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Paris Has Its Very Own Ice Cream Island - Ile St.-Louis



It seems that everyone who visits Paris in the warmer months makes a pilgrimage over to Île St.-Louis, tucked just behind the Cathédrale Notre Dame, in quest of the ice cream cone. It has in fact become such a tradition that nine out of every ten people you see walking down the tiny island's center street, rue St. Louis-en-L'Isle, are either eating an ice cream cone, have just eaten one or will be eating one in the next few moments. The remaining tenth person will be the one who chooses to enjoy their ice cream from a cup with a small spoon instead of from a cone. 

Who gets credit for this cultural phenomenon? Well, certainly it is Berthillon. Founded in 1954 by Raymond Berthillon, they still use fresh eggs and, when possible, crème fraiche as their base of ice cream. They also have 90 fanciful flavorings such as candied chestnut ice cream or wild forest strawberries sorbet, with at least 40 - 50 different flavors on offer on any given day. The lines quickly became so long outside the small Berthillon shop just next to the Eglise St.- Louis, though, that soon nearly every café on the island started selling Berthillon ice cream along with their espressos and croque monsieurs. This is still true today. Though chalk it up to French logic, Berthillon closes annually from the last week of July to the end of August, i.e. during the height of ice cream season. 

And now there are several other beloved ice cream shops on the island, too, such as Amorino, specializing in gelato, and Senoble, specializing in small batch-made ice creams with flavors like fromage blanc and even a sorbet shop on the island, all within steps of each other. So now the real challenge is not just which one to choose from to get your ice cream fix, but how many can you taste in a day?!

In a true scenario of the sweet life oozing its goodness out like positive vibes, the Marais, just next door to Île St.-Louis, has also become a haven for top-of-the-line ice cream shops. It kind of all began with Une Glace à Paris a mere several years ago. Their mission was to make a French ice cream - meaning less heavy, more flavorful, using exotic flavors but not gelato. And that's what they have accomplished. It's the other shop with constant lines out the door. And since they stay open to midnight and during August, you have a good chance of getting your foot in the door for some of that smoked vanilla or lavendar ice cream. And now there's also La Glacerie Paris just around the corner, too, which is a smart option, too, when you want to take your ice cream on a picnic with you since their packaging keeps your dessert cold and fresh for up to 2 hours.

Suffice it to say that if you have only a few days to enjoy Paris in the summer (or spring or fall or even winter) you really must sacrifice at least a day, but better yet two or three, to tasting these different ice creams. They each have their own special je ne sais quoi and the flavor choices are dazzling in their creativity and diversity. 


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5th Arondissement - Latin Quarte


This all-natural ice cream began slowly, a labor of love by two young Italian entrepreneurs. And then a mere few years later, there were a dozen shops popping up all over Paris. That was around the time they had been bought out by Unilever. Huge conglomerate ownership notwithstanding, the all-natural gelato remains top quality. So much so that I insisted my mother try some on her recent visit to Paris. Adored flavors include their blueberry sorbet and also their granitas in addition to their seasonal gelato flavors. Another nice thing is that there are locations all over the city, so pretty much whichever historical monument you might be visiting that day, there will be a Grom nearby.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: This location is a great one because you can get your ice cream to go, then walk across the street to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Paige's expert tip: Lately their pistachio has been trending but also their Crema di Grom, which is like a chocolate chip (my grandmother's all-time favorite). Their ice creams melt a bit faster than others' because they us all-natural emulsifiers.

Read more about Grom →


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15ème Arrondissement


A new way of serving up ice cream... the basic ingredients of milk and sugar and flavorings are spread out like a crepe but on an iced pan (-30°C). This freezes the mixture instantaneously and then the ice cream is dished up in curled rolls. Very fresh and fun. The flavorings are all natural and heightened for taste. Flavors include things like very fresh mint, a tart lemon with more of an accent on citrus than sweet ( a rarity with lemon flavors) and even some traditional (French) holiday flavors revisited like spice cake and candied chestnuts for Christmas time festivities.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: The flavors like Menton Lemon pop and the novel way of serving up this ice cream make this an appealing, and tasty, treat to try.

Paige's expert tip: This is a novel way to enjoy your ice cream. The cream mixture is spread out on a crepe like pan that instant-freezes it into an ice cream that is then scraped off like a crepe and rolled. Ice cream doesn't get any fresher than this.

