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It won’t take you long in terms of distance to walk around the Madeleine church in the heart of Paris, but make sure you allow yourself ample time to sample the many gourmet treats on offer here.
From the Place de la Concorde or the Rue Royale exit of the Concorde metro stop, head north along Rue Royale towards the Madeleine church. Your first stop is on your left, the legendary Art Nouveau style eatery Maxim’s, which has been on 3 Rue Royale since 1893. Today, this restaurant is owned by Pierre Cardin, who has been a regular diner there since the early ’60s. A selection of chocolates, terrines, foie gras and other fine foods can also be purchased. In addition, the top two floors feature a museum housing Art Nouveau furniture and homewares collected by Pierre Cardin over 60 years. Admission is by reservation only, and this can be done online. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday except public holidays, with an English tour at 2pm and a French tour at 3.15pm. The tour lasts 1 hour and costs €15 per person.
Next, continue north until you reach 16 Rue Royale, where you will be greeted by the deliciously inviting pastel hued displays of Laduree. There is usually a queue, though this is generally shorter here than the queue at the Champs Elysees store. Not only is it a feast for the eyes, you will be spoilt for choice from the array of cakes, tarts, cookies, chocolates, and of course macarons on offer here. I recommend the rose flavoured macaron. You can even purchase souvenir keyrings, candles and the like.
Now, keep heading north on Rue Royale until you come to la Madeleine, a church in the form of a Greek temple. It was built in the 1800s to honour Napoleon’s great army. Stand on the steps of the Madeleine and look back from whence you came – you will be rewarded with a great view of the Place de la Concorde. You may also choose to step inside the church for a visit or simply to rest your feet and enjoy the peace and quiet.
When you’re ready, exit the church and turn left (if you’re looking away from the Madeleine towards Place de la Concorde). At 6 Place de la Madeleine is that purveyor of fine pickles, mustards, vinegar and stone kitchenware, Maille. They have been tantalising the taste buds since master vinegar maker Antoine-Claude Maille opened his first Maille boutique in 1747 so I’m sure you’re familiar with the brand, but they taste even better when freshly pumped from a porcelain pump into a keepsake stoneware pot.
Now continue counterclockwise around the Madeleine until you reach Fauchon. This epicurean haven straddles the northeast corner of Place de la Madeleine and includes not just a fine grocer and confectionary store, but also a coffee shop and a restaurant. You may choose to dine here, or pack a gourmet picnic to eat by the Eiffel Tower, but you certainly won’t leave empty handed given the vast selection of both sweet and savoury delights available. I recommend the foie gras, which is the best you’ll find in Paris, in my opinion. It holds its shape and texture when lightly fried, which helps remove some of the oiliness and enhances its flavour – perfect on a salad, toast or crackers. The foie gras even passes the scrutiny of the draconian customs officials in Australia so you can continue to have a taste of Paris when you get home. If you’re thinking of taking home a fair amount of gourmet treats, remember to bring your passport as you can get a VAT refund if you spend more than €175 in the one store on one day.
Keep going counterclockwise and head south along the western edge of the square, bringing you to upmarket grocer Hediard, truffle specialists Maison de la Truffe, the famous tea merchant Mariage Freres, and the very posh Caviar Kaspar, all in a row at #21, 19 and 17 respectively. I love apothecary jars, and so am always delighted to step into Mariage Freres with its enticing smells and old world feel.
Finally, return south down Rue Royale back towards the Place de la Concorde. I hope you’ll find some tasty treats to tempt you on this walk! I certainly did, returning back to my apartment with the veritable feast pictured below, including a savoury millefeuille and truffled foie gras on mini toasts from Fauchon, a gourmet lentil salad from Hediard and a selection of macarons from Laduree. Mmm…
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