A Romantic Tour Under the Arcades of Paris: Chocolate, Pastries, Perfume & More

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Palais-Royal: Jimmy JAEH / Unsplash

The French do not unanimously celebrate Valentine’s Day, as they feel any day is the perfect occasion to celebrate love. No matter the day, when they want to commemorate love with a gift, they think of similar items as we do in North America: chocolates, pastries, perfumes and flowers. Many of Paris’ best purveyors of these can be found in and around one of our favorite romantic places in Paris, the Palais-Royal. The picturesque park, steeped in history and elegance, is the perfect starting point for a romantic, and delicious, amble around the district and its sublimely romantic shops and cafés.


First built for Cardinal Richelieu in the 1630s, the Palais-Royal (pictured above) was lived in and embellished by generations of royals up to the French Revolution. Shortly before the uprising began, a series of buildings, with interconnecting arcades on the ground level, were built around the gardens. These quickly filled with shops, cafés and other entertainment venues, making it the hub of social life in Paris. These arcades also sparked the trend of covered passageways in Paris, with dozens popping up, predominantly in the area, over the coming decades. Although these passages later fell out of fashion, in recent years they have seen a revival, with the Palais-Royal attracting some of the chicest boutiques. You can pop into some of these as you’re strolling under the arcades or simply enjoy through the ambiance of the elegant garden.

Photo: Serge Lutens

Serge Lutens

On the east side of the Palais Royal, at 142 Galerie de Valois, is the niche perfume shop of fashion and style icon Serge Lutens. Born in the northern French city of Lille in 1942, his career evolved from hair stylist to photographer and from filmmaker to fashion designer. His first venture into perfume was creating the scent Nombre Noir for Shiseido in 1982 and just under 20 years later he launched his own brand of fashionable fragrances, which has grown to become one of the most imminent “niche” perfumes on the market, available here at his flagship perfume boutique.

Photo: Muscade

Muscade – Palais Royal


On the opposite side of the park, at 66 Galerie de Montpensier, is this pastry shop, tea salon and restaurant. Having trained under renowned pastry chef Pierre Hermé, Catherine Katell Allain has created her own line of refined traditional pastries. These go perfectly with a hot chocolate on Muscade’s terrace overlooking the Palais-Royal gardens.

Photo: Verlet Paris


If you’re more of a coffee person, then make a slight detour over to this venue on rue Saint Honoré. Founded in 1880, it’s one of France’s longest running coffee companies. At their refined boutique you can buy their blends as well as an array of teas, spices and other delicacies. You can try their coffee onsite at its café, which also serves a selection of pastries, breakfast favorites and lunch dishes.

Photo: Dammann Frères

Dammann Frères

The area is also a delight for tea lovers thanks to a branch of this fine tea company on the charming Place des Petits Pères. The company’s roots go back to 1692 when King Louis XIV granted Sir Damame the exclusive privilege of selling tea in France. Over the centuries, its tea empire expanded with various spice and tea factories (even one in New York). In more recent years, the company was relaunched and has established itself again as a premier international tea brand.

Photo: Caves Legrand

Caves Legrand

Located in the nearby historic covered Galerie Vivienne, this historic wine shop also dates to 1880 when it first opened as a food shop selling spices, coffee, tea and other exotic products from the East. After WWII its focus shifted to wines and the Legrands built a reputation as one of the finest wine merchants of the city. They have over 3,000 personally selected references, stocked in their wine shop as well as a reduced list available by the glass at their wine bar facing the beautiful passage. You can also purchase their wines, and a variety of other speciality food items, around the corner at their épicerie on rue de la Banque.

Photo: Debauve et Gallais


Debauve et Gallais

Although the rue Vivienne shop isn’t the original location, here you can sample over 200 years of French chocolate history. In 1779 the pharmacist of Marie Antoinette, Sulpice Debauve, invented individual chocolates which combined cocoa butter with a headache remedy. His delectable creations earned him the title of official chocolatier to Louis XVI. Making it through the revolution, Debauve was joined in business by his nephew, Jean-Baptiste Auguste Gallais. Still to this day they make Queen’s Coins and other favorite chocolates and candies of Marie Antoinette.

Learn more about the area’s history on our tour The Palais Royal Gardens and Les Passages. Our Picturesque Tastes tours also cover perfume and some of the other venues listed above or we can also do a customized of these speciality shops and to other exceptional gastronomic shops in Paris. Contact us for more details.

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