Piece by Piece: Chase the Chocolate in Paris
The principle is simple, find a location you want to visit... get a map... search for the local tourist running routes and depending on how far you want to run; map it out... Then, search for all the chocolate, bakeries (patisserie in this case) macaron and hot choc places and overlay them to the map then star it all on google and map it on any running app (strava, map my route etc). Then get ready for a great day and get everything ready the night before.
Staying at http://www.hoteldanielparis.com/en/ was a godsend and a place I highly recommend, great location, great people and exceptionally helpful and friendly staff. They really made us welcome and were just as interested in our journey as we were.
The night before we checked to see what was open, set out our gear ready for wear:
Trainers- comfortable to wear no new trainers
Running belt/ ultra back pack... carrying enough water and one bottle each with electrolytes
Some money (well you never know)
Maps with all places marked out (plan b) Just in case!
Running kit - no new kit just comfy good ole gear
Sunscreen, Sunglasses and cap - just in case
Phones and camera to tape experience (fully charged)
In our case we nearly succeeded in doing all that except plan b, I was in charge of bringing the paper map and well I was so engrossed with filling the water bladder I forgot that and my hat! Which later proved would have been handy! Oh well, now being super conscious we had our batteries of our phone to think about, we set off along the Champs-Élysées at a nice pace...
It didn’t take us long to stop and try work out which way to Eiffel Tower but thankfully after several ‘map checks’ off we trundled. Early sat morning in Paris slightly off the tourist track proves to be somewhat relaxing as the roads were fairly clear and thankfully we recognised places as we went along. Old memories of trips popped into our heads as well as wishful thinkings of places we wanted to go with people we thought we would but alas didn’t. Paris is a mass of both memories old and new mixed with wishfulness.
Finally coming to the roundabout, realising quickly we clearly aren’t great at crossing the road here - left right left right damnit let’s go... Sprint! A lot of the time it made it quite entertaining and any spike I do have on my garmin is from precisely these moments!
Round the corner and onto the viewing gallery of Eiffel Tower... it is a splendid piece of architecture as many others also thought... after taking photos, a short video we navigated our way down, at which I thought would be a great place to do a running movie montage to find we were running into sprinklers and got soaked. A defining moment of how to get soaked early on on the route, thankfully it was a sunny day so proved to be a welcome addition to our experience and highly amusing... once we got under the Eiffel which, sad to see you can’t touch anymore ( which I remember doing as a kid!) Oh yes I hear you ask... how old are you? Old enough to have had the honour to touch the Eiffel, that’s how young I am 😁
After by passing the already snaking queue to the Eiffel we made our way along the gardens to the first chocolate place: Sadharu Aoki Paris, one of the greatest Chocolatiers we went to along our journey. His flavour combinations and subtle and yet perfection met we were dazzled from the get go.. or we would have been if we weren't 15 mins early.. so Abbi spying a rather cute looking cafe just opposite, we perched on our seat, drank our espresso and waited for the doors to open. Saying which this cafe was quintessentially French... chairs facing the road to watch the world go by, relaxed and blooming good coffee and friendly service even with our broken French!
The windows lift up and voila, the most beautiful chocolates seen in a long time, all perfectly in line, all cut and tempered to perfection and every bit the mouthing watering goodness they are... the chocolates are infused with Japanese flavours, matcha, Yuzu to name a few and the others are delicately balanced fruit bites which taste divine... the hot chocolate comes in an original *dunk, stir and melt* variety in 4 flavours... noir (dark) yuzu (a bitter lemon flavour) sesame ( nutty and sweet) and matcha... as we were running round we couldn’t get them all but we noted to come back... however the purpose of the journey was to be fuelled by chocolate so Abbi got a sesame bite and I got the yuzu: each about 5-10g each of dark chocolate infusion... heavenly to say the least.. more things should have yuzu in!
So after we had our first hit of chocolate (4 miles in) we ventured onwards... back past the Eiffel Tower then realising we took a wrong turn and had to run back the way we came as well as encountering a chap wanting to run along with us.. heading past the ecole militaire and musee d’armie, we headed over to run along the Seine, getting a look of disapproval from my friend as I’m not as up to date with French history as I apparently should be we continued along to the Musee D’orsay, a bit of sight seeing along the way and as I happened to have the backpack, I became the packhorse for souvenirs (lucky me!), after loading up, we decided to take a slight detour to the Pantheon: A place neither of us had been to but worth the wait, a beautiful stunning building and only a little out of our route... as we ran back down to the Seine we found our way to Notre Dame and ran around, along and behind it as well as finding a lovely few shops to nip into, and even a candy store or two to smell past... by which point we were 9/10 miles in: depending on whose garmin you looked at... we were getting a little hungry, which was just as well that we were coming up to 3 of the choc places in a row... arrival at Chocolate shop 2 Meilleux aux Fred let us down as was shut for August...
