Galette des Rois, or ‘King’s Cake,’ is an iconic French pastry with a rich, flavorful history that dates back centuries.
Traditionally baked to celebrate Epiphany — the day when the three Wise Men (Magi) visited Baby Jesus — this delicacy has woven its way into the cultural fabric of France and remains a beloved culinary tradition in the country and beyond.
The origins of Galette des Rois can be traced back to Roman times. The Romans celebrated the end of the winter solstice with a festival called Saturnalia, where societal roles were reversed, slaves became masters, and a ‘King for a Day’ was chosen by a fava bean hidden in a cake. When Christianity spread across Europe, the pagan festival was replaced with the Christian celebration of Epiphany. In this adaptation, the ‘King for a Day’ tradition survived and eventually evolved into the Galette des Rois we know today.
The Galette des Rois is distinctive not just for its rich almond cream filling, but also for the small porcelain figurine or ‘fève’ hidden inside. Originally, the fève was indeed a fava bean, from which the French term derives. Over time, the bean was replaced with tiny porcelain or plastic figures, often shaped like traditional nativity characters, popular culture figures, or symbols of good luck. The person who finds the fève in their slice is crowned the king or queen for the day, highlighting the age-old tradition of Saturnalia.
The 14th century saw the popularization of Galette des Rois in France, where it was embraced by both the church and the monarchy. The tradition held such sway that it even withstood the French Revolution. During this tumultuous period, anti-royalist sentiment led to the renaming of the cake to ‘Gâteau de l’Égalité’ or ‘Equality Cake.’ Still, the ritual of hiding a fève in the cake and crowning a king or queen persisted, cementing the Galette des Rois as a staple in French culture.
In the centuries that followed, the Galette des Rois underwent regional variations across France. In the northern parts, the traditional version is a puff pastry pie filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. In the south, particularly in Provence, a brioche-style cake called ‘Gâteau des Rois’ is preferred, often shaped like a crown and decorated with candied fruits.
The Galette des Rois also traveled across the world with French colonists and explorers, becoming integrated into different cultures. In the United States, particularly in Louisiana, a variation of the King’s Cake has become a vital part of Mardi Gras celebrations. This version is a sweet, circular cake topped with icing and sprinkles in traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold.
Over time, the Galette des Rois has transcended its religious origins to become a popular social event. In France, it is customary to ‘tirer les rois,’ or ‘draw the kings,’ throughout January, with family, friends, and colleagues gathering to share the Galette. This tradition strengthens community bonds and celebrates the new year in a convivial and delightful manner.
See also: Are croissants really French?
The Galette des Rois stands as a testament to the adaptability of culinary traditions over time and geographical boundaries. Its history spans the era from Roman pagan festivals to French royal courts, from revolutionary fervor to modern secular celebrations. With each slice of this delicious pastry, we partake in a tradition that has persevered through millennia, bringing together communities and generations over a shared, sweet experience.
In today’s globalized world, the Galette des Rois continues to evolve while staying true to its historic roots. New interpretations of the dessert surface every year, using different fillings, shapes, and even gluten-free or vegan versions. Yet, the tradition of hiding a fève and crowning a king or queen remains an essential part of the experience.
In essence, the Galette des Rois serves as a delightful reminder of our collective history and shared traditions, woven into the very fabric of society through centuries of change. Its annual return is more than just a culinary event; it’s a link to the past and a sweet promise of community, continuity, and celebration for the future.
In recent years, Paris, a city renowned for its patisseries and delicate macarons, has seen a burgeoning love affair with a classic American treat – the cookie. This sweet revolution has seen a multitude of cookie shops sprouting up across the city, each bringing a slice of American culinary culture to the heart of France.
The traditional French palate, known for its finesse and subtlety, is now lapping up these rich, indulgent delights, with a particular fondness for the classic American-style cookie – big, chunky, and often crammed with a generous helping of chocolate chips.
