Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunday in Paris, Part 1

Pasteis de Nata Portuguese egg tarts Comme à Lisbonne Paris
Comme à Lisbonne: Freshly baked pasteis de nata
I've been wanting to recap and share some of our Paris highlights but I've been stuck on how to best organize all the information and eats we had. Do I share our daily walking tours or compare similar food items we had throughout the trip? I may end up doing a bit of both, but for now I will share about what we did our first Sunday in Paris.

On Sunday, the majority of shops, grocery markets, and restaurants are closed in Paris. This may be unwelcome news for those visiting Paris for only a few days. Thankfully, a few neighborhoods remain open including the lively Le Marais district, which spreads across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the Right Bank of the Seine River. You'll still find some shops closed here, but the majority of them will be open catering to the crowds of locals and tourists. It was neat walking around the narrow streets, seeing locals walking their dogs or pushing baby strollers.

A quick disclaimer before we start: my main interests when I travel are eating and walking. I don't mind walking instead of taking the metro and I often walk so I can eat more. It's a happy balance.

We started the morning from the Place de la République where our hotel was located. The République metro station is also here so it's easy to take lines 3, 5, 8, 9, or 11 to get to our starting point. Our first stop was to visit the the Marché Bastille (aka Marché Richard Lenoir), one of the largest outdoor food markets in Paris. Food markets, similar to our California farmers markets, are common throughout Paris, occurring in different neighborhoods multiple times a week. The selection and quality of foods here certainly trumped the smaller city markets like Franprix, Monoprix, and Carrefour.  Though the chain markets are convenient and widely peppered around the city, the several outdoor markets we visited had vastly more choices and quantity of fresh foods.

Marché Bastille Sunday Paris France
Marché Bastille on a rainy Sunday
I love visiting farmers markets when I travel to scope out local produce and goods. The Marché Bastille had bountiful stands for produce, meats, seafood, cheese, bread, poulet rôti, crepes, large pans of paella, and other prepared foods. I was eyeing the large cheese cases, the beautifully browned roasted chickens, and the white asparagus to name a few. While we were there it actually started raining and then hailing for short 10 minute spurts. Shopkeepers were nice as everyone huddled underneath the awnings and waited for the rain to pass. We ended up only grabbing a sandwich and a wrap to munch on since any additional groceries wouldn't keep for the time we planned to be out. But I'd highly suggest getting bread, cheese, and poulet rôti for a picnic at the nearby Place des Vosges park. The chickens were nearly sold out by the time we got to the market around 1pm so make sure to go early!

From the Bastille, we took the Rue de Rivoli to head back towards the heart of Le Marias. Along the way we stopped at a chocolate shop Maison Georges Larnicol for some macarons. The macarons were smaller here and sold by weight instead of by piece. The lady that helped select my macarons even gave me a free one whose shell was cracked and slightly crushed. What a nice gesture, especially when most other places will still sell the imperfect ones! We stopped here again later in our trip to try their kouignettes, mini kouign amanns. Retoasted, these were full of flaky and gooey goodness, though my favorite kouign amann still resides in San Francisco.

Georges Larnicol macarons Paris France
Maison Georges Larnicol: Macarons sold by weight
Our next stop was for Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts) at Comme à Lisbonne. Comme à Lisbonne is a sit-down cafe and neighboring it is a small takeaway counter selling coffee and Pasteis de Nata. When you get an egg tart, the salesperson will ask if you want cannelle as well. Originally I thought she meant a canelé pastry, which I didn't see anywhere but said "Oui!" since I do enjoy canelé. When she sprinkled cinnamon on my egg tart I just kept smiling as I tried to comprehend what just happened. I will hands down say that this egg tart was the best egg tart I have ever had. First off, the crust was extremely flaky. Some chinese egg tarts are flaky in a way that ends up making your throat dry. This egg tart was flaky in a way where the crust was sweet and had a rich caramelized butter and sugar flavor. Second, the egg custard filling was more rich and creamy than most chinese egg tarts. Instead of holding its gelatinous shape with each bite, the custard was the consistency of smooth, silky pudding. Yup, definitely my favorite. I imagine that sitting here for afternoon coffee and egg tarts would be quite a treat. I would have had another one but needed to pace myself for all the upcoming stops.
Pozzeto gelato gelateria Paris France
Pozzeto: Giandula and pistachio gelato
Next door to Comme à Lisbonne was a widely popular gelato shop Pozzeto. For a rainy day like ours, it meant we were the sole customers with undivided attention. With a small cup of giandula and pistachio gelato, we hovered near the building to enjoy our gelato as it drizzled. Rain has never stopped me from a good cup of ice cream!

This sums up about half of what we did that Sunday.  Stay tuned for the rest of our tasty stops as well as a map of our route in Part 2!


  1. wow, you totally sold me on the egg tarts. can we go to paris together someday??? i'm pretty convinced we have a similar travel style, because i want to recreate your trip exactly.

    1. Hahaha, I would love to return to Paris with an eating partner!! I think you'd totally understand, appreciate, and enjoy all the pastries more than John did. :)