Greetings from Paris on Easter weekend, where chocolate, always a presence in Paris, is everywhere.
The most popular form, naturellement, is the egg. Maître chocolatiers display dark filigreed orbs nearly a meter tall—impossibly delicate, wonderful to look at, and with aromas that make you swoon.
Smaller, but still impressively large and fragile, are smooth oval sillouhettes wrapped in pastel-colored foil. Miniature versions, filled with chopped hazelnuts, nestle in beribboned cellophane bags.
Barnyard scenarios, tout en chocolat, are designed for the younger set: proud mother hens with sculpted breast feathers and scalloped combs; wide-eyed, open-beaked chicks; bushy-tailed squirrels nibbling on chocolate acorns; bunnies with tall, slender ears and faraway looks.
Even a mass market bakery chain has a hand in the celebration: stopping for a croissant at the train station this morning, I saw a brioche in the form of a rabbit, its ears and feet dipped in milk chocolate.
Easter in Paris is a chocolate-lovers’ holiday!
Just when we thought master chocolatiers (Jean Paul Hévin, Jean Charles Rocheaux, Franck Kestener, Jacques Génin) had had the last words about fine chocolate in Paris, Ladurée has entered the fray.
The renowned pâtisserie, known for its macarons, has opened Les Marquis de Ladurée, near the Tuilerie Gardens, to complement their pastries and round out their chocolate offerings.
The shop is a study in opulence, with intricately moulded ceilings, a crystal chandelier, pressed tin walls and exquisite displays. Mirrored cases illuminate towers of chocolate macarons and eclairs sprinkled with gold leaf.
Elegant lamps define perfect stacks of exotic ganaches, precisely arranged rows of truffles, and subtly perfumed cameos that bear the marquis’ likeness.
Chestnut, verveine, rose, Manjari grand cru…these aromes are just the beginning. If you are a Ladurée fan, or interested in the delicate pleasures of fine chocolate, this boutique is for you.
14 rue de Castiglione, 1st, Métro: Tuileries
If you saw the film “Kings of Pastry,” you’ll want to visit Franck Kestener’s new chocolate shop. Kestener became a MOF (a prestigious title certifying that he is one of the best pastry chefs in France) at age 27. Before that, he worked as a pastry chef/chocolatier for Jacques Chirac.
Kestener’s new shop near the Luxembourg Gardens contains chocolate in many forms: filled and unfilled bars, heavenly ganaches and pralines, delicious macaroons – and a surprising cannelé.
The traditional cannelé is a molded, rum-laced cake with a custard center and carmelized outside. Kestener’s version, which he developed for MOF competition, replaces the custard and cake with a dense guimauve, or marshmallow, in intense flavors – raspberry, porcini mushroom, and Japanese citrus.
Dark chocolate enrobes each wonderful piece.