The magic of these cookies lies in their comforting simplicity and the nostalgia they evoke. Unlike the intricate French desserts, these cookies are unpretentious yet irresistible. They are a celebration of indulgence, with their gooey centers, crispy edges, and the heavenly aroma of baked dough and melting chocolate. In a city where culinary excellence is a way of life, these cookies have carved out their own special place, offering a deliciously unrefined contrast to the elegance of traditional French pastries.
This newfound cookie culture in Paris is not just about mimicking American flavors. It’s a creative fusion, embracing the classic American cookie’s spirit while infusing it with French culinary artistry. From the use of high-quality, local ingredients to innovative flavor combinations, Parisian cookie shops are redefining this humble treat, making it something uniquely their own.
See also: Are croissants really French?
1. Les Goûters de Karen
Les Goûters de Karen has quickly become a haven for cookie lovers. Situated in Asnières-sur-Seine, this shop is renowned for its wide range of cookies, all made with love and indulgence. From classic chocolate chip to adventurous new flavors, each cookie is a testament to the shop’s commitment to quality and flavor. Les Goûters de Karen
2. Crème London
Crème London, a famous name in London, has brought its cookie excellence to Paris. Located in the trendy district of Le Marais, their cookies are known for their perfect balance of crispy and chewy textures, making them a must-try for anyone seeking authentic American-style cookies in Paris. Crème London
Under the guidance of Charlotte Zeitoun, Cookidiction stands out with its unique recipes and high-quality ingredients. This Marais-based cookie store offers a gourmet experience, where traditional techniques meet innovative flavors, ensuring a delightful treat for every visitor. Cookidiction
Blondie is more than just a cookie shop; it’s a coffee shop and roaster that has mastered the art of cookie-making. Located in the 9th arrondissement, their cookies are the perfect companion to their expertly brewed coffee, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Blondie Paris
5. Scoop Me A Cookie
Oberkampf’s latest addition, Scoop Me A Cookie, is where creativity meets the classic cookie. Known for their innovative and mouth-watering varieties, they offer an exciting twist on the traditional American cookie, catering to both classic and adventurous tastes. Scoop Me A Cookie
Puffy’s Cookies, with their first Parisian address at 65 rue Condorcet, are famed for their crispy edges and melting hearts. Each cookie here is a blend of traditional American style and Parisian elegance, creating a truly unique cookie experience. Puffy’s Cookies
7. The Delambre Bakery
Address: 9th arrondissement, Paris
The Delambre Bakery, a New York cookie chain, brings a taste of the Big Apple to Paris. Located in the 9th arrondissement, they offer a genuine American cookie experience, with each bite taking you straight to the streets of New York.
8. Cookie Love
Cookie Love, nestled at 84 rue d’Aboukir, invites you to experience their range of delightful cookies. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, their cookies are a blend of traditional American recipes and Parisian finesse, perfect for an afternoon treat. Cookie Love
9. Cédric Grolet Opéra
Cédric Grolet Opéra, led by the renowned pastry chef Cédric Grolet, is not just a bakery but a destination for cookie connoisseurs. While primarily known for his exquisite pastries, Grolet’s foray into cookie making has been a resounding success, offering sophisticated twists on the classic American cookie. Cédric Grolet
10. La Fabrique Cookies
La Fabrique Cookies is a specialist in the field, offering an impressive variety of flavors. Their cookies range from chestnut flour and lemon meringue to banana, providing a unique taste experience. The highlight is their caramel d’Isigny au sel de cookie, a perfect blend of sweet and salty flavors. La Fabrique Cookies
Époisses de Bourgogne, more commonly known as Époisses, is a celebrated French cheese originating from the small village of Époisses in the Burgundy region of France. Renowned for its robust flavor and pungent aroma, this cheese is a must-try for any serious cheese aficionado.
Origin and Designation: Époisses de Bourgogne, or simply Époisses, is a traditional French cheese that originates from the village of Époisses in the Burgundy region of eastern France. It has been granted AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status, meaning it’s protected under French law and must adhere to specific standards regarding its production and sourcing of ingredients. Only cheese produced in a designated geographic area, using approved methods, can legally be called Époisses.
