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Paris, anyone?

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My husband and I will be in Paris in September and, don't ask me why, but I want to try a great traditional steak frite but not spend a fortune. Any suggestions? Also, is French bread all it's cracked up to be? Where should I go to try the best? Any suggestions for out-of-the-way great restaurants would be greatly appreciated. What about chocolate? Any suggestions for great chocolate shops? I'd like to bring some home but could easily get overwhelmed by all the shops I have read about. Is the Berthillon ice cream worth waiting in line for? Thanks for the help.

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  1. About Bertillon: It was Easter week and my husband and I were in Paris, so we decided to grab a cab and go for ice cream. It was after dinner, so neither we nor the cabbie were sure we'd get there before they closed. We didn't make it, but the cabbie said he knew of another shop just as good.."What's it called?", we asked. "Hagen Dazs", he said. Needless to say we all got a big laugh out of that one. Maybe there's a grain of truth in it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Maria Eng

      I thought Bethillon's ice cream was quite good, and worth a stop. We shared two three-scoop servings (scoops aren't real big), one glace (ice cream), one sorbets. Chocolate was intensely chocolate, caramel had a nice bitter edge, and gingerbread was nicely spiced. Lime, apricot, and cassis sorbets were intensely flavored and not oversweet. There are several shops on the Ile St-Louis that sell Berthillon ice cream, so if the place itself is too busy, walk around a little and you'll find some (don't know if they'll have all the flavors, though). Also on rue St-Louis en l'Ile, west of Berthillon, is a charming and tiny shop called L'Epicerie, which is stacked floor-to-ceiling with their own confitures in interesting flavors/combinations, vinegars, olive oils, mustards, etc. Very good stuff, beautifully packaged, and great for souvenirs and gifts. Not super pricy.

      You can definitely get lousy bread in Paris, especially baguettes; you can also get really good bread. Can't advise where to hunt for baguettes, but the most renowned bread in Paris is pane Poilane, which is slightly dense, part whole wheat, baked in round loaves, and somewhat pricy. It can be bought around town at gourmet shops and at Poilane itself.

      1. re: Caitlin

        There is a candy shop that sells Berthillon by the scoop and by the 1/2 or whole liter on the Champs-Elysees, on the east side just north of Rue de Berri. It is open until 10 pm.

        My favorite flavors are fraises de bois (worth the extra 2 francs for an incredible strawberry flavor) and coconut (both sorbets). Rum raisin (aka creole) ice cream is also very good -- I wouldn't drive after having a pint of it! My husband swears by the chocolate ice cream.

        1. re: Sirina
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          Heather Krupa

          We just returned from Paris and I had to try the Berthillon ice cream after all. We didn't experience any line at the shop itself. The scoops are very small by American standards, about the size of a golf ball. I tried the coconut and the chocolate. It cost 19 ff for a 2-scoop cone. Both were intensely flavored and wonderful. We found a bar/cafe along the Rue de Rivoli that advertised Berthillon so we tried it. They offered a 2-scoop cone for 26 ff and the scoops were normal-sized. The coffee ice cream there was just perfect. Not too sweet and not bitter, just intensely coffee flavored. Definitely a step above Hagen Daz if you ask me.

          1. re: Heather Krupa

            Yes, what makes Berthillon ice creams and sorbets so good is that intense flavors are the name of the game, and the ice cream's not so rich that it detracts from the flavor. The flavors have dimension, too, like the coffee you mention and the caramel, which is not overly sweet and has a slight bitter edge that's really hard to find in American caramel anything.

    2. d
      David Feldman

      I found Patricia Well's guide to be extremely good re: bakeries, both patisseries and boulangeries.

      1. Was just in Paris had very good steak frites at a cafe in the Marais "Les Philosophes" 28 Rue Vielle- Du Temple, Metro St. Paul. A place that serves high quality provence cuisine in the 8th Arrondissement is "Le Bistro de L'Olivier" 13 Rue Quentin Bauchart Phone# 01 47 20 17 00,good fixed price menu also.Berthillon is very good,you don't have to wait on line.I love the apple turnovers at Poilane.Wine is cheaper than soda there. I like to drink Chinon or Pouilly Fume.

        1. It almost pains me to tell anyone about this place, but I can whole-heartedly recommend a chocolate shop to you. I used to think that this place was a secret, but after a small shop-keeper in Australia mentioned it to me and I saw her hyper-modern Flash-enabled website, I am beginning to wonder.

          The name is La Charlotte de l'Isle, and it is actually a cross between a Salon de The/Chocolate Store/Marrionnette shop.

          Located on the Ile St. Louis, just a few hundred meters from the emminently worthwhile Berthillon ice cream, even by French standards, it is an exceedingly small store. Don't be surprised if you cannot get a table for a period of time -- once you are in, you won't want to leave.

          I don't have the time to describe the store in more detail. Just go. Try the cakes, try the chocolates -- but do not leave without ordering the chocolat chaud (hot chocolate). Served in portions that are literally smaller than shot glasses, this is (to borrow a Cadbury's term) the "Intense Chocolate Hit" you have been waiting for your whole life. A few glasses of this, and I begin to feel like I actually am a piece of chocolate.

          Don't miss visiting this place.

          Link: http://www.la-charlotte.fr/

          1. For a very good traditional steak frites, try the Brasserie Stella in the 16th. It is on the Avenue Victor Hugo in the 16th, just below the circle V. Hugo. There is an interesting chocolate shop diagonally across the avenue from there. I do not know the name. Throughout the 16th there are many bakeries that have wonderful bread. Follow the housewives in the morning near the Stella. Have fun exploring.

            1. "Is the Berthillon ice cream worth waiting in line for?"

              Yes, and the lines aren't that long.