It’s Bastille Day this Thursday, July 14, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789, a seminal point in the birth of the French republic that culimnated in the Fête de la Fédération 12 months later.
To mark the occasion, Roberta Muir offers her pick of five places food lovers should seek out next time they find themselves in the City of Light.
Paris has many beautiful public squares (place in French), but none more attractive to lovers of good food and drink than the one built around the imposing 19th century neoclassical Madeleine Church (L’glise Sainte-Marie-Madeleine).
Ringed with gorgeous, indulgent food shops, Place de la Madeleine is always my first stop in Paris, whether I want to eat, drink, or just browse.
Here are five of my must-visit stops around this elegant place.
From the humble origins of a fruit and vegetable cart in the late 1800s, grew one of the world’s most beautiful food stores. Every item looking like a work of art, pastries, chocolates, deli items and a lunch counter full of ready-to-go gourmet snacks – plus the beautiful tea and gift store across the road.
I love strolling around a good bottle shop, exploring local affordable wines and, in this case, visiting the downstairs cave to dream about grand crus I’m rarely likely to taste. When there’s a good bistro upstairs I’m even happier – the great-value €24 menu includes the likes of duck confit and pear tart.
Browse the caviars, smoked fish, vodka and beautiful accoutrements (from mother of pearl spoons to Limoges caviar capsules modelled on Russian dolls), then head up to the charming dining room and splash out on caviar or just soak up the ambience and enjoy more affordable smoked salmon, sturgeon or trout.
From the moment you open the door, there’s no mistaking what this little shop is all about – truffles, fresh and mixed into every foodstuff imaginable! Friendly staff offer a whiff of damp sea salt infused with truffles and a taste of truffle-scented nuts, and the €29 menu is a very affordable indulgence.
I adore the row upon row of black tea canisters on elegant wooden shelving, the most beautiful collection of samovars, tea pots and cups from around the world, and occasional bursts of brightly coloured tea tins. Unfortunately there’s nothing to eat here, but their other Paris outlets include restaurants and tearooms.
* Roberta Muir runs the Sydney Seafood School at the Sydney Fish Market and publishes the website Food Wine Travel, where she shares her favourite food, wine and travel discoveries. You can sign up here to receive her regular email of her top 5 favourite things.
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