Paris and St Valentine are a couple that go hand in hand, don’t they?
This past couple of weeks, in between steely, dreary days and an unrestful flurry of snow, the sun has popped out to say bonjour. Passing the Hôtel de Ville, I found myself reaching for giant floating hearts. Bubbles were in the air.
For the romantic ice-skaters amongst you, the ice rink or patinoire at the Hôtel de Ville will remain open until 1 March 2015.
Instead I was walking to the Centre Pompidou to meet up with a visiting friend from Provence with the most contagious, lilting sing-song accent. Did you know that the Centre Pompidou has been open to the public since 1977 and owns the biggest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe? Its contemporary tubing exterior is also arty symbolic: red for circulation, blue for air and green for water.
There’s been a lot of hype around the Jeff Koons exhibition there, “The Retrospective”. It’s at the top floor of the Pompidou Centre and is running until 27 April 2015. Personally, I found this a highly different cup of tea to swallow. Industrial hoovers, adverts, basketballs floating in glass cases, a porcelain statue of Michael Jackson sitting with a monkey? I just didn’t get it. Balloon Dog and Hanging Heart look as light as balloons but they each weigh about a ton in stainless steel.
Being on the 6th floor, you’ll love looking out over the surrounding rooftops of Paris. It’s a great place to come to see breathtaking views. I had one thing on my mind: where we could venture out nearby. After all, it was time for tea! There’s restaurant Georges on the top floor if you wish to splash out (stunning red roses were on every table) but for a teatime goûter, there are so many pâtisseries to choose from around here, especially along rue Rambuteau (more on that another time – especially as I have many more suggestions in my forthcoming book, “Teatime in Paris“). Since it was rather cold and the end of the sales in Paris, I had a sweet idea.
Walking down Rue du Renard (fox street) towards the Hôtel de Ville, we turned left into rue de la Verrerie and headed less than a couple of short blocks to the BHV store (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville), a Parisian institution.
Heading for the 3rd floor, it was time for tea and pastries at the Pâtisserie of dreams, La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Pastry chef, Philippe Conticini, dreamed up his first concept pastry boutique in rue du Bac in 2009. He now has six boutiques in the Paris area – and has also opened in London and Japan. The Parisian tea salon in BHV is the latest to have opened in July 2014 – and admittedly I checked it out last summer with Mardi Michels (blogging friend of Eat.Live.Travel.Write fame). Each summer I meet up with Mardi, it’s Champagne flutes rather than teapots, dahlinks. When in Paris, I love it when Mardi goes for the pink bubbles – and in this case, it perfectly matched the Pâtisserie des Rêves décor!
Check out these teapots. It was like drinking from an oversized doll’s tea-set. That’s Philippe Conticini’s concept: to evoke memories of sweet childhood. Now that’s more like creating memories; imagine this coffee éclair, wrapped in caramelised chocolate?
Even the simple jug of water is classy. I don’t normally drink much water but the touch of lime zest made it actually taste pleasurable! This is the first time I’ve tasted his éclairs. Don’t judge: I normally go for the ongoing fabulous classics: the Saint Honoré, Paris-Brest and oh, his tarte au citron meringuée…
There are many more to choose from. Through my tastings over the years, many of his pastries are slightly sweeter than most. Funnily enough, Conticini is one of the rare pastry chefs that doesn’t do macarons. I’m certainly not complaining; there are plenty more exquisite pastries to choose from including limited editions, according to his creative whim and delicious seasonal fancy.
On Wednesday, children are the focus of dreams here. As there are no French school classes in the afternoon to enjoy extra-curricular activities, this is the favourite form of workshop. When we were there, there was a crêpe party for them with plenty of the well known rose-pink balloons.
My tea may have been an ephemeral moment in Paris but my sweet tastings from La Pâtisserie des Rêves happily continue at the boutique in Parly 2, our shopping centre near Versailles for us who live out of Paris. I’d better hurry up and order his special Valentine’s cake for two with raspberry and lemon mousse, although please don’t tell Antoine I tried it, haha. Proof is the girls and I tasted even more pastries this week. I’ll have to write another post!
I’ll leave you with a quick shot of this giant bubble before it soared above the Hôtel de Ville.
Have a lovely Valentine’s weekend. Fill it with fun, sweet dreams of Paris and lots of bubbles!
Disclaimer: Like all my blog posts, I am not sponsored by anyone and have in no way been asked to write this post. All views are entirely my own. Update: Alas, La Pâtisserie des Rêves has closed down but BHV Paris always have new exciting restaurants and tearooms here.