How It’s Made: Époisses is made from cow’s milk, primarily sourced from the local breeds of cattle in the Burgundy region. The process of making Époisses is meticulous. After curdling and draining the milk, the young cheese is washed in a solution of brine and a local spirit, Marc de Bourgogne. This is followed by several weeks of aging, during which the cheese is regularly washed in the Marc solution, contributing to the distinct flavor and rind.
Flavor and Texture: Époisses is renowned for its bold and complex flavor. It has a creamy, soft interior and a washed rind that’s orange-red in color. Its taste is robust, with a salty tang and underlying notes of beef and caramel. Despite its intense flavor, Époisses is also quite balanced and finishes with a smooth, lingering aftertaste. The texture is melt-in-your-mouth creamy, contrasting beautifully with the slightly tougher rind.
Pungent Aroma: One of the most notorious aspects of Époisses is its strong aroma. Often described as ‘pungent’ or ‘barnyardy’, its scent is unmistakably robust and earthy. This distinctive smell is due to the specific bacteria present during the fermentation process. Despite the strong smell, cheese connoisseurs appreciate Époisses for its complex flavor and creamy texture.
Serving Suggestions: Époisses is traditionally sold in a round wooden box and is best served at room temperature to fully appreciate its creamy texture. It pairs well with hearty red wines from its home region, like a Burgundy Pinot Noir, or with a complementary sweet white wine like Sauternes. The cheese can be spread on crusty bread or paired with fruits and nuts on a cheese board. Do note that due to its strong aroma, Époisses may not be suited for closed spaces or pre-dinner appetizers where it might overpower other flavors.
When you embark on a gastronomic exploration in France, one term you’re likely to come across is “AOC,” short for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée.
Translated to “controlled designation of origin,” AOC is a certification granted to certain French agricultural products, most notably wines and cheeses, based on the concept of terroir.
It is at times, interchangeable with Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP). The difference? AOC is France’s national designation of origin while AOP is a European Union (EU) designation that was established in 1992 to offer a level of protection similar to the French AOC but on a broader, European scale. The AOP label is used across EU countries to protect the names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.
At the heart of both labels, is the notion of ‘terroir’ — a French term with no direct English equivalent. Terroir encapsulates the unique combination of natural factors associated with a specific region, including its climate, geology, topography, and even local plant life. It’s believed that these factors together imbue a product with a character that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Established in 1935, AOC was designed to protect the authenticity and quality of French products. The Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO), a branch of the French Ministry of Agriculture, meticulously controls this. The INAO determines the precise geographical area that can produce an AOC product and sets strict rules about how that product must be cultivated and produced.
For instance, if a wine is labeled as a Bordeaux AOC, it means that the grapes are grown within the officially designated Bordeaux region, following established cultivation practices. It also indicates that the wine is produced according to specific methods and meets quality standards as verified by the INAO.
Cheeses, too, are significant bearers of the AOC label. Roquefort, Camembert de Normandie, and Comté are but a few examples. The INAO ensures that these cheeses are made using traditional methods and within the specified regions using local milk.
The AOC label provides a guarantee of authenticity and quality for consumers. It provides transparency, indicating the product’s true origin and adherence to traditional production methods. AOC products often command higher prices due to their perceived superior quality and unique characteristics, shaped by their specific terroir.
Yet, it’s worth noting that AOC doesn’t exist solely to aid gourmands in their pursuit of culinary excellence. It also serves an economic and cultural role. By protecting these products, AOC preserves local agricultural traditions, supports regional economies, and prevents the globalization of food and wine from erasing France’s distinctive culinary heritage.
In 2020 alone, the INAO reported a total revenue of 22.94 billion euros generated from all products under AOP, which includes 101 agri-food products (of which 51 are dairy products, mainly cheeses) as well as 363 wines, 17 spirits and 5 cider and perry labels.