Read more about ice Roll →


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The opening of this family-run pastry and ice cream shop on the Ile St.-Louis officially cemented what the French press dubbed the ice cream wars of Ile St.-Louis. I beg to differ. In my opinion, it simply firmly cemented Ile St. Louis as Paris' ice cream island. Senoble has been in the business of providing top quality, artisan sourced dairy products to consumers since over a century. This is their jaunt into providing an ice cream shop direct to dine-in customers who can enjoy their signature flavors of fromage blanc (like a smooth cottage cheese), cheesecake and yogurt. And, if you want a real chocolate high, try a scoop of their 90% dark chocolate, it's like a sorbet and tastes like an iced dark chocolate bar. Choco-heaven. Dine in at this stylish ice cream shop or take your ice cream to go to eat along the banks of the Seine.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: With its electric blue storefront, this ice cream shop is one of the newest additions to the Ile Saint-Louis and offers a cool seated area.

Paige's expert tip: This family run house has always specialized in dairy products. So the signature flavors here are fromage blanc, yogurt and cheesecake. All well worth trying. And if you can't get enough all in one sitting, they can pack a pot of ice cream and sorbet for you to take with you which has a convenient lid on top. Or dine in, because Senoble offers a few nice tables at which to sit in spacious comfort and enjoy your ice cream or dish.

Read more about Senoble La Glacerie Parisienne →


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18ème Arrondissement
Love And Cakes
Photo courtesy of Culinique


Searching for real buttercream frosting in Paris can be a challenge. In fact, after years of looking for the real thing (since Sugar Plum closed) you could say you just had to be satisfied with sugar icing in its place. But now, since late 2016, this young French woman (with Haitian roots) has succeeded in mastering the art of buttercream frosting and has added it to her delicious cakes and cupcakes. What's more, she's convinced her florist neighbor to add beautiful fresh flowers as decoration and Voila - the perfect wedding, birthday and special occasion cakes. It's definitely worth the scenic bus ride up to the 18th arrondissement to pick up one of these beauties. But keep in mind, for full size cakes, they must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance. And if ice cream cakes are your fond holdovers from childhood, you are now in luck, too.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: This mom-n-pop cake shop now offers ice cream cakes. This is the closest thing you'll find to Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes in Paris!

Paige's expert tip: The joys of buttercream frosting, and I mean real buttercream frosting, know no bounds here. Flavors follow the seasons so expect a daiquiri inspired pineapple-coconut for spring summer with more autumnal slants come Fall.

Read more about Love And Cakes →


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Positioning himself as the rock-n-roll pastry chef, Michalak offers a whole new take on what it means to be a top-notch pastry chef in Paris. Following a pop-up cream puff stand he did in partnership with another chef a couple years ago, he went ahead and opened his own pastry-making workshop in the 10th arrondissement. For many years the only place you could purchase Michalak's confections were at the Palace Hotel where he has long been the resident-pastry chef. But, since, it's said, the cream rises to the top, now Michalak has just opened in recent months his first patisserie in Paris and it's in the lovely and convenient Marais district, just behind the BHV, in fact. It's best to come in with no expectations and just let your tastebuds be delighted with shapes, forms and combinations that are altogether a different take on the meaning of "French patisserie."

Recommended for Ice Cream because: He now offers ice cream. And since it's Michalak, you can be sure it's going to be good.

Paige's expert tip: Michalak is well-known as one of France's top pastry chefs. And in the summer he rolls out his ice cream offerings. It's always fun to see what this creative culinary expert in all things sweet is going to come up with next.

Read more about Patisserie Christophe Michalak →


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6ème Arrondissement


Pierre Hermé, the recognized world's best pastry chef, launched into ice creams years ago. One of the things that he loves to do is mix unusual flavors together in a method that the French call panaché. Meaning it is a far cry from spumoni when you order their red fruits and mint flavor. The flavors are not entirely mixed and do remain individual but they are thoroughly blended giving you a very minty red fresh fruits experience. Another signature here is their Miss Gla Gla ice cream sandwich pastry. Indeed, this pastry chef is one of the most famous for his macarons, so when he whips up a crispy shell for his ice cream sandwiches, you can bet that they are going to be light and perfectly matched to the ice cream in the middle. The packaging renders them surprisingly easy to eat as well with or without a fork.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: Known for his pastries this house also cranks out delicious ice creams such as yuzu and clementine or even their signature lychee, raspberry, rose flavor.

