Sunday, August 16, 2009

July 27, 2002 From the original Chocolate Diaries

April in Paris.......doesn't that conjure up images of cherry blossoms, white fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky with the Eiffel Tower in view, lovers walking across the Seine on ornate bridges and rosy-cheeked babies in strollers in the Luxembourg Gardens? Well, Paris produced all of that and much, much more. It was warm and so Parisians were out en-masse! The trees in the Luxembourg Gardens and in the Jardin des Plantes were a plethora of shades of green, and the flowers in the Tuileries Gardens a fantastic assortment of colors. I was there with a good friend, a woman I have known for many years....someone I knew would want to walk the city, taking in the sights, sounds, smells and nuances of Paris. And that is just what we did: we walked from the Gare de Lyon to the Opera, from the Madeleine to the Pantheon, from the Palais Royal to the Jardin des Plantes. We admired the architecture, we bought long, luxurious woolen scarves in a St Germain street market stand, we ate gooey chocolate crêpes we bought on rue Monsieur le Prince, and we watched the people.

"Paris was the indispensable place, the ample city into which the world poured its treasures...." Maurice Sachs (1906-1945) French writer.

We did, of course, look for some chocolates while there. We found Nicolsen Chocolatier at 112, rue Mouffetard, near the wonderful outdoor market. The chocolates were nicely packaged, but not the best that we have tried. Better ones were found at Jean-Paul H鶩n 231, rue Saint-Honoré At his boutique, all the chocolates were displayed like little works of art, and handled with as much care. The show was really worth seeing.....the chocolates worth eating! Dalloyau 2, place Edmond Rostand, near the Luxembourg Gardens, is also a very exclusive shop and well worth a stop. The tea room upstairs is an indulgent treat!
In the grocery store we found a new Nestlé product called 飬at noir. These are wonderful sticks of dark chocolate with bits of cocoa beans, much like Pierre's Palais Or, that are in the Mont Ventoux Collection. Great snack for the train!
Wallace Fountain in Paris
In Paris, there are 65 public water fountains made by the Founderies d'Art du Val d'Orne at the order of Sir Richard Wallace, who commissioned Charles-August Labourg to design these fountains to increase the amenities of strolling through the city of Paris. In 1872 Sir Wallace presented 50 of these statues to the City of Paris, and the city bought 30 more on its own. There is one in Uzès a town near our village in the south. I had always admired it, and now realize what it is. Most of these fountains are still working, offering potable water to quench the thirst of passersby, just as Sir Richard envisioned over 100 years ago.
Taking the train in France is so convenient. We can take the train from either Charles DeGaulle Airport or from the Gare de Lyon to Avignon, and be there in less than 3 hours. My biggest piece of advise for anyone traveling by train however, is to take a small suitcase! If you can travel light, that is the way to go. If you need lots of luggage, a rental car will be better.
As you read this, we are in France and will return in September. There is lots going on right now, with a new location for our kitchen, as well as a retail store! This is exciting because we have had so many people locally that have come by to purchase chocolates at our commercial kitchen. The new store will be much more convenient. We will fill you in on all the news when we return.
A bientôt; Pierre and Rainey

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