Tag Archive | Paris

Paris

Rooftops

I had a final stop in Paris before going home.

Originally I was hoping to spend time meeting up with the teachers from BTL for drinks, getting a last chocolat chaud with Mr Frog, and maybe a drink with Manuela.

But when I sent out texts, I discovered that neither Mr Frog nor Manuela would be in Paris. And of the seven teachers that I considered to be the core of our group at BTL, two had already left Paris, two were flying to Toulouse on Friday, and I didn’t have one’s number.

D was going back to London after Rome and I panicked – how could I spend four days alone with nothing planned?

Eating out has always been a social activity for me, so it was off the list. After two and a half months of being a tourist, I didn’t want to see museums and monuments. Especially not ones I’d already seen.

I didn’t want to spend the next four days agitated, especially with one of the world’s longest flights ahead of me!

So I changed my flight home and breathed a sigh of relief. I would only be in Paris for two days now (or one and a half, if you subtract airport time).

Then I reached my hostel, on a beautiful street in the 18th at the top of a tree-lined staircase, neighboured by a brasserie and an up-market boulangerie, with a chocolaterie, a couple of bars, and several fruit shops down the road. Out the window of my dorm room was a vista of lead roofs, brown chimneys and dark windows.

I felt that familiar thrill.

Oh why had I worried?

My one and a half days ended up being plenty of time, and it was probably better that I spent them alone, as I was deep in thought and my emotions rocked in waves.

When I reached the buoyant crest, I felt that Paris had revitalised me. I had a real croissant for breakfast instead of the horrible packaged equivalents from the hostels in Italy. The round tables of brasseries spilled onto the streets, with patrons lighting cigarettes over coffee in the morning, to be replaced by wine in the
afternoon. As I walked I could smell the perfumes of pungent cheese and dark chocolate when I passed open shop doors. The market produce shined brightly, colours ripening in the sun. It all seemed so familiar to me.

Whenever the breeze rose, I felt as though I was swept into a lover’s arms and waltzed down the street. I could travel for another month. Even two! There was so much more I wanted to see!

At Place des Vosges I ate a light and sweet strawberry mille-feuille and one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in Paris (courtesy of Boulangerie St. Antoine) – no need to toasting here, as with many of Italy’s day-old paninis – the bread was crunchy and the ham, gruyere and salad so fresh that no dressing was necessary. I returned the phone that a former student, Marie Maud, had lent me when mine broke in February, and learned that she was engaged and planning to move to London. When I closed my bank account, the ease of the process made me so jubilant that I did a little dance on Boulevard Haussmann once I’d surrendered my carte-bleue.

Then my mood would start to descend. When I came upon Rue du Pot de Fer and wandered down it for the first time, I wondered how many more streets like this the city was hiding, just waiting for me to discover. I turned down Rue Moufftard and decided that I liked it even better than Rue Montorgueil, my previous market-street favourite.

Paris beckoned me. She had seduced me time and time again, and now it was my turn. She smiled coyly, flashing a bit of calf as she crossed her legs, leaving her skirts below her knee. Stay a little longer – give me a look, a smile, a touch. Pause a moment, and I’ll tell you my secrets. The leaves whispered as they rustled in the wind, and I debated whether I was leaving too soon. After nearly nine months in Paris I was still an outsider – was I walking away from my chance to get in? My chance to sample a French life?

Then I would sink into the troughs, tormented by worries about going home, and haunted by ‘what ifs’. As the afternoon crawled in, I started to feel as though I was losing a loved one and at some moments the grief was so acute that I ached to curl up and lick my wounds.

And then I would be happy again, soaring on the crest of another wave.

That day I walked around Montmartre, down to the Parc Monceau then Boulevard Haussmann, past Madeleine and Place de Concorde to the 5th and 6th arrondissements, then to Bibliothèque François Mitterrand and Parc de Bercy before heading back through Bastille, Le Marais, Les Halles and up Rue Montorgeuil and Rue Montmartre. In the evening I left for another walk around Montmartre.

That night I collapsed into bed exhausted. And I worried about my return to Australia.

When I returned from London in 2009, it took me some time to find work, and then I’d only done it with help from my mum and her contacts. I’d never imagined that I’d have trouble finding a job – it shattered my confidence, and this affected several areas of my life.

I was determined that this wouldn’t happen again, and formed a plan of attack as I fell to sleep.

