Paris: Chocolate + Love Wall = Sweet Crush in Abbesses
By Theadora Brack
Winter has finally arrived in Paris, so with arms tangled and hair highly mussed, let’s stroll to my favorite pâtisserie and rendezvous hotspot. I am in the mood for some warm, flaky goodies, so hold on tight while I straighten your trench coat collar. Love is in the air. Follow my lead.
Meet Pascal Barillon
Located in Abbesses, Au Levain d’Antan is where I buy most of my croissants and pain au chocolat pastries. Last year, Pascal Barillon of Au Levain d’Antan won the “Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris.”
Envelope, please! The amiable boulanger scored a shiny medal, cash, and the honor of baking bread for President Nicolas Sarkozy and First Lady Carla Bruno-Sarkozy at the Palais de l’Elysées (the French presidential palace) for one year.
Here’s the scoop: The annual award is based on aroma, texture, crust, and size. And yes, Virginia, size DOES matter, at least when it come to bread—this year 32 of the 175 competing baguettes got eliminated because, well, they came up a tad on the short side.
Here’s another tidbit. In the past five years, four boulangeries in Montmartre have won the coveted award. Could it be that there’s something special about the old hill’s own local earth, wind and fire!
What to order?
I highly recommend Monsieur Barillon’s pain au chocolat. Tip: Every blue moon, the ladies that run this shop can be a tad crabby. But don’t take it personally. Just rise to the occasion, and savor each chocolate morsel and flake like there’s no tomorrow!
In the mood for love?
Then, with your Levain d’Antan sweets in hand, sashay on over to the nearby “J’taime Wall,” located by the Hector Guimard entrance to Metro Abbesses. Pack a hanky! It’s never failed to move me to tears.
Created by Frederic Baron and Claire Kito, the phrase “I Love You” in 250 languages is inscribed on glazed blue tiles.Take heed: After your visit, you might even commit a few acts of random kindness! Life is groovy.
Au Levain d’Antan
6 rue des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
Métro: Abbesses or Pigalle