Despite some criticisms about its rigidness, the AOC system has inspired similar schemes worldwide, including the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) in Italy and the Denominación de Origen (DO) in Spain.
Next time you reach for a bottle of French wine or a slice of cheese, remember that the AOC mark represents a journey — from a specific plot of land in France, nurtured by centuries-old traditions, straight to your table.
Table by Bruno Verjus, Plénitude and La Grenouillère makes it on World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2023
Three restaurants in France, Table by Bruno Verjus and Plenitude in Paris as well as La Grenouillère has been announced as being in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 list in a ceremony held in Valencia.
Table by Bruno Verjus, in particular is named as the highest new entrant at 10th position, a remarkable feat as the restaurant is helmed by eponymous self-taught chef who was previously a medical student, an entrepreneur in China, author, radio commentator, food critic and photographer. His restaurant in 12eme features a long counter with private nooks and an open kitchen which trots out seasonal dishes like gently cooked abalone and lobster brushed gently with ghee.
Plénitude at Cheval Blanc, placed 36th on the list on the other hand has just 26 seats and features a soothing white and yellow accents with a view of the Seine. Here, Normandy born chef Arnaud Donckele who also runs three-Michelin-starred La Vague d’Or in Saint Tropez is passionate about broth, velvet, consommé, sabayon, coulis and cream — the foundations of French cooking.
Yet Paris is not the only French city garlanded with a position in the rankings. La Grenouillère in La Madelaine sous Montreuil, a commune north of Paris has been placed 48th. Here, Alexandre Gauthier who takes over the establishment from his father demonstrates that countryside restaurants too can be worth their weight in gold.
The space features bold and creative locavore cuisine with a focus on the shores just north of the restaurant. The menu hands deep respect to seafood and vegetables with plenty of local inflections.
Other French chefs who achieved feats this year includes Julien Royer, who received the Chef’s Choice Award as well as placed 14th for Odette, his flagship restaurant is in Singapore.
Paris, renowned for its fashion, culture, and history, is also a vibrant and welcoming hub for the LGBTQ+ community.
From sipping cocktails on a bustling sidewalk to dancing the night away in a lively club, these LGBTQ+ friendly venues offer a blend of culture, history, and entertainment.
Whether you’re planning your first visit to Paris or are a seasoned traveler looking for fresh experiences, this comprehensive guide is sure to add a splash of rainbow to your visit.
The COX: Located in the Marais neighborhood, this lively bar has been a crowd favorite since 1995, attracting a varied clientele and fostering a friendly atmosphere. 15 Rue des Archives, 75004 Paris. cox.fr
Quetzal: Known for its sidewalk sipping scene, Quetzal is another must-visit spot in Marais. 10 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris.
Bear’s Den: Nestled on rue des Lombards, this bar is a staple in the community, attracting a robust crowd with its virile ambiance. 6 Rue des Lombards, 75004 Paris
The Labo Bar Club: Also on rue des Lombards, this bar presents a more diverse mix of patrons, contributing to its unique charm. 37 Rue des Lombards, 75001 Paris. thelabo.fr
Les Souffleurs: Perfect for those who enjoy dancing with a drink in hand, Les Souffleurs offers a wonderful selection of essential cocktails. 7 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris. www.les-souffleurs.fr
El Hombre: This male-oriented spot is perfect for enjoying a drink, sampling tapas, and partaking in a rich, varied program of events. 15 Rue de la Reynie 75004 Paris. elhombre.paris
Café Voulez-Vous: Situated on rue du Temple, this café offers a convivial atmosphere. 18 Rue du Temple, 75004 Paris. www.cafevoulezvous.com
Who’s Bar: A delightful spot located on rue Saint-Merri known for its friendly vibe. 14 Rue Saint-Merri, 75004 Paris.