Paige's expert tip: One of the fun things is that here they really blend their flavors together in what they call a panaché. So clementine-yuzu or red fruits and mint are not just separate flavors packed one on top of the other. Mais, non! Here the flavors are delicately and thoroughly blended so that they mix together with every biteful.

Read more about Pierre Herme →


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4ème Arrondissement


Created by an accomplished and recognized master pastry chef, David Wesmael, who is specialized in ice cream, the flavors of the ice cream here are rivaled only by the packaging design. His design and packaging, in addition to his all-natural recipes and flavors, elevate ice cream to a whole new level. Why? Because you can now finally take your ice cream on a picnic or down to the Seine with you and it will still be cold and frozen an hour or even two later. He also has re-imagined the ice cream sandwich/ bar into something more refined and in keeping with French patisserie. But his real signature are the little ice cream puffs that look like puff pastries but are made from ice cream with a chocolate shell and a center of praline or other high-end sweet. This is ice cream at its innovative best.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: This renowned pastry chef specialized in ice cream has long been established in Lille. Now he has this appealing and design-friendly shop in the Marais.

Paige's expert tip: When you want to take your ice cream on a picnic, this is the ice cream shop to stop in at. The ice cream is top-notch and what's more the packaging is so innovative and accommodating that if you want to take your cold, sweet treat to go, you can - and it will stay cold up to nearly 2 hours.

Read more about La Glacerie Paris →


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4ème Arrondissement


The first France-based Italian ice cream chain to do Italian gelato, this ice cream shop has seen enormous success. Their signature is to craft the ice cream on top of the cone in the shape of flower petals, handing you a rose bouquet of an ice cream cone. This has proven to be a big hit with young girls and ladies alike as well as their menfolk. They have other treats, too, like sorbet ice tea and seasonal special flavors like this season's energy mix. For those who want something even more substantial, you can also order the waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce or the gelato drenched in Italian coffee. This central location on the island is open all summer long and doesn't close until midnight.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: The gelato is all natural and the cones come with a macaron as garnish to top off their signature flower-petal design. It's pretty and tasty.

Paige's expert tip: This shop has been open since 2002 as was one of the first challengers to that other long-standing ice cream shop on the island in the heart of Paris. It has certainly won people's hearts for its signature flower petal creation of its ice cream cone and its all natural gelato.

Read more about Amorino →


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4ème Arrondissement


This is the city's still-reigning king of ice creams and can be credited with establishing Ile St.-Louis as ice cream island. It was founded by the Berthillon family in 1957 and today it is still the offspring who run this family owned shop. Most people are content to line up outside and wait to get their ice cream cone to take away. But if you truly want a singular experience, do the sit down dining in their charming dozen or so seat ice cream shop. The newest development is that this summer (2018) they just opened up an annex shop across the street. But that still didn't give them enough motivation to stay open for August. But nothing to fret over, since a half dozen or so locations like cafés on the island serve Berthillon ice cream. So you won't have to miss out.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: It is one of those Parisian Pilgrimages, every one must go to Ile St.-Louis at least once and get Berthillon ice cream.

Paige's expert tip: Open all year round except from the end of July to the end of August, this is hands down longest-standing ice cream shop in Paris whose reputation is now well into its second generation. In fact they are so successful, they close during the height of summer.

Read more about Berthillon Glacier →


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4ème Arrondissement


Following Berthillon's long reign as the nearly the only choice when it came to quality ice cream, this boutique ice cream parlor opened up in the Marais only a few years ago and quickly saw lines a street long trailing out their doors daily. The cool and sweet talent behind this shop is Chef Emmanuel Ryon, decorated with the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (high accolades by French standards) designation and specialized in ice cream. His partner, Olivier, handles the business side of things. For a real treat, indulge in his ice cream pastries. The Fraisier consistently gets high ratings and one taste will tell you all you need to know. They are like little ice cream cakes. Another cult product here is their Babas soaked in rum. You can buy them in a glass jar and take them home to put over your vanilla ice cream just before devouring.

Recommended for Ice Cream because: This pastry-chef-trained ice cream genius has succeeded in crafting a distinctly French identity for ice cream. Call it French touch ice cream if you will.

Paige's expert tip: Smoked vanilla and smoked chocolate are a few of my favorite things here. But they've also just come out with a black lemon flavor that is as exotic as it is tart and flavorful. All their ice cream is made on site, no small feat when you consider they sell about 5000 ice cream cones per weekend in the summer.

Read more about Une Glace a Paris →


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Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige

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