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Nov 6, 2013 09:13 PM

Food shopping for Christmas day on Rue Saint-Antoine?

We are staying in an apartment on Impasse Guéménée, off Rue Saint-Antoine in the 4th (near Place des Vosges), from 21-27 December. We plan to cook a Christmas lunch in the apartment.

From my understanding, Rue Saint-Antoine is quite sufficient when it comes to food shopping - ie boucherie, boulangerie, poissonnerie, pâtisserie etc. and of course there is a Monoprix if all else fails. Are these shops of good quality and price or is there somewhere else I should go nearby?

How will I go shopping for Christmas Day - should this be done Christmas Eve or before, and what time will shops close on Christmas Eve if they are open?

Finally, I am horribly bad at French, and most languages really. I got by purchasing a few things at Bastille markets a couple of years ago. will the language barrier be worse in these shops or can I expect them to speak English?

Also, things like a buche noel - should I order this in advance from somewhere or will I be able to pick it up easily, and when should I get it (how well do they keep?).

I'm so excited about Christmas in Paris! And it will be the first Christmas I cook so there is that added degree of nervousness and excitement.

Thanks all in advance!

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  1. I very much like a number of these specialists. They are maybe a little more pricy, not too much. The narrow cheese place is excellent. The people running Cave St Antoine a few years ago were very helpful too. Also, they are used to non-French speakers, if not able to speak English.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Busk

      Thanks so much Busk! And that's great to hear those unable to speak English will be able to understand my pointing and attempt to remember food names and french numbers!

    2. Usually, the normal closing day for most shops and street markets is Monday. Yet last year when Christmas Eve fell on a Monday, the rues commerçantes/ market streets were open until 3pm or so and doing a roaring trade. I suspect (but not sure) some shops on the rue St Antoine will be open on Monday 23 Dec and on Christmas Eve this year as well. To play it safe, I'd confine all my shopping on Sun, Mon, and Tue to the morning. The Marché Bastille is normally open on Thu and Sun mornings but maybe, just maybe some stalls might be open on Christmas Eve morning this year. If not, the very good non-hassle street market Marché Popincourt on the boulevard Richard Lenoir between the rues Oberkampf and J-P Timbaud is the area's usual Tue morning market... a bit of a walk but just a short ride on the #96 bus from the odd-numbered side of the rue Turenne @ rue Francs Bourgeois to the Oberkampf-Richard Lenoir stop on the rue Oberkampf at the beginning of the market and return from the Jean-Pierre Timbaud - Richard Lenoir stop on rue J-P Timbaud on the other end of the market to the Place des Vosges stop on rue Turenne.

      Given what a cosmopolitan city Paris is, I don't see any problem playing charades with any shopkeeper or stallholder or using a pen and pad to communicate provided that you say "bonjour, monsieur.... désolé, je parle pas français" (no need for the "ne" in spoken french) at the beginning and "merci, monsieur" at the end and smile with both your mouth and your eyes (the French often complain about Americans' dead eyes and sometimes take it as rudeness).

      Bûche de noël. You can get frozen ones for under 5 € at supermarkets or artsy master-pâtissier varieties for 40 € to 150 € (and if you can figure out any connection between a log and the top-end pâtissiers' "bûche", you've probably been sampling illegal substances). Anyway, there are at least half a dozen bakeries in a 10-min walking radius of your apartment so you can make a circuit to find one that appeals and fits your budget. Increasingly, bakeries are taking orders online so in the beginning of December you can also google all the nearby ones to see if they have an online option for ordering in advance and for pick-up at the shop on Sunday, Monday, or Christmas Eve. Hours will vary so also look for "horaires exceptionnels" to find out when exactly they are open 21-24 Dec. For typical trad but not exceptional bûches, Miss Manon on the rue St Antoine. There's also a sweet little bakery on the rue St Paul @ rue Charlemagne. For more upmarket varieties, Dalloyau on the boulevard Beaumarchais @ place Bastille, Gerard Mulot on the rue du Pas de la Mule @ rue des Tournelles, and Pain du Sucre on the rue Rambuteau @ rue du Temple. I wouldn't go out looking for one on Christmas Eve (too late) but try on the Sat before.

      Oysters are very traditional for Christmas Eve. You must put in an order as soon as you can for pick up on 24 Dec. If you specify "huîtres écaillées" (use pad to write down and show) the fishmonger will prepare a platter of shucked oysters for pick-up. I'm not familiar with any trad poissonnerie/ fishmonger in your area but the Comptoir des Mers on the rue Saint-Antoine @ rue Turenne does have a raw bar inside for takeaway. Again, order in advance and make sure you know their hours on Christmas Eve. Sometimes they give you a "creneau"/ time slot for picking up your order.

      17 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        Wow Parnassien, thank you so much for your detailed response and valuable information. Greatly appreciated!!

