You might not think it but Paris is right up there in the top 10 best cities for ice cream– in my opinion– next to gelato kings Rome and Florence. Ice cream is a major food group for me so I couldn’t have moved to a better town.
When I saw a miniature chariot à glace resting on a real antique version in the toy museum in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, I knew I had to draw a Paris ice cream map. The Provençal Sunday flea market is a major draw but don’t miss the charming Musée du Jouet et de la Poupée ancienne if ice cream carts are your obsession.
A sure sign of Spring is the arrival of ice cream chariots and cases parked on Parisian sidewalks. For a culture renowned for frowning on snacking in public, there are plenty of cones (cornets) being eaten in the streets. Most patisseries and boulangeries make their own artisanal ice cream on the premises (fait maison). The range of flavors (parfums) can be enormous and idiosyncratic even for small no-name boulangeries. Expect the unexpected.
Sample flavors: apricot whisky, Confiture de lait, Thé Earl grey, pomme verte, thym citron, mûres de framboisier, litchee, thé vert matcha, Noisette praliné, Café pamplemousse, Cannelle, pêche de vigne, violette, caramel au beurre salé, macaron pistache, l’armagnac-pruneaux, After Eight, saffran, fleur de rose, tomate, avocat-guacamole, betterave, citron-romarin et citron-basilic, marron…
Une Glace à Paris offers 5 different kinds of vanille sitting in a banquette (boat) for a mad example.
Some other useful ice cream terms:
artisanal = small shops with less than 50 workers using traditional methods.
une boule / deux boules = 1 dip / 2 dips
avec Chantilly = whipped cream on top
le cornet = a cone
les glaciers = ice cream sellers
les granités = chipped ice with flavored syrup on top
les bâtons glacés = popsicles
nos fraîcheur = our freshly made…
les parfums = flavors
sorbet = fruit sherbet/sorbet
By lucky chance I live on L’île Saint-Louis, home of Paris’ best-loved ice cream, Berthillon (29 rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile, 75004). Was this karmic destiny? At first I thought I’d prodigiously taste all 57 flavors one-a-day. I’m only up to about 15. Parisians happily line up willing to wait however long it takes to buy their cornet from the source even though you can buy the same ice cream from open restaurant windows across the street. True, Berthillon sells their petit sized 1-scoop cone for 50 centimes less. Why I don’t know. More elaborate concoctions with creme Chantilly and almond biscuits await in their salon de thé next door. Best loved flavor – Caramel beurre salé.
Le Bac à Glaces (109 rue du Bac just up from Le Bon Marché) keeps the 7th arrondissement happy with more than 60 flavors, conveniently placed close to Square des Missions Etrangères if you prefer to eat discretely. Le bac is French for the large ice cream containers.
La Ferme de la Métairie parks their old-time buggy with colorful umbrellas at Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées in the 8th arrondissement, offering 27 organic fruit sorbets. You’ll find them on the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles and Fontainebleau as well. Or you can hire them for your wedding/soirée in Paris.
Maison Stohrer on 51 rue Montourgeil in the 2nd arrondissement will supply your picnic from apero, main, patisserie and ice cream from their case dans le rue. Expect classic flavors from one of the oldest traitors in Paris, in business since 1730.
By the way don’t expect giant scoops of ice cream. The French scoops are equal to a small apricot, easily 1/2 the size of American scoops. Unless you’re at Amorino where they throw on as many flavors tulip-petal style as they can manage and you can eat.