It’s safe to say we’re all after the non-touristy spots. At least, I’m sure you are, dear reader. However, unless you have a trusted source, it’s pretty tough to find the gems by using your instincts alone (unless, of course, you have a gift). Tricks like ‘getting off the beaten path’ don’t always work either. You can wing it and hope for the best (optimists will tell you this often ends magically), or you can find said trusted source.
Jackie Kai Ellis was this for me in Paris. And thanks to her launch of The Paris Tours, which is focused on dessert, she can be that for you, too.
The pastry aficionado and owner of Beaucoup Bakery (a life-changing establishment for Vancouverites who’ve left their hearts and mouths in Paris) feels at home in France’s capital and visits enough to call it just that. She did attend pastry school at the prestigious École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil, after all.
Four times a year, she’ll be in town hosting tours, where up to six guests will embark on three to four hour walking adventures to ten of Paris’ best patisseries and chocolateries. If there’s anyone most suitable to lead such an adventure, it’s Jackie Ellis. Need proof? Head to her Fir Street location for a croissant that will leave you blinking and breathless.
Jackie’s inaugural tour took place on a warm, blue-skied May day. After having spent two days solo in Paris already (meaning I had of course already done a little pastry “research”) I wondered if I’d be making any repeat visits. No. Absolutely not.
Everywhere I’d visited and swooned over previously paled in comparison to where Jackie led us: the jewels of the city, seemingly run by the most detail-oriented of perfectionists imagineable. Some were old and historic (Angelina), others were new and modern (AOKI). There were even one-item specialty bakeries (La Maison du Chou).
The sheer pleasure of consumption (which occurred round-table-sharing-style once all the goodies had been rounded up) brought one of the tour guests to tears. But the experience transcended the tasting. Colorful bits of each patisserie’s history were shared, as were juicy details of the pastry chefs (some famous, some up-and-coming) and other facts you won’t find on the internet. Add this one to your bucket list.