If you ever find yourself hungry in Paris’ 5th ‘arrondisement’, there are a few places you may want to visit. Between fresh fruit stalls and seafood markets, in addition to local pâtisseries, this district boasts full of restaurants that cater to various palettes.
Keeping you well informed, here’s a little taste of what I spotted along the streets of Rue Monge, Paris. Not to be confused with ‘mange’ that means ‘eat,’ Rue Monge is not your typical tourist attraction and, however quiet, it remains worthy of some notable buzz.
Starting with a duo – literally neighbouring markets – Poissonerie Monge and Au Jardin de Lutèce are considerably destined stops for local Parisians who seek fresh seafood and a bountiful of tropical fruits and garden vegetables. While I haven’t had the fortune to cook the ‘catch of the day’ – chez Poissonerie Monge – my testing of freshly squeezed orange juice, decadent honey-sweet dates among other seasonal berries are to be discussed. Beginning the day with vitamin-rich essentials, locating this fruit stall all began with a quick passage down the street. Like many happy accidents, some hidden gems are best identified when merely walking. Once there, this roofed ‘garden’ does not disappoint. Eyeing a rainbow display of every fruit and vegetable you can name from A to Z, there’s clearly no shortage of items.
As for my impromptu excursion, the prices are a bit steep but, the quality reigns supreme and leaves a lasting impression from first to last bite. Personally, I recommend the ‘jus d’orange’ as it’s prepared on the spot, and is consistent of sweet and tart flavours – seriously, a delicious way to start the day. Like the citrus, this vendor knows how to pick dates. Too mesmerized to ask their origin, whether Medjools or not, there’s no mistaking these dates were certainly fresh with a soft outer layer, meaty in size – not dried up or shrivelled like some other varieties – and, jam-packed with sweetness. Surely, a date or two is the perfect lightweight snack to keep anyone energized. Consisting of more happy surprises, each corner of this small shop carries pockets of nature’s beauty. For instance, while indulging in ruby red currants and organic strawberries did amaze, the one that got away – hopefully, to be sampled on a future trip – was the box-load of once again ‘fresh’ hazelnuts. Can you believe it? Now, I know from former experience what fresh almonds look and taste like but, much to my excitement, seeing fresh hazelnuts was a first! Luckily, for those in the area, they can be found here Au Jardin de Lutèce. Now you know – ‘je vous en prie,’ you’re welcome!
From land and sea to farm fresh and freshly baked or cooked, there’s an endless list of gastronomic stops to recount. Briefly, for those with a sweet tooth, Rue Monge is also host to an array of ‘viennoiserie’ and classic French pastries – pain au chocolat, brioche, croissant, flan, tarte aux pommes, macarons, etc. – as well as simple cheese sandwiches, all courtesy of Maison Grégoire. Having said that, those after a more hearty lunch or late night dinner must-visit and must-walk further along Rue Monge and take a detour – all within walking distance, I promise – to Rue Mouffetard. Once there, behold: foodie central! Taking a late night promenade to Rue Mouffetard, myself, I find this street to be lively and boasting with a mélange of young and young-at-heart patrons. Likewise, the diverse spread of dessert parlours, tea houses, international fare – Greek, Italian, Turkish – and authentically French cuisine-oriented bistros run plenty.
Venturing to satisfy sweet and savoury senses, I opt for a cheese and egg-filled paper thin crêpe. How so very typical – I know, but don’t mind! Almost an equivalent to what we – North Americans – commonly identify as a pancake house, this ‘crêperie’ offers both Nutella/fruit options and meat/veg components, and speedily prepares them ‘à emporter,’ for takeout.
In continuation of the next sought after treat, I set out for a real beauty – an edible rose – at Gelati d’Alberto. Truly, a sight for tasteful eyes, this gelateria impresses not by its compact dimensions but, instead, by its glass-encased selection of uniquely flavoured congealed confections. At initial glance, I’m left intrigued by flavours such as açaí berry, “Alibaba” – a mixture of sesame and orange blossom water – litchi, and even aloe vera. Ultimately, request is made for a delicate yet vibrant trio of: rose, pistachio and strawberry gelato. Taking time to savour this ‘fleur,’ each petal layer at a time, the distinct combination of the three gelati did make for a pleasantly memorable experience. Undeniably fragrant, this perfumed hand-crafted rose smelled sweet as much as it tasted intoxicatingly true to the essence of rose water – simply, magnifique!
Needless to say, it’s all in the way it tastes! And, in keeping with homemade tradition, Alberto’s use of pure fruit and quality ingredients speak volumes in the final product of gelati and sorbets that is clean and refreshing on the palette. It’s no wonder, then, that gelati and sorbets made by this ‘maître glacier’ – master ice-cream maker – are self-proclaimed to be the envy of town, “L’envie en rose,” and rightfully so. All in a day’s work, this food-hunting escapade just touches the surface of all there is to explore. While I’m sure I could go on with more mention of French food or the artisans who craft them, there’s no denying this fact: “La vie est belle, et vous êtes comme elle!” Life’s beautiful – and even more so with ‘la cuisine française’!
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