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Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (, and also writes a popular insider's blog


Macarons at Gerard Mulot

My Marais tours are my specialty, and one of the things I like most is showing people the wonderful gourmet and food shops in the area. Two of my favorites are a creative chocolate shop with the most unusual chocolate sculptures and one of the top patisseries in Paris.

I call it my double sugar whammy part of the tour and, after walking around the neighborhood seeing the splendid historical buildings and beautiful parks and gardens, I ask the client if they are thirsty or hungry and would they like to stop for refreshments. I take them to Gerard Mulot off the Place des Vosges, one of the master pastry chefs of Paris emporium, and the clients' eyes bulge and their mouths salivate over the glistening, mouthwatering pastries. One of their specialties is their famous macarons in over 15 flavors including classic fillings of raspberry, lemon, almond, caramel, and chocolate, and more exotic ones like passion fruit, cassis, and rose caramel. After the client finally narrows down the tough choice of picking one pastry or a few flavors of macarons, we sit and inhale our treats and wash it down with their strong coffee, which energizes us to continue the tour.


An array of treats at Josephine Vannier

As if we didn't indulge enough with the pastries, the next stop is Josephine Vannier, a delectable chocolate shop a few doors down. We marvel at the incredible chocolate sculptures in the window and the latest theme is a collection of chocolate boxes with varying yellow happy and sad faces painted on each one. Once inside, we are assailed with an intense scent of chocolate and amused by the other sculptures of musical instruments, cell phones, Eiffel Towers, and globes. As wonderful as the sculptures are, they are not the most transportable, so the client usually opts for something they can munch on right away. I suggest the exotic flavored chocolate bars with combinations of salt and  pepper, dried raspberry, spice bread, curry and pimento spice, and dried apple and pear.

After the clients complain that I made them break their diet, they profusely thank me for tantalizing their taste buds, expressing that the treats were well worth every calorie.


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