A note to all: August is the month where a lot of chocolate/patisserie shops maybe closed as they all go on holiday.. Always check before you go.. We didn't!
Sadly dis-gruntled and hungry, we then headed to Chocolate/Patisserie shop 3: Genie D’eclair to have a bite to eat and as chocolate was our fuel, we edged our way closer to that goal... we had a mini platter to share and the strongest coffee Ive ever tasted... A beautiful array of eclairs to dazzle the eyes and make your mouth water! They know how to create magical eclairs... soft delicate and full of flavour!
We then ran on along to the Pompidou and marvelled at the 70’s futuristic building and found somewhere the fill up our bottles of water.. I love how Paris have water stations to fill up on... This should be everywhere - so handy!
After running around the 70's marvel we headed to Le Louvre, trying to work out how to get through, we ended up following someone that looked like they knew what they were doing and low and behold they did and beauty, architecture and stunning glass triangles be-dazzle us. We were quite mesmerised.
After checking in our map *probably for the umpteenth time* we came to the cross roads and took a right, only to find a few extra chocolate shops we hadn't anticipated - SCORE!
Chocolate shop 4: Sebastien Gaudard Patisserie were they make all their chocolates in house and rather old school in styling, they were super friendly and very helpful. Trying out the earl grey and cassis ganache. They were punchy and packed with flavour that married really well with dark chocolate. We trundled on our way and hit the mother load... 4 chocolate/macarons shops in a 100m radius. Chocolate shop 5: Pierre Marcolini, which has dark chocolate made from various regions of the world and helpfully they labelled the country on the chocolate! After packing up the rucksack with more *chocolate*, we had to try some as that was the point of our running mission, so I had one from Venezuela and Abbi had one from Madagascar. Dark, flavoursome and a powerhouse of pungent dark chocolate goodness.
I have to admit going to all these did push us to our limits on the chocolate front as they were so close together but as all good adventurers, we took the challenge by the horns and pushed our way through to the end.. It did help that we had done about 13 miles by this point and considering we hadn't eaten anything but chocolate, we were still being fuelled and happy by chocolate.
Onto the next one, we took about 20 steps and found Chocolate shop 6: Jean Paul Hevin, where we did actually see he did token hot chocolate on the side, with the main event being beautiful chocolate. After procuring the hot chocolate - for testing purposes back home, we had a piece: Abbi had Pampelmousse (grapefruit), the perfect time to have something fruity and refreshing and I had Caraibe which is a perfect balance of smooth dark chocolate and roasted dried fruit notes with a slightly oaky finish. I have to say though the refreshing grapefruit was preferable, purely from the refreshing fruity side!
After guzzling bottles of water to help wash away the chocolate and to hydrate ourselves in the heat, we jogged our way over to Chocolate/Macaron shop 7: Laduree... now this is a beautiful shop inside and out and one where we didn't eat anything as it was macarons and not chocolate (we are perfectionists after all ;) ). Quirky, pretty and pastels pebbles of sweetness. If you love Macarons, this is the SHOP to go to!
Our final chocolate place for the day was the one i had heard of by so many people as *The place to go for hot chocolate* sumptuous, decadent, stand your spoon up hot chocolate that is too rich for one person... forewarned is forearmed... we went in and asked for a hot chocolate, we tried to get it in an espresso cup but no.... sadly the lady being the counter didn't seem too happy to serve us or be there for that matter, no matter we side stepped her morose appearance and got one hot chocolate with a spare cup. Crossing the road to the carnival taking place, we found a patch of grass to sit on and sip away at our final chocolate for the day. It was exactly what everyone says... it is truly rich, creamy, thick and decadent. One cup will actually be enough for 3 or 4 people.. Its far too much for any one person and sits heavily on your stomach. Which proves my point that you don't need a lot of chocolate. Our culture seems to be one where over indulgence is better than the right size...but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way.. perceptions can change just as attitudes can. It was a spectacular drink, but a tiny shot would have sufficed. I was actually grateful that we had another 2 miles to run before we reached our hotel so help burn some of that off!
All in all, this was one of the best weekends I've had this year. Running with my best friend, going to all the best chocolatiers in Paris and making notes across the map as to which is our favourites... Hands down... Sadharu Aoki Paris stood out the most for us.. and in case you don't fancy going to each and every chocolate location, you can find most of them in the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet (something we found out the next day when we went shopping), but in all fairness i loved the way we did it.. Getting out and about, seeing all the major landmarks of Paris as well as being fuelled by chocolate. The chase the chocolate route was the best and most fun way to see a location.
Now we need to look for another location: Possibly London, Norway or somewhere else.. any suggestions, greatly welcome?