Just Paris Things - Pierre Herme & Arc de Triumphe
I picked up my cookies at the Pierre Hermé shop in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. The elegant little macarons are made from two almond meringue like cookies which sandwich a creamy ganache or icing layer. I chose three, the Infiniment Vanille and the shimmering Pistache et Griottine, an amazing flavor combination of pistachio, ceylon cinnamon and griottine cherry. Plus an oversized mogador macaron, tart passion fruit cookies filled with decadent milk chocolate. So good. I visited twice during my trip and didn't even bother with Ladurée (Paris' other famous macaron emporium) until I got to the airport for the flight home.
I was also eager to try another famous French pastry, the Canelé. While not a Parisian thing, Canelé are a Bordeaux specialty, one of my favorite food blogs recommended the Pierre Hermé version. And it was delightful. Edges crisp with burnt sugar with a light, vanilla scented spongy-custard interior.
The only thing more French than the Eiffel Tower is the Arc de Triomphe. The traffic around Paris' second favorite monument is intense. A dozen boulevards, including shopping mecca, the Champs-Elysées, converge in a roundabout from hell. To get to the Arch, pedestrians take an underground tunnel that bypasses the mess at ground level. I visited in the early evening and there was no real line to speak of, but I did use my Paris Museum Pass to get faster access. There's no elevator and the dark, seemingly endless, spiral staircases are a bit daunting.
The view is totally worth it. There's the hustle and bustle of the Champs-Elysées to the east. Then, to the north, the hills of Montmarte and the glowing white dome of Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Looking west you'll see the metropolitan business district of La Défense with it's own Grande Arche, a modern counterpart to the Arch de Triumphe. And of course, to the south, you can't miss the Eiffel Tower. I recommend visiting an hour or two before sunset, when the city takes on a golden glow and and the trees cast long shadows over the wide boulevards and architecture.