Thursday, August 09, 2012

On the footsteps of The Chocolate Thief...

Hmmmm, where to start? LOL. I guess from the beginning :P Back in May, I was very excited that Laura Florand had a short story, All's Fair in Love and Chocolate, in the anthology Kiss the Bride, coming out. This was her first release ever since her debut novel Blame it on Paris, which is a memoir, that I've read and loved :) I was even more thrilled to learn that All's Fair in Love and Chocolate was the first installment of a new series, The Paris Chocolatiers, and that the first full-length novel, The Chocolate Thief, was being released in July! Can you imagine my reaction when Ms Florand contacted me to offer an ARC of The Chocolate Thief? How excited and happy I was? Especially knowing that I was actually going to Paris during the summer, just before the release date?!? Yeah, pretty happy LOL. And for this opportunity, I really have to thank Mandi from Smexy Books who sent her review of All's Fair in Love and Chocolate to Ms Florand which resulted in Ms Florand seeing my comment and contacting me. Thank you Mandi!! And of course, thank you Ms Florand for the ARC!! :)

So as soon as Ms Florand offered me the ARC, I knew I wanted to do something special for the release date, especially since I was going to Paris. My initial idea was to take note of all the places mentioned in The Chocolate Thief, visit them and make a post out of it. However, turns out I was so engrossed in The Chocolate Thief that I kind of forgot to take notes ^_^; Plus, some of the places mentioned are pretty standard such as the Eiffel Tower, Trocadéro and the Bateaux-Mouches which I of course visited... and that you can see pictures of here. One place though that did stand out in my mind and that I visited because of the impressions Ms Florand's books left was the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Beautiful isn't it? However, that wasn't my secret mission :) Want to know what it was? Well, at the end of The Chocolate Thief, Ms Florand has a little section called "Worth a trip to Paris" in which she recommends the chocolate shops of Jacques Genin and Michel Chaudun. She also mentions how Jacques Genin's salon du chocolat was her source of inspiration for the setting of one of the future series installments... and therefore, I really wanted to go. Talking with Ms Florand just made me more determined to do so LOL. So here is my little adventure to Jacques Genin's shop! Enjoy!

Arriving to Paris, Jacque Genin's chocolate shop was on my list of places to visit. However, having read The Chocolate Thief prior to the trip, it made me take notice of all the chocolate shops... and there are a lot! Here are some that I came across of :)

 Fouquet is on Rue Marché St Honoré, 1er arrondissement

Maison Georges Larnicol on Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6eme arrondissement

Franck Kestener on rue Gay-Lussac, 5eme arrondissement

I'm cheating with this one as it is in Konstanz, Germany :P

They all look great right? It was really hard, but I did resist to temptation :) Mostly because on my mind and in my heart, there was only Jacques Genin's. Though it did help that I had done some research before the trip and knew my little visit to Jacque Genin's shop was going to cost me a pretty penny LOL. So I stayed focused and did not stray!

I initially planned to go to Jacque Genin's shop on the same day I went to the Jardin du Luxembourg. However, my first attempt did not pan out because it was Monday and guess what? Yep, the shop is closed on Monday ^_^; I was actually very bummed out because at that point, I only had one day left in Paris before we headed to Germany and it was already decided we'd go to Versailles. Let just say the shop was not on the way :( It was also initially planned that my sister and I would get back to Paris on July 25 by train and get on the plane to go home the next day. Half a day in Paris seemed very tight to go to the shop ^_^; However, we all know how plans turn out right? LOL, they are very loose guidelines. Nope, we did not change our plane ticket - I wish LOL - but we did decide to come back to Paris a day early... and that meant I had a whole day to make my way to the shop! Yay!

On that day, I had three things on my list: 1) hunt for some mangas, 2) go to Jacques Genin to buy chocolates and caramels and 3) go to La Durée and buy macarons. I kept trying to figure out an order and it was so hard! Mangas are heavy, you don't really want to have to carry them the whole day... The weather had turned really warm and hot and meant if we bought the chocolates too early, there was a risk they'd melt... and macarons are really fragile, so the longer they are in the backpack, the higher the risk they'll break and all you'll have at the end are crumbs ^_^; Really tough choice! And see how I tend to over-think things LOL. Well in the end, we headed to Saint-Michel first where we visited a couple of bookstores. From Saint-Michel, we walked to Place du Châtelet where we took the métro. We navigated the maze that is the Châtelet station to get on the right lane and go to Place de la République which is the nearest métro station to Jacques Genin.

 Place du Châtelet

 Place de la République

From Place de la République, we had to find our way to rue de Turenne which was a bit more confusing because the Place was being renovated and not all the exits were open. Or perhaps my sister and I just didn't follow the signs correctly - it's a possibility LOL. Also, Place de la République wasn't as touristy as all the other spots we've visited, which was not a bad thing :) In the end though, we didn't have that much difficulty figuring things out and headed the right way... and quickly got to Jacques Genin's salon du chocolat. You know tea salon? Same concept, but replace tea by chocolate :)

Wooohooo, we found the street!! 

 And look, we're already there!!

When we got to the shop, the salon was full!! So we actually had to wait for a table... but that's okay, because it gave me time to check out the goods :) Obviously, this being a chocolate salon, I wanted to buy chocolates :) But there was something else that I wanted... the caramels!! I had read about them online prior to the trip and heard how yummy they were... And I love caramels to start, so that was a must! I had also heard about the price (110€/kilo), so I wasn't shock nor did I faint LOL.

The chocolates!! And the caramels, pâtes de fruits and nougats counter :)

A look of the shop and the salon

Also, when Ms Florand strongly recommended that I go to Jacques Genin's salon du chocolat, she also asked me to eat an éclair au chocolat for her... and that is exactly what I did! They also make milles feuilles, éclair au caramel, tarte au citron and IIRC, religieuses. My sister decided to go with a milles feuilles vanilla-raspberry which they construct on order.

Émilie with her milles-feuilles; my éclair - yum!

I think this says it all!

So, that was my secret mission!! A very yummy one LOL. It made my trip to Paris extra-special and also The Chocolate Thief! And indeed, Jacques Genin's salon du chocolat is "Worth a trip to Paris"!! If you have the chance to go, do so!! And try those awesome, awesome, awesome caramels!! They are heavenly!! So to conclude this post, here is what I brought back :)

Beautiful metallic boxes!!

 The caramels!! They are soft, smooth and melt in your mouth!! And all the flavors are wowzers! Yum!

 The chocolates! They look too nice to eat :)

And now, stay tuned for my review of The Chocolate Thief!!