The next morning I woke, feeling at peace. In the few hours before my flight I strolled. Yes, Paris was still alluring, but I didn’t feel as I’d felt the previous day. I was no longer torn.

Paris and I had had a brief and beautiful affair. But it was over.

And I was ready to go home.

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris? part quatre

Laduree - Rue Bonaparte

On Monday, Mr Frog and I sampled the last of his recommended hot chocolates – Ladurée.

The salon on Rue Bonaparte is not what you’d expect from a Parisian salon de thé – the ground floor is decorated in a Chinoiserie style with leafy bamboo and flowers painted on the wall, echoing Ladurée’s pastel pinks and greens. In contrast, the top floor is very dark and intimate. It is all blue, with dark carpet and thick, tasselled curtains and plush little armchairs printed in blue and gold. Warm and cosy, it is a perfect hide-out for a rainy winter day.

So would the chocolat chaud measure up?

The waiter came with the traditional two glasses of water, two china cups on saucers and two metal jugs of hot chocolate, and poured each of us a cup from our respective jugs. I smiled in anticipation as the liquid seeped thickly from the spout of the jug and pooled in the bottom of my cup, the volume rising steadily. It was reminiscent of Les Deux Magots – molten milk chocolate.

Then I took my first sip . . . nothing. I took another one, trying to savour the texture in my mouth, but it left me unmoved. At Café de la Paix and Les Deux Magots I hadn’t been able to keep the smile off my face, and even though Angelina could not match, it was worlds above Ladurée, and I still enjoyed my chocolate’s silky texture and taste.

The Ladurée hot chocolate had somehow managed to have all of the texture and none of the flavour of the first two. It tasted dusty and stale in comparison to the others. Little spots of fat glistened on top of the liquid, like in a soup that has used butter or oil, and I found it harder to drink as I continued.

It was like Cadbury chocolate in comparison to Lindt. As a child I liked Cadbury but, as an adult hooked on dark chocolate, Cadbury now tastes like wax to me. However, Lindt milk chocolate takes my breath away– like velvety cream as it melts on my tongue. I pause and savour Lindt, whereas I eat Cadbury very quickly to try and capture the same rapture.

The Ladurée hot chocolate was like this – although it was thick, I found myself taking bigger and bigger gulps as I chased the memory of more intense flavours at other cafés. If it weren’t for the texture, I would have found it very difficult to rank this chocolate above those that standard cafés sell for €2.50 – €4.00.

So I wouldn’t recommend this €6.50 hot chocolate – spend another €0.50 and go to Les Deux Magots, or if you would prefer something thinner and satiny, spend an extra €0.40 and go to Angelina.

That being said, Ladurée is still worth a visit – the salons de thé are a Paris institution. Although the salon at Rue Bonaparte isn’t very French, the salons on the Champs-Elyseés and Rue Royale have chic patisseries and comfortably elegant salons like Angelina, with dim lighting, moulded walls and carpeted floors. And the beautifully presented pastries and macaroons are easily a good enough reason to enjoy the ambiance.

But, if I was going out for a chocolat chaud, I’d go elsewhere.

Rankings so far:

  1. Les Deux Magots
  2. Café de la Paix (second because the price is higher, though the quality is just as good as the first and the taste is more intense)
  3. Angelina
  4. Ladurée

Salon International de l’Agriculture

The International Agriculture Show is a yearly event that takes place in Paris in late February or early March. In 2011 it is taking place between February 19 and 27, and theme is ‘Farming and Food: the French Model’.

So over 1000 exhibitors and 3500 animals from 34 countries will be on site, focussing on France’s regions, technologies and traditions, with about 600,000 visitors expected to come and see their wares.

It is also where many politicians, hoping to snatch the rural vote, make an appearance to shake influential hands. Nicolas Sarkozy went on the Saturday morning (apparently after a faux-pas at the show in 2008, he prefers to keep a lower profile).

I went on Saturday, fortunately missing any Sarkozy brouhaha, and started with Pavilion 1, where the livestock was on display. When I walked into the enormous Pavilion, the perfume of hay wafted over me and, cut off from all natural light in the cavernous space, I felt as though I’d departed from Paris entirely.

This was completely different to being in some sanitised museum – I was looking at living exhibits, with famers and producers who were only too ready to talk to me and let me touch and taste their produce.

I was shocked by the size of some of the cows. Being a born and bred city girl, I’d always though cows were about the size of horses, but a bit bulkier – these were like buses in comparison! And the pigs – the sleeping giants at the Salon de l’Agriculture were four times the size of Babe.

