i’ve always been a little nervous to even open my eyes to the thought of falling in love with paris. the intimidating tales about the people, the crowds – there are so many expectations about the city of lights. it’s difficult to even know where to begin, isn’t it? the city has been romanticized in the movies, he cuisine glorified and revered , the fashion (what would one wear in the birthplace of ‘chic’?!), and the boutiques, visiting the city almost seems cliché.
then, i met jackie. you have likely heard me mention beaucoup bakery various times since it opened – many an instagrams have happened on the marble topped tables and i featured the shop as one of my fave places to go on glitter guide. the founder of beaucoup bakery is a pastry chef, lover of all things parisian, and has brought this french sense and gourmandise flair to vancouver! with her latest passion project, she’s helping current and future paris lovers, and those with a sense of wanderlust, see paris with local eyes thanks to her new venture, the paris tours. in fact, a few friends are flying there just to take part (insert envy here). i love the thought of visiting such an overwhelming city, and being guided by a local vancouverite who also happens to be an honorary parisian.
jackie sat down with me to give me a serious scoop on paris through the eyes of an almost local… avoiding the tourist traps, and how to have your very own parisian experience to cherish:
What is the one little nugget everyone who visits paris should know about?
Paris is like a sleeping giant on Sundays and almost everything closes for the day. Despite this, there are some really amazing things to experience. One of the most impressive farmers markets happen on Sundays by Bastille. It gives a great peek into Parisian life through its food. Le Marais is a hip shopping district that’s bustling with locals on Sundays as well. If it’s a sunny summer day, be like a local and sit in a park and practice the art of doing nothing.
If you had to describe Paris in one word… could you?
I think Paris means something different to everyone but for me, it is “beauty.” It was where I learned to feel beautiful about myself, inside and out. It’s a culture that appreciates beauty in simple and extravagant things. Parisians believe that beauty is essential to enjoying life, and because of this, it’s easy to stop and appreciate the beauty of every present moment, in the architecture, the food or in the way your shoes feel on the cobblestone streets.
Do you have a fave district to stay in?
I always try to stay in Le Marais. It’s a great combination of being central, with lots to soak in. It’s also close to one of the oldest unchanged streets in Paris (Rue des Rosiers) so it has a lot of character.
In your opinion, what is the quintessential Parisian experience?
Sitting at a café and people watching. In French, the have a special word for idling and strolling with no particular destination, flânerie. So whether you are a flâneur or sipping an espresso watching the flânerie, hours can be devoted to this lavish activity.
Tourist traps – any advice for staying away from them?
Some consider France as the heart or foundation of modern cuisine, and Paris being one of the largest cities, one expects to find great food on every corner. Unfortunately, there are as many bad restaurants as good, and they mostly exist in touristy areas selling watered down versions of croque monsieur for steep prices. Make sure to do a little research on some better restaurants before you go to make sure you get the best culinary experience.
Do you have a current fave foodie stop in Paris that you’d be willing to share?
I have tons but here’s a couple to start with! For a unique meal, Avant Le Comptoir is a standing-only wine bar with great small bites, spanish inspired French Tapas. It’s a great spot to be squished right into the middle of Parisian life. For pastries, you will not have lived if you have not tasted something from Pierre Hermé. Even though his famous macaron are probably the best you’ll find, his pastries are the most flavourful and well-balanced I’ve ever had. It’s a must.
What’s one thing every girl should bring with her to Paris and why?
Beautiful walking shoes. Paris is a city to be explored on foot, you can spend months just getting lost down little alleyways and stumbling into grand churches. However, you need to blend into the fashionable surroundings so a pair of shoes that can dual purpose is a must.
find out more about the paris tours from the news release below, and how you can join the tour for a slice of paris the way it should be! you can bet i wish i could be there…
You likely know that Beaucoup Bakery was started after Jackie Kai Ellis spent time studying pastry arts in Paris, fell in love with the city, and wanted to find a way to bring a slice of it back to Vancouver to share with others. Jackie still heads back to Paris on a regular basis to seek inspiration, further her professional training, and to eat her way through the City of Light’s finest patisseries and chocolate shops (something she shared with Scout readers here). During these visits, she often finds herself thinking, “I really wish I could share these amazing pastries with my friends and customers.”
Thus, The Paris Tours was born. Quite simply, you’re invited to join Jackie for an afternoon of touring Paris’ legendary pastry houses and chocolateries. On a three hour walking tour, you’ll be guided by Jackie as she shows off what she considers the best that Paris has to offer, from traditional iterations of classics to cutting-edge versions, regional specialties, and modern takes on standards. She’ll tell you what each place is known for, what’s worth trying, and what they do best.
After the tour, you’ll have the chance to taste all of the pastries you’ve picked up along the way on the tour. Grab a fork and enjoy! The afternoon tour is CAD $165 per person, and groups are limited to six people. On each tour, you’ll visit up to 10 places, which will change depending on the group, but may include Pierre Hermé, Angelina, Lenôtre, Café Pouchkine, and Hugo et Victor.
Jackie will next be in Paris from May 15 through 25 and tours will be offered throughout her stay. Interested in learning more? In Paris over different dates? Then visit The Paris Tours site and get in touch.
(all images c/o jackie ellis)