Inside Un Dimanche à Paris
Take a fine Ecuadorian dark chocolate – then allow it to melt beautifully into a warm bath of cream, fresh milk, chocolat au lait, and a secret blend of spices. It’s even better than Paris’ famed hot chocolate from Angelina, and you could easily build a sterling reputation right around it. But you’re Pierre Cluizel, heir to one of France’s most renowned chocolate dynasties, and your chocolat chaud is but one facet of a grand vision you have for the chocolate concept store, pastry boutique and restaurant you’re about to open in the heart of Paris’ St. Germain. You’ve enlisted an all-star lineup to bring this dream to life. Quentin Bailly, your chef pâtissier, was the right hand of World Champion and MOF Philippe Rigollot at the Michelin three star Sophie Pic. Your chef de cuisine, William Caussimon, came directly from the side of Michelin three star chef, Guy Savoy, at his restaurant Les Bouquinistes. And your director, Perrine de Longevialle, was at-the-ready with those chic 16th arrondissement sensibilities she’d honed during her career at none other than Yves Saint Laurent. Fast forward a year, and that dream is the reality of Un Dimanche à Paris.
The backstory of Un Dimanche was enough to enchant yours truly, before I returned to Paris last April. But it was through experiencing this team’s work that I fell in love and grew to become not only one of their best customers but also among their most ardent fans. Just going off the above shot in this entry, you can see there’s something roughly 20x more over-the-top about Un Dimanche than virtually any other pâtisserie around. If you’re thinking, “Is that a carved, fully-backlit ceiling meant to represent the tropical forest canopy that shades the cacao trees?” Yes . . . amazingly, that is exactly what that is. And here’s some of the chocolate it shades . . .
Regular readers will recognize this as Le Croustillant au Grué de Cacao I reviewed the Friday before last. It’s flanked by La Tartelette Fraise Coco (#30 on my Top 38 Best Pastries in Paris list) and La Tartelette Framboise Estragon – a length of raspberry/tarragon deliciousness that will knock your socks off.
And who can forget the sparkling delights of Le Merveilleux and its fleur d’oranger charms . . .
Let’s also not overlook the macarons: melon, cassis, chocolate, raspberry, lime-ginger, strawberry-yogurt. My favorites aren’t even in the frame. Be sure to snag a coquelicot (poppy flower), and always ask when they’ll have the réglisse (licorice) back. It was their finest macaron, even topping Ladurée’s beloved réglisse. Perrine assures me that they will bring it back if enough people request it, and I need to have it come back.
What would a chocolate concept store be without chocolates? And what would those chocolates be if handled by anything less than glistening chocolate tongs . . .
Un Dimanche à Paris doesn’t stop at pastries and chocolates though. No. All around the walls of the boutique are these amazing temptations like chocolate-enrobed rosemary . . .
And the ever-popular tri-colored, chocolate-swathed crisps . . .
There are even shelves devoted purely to caramels and sweet sauces: almond/praline, pâte d’amande, goat cheese caramel, plum caramel, conventional caramel, and on-and-on. They also usually have a few of the jars open and ready to sample. Lucky us.
Even better than having the individual chocolates, shown a few shots above, are the single origin bars: Ghana, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Madagascar and on-and-on. Of course, there are various blends available, as well as milk and white chocolates, together with extra-large tablettes of high-end baking chocolate. It’s a bit of a fantasyland.
And the selection of goodies just keeps going. They effectively have a little bit of everything you could possibly want. Maybe some chocolate truffles . . .
Financiers, madeleines, brownies, cookies, or a delicious cake decked-out in candied fruit and pâte de fruit . . .
Of course the absolute pinnacle of the shop’s non-pastry offerings are the chocolate covered candied Corsican clementines, which are basically um . . . What’s the phrase I’m looking for? . . . Oh, yes – the clementines are one of the greatest inventions ever in the history of candy. I used to buy 3 or 4 of them a day and never ever took them for granted. I savored each and every one I had. They’re so unbelievably fantastic that they should be a Class I controlled substance.
Need fresh calamansi (lime) or strawberry marshmallows? Who doesn’t?
But let’s say you just wanted to relax with friends or a travelling companion and sip some of that amazing Ecuadorian hot chocolate I mentioned at the start of the piece; that’s where the upstairs chocolate lounge comes into play. Kick back and have the servers offer that fine chocolat chaud to you from their Limoges porcelain chocolatières. Perhaps order a pastry (or five), or in the early evening, a little wine or champagne. This is your time to luxuriate . . .
Later in the evening, you can relax in the bar, where their resident mixologist will customize a drink to your exact specifications. Be sure to ogle the glass-sheathed stone wall here in the shot. That’s no less than one of the 4 remaining towers that helped form the 12th century walls of Paris. There’s another in the Louvre, but you can’t collapse into a plush sofa and sip decadent cocktails there. So . . . just sayin’.
Of course my real obsession with Un Dimanche à Paris was rooted in the pastries. So let’s get back to those 😉 Look, it’s their famous Choux Pistache Fruits Rouge, here in its natural habit. Once you’ve gorged yourself on one of these and some hot chocolate at the counter of the boutique, it’s time to pay for the other 10 things I hope you’ll be walking out with . . .
So soak in the last glimpses of this sweet wonderland . . .
Feel grateful Pierre Cluizel decided to bring his dream to life . . .
And should you spot Monsieur Cluizel in the shop, you can always say hi. He’s very nice and loves to hear when people have a great experience at Un Dimanche.
Take one last look through the sliding glass doors . . .
And bid adieu to Un Dimanche à Paris . . . at least until you return the next day for a second helping.
I hope you get the chance to visit very soon. But be forewarned that while Un Dimanche à Paris is huge, it can be a little tricky to spot – since it’s down a small corridor off of the Boulevard St. Germain. As you go down the Boulevard, you’ll come to a low-end chocolate shop called Larnicol, which will have tons of gauche chocolate figurines in the window and will be swarmed with tourists. Look down the passageway to the right side of that shop, and you’ll spot Un Dimanche à Paris. And be sure to tell them Adam sent you; they’re always happy to make recommendations based on my favorites.
Un Dimanche à Paris
4-6-8, Cour du Commerce Saint-André (map)
Phone: +33 (0)156811818
Boutique Hours: 11AM-8PM from Tuesday to Saturday and 11AM-7PM on Sunday (Closed Mondays)
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