In contrast, the chicks were scraps of feathers, smaller and softer than anything from a Kleenex ad.

And when I reached the cages of birds and rabbits, I felt like I was in a giant pet store. Excluding Bénédicte’s incredibly skittish cat, the only pet that was ever in my family was my sister’s goldfish, which I think died after a month (neat freak that my mother is, I think she changed the water too often). So my sister and would always press our faces up against pet-store windows to look at the puppies and kittens tumbling over each other, and the long-eared bunnies dozing peacefully. Here I stared at the rabbits – small balls with little, pointy ears, Angoras which were just ears sticking out of their fluffy coats, and the long-eared rabbits with their ears tucked against their bodies. I ached to run my index finger and thumb down one of those ears to see if it felt as velvety as it looked.

And then I moved on to the food. Pavilion 1 had an area devoted to cheese and dairy products, and Pavilion 7 exhibited produce from the different regions of France. I tasted sample after sample, one chocolate and hazelnut biscuit good enough to make my cheeks flush . . . but I’d already spent my money on caramelised and chocolate coated nuts by that stage, so had to slink away. One day I’m going to have enough money to go to one of these shows and buy everything I want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was even lucky enough to see some demonstrations.

One was of a girl making a soft white cheese – large disks of cheese rested in cylindrical casts with holes for the whey to seep out. All of the cheese casts sat on a wooden table with a groove cut out towards the edges, down which the whey slid into a bucket at one end of the table. As a man was explaining that the cheese needs to be left until the mould can form a rind, the girl quickly flipped each disk of cheese onto her palm and deposited it back into the plastic cast upside down to keep the shape and texture uniform.

I also saw a man preparing a Millet aux pommes du Perche. First he whipped up crème anglaise, whisking it until it seemed artificially bright. He sautéed some thinly sliced apples in butter, then coated them in honey and flambéed them with local alcohol. Next he spread a canary-yellow layer of custard into a casserole dish, topped it with the apples, and then added another layer of custard. After garnishing the dessert with chopped nuts, he put a green bowl of butter over the stove to soften the butter for a glaze. He lifted the bowl . . . and left a ring of green plastic on the stove.

Yes I did get to taste it, and it was lovely – the butter and apples melted together perfectly.

The next pavilion also focussed on food, but international food this time, where 34 countries each had stalls presenting their specialties (Australia wasn’t one of them, though I’m not sure what we’d show).

After visiting one of my students, who was working at the show that day and had told me about it, I took a brief tour of the crops and plant section and made my way home.

Montmartre

Relais de la Butte

Rue Poulbot

Although I’ve visited the Sacre Coeur several times, as well as a few other cafés in Montmartre, I’ve realised that I barely know the area at all.

Today I set out to remedy this. Instead of getting off the metro at Anvers, I left at Pigalle and snaked my way up the hill of cobble-stoned streets. Although Montmartre became a part of Paris in 1860, the village retained its character despite Haussman’s renovations.

Chez Marie

From the 1880s artists gravitated to the area, giving it the bohemian atmosphere for which it is still known.

Though, on a Sunday, everything was very calm. People sat under leafless trees on park benches, in tiny parks squeezed into street corners. They posed for photos under iron lamp posts on flight after flight of stone stairs, and they slowly perused café and restaurant menus before choosing whether or not to sit down for a drink. The streets were filled with boutiques, bars and bakeries, many of the glass-front shops dark and empty.

Street performer. He has goldfish on his head!

However, the energy changed as my path wound closer to the Sacre Coeur. The crowds increased and soon the shops were all dedicated to souvenirs. Suddenly the quartier was alive with street artists – not the usual hip-hop dancers you see around Anvers, but a swing band, a cellist and a tap-dancing, balloon-animal maker. The latter was the most impressive – he would select a child in the crowd and make him or her a balloon animal while tapping away, balancing a vase filled with water on his head. And there were three live goldfish in the case.

Place du Tertre

He was performing on the corner of Place du Tertre, a square bordered by restaurants and filled with artists selling their wares. One half of the square had painters with easels displaying images of Paris for sale, and the other half of the square had portraitists who were sketching greyscale images of tourists – there must have been twenty or thirty of them.

Place du Tertre

I continued to the Sacre Coeur, where more artists were standing with sketch paper on clipboards, drawing people while standing.