        1. re: keedm002

          Parnassian has given you some excellent recommendations for that neighborhood. If you like oysters and can afford to splurge, ask (ahead of time!) for the Gillardeau oysters at the Comptoir des Mers. They cost twice as much as all but a few others (e.g., Omaha Beach oysters) but also have more meat for the same size as the cheaper ones. These are both sweet and briny, a perfect balance to my personal taste.

          I don't know about the Comptoir, but some fishmongers require you to bring your own platter if you want shucked oysters. I should add that you only want to do this on the day you are going to eat them, and as close as you can to the meal.

          Bakeries: Miss Manon is definitely "not exceptional." Unfortunately, the former sweet little bakery on the rue St. Paul @rue Charlemagne is now part of a chain. Not bad, but also not exceptional.

          I have to admit that I have become partial to the designer bûches from places (near you) like the Lenôtre.branch. More filling, less cake. Chocolate mousse and raspberry - mmm. Also order ahead.

          Cheese: The best place I know in the area is a bit further a walk. On the Île St. Louis is the Ferme St. Aubin.

          1. re: RandyB

            Thanks so much Randy for your assistance!

            Sounds like we will have to experiment with a few bakeries - although I am sure all are far superior to what we are used to in any case!

            I love to walk around Île St. Louis so we will perhaps check out the cheese shop (and get some ice cream to take back to the apartment from Berthillon, of course).

            1. re: RandyB

              "some fishmongers require you to bring your own platter if you want shucked oysters."
              My guy now stocks those styrofoam platters and I no longer have to drop mine off.

              1. re: RandyB

                I guess I am geographically challenged. For superior oysters I should have written Utah Beach. Not Omaha Beach. Nebraska doesn't have nearly as good oysters as Salt Lake City. Everyone knows that.

                1. re: RandyB

                  It could only be Utah Beach. Those in the know (or in the like) had already rectified. Fret not.

                2. re: RandyB

                  Actually, for awesome cheese, there is now a Dubois on faubourg Saint Antoine. They usually have truffled Vacherin/Mont d'Or for christmas, it is a must.

                  1. re: souphie

                    Speaking of Dubois, I realized that the branch on the 17th, rue de Tocqueville, has the most fantastic cheese preparation I've ever known - coulommiers aux noix - which the Maubert branch prepares quite differently, and not quite as well IMO.

                    The walnuts are chopped and mixed with mascarpone before being sandwiched between the two halves of coulommiers. At Maubert, they just put the unchopped walnuts between the cheese halves, which is good but not so good.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      Pti, I'm curious about the relationship between Martine Dubois on the rue de Tocqueville and Laurent Dubois in the 5th, 15th and now 4th. Just a shared very common surname ? Or a shared ownership ?

                      1. re: Parnassien

                        I think they're related in some way. Cousins, siblings, father-daughter, I don't remember.

                      2. re: Ptipois

                        Last November I got the most divine Camembert stuffed with Calvados-soaked apples at the Maubert location.

                        I can see how the chopped walnuts would be more appealing. Were they toasted first?

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          So how do you ever know which one to go to? The Laurent Dubois website is truly awful. It's slow, hard to navigate, and gives ambiguous information.

                          Contrast the Alléosse website, for efficiency, clarity, and useful information. I think it looks better, too.

                          Nonetheless, it is the cheese that counts. So before I return to the US in a few weeks, I'll need to visit Alléosse for the Mont d'Or-like Cabri Ariègois (chèvre) and now Dubois for that truffled Mont d'Or. That is, if I can figure out where they have it on any given day. I guess I'll have to phone each shop. I certainly wouldn't be foolish enough to email a French store.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            Today's report:
                            I do not know about the Dubois et Fils in the 17th. Today I went to the Laurent Dubois on rue St. Antoine. They had the coulommiers aux noix with mascarpone.

                          2. re: souphie

                            Ooooooh! You're killing me, souphie!

                            1. re: souphie

                              I don't see any listing for Dubois on fbg St. Antoine. Did you mean the Laurent Dubois near the St. Paul metro at 97 rue St. Antoine?

                              1. re: RandyB

                                More on this store in the Marais and the brie aux noix here:

                        2. re: Parnassien

                          I happenedpen the oysters to call comptoir des mers yesterday to place an order. Indeed, they will oysters. In fact, they asked me if I wanted them ouvertes ou non-ouvertes.

                        3. Cheese can be bought a day or two ahead and one of the best little known shops in Paris is on Rue St Antoine close the St Paul Metro. Trotte is a tiny shop but the cheeses are superb particularly the 36 month Conte and the St Marcellin.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jock

                            I believe the Trotte spot is now under new management but also highly regarded...

                            1. re: Gman

                              Thanks jock and gman - I will be sure to star it on my google map! Your help is greatly appreciated!

                              1. re: keedm002

                                Trotte's sign is still up, but it's a Laurent Dubois shop, now. The cheese is even better, though it's lost that old ambiance.

                                Dalloyau and Le Notre are near Bastille, and ususally have very "designer" buches. It's getting harder to find the traditional sponge roll versions. Mulot has individual serving sizes, if you want to try different flavors.