Paris. The land of love. And of baguettes and macarons and well pretty much everything sinfully delicious in the world. It’s architecture and history and layer upon layer of beauty. So lucky for us, the lovely, lovely Maggie Batista of Eat Boutique with photographs by our friend Heidi Murphy of White Loft Studio is taking us along to discover her Paris. The cafes and cobblestone streets of le Marais that she has fallen in love with and that has fallen hopelessly in love with her. And we couldn’t be more excited for the ride. Click here to see the gorgeous gallery.
From Maggie of Eat Boutique…I never daydreamed of Paris. I wasn’t the sort of girl intent on finding her love somewhere along the Seine. And after living on and off in Paris for the last few years, I must admit it’s now all I dream about, especially on gray drizzly days in the suburban hills of New England when all I want is a café perch with a marble-top table from which to watch dressy Parisians stroll through their day.
I actually met and married my love years before Paris, and our honeymoon was not at all exotic, spent savoring the sunny California wine towns north of San Francisco. But he did get to visit me in Europe and we now have our Paris moments, moments where our glances meet and we remember a brisk walk across the Pont Marie after a Sunday at the contemporary photography museum, a glass of red wine that made us completely understand why French wine rules and baguettes that will turn you off of bread from anywhere else, forever. Seriously, he’ll bite into an American-made baguette, give me one look and I know.
I suppose our time in Paris could count as a second honeymoon, but if we had been able to escape to Paris originally, younger and blurry-eyed from three days of wedding festivities, we would spend it holed up in a tiny two-room apartment in le Marais (a studio with an impossibly small kitchen) with brief exits to seek the vitals of Paris life: coffee, bread, chocolate, wine and la vie en rose.
The northern part of le Marais (informally known as the Haut-Marais) is perhaps my favorite neighborhood in all of Europe (comparative research and investigations still underway) and here is exactly where I spend my time there.
Briezh Café: Crepes are sold all over Paris but those served at Breizh Café are a bit authentic plus a bit unique, making them totally delicious. Inspired by a Bretagne boy’s chef adventures around the globe, including a stay in Tokyo, these buckwheat style galletes are a healthy and firm canvas for savory and sweet creations, appropriately washed down with a bubbly hard apple cider or, in one rare case when a best friend surprised me, a full bottle of French champagne. Reservations recommended and worth it.
Glou: On my first visit to Paris, Glou saved me from piles of bad French food (yes, there is such a thing!) and I am quite certain I could live on their warming pot au feu (French beef stew), oyster platters, homemade charcuterie, and never-failing wine list. Their Café Gourmand – a small plate of fresh-daily dessert samples and espresso – remains one of my favorites in all of Paris.
Nanashi: The lightest, healthiest lunch waits at this modern bodega-style lunch spot. Grab fresh fruit or pastries to go, or sit in the airy dining room. Coined “Le Bento Parisien”, the dishes are compact but filling, loaded with crispy vegetables, fish or meat. There are now three outposts in Paris, but I’ll always be partial to the original location on rue Charlot, around the corner from le Marais apartment where I finally considered myself at home abroad.
Café Crème: This unassuming café is actually not at all impressive, but it was my local in le Marais and could be counted on to provide friendly service, a big glass of wine and a casual, chic meeting spot for all of my friends – I’d randomly and coincidentally run into acquaintances at all hours there, especially at 1am. Perfectly cooked steaks, and that means “rare” to French, are served on slate plates, a design aesthetic that I just loved.
Ofr: When I needed a break from all the food, this little artsy bookshop charmed me with local author appearances, pretty coffee table books, a curated smattering of curiosities, and a little café in the back. The owners’ friends dropped by periodically, gathering out front with a glass of something to gab about life. I stopped in most days to get my neighborhood news.
Le Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin: Since my very first visit to the north Marais, I assert that no other chocolatier can compare to Jacques Genin. When I moved in around the corner, I always found a way to drop in as I wove my way toward the Metro. His passion fruit caramels are incomparable. The chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) is exquisite and rich, that I always end up sharing a pot.
Merci: If I had walked into funky concept store Merci during my honeymoon, I imagine that I would spend the afternoon with my husband, mentally pinning images for my someday home. Between the furniture, tabletop items and fashion, Merci crafts a dreamy domestic life that I can pine for from my table in the café and tea room. I first stumbled upon colorful washi tape here three years ago, and drink my daily coffee from glass mugs discovered downstairs with a friend.
Bonton: This is the kids-version of Merci, and worth a visit for the bright candy-colored objects on display. Truth be told, I visit for the old-fashioned photo booth in the front of the store. Ever nostalgic, I mark each visit to Paris with a strip of quick-printed sometimes smiley, sometimes wacky self-portraits.
Rose Bakery: Don’t even think of coming to Paris and not eating at Rose Bakery, especially if market-fresh salads, vegetable-dense quiches and sweet teacakes are your thing. Opened more than 10 years ago but still going strong, Rose Bakery satisfies immensely, and was on my regular lunch rotation. You can’t miss the entryway; it’s dotted with English imports (jams, teas, etc.) and one of the most colorful bakery displays in the entire city.
Café Charlot: Café Charlot comes in and out of favor with the fashion-forward set, playing host to laid-back lunches between models, editors and designers throughout fashion week. Its décor suggests busy Paris bistro but, really, it’s more gastropub in style, serving up-market takes on club sandwiches, cheeseburgers and steak tartare. The fries are well crisped and thin, brought to the table in the sweetest small metal mug.
Marche des Enfants Rouges: Just across the street from Café Charlot, the oldest covered market in Paris, established in the 1600s, is a hub of gastronomic activity everyday but Mondays in le Marais. Grab your daily fruits and vegetables at the Marche des Enfants Rouges or do as I have: settle into a counter with a plate of just-made risotto, a glass of wine and your favorite novel.
La Perle: After a day of gallery hopping up and down le Marais, I always sneak a coffee at La Perle. The service is zippy and the coffee is always good. Sit inside or grab a spot at the tall tables out front, as this corner at Rue Vieille du Temple is the unofficial waypoint between the north and south Marais; the people watching can be gripping. This used to be the typical haunt for the true fashion crowd, but after John Galliano’s drunken outburst there two years ago, the fashion set comes and goes. The crowds are absolutely maddening at night so I stick to late morning or early afternoon espressos.
Verjus: Once in a while, I do leave the confines of the haute Marais. On my last visit, I was drawn to Verjus in the first arrondissement three times in a single month. Opened by Braden Perks and Laura Adrian, hospitality veterans who used to run a smashingly successful hidden super club in their home, Verjus is a delight, serving small plates and small production wines downstairs and a nightly shifting chef-style menu upstairs. I love the option of eating by my mood, sometimes going all out upstairs or grabbing just a few bites downstairs. The food is fresh, inventive and inspired by a variety of international cuisine, a little bit of America in Paris.
Maggie Battista started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Discovering the best small batch foods by boutique food makers, Eat Boutique has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Gilt Taste, Daily Candy and now Style Me Pretty. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in monthly tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she gathers cookbook authors, food and drink makers, and food fans.
Heidi Murphy, wedding + lifestyle photographer, and aspiring foodie. Though her heart belongs to Martha’s Vineyard, she lives north of Boston with her husband and their three dogs in a charming seaside town. She has an affinity for simple flavors + simple pleasures, farmer’s markets, organic everything, s’mores, corn from the grill, and all served up with a glass of champagne. Heidi’s work, on film, has been featured stateside and abroad; and her musings + imagery can be found on her blog – White Loft Style.