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Paris never ceases to amaze me. Remarkable “foodie” treasures are tucked into Paris quarters on and off the beaten path, inevitably appearing in what seem like delightfully unlikely places. During recent forays to explore Belleville, Batignolles, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and “So-Pi” (South Pigalle) to develop my culinary explorations, I discovered numerous new-to-me gems, some hiding in plain sight near other perennially favored venues.
L’écureuil, Paris 17th
L’écureuil is a sweet spot that is absolutely vaut le voyage up to the northeastern rim of Paris. This little pâtisserie par excellence is reinventing classic French pâtisseries to delicious effect. Located on the northern reaches of the top-quality rue de Lévis market street, L’écureuil sits in a very residential quarter amid multiple adorable shops that feature children’s toys and clothes (take note, parents and grandparents!).
Laurence Edeler, the charming and animated owner, has teamed up with her master pastry chef-husband Ralf Edeler and a brigade of talented bakers to create a drop-dead-gorgeous French pâtisserie that is market-driven, true to culinary roots, but less sweet and rich than most. Indeed, the Pudlo Guides declared L’écureuil best new Paris pâtisserie back in 2008.
Market-driven pâtisserie? That means pâtisseries crafted from ingredients at their seasonal peak, using the best fruit and berries from the markets, highlighting freshness and dense, pure flavor. It also means creating pâtisseries that use the best butter and cream but to the end of enriching the primary flavor, not dominating it. Sugar and icings are generally either kept to the minimum or not used at all. For example the luscious multi-layered millefeuilles or the éclairs do not have icing. They do have a razor-thin layer of bitter dark chocolate or other complimentary topping that attracts the eye and delights the palate. Baba rhum cakes are not drenched in a sweet rum syrup, they nestle in a pure fruit coulis. Their traditional Tarte Bourdaloue featured a very up-to-the-moment poached pear set like a jewel into a pastry and cream frame. Beautiful to regard and delicious, too!
L’écureuil also makes some of the best macarons that I have tasted anywhere in Paris, including those from the famed shrines of macaron-dom. And of course macaron flavors change seasonally. In autumn, cassis, rose, lemon, lavender, passion fruit and other fruity, floral flavors join the classic flavor pantheon of chocolate, coffee, praline, raspberry or pistachio.
Their madeleines are also superb with an interesting dense texture shot through with a hint of honey and orange. In addition to the splendid pâtisserie selection, one can find several savory tarts and on weekends, the selection is expanded to include hearty Alsatian cakes and breads.
The attractive little shop also sports a nice selection of pure fruit jams, floral essences, herbal teas from Normandy, flavored finishing sugars and chocolates. The shop is located close enough to Parc Monceau or the Parc des Batignolles to warrant a stop to buy treats for a delectable picnic.
Tél: 01 42 27 28 27
96, rue de Lévis, Paris 17th
Métro: Villiers or Malesherbes
Open: Tuesday through Saturday, 9am-8pm
PHOTO CREDITS: publicity photos courtesy of L’écureuil
Sally Peabody is a Paris specialist who leads Your Great Days in Paris, small group cultural and culinary tours in France, the Pays Basque, Istanbul and Turkey. Please click on her name to read about her next tours and to read her past reviews published in BonjourParis.
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