See, I'd always thought of Paris as this impossibly romantic city where one could easily fall in love with everything around them. When I learned I was finally going to get to visit after years of thinking about what it might be like, I began to feel worried that I might face some disappointment. However, my fears were assuaged the moment my partner and I stepped foot out of the Eurostar station and took a taxi to our hotel.
Late at night, the streets were still full of people wandering around, yet it wasn't loud like New York City. It had this certain peace about it that I haven't really felt anywhere else.
After arriving at our very small but very pleasant hotel (with a GORGEOUS view), it was time to rest up for a full day ahead.
Now, I have to say this: I am fortunate to have a partner who supports my passions and also happens to be very good at reading maps and figuring out our day's activities from there. There's no possible way I would've been able to see SO MANY THINGS without his planning skills, and for that I am forever grateful.
But in Paris? Chocolate is everywhere. And I'm not talking Lindt and Godiva, I'm talking the real deal.
I started with La Maison du Chocolat, as we happened to pass by one on our way to other shops. La Maison du Chocolat is a must for me every time I visit NYC. I discovered it back in my music days when I was in town for a show and I stumbled upon the location in Rockefeller Center. In all honesty, I could probably credit this discovery with the beginning of my appreciation for fine chocolate. So of course, when presented with an opportunity to visit this gorgeous store in its city of origin, I eagerly stepped foot inside to see what their glass cases had in store for me.
I picked up a couple of macarons and several pieces of chocolate, my favorite of which was passion fruit infused and absolutely delicious (as always). This shop felt more like an upscale jewelry store than a chocolate shop. And as I would learn throughout the next two days, every chocolatier in Paris has their own really unique shop vibe.
Which brings me to Patrick Roger.
I bought several pieces and a single origin bar, and they were kind enough to offer up samples after we made a purchase. The lemon basil piece was a unique and sophisticated chocolate that fit perfectly with the shop's aesthetic. And my bar? It came in a metal tin which was perfect as I needed it to survive the journey back to the states! Seriously, the packaging was phenomenal.
Okay, let's keep going with the chocolate tour now, shall we?
The one place that many fellow chocolatiers suggested was Chapon, because they have not only a selection of chocolates but an entire chocolate mousse "bar" where you can get all kinds of chocolate mousse.
If Chapon was my least favorite of my journey, then maybe I should talk about which shop ultimately emerged at the winner....
The shop was beautiful but I was thoroughly surprised by just how much their chocolate blew me away. A nice, unexpected little joy.
When I say that this shop was exquisite, I mean it. A beautiful and inviting exterior leads you through a door into a grand interior that I'm pretty sure every sugar-holic's dreams are made of. There was a stunning amount of detail in every inch of this shop, right down to the sturdy, metallic silver decorated boxes they place your macarons in. A truly exceptional experience. And the macarons? Well, they really are as good as people say they are. Not a bump in the shells, just the right texture, all in various colors and flavors that will delight even the most cynical of souls.
They say they close at 10, but they start shutting exhibits down at 9. We got their late after having to leave a very pretentious tapas restaurant and trying to find somewhere else to get dinner (which ended up being at a very busy Japanese restaurant called Aki!). Though I've never considered myself terribly fussed with art museums, the Louvre really changed my perception of them. Full of wonder, history, and bigger than I'd ever even imagined. This -not the chocolate! - is the one thing that makes me want to return to Paris immediately.
Though our visit was short, it was indeed very productive.
And as for that fear of it not living up to my expectations? Nonsense, truly.
Paris surpassed every idea of it I'd ever had, and I cannot wait to go back and feel its magic again.