Duplex: Tucked away on rue Michel Le Comte, this bar adds to the diverse offerings in Marais. 2 bis Av. Foch, 75116 Paris. www.leduplex.com
L’Enchanteur: Want to belt out some tunes? This karaoke hotspot, with its mix of contemporary and classic hits, is for you. 15 Rue Michel le Comte, 75003 Paris. lenchanteur-bar.over-blog.com
Banana Café: A Parisian gay institution located just outside of Marais, the café is notable for its exotic façade and late happy hour. 13 Rue de la Ferronnerie, 75001 Paris
Café Moustache: One of the oldest gay bars in the capital, found around Gare de l’Est. 138 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010 Paris.
Péniche Marcounet: Hosting a variety of events from May to October, this venue is situated on the banks of the Seine Rive droite. Port des Célestins, Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris. www.peniche-marcounet.fr
Le 17: An exciting newcomer in the 19th arrondissement, Le 17 features regular DJs and a range of activities. 17 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 Paris.
Burgundy, a region nestled in the heart of France, is renowned for its exquisite culinary traditions and top-notch produce. The region’s fertile soil and favorable climate make it a haven for agriculture, producing a plethora of ingredients central to Burgundy’s gastronomy.
Notably, it’s famed for its world-class vineyards that yield robust Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays, which feature prominently in local cooking and drinking. The region is also a powerhouse of dairy farming, crafting distinct cheeses like the pungent Époisses. Burgundy’s farms supply succulent Charolais beef, Bresse chicken, and a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Furthermore, Burgundy’s culinary repertoire boasts Dijon mustard and pain d’épices, highlighting their mastery in condiment and pastry production.
Here are 13 dishes and foods you absolutely must try when you visit Burgundy.
Coq au Vin
As one of the most iconic dishes from Burgundy, Coq au Vin is a delectable chicken dish slow-cooked in a pot with Burgundy red wine, lardons, mushrooms, and onions. It embodies the classic rich and hearty flavors that Burgundy cuisine is known for.
This famous Burgundy beef stew is marinated in red wine and cooked slowly with bacon, onions, and mushrooms. The result is an intensely flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth dish that pairs perfectly with a glass of Burgundy wine.
Escargots de Bourgogne
Known worldwide, these Burgundy snails are prepared in their shells with a mixture of garlic, parsley, and butter, and are often served as a starter.
Oeufs en Meurette
A traditional Burgundian dish, Oeufs en Meurette consists of poached eggs in a rich, aromatic red wine sauce. The sauce often includes ingredients like bacon, onions, and mushrooms.
These light, airy cheese puffs are made with a choux dough mixed with cheese, usually Comté or Gruyère. Gougères make a perfect appetizer or can be enjoyed with a glass of Burgundy white wine.
This is a traditional Burgundian terrine made from marinated ham and parsley set in a jellied broth. It’s usually served cold as a starter.
While it originates from the Lorraine region, it is very popular in Burgundy. This savory tart is filled with cream, eggs, and bacon, and sometimes cheese.
Also known as the Fisherman’s Stew, Pôchouse is a traditional dish made with different types of fish, white wine, and a medley of vegetables.
Known worldwide, Dijon mustard from Burgundy is a kitchen staple. It’s made from brown or black mustard seeds mixed with water, salt, and vinegar or white wine.
This is a soft, pungent cheese washed in Marc de Bourgogne, which gives it a distinct flavor. Epoisses cheese has been produced in the village of the same name since the 16th century.
This is a classic Burgundian aperitif made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine, traditionally Bourgogne Aligoté.
This spicy bread is a mix between cake and bread, made with honey and spices. In Dijon, it’s often used as a base for appetizers, served with a variety of toppings.
Crème de Cassis
This sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants is a Burgundian specialty. It’s used in the famous Kir aperitif and can also be enjoyed on its own or drizzled over desserts.
Top image: L’escargot Montorgueil
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, or Sacré-Cœur Basilica, located in the vibrant city of Paris, is not merely a world-renowned monument but a testament to the city’s tumultuous past and its deep-seated spiritual devotion.
