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Oct 26, 2012 04:00 AM

Barthelemy-Why Go ?

OK, call me naturally thrifty. l was brought up by depression mentality parents and retired very young. As a result l always search out things related to value to dollar. The other day went to a few cheese shops, including Dubois on Place Maubert and Barthelemy on Rue Grenelle off Avenue Raspail and compared pricing.

Here are some examples:
Roquefort from small batch producers, most shops 28 to 37; Barthelemy 52/kg.
Calcbitou, most shops 7.5 to 8.50: Barthelemy 12.50
Gaugry au lait cru Epoisses, most shops 7.50 to 8.90: Bathelemy 12.90

These prices differentials were noted on virtually every cheese in the shops that were the same. l admit the condition of Barthelemy's products were excellent, but so were Dubois and some other shops.
Thus why is the vast pricing difference supported by the public. Is it the service, l think not, the people in Barthelemy were unsmiling, and dour, other shops seemed happy to see you.
Bathelemy closes from 13:30 to 16:00 so less convenient, these facts with the 40-50% price premium makes me ask the question, why go there ?

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  1. Your thinking makes sense to me. I lprefer Dubois on rue de Lourmel. The quality and selection are excellent. The people who work there are helpful almost friendly and while not cheap, the prices are more reasonable than Barthelemy. By they way, rue de Lourmel is a great food shopping street in general.

    6 Replies
    1. re: CarolVA

      Having never been to the rue de Lourmel, I'm curious what the difference is between Dubois at Place Maubert and rue de Lourmel?

      1. re: ChefJune

        Much smaller shop and closed between 13:30 and 16:00. They have far fewer items out but are in perfect shape. The employees are all a delight. It is 10 meters from the Dupleix metro. In addition Poilane has a branch 100 meters away on Bd de Grenelle

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          They are happy to provide tastes, make recommendations, bring things from the back. If you are there, try boulangerie Maeder at 18 rue de Lourmel just up the street. They are Alsatian and the bread is terrific. You will see it by the line out the door.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Have you been to this Maeder, Deluca?
            I am intrigued by Carol's mention and it sounds like a proper endeavor for your retired self.
            Admittedly, we disagree strongly about one boulangerie in particular(and that is putting it mildly), I would like your opinion and scouting, especially since it is Alsatian.
            More cheese and bread for you.
            More jealousy for myself.

            1. re: dietndesire

              Due to CarolVA's mention of a bakery l did not know and Dietndesire's interest as well, this AM on a trip to Dubois on Lourmel, l visited Maeder as well.
              This is a beautiful shop with very helpful employees.
              l admit all to be said is an opinion not a best or worst type of thing.

              In the past have found like bread from the south of France is too light for me and stuff near the German border is usually too dense, l ordered and tried their baguette tradition, baguette au cereal, bostock, pain au raisin, and kugelhopf.

              The baguette was good, not exceptional as the chew was less than l like and more crispy, the cereal was similar.
              The pain au raisin was very heavy and covered with a thick egg wash, my current favorite is Landemaine on Rue Roquette as are many of their products.
              The bostock was completely non flaky, totally different than Hermes, but was like a hockey puck of bread pudding, different but very interesting.
              The kugelhopf was perfect for me.

              Result, as l eat few sweets and the bread was not my style, l doubt l would return, but a lovely place and am glad l had the opportunity to try it

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Sorry you didn't enjoy it more. It is in my hood so it has easy access and I'm addicted to the warm céréales. I'll have to try the pain aux raisins at Landemaine.

      2. Now that is a great and useful post.
        I often wonder this very same question about so many shops, brick and mortar and on the web.
        It is mind blowing and frustrating.
        I understand paying a bit of premium for certain factors(though I rarely would pay any premium unless they are quite extreme).
        People are lazy, they don't care to go an extra two blocks.
        One place has a shiny bauble which dazzles fools while robbing them.
        Things of that nature. But sometimes you can barely find the difference even in those.
        On top of the fact that most people complain about costs and money but then spend, say, 20-50% more on exactly the same items when, at worst, a touch of effort will yield much less outlay.
        But did you have to ruin it by telling about being young and retired and with all the time you have to walk about and gain this knowledge? OK, you mentioned it at the beginning so one read the blurb already 'ruined'(which is not as bad as a ruinous ending) and still the info is very good but that does not quite cure me of my deep jealousy.

        1. The last time I bought cheese at Barthelemy the cheeses were less than perfect--slightly over ripe with a faint ammonia scent and taste. I prefer Dubois as well.

          1. Well, I've been going to the Bathelmy and His Mauriciens on the Rue Duheme for 25 years, now just the Mauriciens, but I don't find the prices outrageous and I assume it all still comes from the mothership.
            On the other hand, I more frequently go to #9 Rue du Poteau aka now Marie Quatrehomme so maybe I'm spoiled rotten.

            1. Because you live there? I remember years back walking down rue Grenelle and admiring many of the costumes in the shop windows...until I looked closer and realized that I was in the RG couture area and the outfits that I had liked were in the mid four figures. Would the lady of the house who is wearing close to 10000 euros worry about a 3 euro differential in her cheese purchase?

              And while we do use Bon Marche for some things because its stock is comprehensive and it is convenient for us, its prices in some categories are often considerably more than other sellers.

              (re cheese, besides Dubois, we still love Ferme St. Hubert on Rochechouart: excellent product, sweet service and very competitive prices.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: mangeur

                "Because you live there?"
                For sure, but on the other hand, my downstairs buddy picked up some stuff from Alleose today and it was "pas mal."
                I told him about this thread and he, being from Brooklyn, where nothing fazes you, said the moral equivalent of " Who looks?"
                Which reminds me of a psychiatric joke...........

                1. re: mangeur

                  Mangeur - totally agree. I lived on the corner of Rue du Bac and Boulevard St Germain and shopped at Barthelemy and Bon Marche regularly. If I had lived in the 5eme I would have shopped elsewhere etc etc. I think most Paris residents tend to shop locally as most areas have good options and its rare to need to travel except for a special treat, or a specialist ingredient.

                  They are both good and as DCM says product is cheese perfection. I know they specialise in Roquefort so possibly the price difference could be their product is rarer and better. They used to carry about six types at different price points so tricky to say if this is an true apples to apples comparison. My partner (a Roquefort fanatic) tells me their's was her favourite so she was happy to pay.

                  Lack of smiling staff and traditional opening times: over time they got to know us and warmed up, and we got used to the hours and found it no problem to pop down in the late afternoon - it meant the cheese was perfect for dinner.