I considered going to the hill in front of the Sacre Coeur to see what entertainment was there (past examples have included hip-hop dancers, jugglers and a man walking down the hill on his hands), but walked behind it instead.

I was shocked to discover a completely different world. The crowds ceased abruptly, and I was in a residential area. It was still Montmartre, with its stairs, lanterns, cobble-stones, park benches and architecture, but it was quiet. I strolled down Rue Saint Vincent and only saw two couples and an old woman walking a white poodle wearing a red vest.

Villa Leandre

I from here I walked to the mansion and tree-lined Avenue Junot and turned down Villa Léandre. Villa Léandre is reputedly one of the most expensive streets in Paris, with colourful houses and gardens lining the street.

The man in the wall

As I left Villa Léandre I saw a sign pointing to Place du Tertre and a small group of tourists coming my way, and realised that I was heading back to the beaten track.

I followed the sign, passing a sculpture of a man coming through a wall. This sculpture is of the protagonist of French writer Marcel Aymé’s short story Le Passe Murielle – at 42, the character Dutilleul discovers that he can “pass through walls with perfect ease”. This talent drives Dutilleul to sinister pursuits until he is trapped in a wall on Rue Norvins in Montmartre, where we can see him today.

I returned to Place du Tertre, and window-shopped my way along the beaten track back to the metro.

After an hour of walking, I still don’t know Montmartre very well, but I think we’re becoming better acquainted.

Sacre Coeur from back

TEFL Lessons Learned – finding a job

A quick Google search will give you thousands of TEFL job sites. Finding one for jobs in France is much more difficult.

These are the sites that I used:

TEFL.com has a good selection of jobs that is updated regularly, and you can sign up for job emails. The only problem with this site is that you need to use their online form to apply, which is really restrictive. Craigslist is Craigslist – many dodgy ads, but also many legitimate ones and it’s targeted at expats. Fusac is a French and English classifieds magazine that comes out every month or so, and you can view it online or download the pdf version – you can also find the hardcopy at W H Smith, the American Church of Paris, some language schools and other expat hangouts. There are lots of jobs for expats advertised, ranging from teachers to aupairs to bilingual secretaries. It also advertises rooms, conversation groups and other activities for Anglophones.

And i-to-i, the school through which I did my TEFL course, gave me a 477-page pdf of contact details for English language schools around the world, including 14 pages of schools in France. If I hadn’t had any luck with the job ads, I would have started knocking down classroom doors, begging for a job.

So, what goes into this resume and cover letter if you’re looking for your first TEFL job?

Luckily I’d done some English tutoring at university (two 1.5 hour classes on a Saturday morning for a class of three seven-year-old girls and a class of eight eight-year-old boys). So I divided my work experience into ‘teaching experience’ and ‘other experience’. Under the teaching experience I made this tutoring job sound like I was teaching English as a foreign language, and left out the dates so they wouldn’t know that I’d only done it for three months in 2007.

The ‘other experience’ section of my resume was my regular resume – because I was applying for Business English positions, demonstrating that I had some business experience was advantageous.

In my cover letter I tried to emphasise my language skills and my English skills, and structured it like this:

  1. Information about my course – how many hours it was, how many of these were in person, and a list of some of my appropriate specialist certificates
  2. Information about my degree – I have a BA with a major in English, including several subjects on grammar and writing, so I cashed in on this
  3. Information about my teaching experience – in my case, the tutoring I did at university. If I didn’t have this, I probably would have referred to work that I’d done with people.

I didn’t hear back from everyone, but it was enough to get me six positive emails, four interviews, two job offers and one job!

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris? part trois

Yesterday Mr Frog and I continued on our quest to find the best hot chocolate in Paris.

Angelina, a salon de thé on Rue de Rivoli, is another place famous for its hot chocolate (as well as its Mont Blanc gateau, though I didn’t get to try that). I’d only ever peered in through the windows before, drooling over the beautifully arranged patisseries in the elegant boutique, white with mirrored counters.

So I was surprised to enter a rather comfortable salon. Yes, it’s still beautiful with murals lining the walls, which were reflected by mirrors of identical shapes and sizes on the opposite walls. But the lighting was dim, there was plain carpet on the floor, and the wooden tables and chairs cushioned with brown leather looked more like furniture you would see in somebody’s home than in a chic salon de thé (admittedly, a very stately manor home, but a home, nonetheless). It was cosy and homey, and I would have felt just as comfortable there in my runners and jeans as I felt in my post-work suit.

