Place de la Madeleine gets its name from the 19th-century neoclassical church at its center, but given the abundance of gourmet food stores here it might well have been named after Proust’s little teacake. The historic flagship stores of Fauchon (between nos. 26 and 30), the celebrated food emporium founded by Auguste Fauchon in 1886 and revamped by designer Christian Biecher, elevates food shopping to couture level—as witnessed by the gorgeous pink packaging that rivals the fashion boutiques of Avenue Montaigne. Chocolates, truffles, foie gras, escargots de Bourgogne—it’s all here, along with éclairs glazed with the image of Mona Lisa and honey harvested from Jean Paucton’s beehives on the roof of the Opéra Garnier.
Aristocratic grocer Hédiard (no. 21) is even older than Fauchon. Ferdinand Hédiard introduced Parisians to the joys of exotic fruits in the 1850s and Hédiard jams, marmalades and pâtes de fruit are still bestsellers today, lined up with an enticing array of oils and spices and a fantastic wine cellar. At La Maison de la Truffe (no. 19), a superb tasting menu offers tuber-based delicacies such as scallop carpaccio with Brumale truffles, and a shop for gourmet gifts including truffle-infused Armagnac. Next door two prestigious caviar houses rival for attention—Caviar Kaspia (no. 17) and Café Prunier (no. 15). The tiny Maille boutique, easily overlooked in the corner nook (no. 6), stocks more than 30 different types of mustard flavored with everything from violets to champagne. Oenophiles might like to know that the city’s largest wine store, Lavinia, is a few steps away at 3-5 Boulevard de la Madeleine.
Originally published in the October 2009 issue of France Today
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