France to me, can be defined by a few things:

  1. Long days. Similar to the rest of Europe, Spring and Summer means that shops operate until late and it is generally still bright and warm at 9pm!
  2. People watching. I love that cafes arrange their tables and chairs like a cinema.
  3. Baguettes. Fresh, fluffy and crisp… baguettes make awesome sandwiches.
  4. Coffee. I am addicted to the French cafe noisette! Three a day, please. Cafe noisette are espressos with a dash of frothy milk/cream. This has been commonly served with a tiny block of 70% dark chocolate or chocolate coated coffee bean. The aroma… yum!
  5. Patisseries are everywhere -yippee, but the good ones seem to be on opposite ends of the city. So I quickly familiarised myself with the metro system and went hunting.
  6. Bins. Picture a plastic tube-like bag hung onto poles like a basketball net. You might be able to see goo et al in the bins, but hey, at least there are bins at train stations! Take the hint Cityrail.

Day One in Paris saw us lining up in the cold, outside Rose Bakery for about 40 minutes. Let me tell you, it was totally worth it. Brunch was soupe haricot verts and tomatoes (soup of French green beans and tomatoes) , scones au toast, confiture et beurre (scones with jam and butter) and pancakes et syrupe d’erable (pancakes with maple syrup). It was a small reminder of Britain and a warm welcome to France.

Bench with cakes, fruits and scones at Rose Bakery, Paris
Bench with cakes, fruits and scones at Rose Bakery, Paris

Vegetable soup at Rose Bakery, Paris
Vegetable soup at Rose Bakery, Paris

Day Two, I had a long awaited reservation at Le Cinq -73rd (formerly 24th) on the World’s Best 100 Restaurants list. 8 courses for 230€ ! I hadn’t done detailed research into cost, assuming it would at maximum cost slightly more than Tetsuya’s $180 (AUD) but soon enough, we realise that at that cost, we would only be able to afford a starter! So we took the plunge, just so there would never be a "what if", and ordered the tasting menu. To be continued… (blog post to come shortly; the tasting menu is below for those imaginative ones)

Red tuna belly in a tartar with green apple and wasabi jelly

Green asparagas from the Luberon region, blanched with poultry jus and served with lemon flavoured gnocchi and Jabugo ham

Abalone from the Brittany Sea with seaweed butter, fondant watercress, hen broth flavoured with lemongrass

Net-fished blue lobster cooked on aromatic salt, lobster jus claws in vegetable fritters with pink radish

Saddle of lamb from the Aveyron region served with smoked red pepper, fried lamb sweetbreads with small borad beans and bayaldi of vegetables (I swapped mine for the Guinea Fowl from the Dombes region, breast fillet browned with chateau Chalon wine, watercress macaroni, "gras de cuisse" and mousseron mushrooms with cream).

Selection of cheeses (I absolutely adored a hard cheese from Franche-Comté).

Red fruit vacherin with tangy lemon meringue

Madagascar chocolate soufflee pie with semi-candied raspberries

Tasting menu at Le Cinq, Paris
Tasting menu at Le Cinq, Paris

Having a picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower and wandering around the Louvre Museum were some of the things I had daydreamed about. Why wait five years to fulfil your goal when you can do it now?

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower by night, Paris, France

Below is me, during my hunt for the best pastries.

Jennifer Lam eating a croissant on the streets of Paris
Me eating a croissant from La Flute Gana on the streets of Paris

La Tartelette feuilletee aux pommes
La Tartelette feuilletee aux pommes from La Flute Gana

palmier from Regis Colin
Palmier from Regis Colin

Mille-feuille from Regis Colin
Mille-feuille from Regis Colin

Pierre Herme's macaron display
Pierre Herme’s macaron display

Meals I have had include some tasty terrines and tartares but I mainly filled up with late brunches and sweets… hehe 🙂

Terrine de betterave au chevre
Terrine de betterave au chevre from Le Trumilou

Jennifer Lam sipping on a cafe noisette while people watching
Me sipping on a cafe noisette while people watching

Fresh baguette in Paris
Fresh baguette in Paris

And in the South of France, I felt like we were on the start of a second holiday. Each day was filled with a heavenly combination of sun and seafood. Private beaches were luxurious with carpet (to protect your feet from the hot stones), shade, lounges and drink / food service. We ate plentiful seafood platters and bouillabaisse (fish stew).

Fresh seafood platter in Cannes
Seafood platter from Restaurant Astoux & Brun

Bouillabaisse with rouille and crusty baguette slices from Restaurant Astoux

Roaming the small streets of Vieux Nice (old town), we stumbled across some lovely family-run restaurants. Of course a visit to Nice wouldn’t be complete without a casual lunch of socca (chickpea crepe), beignets d’aubergines (eggplant fritters) and the renouned Nicoise salad.

Restaurants in Vieux Nice (old town)

Street food in Nice -socca, nicois salad, aubergine fritters
Street food in Nice -socca, nicois salad, aubergine fritters

A private beach in Nice
A private beach in Nice

So, this week I’m in Italy – Bologne, Venice and Rome, then off to Santorini and Dubai and back home!

Le Petit Puchet
Place de Clichy
Paris 18eme
Phone: 01 45 22 36 76

Regis Colin
53, rue Montmartre
Paris 2eme
Phone: 01 42 36 02 80

Rose Bakery
46, rue des Martyrs
Paris 9eme

La Flute Gana
226, rue des Pyrenees
Paris 20eme

Pierre Herme
185, rue de Vanigirard

Le Cinq
Four Seasons Hotel
31, avenue George V

Le Trumilou
84, Quaide
L’Hotel de Ville, Paris

Lou Pilha Leva
10 rue du Collet (Corner of Place Centrale)
Vieux Nice

Restaurant Astoux & Brun
27 avenue Felix Faure

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.