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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Les Îles de Paris

Spending time on the islands of Paris was such a pleasure. Like everyone else, visiting Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité was high on my list of things to do but on my list of recommendations is also Sainte Chapelle for the stunning stained-glass windows that bathe you in a multitude of colours. (French monuments site.)

Sainte Chapelle

Walking over to Île St-Louis, you suddenly reach residential calm - the exclusive 17th century townhouse kind of residential calm! Walking down the main street of rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Île, you will find quaint boutiques, epiceries (look at that window!) and the Île St-Louis institution of ice-cream, Berthillon. As with our other Paris food adventure stories, Berthillon is closed on a Monday and Tuesday and we were there on a Tuesday! Do not fret, plenty of other shops sell Berthillon glace!

Whilst deciding which ice-cream shop to go to, we realised it was past lunch time and saw that this restaurant served meals and ice-cream. Perfect! What a lucky find, the waiter at Les Gourmands de L'Île was friendly and the service efficient. So he must have been catering for tourists? No, locals ate there complete with dogs sitting patiently in their carrier bags and they had a 3 course lunch menu for under 20 euros. (I did write it down but can't find my notebook, I think that is a blurred 13 on the board?) The interior is very Parisian chic with candles, gilded mirrors and plush red banquettes and chairs.

Having been disappointed with the Parisian "French onion soups" up to this stage, Les Gourmands delivered this excellent soupe
à l'oignon. Thanks to these tourists for a good giggle: having loudly read through the menu in French commenting on what traditional dishes her friends should try, one lady asked the lovely waiter "Your onion soup, it's French right?". I applaud his composure as her friend chastised her for being "an idiot and a total embarassment"! :-D

You'll see the glass of cider in the background. That was *the* best cider I've had, I don't know what brand or type it was but it so beat the cider I last tried at the Slow Food Festival!!

A selection of pastas was on offer for mains and I had a yummy lasagne, but most importantly was the ice-cream that finished the meal! The intense colours and flavours are apparently what is typical of Berthillon, and this cassis (blackcurrant) sorbet and praliné glace left me wanting more, more, more! The sorbet was an intense hit of natural flavours and the ice-cream was so creamy.

I heard the waiter telling someone that they'd only opened in August. Good luck to them!

29 rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Île

Les Gourmands d'
54 rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Île

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