I started this year’s Bastille Day with excitement and in a celebratory mood. I’ve only been in France a couple of times on Bastille Day, but I always celebrate wherever I am in the world.
By afternoon, though, excitement and celebration had turned to tragedy with the breaking news of a mad man plowing through a crowd in Nice. I began seeing photos of Nice everywhere on social media… in the way those of us who have visited think of it: charming, welcoming, and beautiful. I ended up posting the carnival ride shot in the Tuileries on Instagram because I love the joy and carefree feeling it evokes, even in times of great sadness. 🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷
Americans have a love affair with France for decades, if not centuries. One of the most interesting books I have ever read on France is the prolific David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, in which he discusses early Americans’ interest and downright fascination with France, and Paris more specifically. French styles in homes and décor are as popular as anything else out there and France remains a number one tourist destination for Americans year after year.
In the time I spend back in my hometown, Kansas City, Missouri, I always enjoy discovering new places that pop up – and there are many. One of my most recent favorites has been Sasha’s Baking Company in Downtown KC, where you can get your Paris and Amsterdam fix at the same time (because, in my opinion, the interior is more Dutch than French). The menu is typically French, but familiar for Americans, and the breakfast pâtisseries are to die for. I’m so thankful to have this taste of France so close to me when I return.
Back in 2012, a friend of mine let me stay in his very nice place on rue Gay Lussac for a few weeks, in the 5th arrondissement, where (at the time) I had spent very little time. If you’re not familiar with the street, perhaps knowing that it was just around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens gives you a hint of its lovely location. Usually, my route to get home from a day out in Paris took me down Boulevard Saint Michel (which borders the Gardens), past Quick and other unfortunate fast food restaurants, then up rue Gay Lussac. Day after day, I would pass this modern looking pastry shop with dozens and dozens of colorful macarons sitting in the windows and display cases longing to be taken to a Parisian park and savored. Alas, I caved one day but limited myself to a mere half dozen. It was just enough for a sampling of the flavors and to get a sense of the quality. Now, I do not tout myself as a macaron connoisseur (though I have had my fair share over the years). If memory serves, the flavors I chose were: Mangue Passion, Praliné noisettes, Pistache grillotte, Caramel fleur de sel, Café, and Ganache chocolate Noir.
I was unfamiliar with this patissier at the time, and really haven’t heard much of Franck Kestener since, but I must say his macarons are on par with the best I have had anywhere in Paris. Crispy shells, moeulleux insides, and rich flavors. I recommend this place enthusiastically.
7 r Gay Lussac
Tel: 01 43 26 40 91
Ouvert le dimanche et le lundi de 11H00 à 20H00
Mardi au Samedi de 10H00 à 20H00