As for the chocolate – part of me wished that I had tried this one first. Because it was a lovely chocolat chaud, and if I had have had it first I would have thought it was wonderful. But I knew the instant I poured that it couldn’t match the others. After experiencing the indulgently thick texture of the hot chocolates at Les Deux Magots and Café de la Paix, I was disappointed to have a beverage that was clearly a liquid, and not a borderline solid, as the others now seemed to be in comparison.

Although it was thinner, Angelina’s hot chocolate was still lovely and rich, served in a jug with a pot of whipped cream on the side. I loved stirring the cream into the chocolate and watching the liquid marble as the cream melted, but this didn’t thicken the result as I’d hoped it would. It did create an interesting experience though – the flavour was milder and more velvety at the top of the cup, and grew darker and more intense as I progressed. It was like all of the chocolate had sunk to the bottom, like the sediment in wine.

So yes, it was a beautiful hot chocolate, but it takes third place under Les Deux Magots and Café de la Paix. The price was €6.90, compared to Les Deux Magots €7, but I don’t think the difference in price is enough to make up for the difference in quality.

I’m glad I went, but I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Well . . . maybe just once to try the Mont Blanc gateau.

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris? part deux

  • Fondue – melted cheese or chocolate into which bread or fruit is dipped
  • Derived from the verb fondre – to melt

After getting rather tipsy at The Frog and Princesse, Mr Frog and I went to Les Deux Magots, a café reputed for having the best hot chocolate in Paris.

After my experience at Café de la Paix, I was interested to see whether Les Deux Magots could deliver.

Les Deux Magots

We arrived around midnight and were greeted by an older, portly man in a black, three-piece suit with a white shirt and a silky bow-tie, who instructed us to sit “anywhere”. At this time on a Wednesday, there were only two other occupied tables.

Les Deux Magots

As we waited for our hot chocolate, I looked around the room. The café is brightly lit with rows of red leather booths bordered by white pillars. At the top of one of the central pillar sit Les Deux Magots, two Asian statues which have been there for over a century.

After starting as a drapery in 1813, then becoming a wine merchants by 1884, Les Deux Magots was refurbished and transformed into a café in 1914, and it became a haunt of many figures of the literary world – from Oscar Wilde to Ernest Hemmingway to moi!

Mr Frog was cruelly forcing me to speak in French when our chocolats chauds arrived. Our waiter lowered a tray holding two tea cups, two glasses of water, and a large china jug of hot chocolate.

I poured and inhaled, trying not to swoon as the chocolate oozed into my cup. I stirred it with my spoon and, like oil, the liquid held the pattern of the swirl as I took my first sip.

The chocolate invaded my mouth, clinging to every surface. I suddenly found myself thinking of my childhood Easters, when I would break up my largest Easter eggs in the same bowl and devour them, piece by piece, over the coming weeks. It tasted like I held melted them all and was drinking the result straight from the bowl. This beverage wasn’t like the milky concoctions you find at Starbucks – it was pure liquid chocolate. Fondue.

So, which chocolat chaud was better? It’s hard to say – they both had the same gooey texture, and rested on the back of my teaspoon rather than dripping off. Although they were both intense, the chocolate at Café de la Paix was darker – I needed two glasses of water to get through it. At Les Deux Magots, I easily managed with one. And I still think the hot chocolate at Café de la Paix would go very well over vanilla ice-cream, whereas I wouldn’t dream of diluting the one at Les Deux Magots with anything.

I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for – Café de la Paix was much larger and luxurious, and Les Deux Magots was more intimate. The service was more attentive at Café de la Paix, though that could have been due to the late hour at which we visited Les Deux Magots. And, at €7, Les Deux Magots is slightly better value for money. Let’s just say I’d be happy to try them both again.

A tourist in Paris

Les Invalides

After yesterday’s class I realised that I don’t think I’ve visited the left bank since the weather got cold. Possibly not since my friend D visited in early October.

Even in Paris, most of the expats I know seem to get into a rut – the only places I seem to go now are Saint Lazare, Les Halles, Belleville and Neuilly. So I’ve started being a tourist again.

Yesterday I visited Les Invalides and paid my respects to the Eiffel Tower before wandering around the 15th (I stayed in the 15th on my first two trips to Paris and, as we approach the

Notre Dame

time of year when I was first introduced to this city, I’m constantly reminded of how she seduced me).

