As you traverse Paris on one of your many obligated strolls, you might happen upon something extraordinary - Parisians forming orderly queues (à la anglaise) and waiting patiently as shop assistants scoop boules of sorbet and ice cream with a deft elegance. Even the abstemious will find themselves drawn ineluctably to the Parisian ice cream parlors, forming long lines with the normally non-queuing locals.
This is, of course, probably an overly optimistic article, considering temperatures have plummeted during the past week from 30 degrees to a cool 15. But, I have been informed that the sun will make a reappearance next week, and with it the hope that an Indian summer might finally materialize. My cold fingers are stiffly crossed.
In anticipation, I have created a rundown of the best ice-cream joints in Paris, which I have had the good fortune to test on my own wanderings around the city.
This Parisian institution can’t be consciously left off any list, even if less established players offer more delicious alternatives. The choice of excellent sorbet and ice cream can be procured from its flagship ice cream parlor on Ile-de-la-Cité, or from the comfort of one of the many restaurants and cafés that crowd the southerly tip of this jaunty island on the Seine. Unlike the Italian competition, Berthillion serves proper round boules of ice cream.
This small Italian chain, found in the bustling heart of the left bank, is the real deal. Open late, it is usually mobbed by locals, particularly during sweltering summer evenings. They do a seasonal selection of sensational fruity flavors, with a surprise flavor of the month to keep you coming back for more. Most of their ice cream is gluten-free and they also make granita.
I love the unpretentious name of this Italian ice-cream parlor found just off the Carreau du Temple. Mary herself, who is very friendly, is a dab hand at creating sumptuous and interesting flavors. Trying to understand her pigeon French, interlaced generously with Italian, is an experience in itself − particularly when one is trying to negotiate the flavors that will appear on one’s cone. The almond flavor was particularly worth the effort. For the more adventurous, avocado was one of her more unusual offerings.
Another excellent Italian-run address, this compact ice cream parlor is found on the other side of the Marais. Not as good as Mary, their small selection of 12 flavors is still pretty excellent, and attests to the fact that everything is homemade. The upshot: you are not limited to how many flavors you can fit in a single bowl. As an afterthought: the patisserie ‘Comme A Lisbonne’ (37, rue du Roi de Sicile) sells delicious “pasteis de nata”.
Best of the rest…
One of the oldest parlors in Paris, this yummy destination, with shops dotted around the city is certainly worth the detour.
This large Italian chain (pictured) has several locations across the city, making it an excellent stand-in if the artisan parlors (mentioned above) are not near your hotel or apartment. They have just launched a rather intriguing flavor that will have everyone lining up to try: a champagne sorbet.
The “Picasso of Patisserie” also produces some remarkable ice cream treats. The Miss Gla’Gla, is a case in point: slabs of creamy ice cream, in decadent flavors like salted butter caramel, are sandwiched between two rectangular macarons. Small buckets of ice cream are also sold in-store to take home.
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