Paris is ugly.
Sure it has the charm of Eiffel Tower and the history tucked away in the Louvre. It has the churches like Notre Dame and Sainte- Chapelle. But Paris also holds a kind of chaos that you don’t see in other big cities. Everyone is in a rush, there is trash along every street and the smog from the non-stop traffic has to be scrubbed off your face at the end of the day.
Any maybe that’s why I hardly took any photos of Paris.
Instead I spent my time bouncing from one stationary shop to another followed by just about every kitchen supply/bake shop that ever was.
I stayed a simple hotel in the Saint-George’s neighborhood in the 9th arrondissement. Hotel France Albion. Just out of the hustle and bustle of the touristy area, but not quite out in the suburbs either. I was located in the middle of two metro stops which meant that hopping off/on public transportation was a breeze (although I didn’t figure out/make use of the bus system until my last full day and that would’ve made it even easier). The room was very small, but comfortable and the front desk staff were friendly and helpful. They even held my macarons for me for two days in their fridge since my room didn’t have one. They said they weren’t supposed too, but the manager was out for the weekend, and they couldn’t let my macarons be wasted.
I had an inside room, meaning I really didn’t have a view other than other peoples windows. But I did spy this little gem enjoying a warm afternoon with the window open.
Since I’ve done the major tourist sites more than once, I wasn’t set on seeing them again. I wanted to explore the smaller side streets, the small shops and markets, and what else I could stumble upon.
Since I took a class at La Cuisine once before, and had a blast, I decided to take another class with them again. But three years ago, when I took my first class there, I started following them on instagram as well. Via their instagram I found several other locations to visit, including Boneshaker, a relatively new doughnut shop that regularly sells out — yes, they are that good.
One of the other delightful shops I visited was L’Ecritoire a little stationary/paper/pen shop that was down a maze of pedestrian streets and alleys. They were thrilled to find that I had found them via instagram and took down my name (wtf, where is the follow back?!). The shopkeeper was so/so with her English (but better than my non-existent French) and did her best to explain that all of their stuff was locally made in France and by small family run businesses. It was just so cute!
But the main highlight of my stay in Paris was by far my macaron class. We started by making three types of ganache: vanilla, chocolate mint and pistachio. Chef Segolene was great at explaining how we could easily make other flavors at home (I want to try lavender) as the flavor comes only from the filling, not the little cookies/meringues. With the ganache set aside, she walked us through step by step to make Italian meringue for the cookies. You can use the French version, but they are harder to work with and make a smooth cookie. So all of what you see in bakeries is done the Italian way. There were eight of us in class, working in pairs, yet we each got a chance to mix, and to pipe the cookies onto the tray. We made so many that we didn’t get a chance to get them all in/out the oven, so the chef offered to bake them for the staff. Despite not finishing them all, we each walked out with a box of a dozen or so.