Classy in Paris, feat. Macarons

February 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm 2 comments

Since my mom was a French teacher and has been to Paris so many times, I think she would have been happy with this trip even if we’d skipped some of the major sights, but as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I wanted good photos of everything. This meant that our first stop after lunch on our classy day in Paris was the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées.

Arc de Triomphe

We popped out of the Métro at the madness at Étoile, crossed the Champs-Élysées to get photos from a few different vantage points—the photo above was taken at a red light in the middle of the Champs-Élysées—and then retreated right back underground into the Métro. Arc de Triomphe? Check.

Mom and I are quite familiar with the Paris Métro and we read French well, and as mentioned before, I really love transit systems, but the redesigned Étoile station managed to confuse us so much that we got on the RER instead of the Métro. Fortunately, I easily re-navigated us, and we were back on track without too much hassle, which was good, because our next stop was Pierre Hermé.

My love for macarons dates back to spring 2010, when my friend Christina was visiting and introduced me to the delightful cookies at Vanille at the Chicago French Market. Vanille always has a big selection, and their fillings taste great, but their cookies are kind of crumbly, something that Christina tried to explain when I tried my first bite of macaron. I didn’t fully understand until visiting her in spring 2011 and trying the macarons from a Whole Foods in the Toronto area. Those macarons got me hooked, the macarons at La Bamboche near her place in Toronto sealed the deal, and when I arrived in Europe on this trip, I had serious macaron-related goals.

I had tried (and loved) the macarons from Ladurée in London, but my research had me really excited for Pierre Hermé, which promised more unusual flavours while maintaining a high standard of traditional macaron.

Place de la Concorde

Pierre Hermé is a big deal in Paris and has several locations, but I had chosen to visit the shop at 4 rue Cambon, in the 1er arrondissement, near the Place de la Concorde (above), the Tuileries gardens, and the classy shopping of the Place Vendôme area. We weren’t quite hungry yet when we arrived, so we took a bit of a walk through the shopping district, which impressed me much more than it impressed my mom, but it wasn’t long before we were ready for our macarons break. We decided to get four macarons, and the hardest part was definitely choosing which four to try! I actually don’t remember all of the ones that we tried and I cannot easily locate my trip journal right this second, but I know that we picked a hazelnut flavour (one of my classic favourites), as well as the asparagus, because we wanted to try something unique. The odd-sounding, more savoury flavours are what set Pierre Hermé apart, even in the macaron-drenched Parisian landscape. PH rotates their flavours seasonally, and they appear to keep coming up with new and interesting concoctions.

Pierre Herme macarons

We took our macarons across the street and found some shaded chairs in the Tuileries. Unlike Hyde Park in London, there didn’t appear to be any chair monitors, collecting rental fees for using the chairs. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that Parisian gardens often feature dusty paths, instead of grass or paved walkways, and walking through the garden in flip-flops kind of turned me off to the Tuileries. The fountains were nice, but give me Chicago’s Millenium Park, Vancouver’s Stanley Park, or New York’s Central Park any day.

But back to the macarons! They were absolutely delicious and even managed to exceed my super-high expectations. The savoury flavours, like the asparagus, were so rich that even though they did taste like veggies, they still had a distinct dessert quality. I would give just about anything for PH to open a Chicago location. He already has just about as many shops in Japan as he does in France, so perhaps he will be willing to expand in the other overseas direction in the future. (Please?)

Our next stop was the Musée Rodin, and we got there by taking a nice stroll across the Seine…

Seine Walk

…and crossing on the Pont Alexandre III and walking past Les Invalides.

Pont Alexandre III and Les Invalides

On my first visit to Paris, I was beginning a Russian phase, having already taught myself the Russian alphabet and beginning to attend Russian language immersion camp in the summers. So I was very interested in the Pont Alexandre III, which was named for Tsar Alexander III and built in 1896. The gaudiness of the bridge compliments Les Invalides, the domed building which houses Napoleon’s grave. I have never been inside, and this trip was no different, but we took some photos. I was surprised at how big it is, since I had only ever driven up to it on a bus tour before.

Our last stop of the day was the Musée Rodin, where many of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures are housed. The museum is a lovely old mansion, which is a perfect setting to showcase some of his finest work, including:

The Thinker
“The Thinker”

The Gates of Hell
and “The Gates of Hell.”

We also saw “The Burghers,” “The Kiss,” and his sculpture of Victor Hugo, among many others. Unfortunately, it was at the Musée Rodin when I finally reached my limit. I can travel at an extraordinary pace for quite a while, longer than most people I know, but I am not limitless. Since I am so used to pushing through exhaustion on trips and am so determined to see everything that I can and not waste any time, my limit usually creeps up on me suddenly. I think we were standing in line for the museum when I started to feel sick, and half an hour later, somewhere between “The Burghers” and “The Kiss,” I reached my limit. Every time I have a long trip, somewhere around 3/4 of the way through, I get to a point where I want to run back home as fast as I can and hibernate for a few months. It’s because I push myself like crazy when I am traveling; I never want to miss anything, and I always say that I will sleep later, after I get home. And it always catches up with me.

The Musée Rodin didn’t really offer any options for me to curl up in a ball and go to sleep, so I settled for sitting on a bench for a few minutes and waiting for my head to stop spinning. Of course, the trapped hot air inside the stuffy old non-airconditioned house did not help, so I eventually migrated to a bench outside and managed to recharge.

Musee Rodin

It really wasn’t such a bad place to recharge.

I would have loved to eat an early meal and be in bed by 9, but that’s not a realistic wish in Paris. We did go back to the hotel and relaxed a little before having dinner at a restaurant near our hotel that featured terrible salads and a lovely house rosé wine that was cheaper than ordering water. We definitely saved the evening by swinging by our breakfast café and getting a crêpe. In fact, it was the perfect crêpe—just crispy enough on the outside, and full of gooey Nutella and banana on the inside.


Entry filed under: Europe, France, Paris, Photos. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Classy in Paris, feat. Opéra Garnier Adieu, Paris!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jack Hoyt  |  February 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Loved hearing all the details of the trip.

  • 2. Christina @ Food.Fitness.Fun.  |  February 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Mmm Macarons, looks lovely!


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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