop really does have everything.

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La Vaissellerie
A cramped but super affordable place stocking everything for the food-styling-obsessed like me. I adore their selection of dessert spoons, egg cups, and items that fit into the “didn’t know I needed it until I saw it” category.

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Terrific shopping in here too.

Some last tasty tidbits before leaving Paris

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Crepes are street food in Paris. Slathered in Nutella, they’re the best.

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Apparently, the French are bonkers for burgers. More on this in my Lyon installment. For now, I love the pronouncement: L’Atelier du hamburger (!)

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Because no trip to Paris is complete without a visit to Ladurée, for breakfast this time. Naturally, I’m in love with those cloth covers emblazoned with the letter “L”, no need to tell you why.

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Eggs Benedict, Ladurée style, the last thing I eat before leaving Paris.

Next week: Lyon, France.


Addresses of establishments mentioned in this post:

La Caféothèque
52 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 4th, +33 1 5301 8384, Métro: Pont Marie

Ten Belles
10 rue de la Grange aux Belles 75010 Paris
Open: Tue-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat & Sun, 9am-7pm. Metro: Colonel Fabien/ Jacques Bonsergent

G. Detou
58 rue Tiquetonne (2nd arrondissement)
Tél: 01 42 36 54 67

La Vaissellerie
Various branches city-wide.

Le Printemps


8 Responses to “40 In France: Paris (3rd in a series)”

  • All the photos are amazing, but that last one of the eggs benedict… jaw literally dropped.


  • Ah, Ten Belles…just around where we usually stay in the area, along the quay. Noisette!

    Il try Cafeotheque next time…


  • From one black coffee drinker to another: Sugary coffee is for babies ! :)


  • More, please!

    By the way, I noticed that you seem to be into orange flavor infused into your food lately – first the Mauna, now the financier at Ten Belles. :)


    Lori Reply:

    I know, right? I seem to be going through some citrus phase.


  • Your photos and writing transport me EVERY time. How do you do it???


    Lori Reply:

    Truly appreciate your comment, bp!


  • Ah, you’ve discovered G. Detou. I love the place so much I go back to Paris every year just to fill
    my luggage with the goodies there. This time, I also got myself some foie gras, which can be consumed up to 2017, according to the bottle. It lasted in my fridge for two days. :)


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