Paris Secrets: Part Three
Discover the hidden Paris with our definitive guide to the city’s best-kept secrets
WHERE TO EAT
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME
Fans of éclairs will be in heaven at L’Atelier de l’Éclair, Paris’s first shop devoted to this classic sweet pastry. In a contemporary setting, glass cabinets showcase sweet and savoury éclairs ranging in size from the slim and dainty to giant, triple-sized varieties the length of your forearm. Sweet options include classic flavours and more inventive combinations such as melon and basil or lemon meringue. For a savoury bite try the sandwich-style éclairs, filled with foie gras and fig jam, or pesto and goat’s cheese.
L’Atelier de l’Éclair, 16 Rue Bachaumont, 75002 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 42 36 40 54
Métro: Sentier, Étienne Marcel
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TOUCH OF MAGIC
Auberge Flamel, the oldest restaurant in Paris, is in a three-storey house that was built in 1407 as an inn for the poor by Nicolas Flamel, who later gained a reputation as an alchemist. Harry Potter fans will recognise the name as the discoverer of the philosopher’s stone who turned metal into gold. The traditional dark beams and brick-coloured floors are offset by chef Alan Geaam’s thrillingly contemporary cuisine. The lamb cooked for seven hours never disappoints. Lunches from €18.50, menus from €31.
Auberge Nicolas Flamel, 51 Rue de Montmorency, 75003 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 42 71 77 78
Métro: Rambuteau, Arts and Métiers
With a no-reservation policy, it’s best to arrive early at La Cantine du Troquet, a charming Basque bistro on a residential street in the 14th arrondissement. Deep-red banquettes, wooden tables and walls decked in black-and-white photos contribute to its atmospheric setting. The bistro offers no set menu as dishes change daily, but staff will explain the plats du jours written on the blackboard. Dishes are exquisitely prepared and reasonably priced – we shared plates of razor clams, aubergine caviar and house pâté before tucking into toffee-topped rice pudding and gâteau Basque.
La Cantine du Troquet, 101 Rue de l’Ouest, 75014 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 45 40 04 98
If you’re strolling along the tree-lined Bassin de la Villette (as trendy Parisians do when the weather’s fine), Le Bastringue bar and bistro makes a perfect stop for a drink or a meal. Local artistic types flock here in the evenings and on sunny Sundays for a glass of vin rouge or a good-value meal served by friendly young staff. Le Bastringue specialises in huge salads and ripe cheeses alongside classics such as confit de canard and steak tartare. Mains from €11.
Le Bastringue, 67 Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris
Métro: Riquet, Stalingrad
Tel: (Fr) 1 42 09 89 27
For more than 40 years Jim Haynes, an American expat, has been holding Sunday soirées in his Montparnasse atelier. An evening at Jim’s includes a hearty if unrefined meal and drinks (wine from a box) for €25. The gathering is usually an eccentric mix of writers, intellectuals, wannabes and travellers. The chat is always interesting and frequently other Parisian insights are revealed. To attend a soirée, you have to request an invitation and wait for Jim’s call.
Jim Haynes, Atelier A-2, 83 Rue de la Tombe Issoire, 75014 Paris
Tel: (Fr): 1 43 27 17 67
Métro: Alésia or Saint-Jacques
Not far from Boulevard Saint-Germain, Restaurant aux Charpentiers is a traditional bistro that helps to give Paris a sense of continuity with its past. Simply furnished with wooden tables and chairs on bare floorboards, it has been serving classic French bistro fare since 1856. Do expect to be treated with some indifference by the waiting staff, unless you happen to be a local. For total immersion overcome any squeamishness and go for the steak tartare. Entrée, main and a glass of wine €20.30 (Mon-Fri lunch only).
Restaurant aux Charpentiers, 10 Rue Mabillon, 75006 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 43 26 30 05
In the former Jewish quarter of the Marais, Sacha Finkelsztajn’s yellow façade is hard to miss. The interior of this little Jewish pâtisserie and traiteur is warm and homely, if a little squashed. The shelves and cabinets groan with borek stuffed with spinach latkes (similar to rösti), breads and tortes. An assistant will choose and heat your order, and then you pay the patriarch who presides over the till. The lucky ones grab a stool at a table, but leave it too late, particularly on Sundays, and you will endure a long queue.
Sacha Finkelsztajn, La Boutique Jaune, 27 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris
Tel: (Fr): 1 42 72 78 91
Métro: Saint Paul
Contributors: Zoë McIntyre, Régine Godfrey, Stephen Clarke and Paul Lamarra.
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