Be Happy–Eat Chocolate!
One of the best things about Paris is, of course, chocolate. What better way to learn (and taste) the different types of Parisian chocolate than a tour? Ours, sponsored by a company called “Paris Walks” and let by an American expatriate name Richelle did just that–and more.
First was a visit to a patisserie, where we sampled scrumptious chocolate eclairs and the out-of-this-world opera pastries pictured above. Chocolate, buttercream, sponge cake, and vanilla all stacked up for a decadent, satisfying whole. Richelle also took the time to point out some of the more curious aspects of the neighborhoods in which we passed–Moliere’s birthplace (and later, his statue); a pharmacy that once sold invisible ink used by one of Marie Antoinette’s lovers to send her discreet notes (the advertisement that the pharmacy carried such ink is still visible on the building’s facade); fragments of the nearly thousand-year-old wall erected to protect Paris from the English; and a trip through the Vero-Dodat, one of Paris’ last remaining arcade (covered) passageways. Our minds were nurtured as much as our bellies.
All bets were off, though, when we visited three superb chocolate boutiques: the first was Cote de France, wherein we sampled dark and milk chocolate ganaches and pralines. We were taught the proper way to sample a real piece of chocolate (bite into it once, feel the snap, and let it melt in your mouth). We were treated to different, surprising flavors including hazelnut and ginger. The second boutique was Michel Cluziel, where we sampled bits of dark and milk, the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life, and a praline spread described as “Nutella without the palm oil.” A jar of the spread somehow found its way into our suitcase.
The final stop was a chocolatier appropriately named Jean-Paul Hevin, who treated us to a variety of samples including raspberry chocolates and even salted caramel macaroons. At this point my amygdala and my taste buds were in overload as Richelle bid us adieu.
Stumbling back out into the sun, we wandered up and down rue Saint Honore, blissfully reeling from our chocolate high. Why would you need anything else?