Today I went to the top of the Institute du Monde Arabe to enjoy the views of Paris and the Notre Dame, after which I strolled along the Seine. I looked through the windows of the restaurant boats, and a man offered me his hand to help me jump across a large puddle where the bank gets a bit low.

When I crossed Pont au Double, two rows

Skaters

of small, plastic cones lined the road and a group of boys were rollerblading. Their feet wove intricate patterns at incredible speeds – one of them was so talented he was basically dancing. As a crowd gathered, they started playing salsa and house music and, on a sunny, cloudless day, it felt like it was summer again. People meandered along the river and Paris seemed more relaxed than she has been in some time.

The sun started to set as I walked down Ile Saint Louis and window-shopped, stopping to stare at small glass figures and gourmet delights.

Hotel de Ville

I then headed to Hotel de Ville to watch people ice-skating on the rink they set up every winter. As the temperature dropped, people started to quicken their pace again, and I knew Monday was coming.

I swear – sometimes this city is so beautiful it makes me want to cry.

Border security

When you take the Eurostar, your passport is stamped twice – once at the French border control, and once at the English border control, 10 metres later.

The French don’t care – a ‘bonjour‘ and a stamp and I’m done. Some times they omit the ‘bonjour‘. Today, the man didn’t even look at me to see if I resembled my photo (probably a good thing – it was taken when I was 20. Yesterday, one of the teachers at worked guessed that my age was 27. I’m 24 – not happy).

With the English, it’s an entirely different story.

“How long are you going to the UK?” the woman asks, pursing her wide mouth.

“11 days.”

“What’s the reason for your trip?”

“I’m visiting friends for Christmas,” I replied (seriously, why else would I be travelling now?).

“Where are you going after that?”

“I’m coming back to Paris.” At this, the woman looks at me suspiciously. “I’m on a Working Holiday Visa,” I explain.

“And you also had a Working Holiday Visa for the UK.”

“Yes . . .” I’ve been asked this a couple of times and I’m not really sure what the point is – it’s not like there’s a limit on the number of Working Holidays you can take, and many people take more than one.

She continues looking at me.

“I lived there for 18 months and worked in media monitoring,” I say with a sigh, “after that I went back to Australia for a year, and now I’m in Paris on a new visa.”

“And what type of work do you do?”

“I’m an English teacher.”

“Do you like it?”

Generally I’d say yes, but this time I try a new tactic: “some days I do and some days I don’t. It depends on the day, on how busy I am, on my students, on the metro . . .”

The new tactic? Bore her into submission!

It seems to work, and when she asks, “and what age are your students?” she sounds a little resigned.

“Oh, they’re adults,” I reply cheerfully, “so I have some in their 20s, others in their 40s, and others in their 60s, though I don’t usually talk about their age . . .” I babble and she purses her lips again. I’m not sure if she’s repressing a yawn or a smirk.

“Okay, go,” she tosses my passport back to me.

Jolie – 1

UK Border Control – Nil

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris?

Last night I had hot chocolate at Café de la Paix at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Located right outside metro Opéra, it was very expensive (luckily I wasn’t paying, but Google told me the chocolat chaud is €8), and very beautiful – bathed in yellow light, the ceilings were painted, there were golden columns around the room, the tables were set with white linen tablecloths and sparkling glass-wear and the chairs were backed with deep-red velvet or leather, depending on the section.

When I was invited to have a hot chocolate on a Sunday evening, I was expecting a more casual affair, so I tried to walk behind my friend so the waiters wouldn’t see my sneakers. No one commented, but I did feel as though I should have dressed up.

We sat on leather armchairs in the bar/lounge, and ordered two hot chocolates.

We were served with two teacups on saucers, a bowl of sugar cubes, two small, stainless-steel teapots and two long glasses of water.

I take my chocolate very seriously, so I wasn’t sure if this would live up to its reputation as I poured . . . and gasped at the thick darkness of the molten chocolate. This wasn’t a beverage! This should have been a sauce for ice-cream, or foreplay.  ;p

I inhaled the heady scent as I took my first sip, and actually moaned in delight as the chocolate coated my mouth and my throat. It was incredibly intense, and I soon understood why it was served with water – it was so rich that I started drinking it teaspoon by teaspoon.

A teapot of chocolate and two glasses of water later, I left very happy.

I’m happy to recommend this as the best hot chocolate in Paris, but if anyone has one they want me to compare it to, I’m happy to do the legwork.