Last week I took my goddaughter to Paris for a few days as a 21st birthday treat and it was refreshing to see it through the eyes – and screens – of a new generation.
It’s no longer the rose-tinted city of Amélie Poulain, one of my all time favourite French films. Emily in Paris has now taken on the mantle of presenting us with an idealised, sanitised view of the city and although I snobbishly refused to watch it after reading the reviews, it seems to be doing a good job of filling Paris with young people, particularly Americans.
What I appreciated about the screen-savvy approach to tourism, was finding new places that influencers and YouTubers rave about.
Take hipster coffee, for example. I’ve never been offered anything other than an espresso or a café allongé in France and had assumed that the coffee revolution was an Anglo-Saxon thing … how wrong I was! It seems that the French are as keen as the rest of us to sit down with a pour-over, a chemex or a nitro coffee – you just have to know where to find them.
An Australian coffee influencer recommended a little coffee shop near Bastille, so off we went.
I enjoyed my pour-over – fashionably served in what looked like an insulated chemistry beaker – but it took forever to make and then arrived tepid, despite the insulated container. Why do evangelical coffee purists insist that it can only be drunk at room temperature? I like hot coffee or iced coffee, but I’m not partial to a drink that’s served at the temperature of a shallow puddle on a warm day.
But I’m a lone voice in the wilderness here, because nobody comes to La Manufacture du Café for a pour-over, apparently. They all come for the Viennese coffee, topped with whipped cream and best quality grated chocolate, and most definitely insta worthy.
And it was the same lesson to learn with macarons. I’ve long been a fan of Ladurée, and always make a pilgrimage to their shop on the Champs-Elysées for a few delicious morsels. But we discovered that there’s now an even better place than Ladurée for macarons. Pierre Herme is the best place in Paris … and therefore the world … and we were escorted there by a delightful French girl, also a member of the YouTube generation. Apparently Ladurée are criticised nowadays for the mean little scrape of filling in their macarons, whereas Pierre Herme is much more generous. And he’s such a superstar that there’s a large photo of him inside the shop.
And I wasn’t the only one having difficulty choosing my cakes…
I carefully selected four different macarons and had a taste test, along with a delicious cup of Eurostar tea on my way home, and I have to say that the milk chocolate and passionfruit was the best macaron I’ve ever tasted.
It managed to be gooey, crisp, sweet and zingy all at the same time. Pierre Herme … I’ll be back!
Something else I’ve noticed about the YouTube generation is their insistence on good photos. It’s not enough these days to smile broadly at the camera and hope you don’t blink at the wrong moment, nowadays you need a clever shot.
This picture was taken by a street seller, who gave advice on where to stand and then crouched down rotating his hands until he got the perfect shot.
I spent a lot of time in Paris when I was 18, 19 and 20, but nobody ever offered to take a clever photo of me in an iconic location, I just stood in front of the Eiffel Tower and grinned … autre temps autre moeurs, I suppose.
But after seeing the street seller’s technique, I upped my game and took some much more interesting photos
I may even manage to take a few insta worthy shots myself one day.