By Kayla Webb
At the end of a sprawling green lawn edged with blossoming trees is a tower of macarons stacked to a perfect point. Oh wait, no, that’s the Eiffel Tower. In my dreams Paris’s roads are paved with macarons, the Eiffel Tower is constructed out of macarons, coats are lined with macarons and sold in fancy shops, and I eat my way to bliss.
Paris, France: the centre of culture, cuisine, and sidewalk cafés displaying fluffy North African couscous, sizzling steak frites with international spices, and sparkling champagne in slim flute glasses. And not to mention it’s the home to the dreamy macaron (two meringue cookies sandwiched together with filling in the middle). If you’re seeking decadence presented as excellence, Paris is a must. As one of the most visited cities in the world with romance aplenty and iconic must-sees, Paris makes for endless days of beauty and fun. However if you find a free day in your itinerary after storming the Louvre, Orsay, or Georges Pompidou, consider a relaxing day spent with a book and a yummy Parisian treat. What better way to get a true feel for Paris than sitting in the middle of the hustle and bustle, snacking on Paris’s best sweets, and turning the pages of some of the best stories with Parisian backdrops. Didn’t bring a book? Not an issue, make sure to stop by Shakespeare & Co, a historical English-language bookstore, and pick up some recommended reads.
Le Livre: The Suitors by Cecile David-Weill
If you’re a creature of comfort and the finer commodities in life, Ladurée, one of the most well-known pastry shops in Paris, is an excellent place to eat perfectly pink macaron after perfectly pink macaron all while couched in an ambiance of grandeur: gold furnishings, high-back bolstered chairs, and twinkling elegant chandeliers. After opening its doors in 1862, Ladurée and its world renowned macarons have been featured in films (Marie Antoinette), television series (Gossip Girl), and international food fantasies. Whether you’re seeking a pleasurable afternoon or a late night splurge, Ladurée is a classic setting to try 18 different flavors of macarons while flipping through the pages of The Suitors (a must-read for anyone planning on spending hours at Ladurée and soaking up the codes, manners, and morals of French high society).
Pâtisserie: Pierre Hermé
Le Livre: My Life in France by Julia Child
Macarons, macarons, and more macarons please! You’re in Paris, the land of tiny little desserts that are almost too perfect to eat (almost!), so why not visit all of the existing macaron bakeries? Your next stop? Pierre Hermé, a popular pastry spot amongst locals and tourists alike. Pierre Hermé specializes in normal-sized and giant-sized macarons as well as many classic and unique flavors. If you’re not a macaron fan, Pierre Hermé also offers endless variations of chocolate and other desserts that are little works of art. But the pastry-reverie doesn’t have to stop there, consider snacking on a Pierre Hermé sweet while finishing a couple of chapters of Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France, that may make your mouth water and tummy rumble as she recounts her attempts to navigate France and French cooking.
Pâtisserie: Sadaharu Aoki
Le Livre: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
While there may be no such thing as too many macarons, you may want to veer off from the traditional selection of macaron flavors. Sadaharu Aoki uses honed French technique to include beloved Japanese ingredients within rows and rows of flavor-packed macarons, pastries, and the exclusive chocoron to create the ultimate enchantment for your tastebuds. If you’re matcha’s number one fan, Sadaharu Aoki is an absolute go-to while in Paris as it specializes in a variety of matcha delights like the matcha croissant, matcha macaron, matcha tart, bamboo (green tea and chocolate cake), and chou mâcha. Other must-tries include the sesame éclair, citron praliné, and many one-of-a-kind flavored macarons including earl grey, wasabi, yuzu, hibiscus, and hojicha (roasted green tea). As you lounge around this besotting bakery, make sure you have a copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog handy. It’s the story of a young French girl, a philosophical French woman, and a Japanese businessman and the friendship between the three; the perfect novel for this blended bakery of prominent international flavors and techniques.
Le Livre: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Or maybe you lost your sweet tooth in your millionth chocolate concoction. Don’t feel bad, just take a break and nibble on France’s famous le pain. Your first stop? Poilâne, a renowned bakery with noteworthy miche (a round sourdough bread). Opened in 1932, Poilâne has since expanded to include rye bread, raisin bread, nut bread, shortbread cookies, and an assortment of other pastries on its list of goodies to freshly make every morning. Bonus: Poilâne is located a couple of blocks from the Luxembourg Gardens, so consider breaking your loaf of warm bread surrounded by history, gorgeous architecture, and manicured bright flowers. As you picnic, grab your copy of A Moveable Feast and disappear into dazzling 1920s Paris (a must-read if you enjoy memoirs of literary greats, memoirs that explore foreign lands, or memoirs emphasizing the glory of times past).
Pâtisserie: Du Pain et des Idées
Le Livre: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Craving more bread? (me always) Du Pain et des Idées is one of the best bakeries in Paris. Established by baker, Chistophe Vasseur who believes in quality over quantity, Du Pain et des Idées offers a solid and delicious variety of breads and pastries. With traditional French baguettes, tarts, escargot, and brioche, you won’t be able to visit just any bakery on the street ever again. Seriously, this bakery is so good you’re going to want to read the entirety (all 1,200 pages!!) of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables as you wait for the next batch of freshly baked goodies to warm up your already full tummy.
No matter where you go, how many macarons you eat, or what you read, Paris is sure to be a treat!
About the Author: Kayla Webb is an English Literature and Creative Writing major at Seattle Pacific University. After traveling abroad to Spain and Morocco as a freshmen in college, she hasn’t been able to stop dreaming about faraway places and planning a million possible trips around the world. When she’s not in California, she lives as a blanket burrito in Seattle, creates Instagram captions for the pictures she would take in faraway places, and befriends dogs.