Un cafe parfait

July 5, 2008 at 10:47 AM | Posted in Paris 2008, Restaurants, Wanderings | Leave a comment

I ended up spending the day wandering around two neighborhoods I hadn’t visited yet–Ile Saint-Louis and Montparnasse. Ile St-Louis was really cute and I went into lots of nice stores and galleries on the main road. I then made my way to Montparnasse, where I found (and had a late lunch in) the most picturesque cafe–Mamie Gateaux Salon de The–on the corner of R. Cherche-Midi and R. de l’Abbe Gregorie. It’s exactly what you would picture a Parisian cafe to look like–lace curtain in the window, cafe area decorated with lots of antiquey kitchen stuff, chalkboard menu–yet not kitschy or overdone, just genuinely its charming self. It’s on a quiet street, away from the crowded shopping areas, which was nice. I had a slice of smoked salmon and olive tart, and I’m definitely going back at some point for afternoon coffee and pastries (it’s only open from 11:30am to 6pm).

I couldn’t get over the number of cute little boutiques in the Montparnasse area. I must have passed 10 or 15 candy and chocolate stores today. And yes, I went into most of them. It’s just amazing to me how each store really imparts its personality into its chocolates–the store’s decor and ambiance is usually reflective of the way they make their candy, and I wouldn’t have thought that there could be so many ways to make, display, and package a product that is essentially similar across the stores. There was the minimalist shop painted in warm colors and bright lighting, and the emphasis was on the origin of the cocoa beans in each product; those candies have un-froofy shapes and were displayed geometrically. Then there was the store that felt almost bridal, and those chocolates were all made in really intricate molds and packaged like jewelry. And speaking of food as art, I went into the Gran Epicerie at Bon Marche department store (it’s like Harrod’s or Sak’s). Even though it’s totally overpriced and touristy, the food was really beautifully prepared and displayed, and I loved walking around.


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