The Basilica’s history is as intriguing as its architectural brilliance, revealing a fascinating journey from a vision to an iconic structure.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica finds its origins in a period of profound social upheaval in France: the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and the Paris Commune. The devastating loss in the war, followed by the short-lived but chaotic uprising of the Commune, led to widespread devastation and a crisis of national confidence.
It was within this setting that the idea of Sacré-Cœur was conceived, both as a penance for France’s perceived moral failings that led to the disaster and as a beacon of hope for a nation rebuilding itself.
The push to construct the Basilica was spearheaded by influential public figures of the time, particularly the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert. His fervent desire to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a symbol of divine love and compassion, was coupled with the French National Assembly’s resolution in 1873. The Assembly declared the construction of the Basilica as “a national vow,” serving not only religious, but political and social purposes as well.
Paul Abadie, a prominent figure in French architectural circles, won the design competition for the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. His design, inspired by Romano-Byzantine architecture, was chosen from among 78 submissions. Construction began in 1875, but due to political changes, funding issues, and the sheer complexity of the project, the Basilica wasn’t completed until 1914. Unfortunately, Abadie didn’t live to see his masterpiece completed, passing away in 1884.
One of the standout features of the Basilica is the use of Château-Landon stones in its construction. This particular type of stone releases calcite when it rains, ensuring that the Basilica maintains its radiant, pristine white appearance. This is symbolic of the Basilica’s purpose: to serve as a beacon of hope, peace, and spiritual refuge.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was consecrated in 1919, after World War I. The war had delayed its official consecration, but once peace was established, it quickly became a vital spiritual and cultural symbol for Parisians.
At the heart of the Basilica lies its grand mosaic, “Christ in Majesty”. Completed in 1922, it’s one of the largest mosaics in the world and depicts Christ with outstretched arms, offering love and blessings to the world. This magnificent artwork, visible from the nave, exemplifies the Basilica’s main message of divine love and compassion.
Today, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica stands atop Montmartre, the city’s highest point, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Paris. Its distinctive Romano-Byzantine style, featuring rounded domes and arches, contrasts with the predominant Gothic style seen in other Parisian churches, making it an iconic part of the city’s skyline.
In addition to its architectural and historical significance, the Basilica also holds a continuous prayer vigil that has lasted for over a century. The ‘Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament’ started in August 1885 and has been maintained night and day without interruption.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is, thus, more than just an architectural marvel. It is a monument born from a period of despair, representing national penance and spiritual devotion. Over time, it has evolved to be an emblem of hope and resilience, deeply intertwined with the soul of Paris. As we appreciate its stunning beauty, we also honor the rich and complex history that led to its creation.
Top image credit: Pierre Blaché
The FNAC Live Paris, a perennially anticipated event, made a triumphant return in 2022 after years of Covid-induced absence, setting the crowds in front of L’Hotel de Ville wild with performances by Bob Sinclar, Jeanne Birkin, and Pedro Winter.
The summer festival has been dearly missed during its hiatus, even as a reduced indoor version was hosted at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Organisers reported that an 80,000 strong crowd showed up over three days.
Given its successful resurgence, the free festival returns and the first names on the line-up have already been revealed.
This year, we’re seeing big names from various music genres, such as Franz Ferdinand, Benjamin Biolay, Boombass, Étienne de Crécy, DJ Falcon, Polo & Pan, Jason Glasser, Gabi Hartmann, Beck, Selah Sue, Agar Agar, Ofenbach, and Lujipeka.
For the 12th consecutive year, the festival reaffirms its commitment to a diverse genre representation including rock, rap, jazz, and electronic music, thereby ensuring a taste for everyone’s musical preference.
The FNAC Live festival annually invigorates the Parisian avenues with a diversely eclectic program and the energetic fervor. The forthcoming 2023 edition has seen efforts doubled to curate a selection of the best possible concerts under the summer sun.
The Fnac Live Festival is scheduled from June 28 to 30, 2023, to be held at the l’Hotel de Ville, 75004 Paris.
For more information, head to leclaireur.fnac.com/festival/fnac-live-paris