Overnight Christmas Shopping Trip to Paris: Where to Go & What to Do

Paris, all dressed up for Christmas!

Paris, all dressed up for Christmas!

A quick jaunt on the Eurostar, 2 hours 15 minutes later we were alighting at Gare du Nord. Our hotel, just a few stops away, and near my favourite spot Le Marais, saw us briefly, we had lots of Paris to see and to do.

We were in Paris to do some Christmas shopping.

An old friend and I took the trip. Both food obsessed and fond of a glass of wine or a cocktail, we had marked out our maps with places we wanted to visit. We hadn’t much time but we were ambitious. Paris is home to fantastic cookware shops, fromageries, wine shops, patisseries and so many great chocolate shops. So many things that would put the sparkle in any day and especially Christmas.


Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

To start, we hit Le Marais. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges to be precise. A 10 minute walk and we were at the gorgeous bustling market. The market itself is rammed with cosy and delicious places to eat. Lots to buy too. Greengrocers are selling clementines (check: in the bag for confiting), cheesemongers were selling fantastic cheese (some gruyere, comte, brebis and nutty orange vieux gouda for me), lots selling wine wine (Beaujolais, St Jospeh and Bordeaux would see us through). Outside the market there are shops dedicated to olive oil, salmon, chocolate and patisserie.


Fromagerie just outside Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

This market seems to have everything. Almost everything. But it doesn’t have that many copper moulds.

So, we’re off again to E Dehillerin, a wonderful Parisian cookware shop. Intense and at times, intimidating, you muscle your way through the crowd, find what you want (it is glorious – they have everything) and queue to pay for it.


Copper canelé moulds at E Dehilleren, Paris

Wait, no! You queue to give it to a guy who gives you an invoice. Then you put your name and address on it (!) and queue to pay for it. They type it up, if your name is awkward like mine they question you, you shout it out because you are starting to get a little stressed by now. They then take your money and then you go back to the first guy, with your printed invoice, and collect your canelé moulds. Or whatever gorgeousness was worth that. And, it is.


Fabulous copper goodies at E Dehillerin, Paris

The bags are getting heavy now so back to the hotel. A quick pause for some wine. We have been working hard after all. Beaujolais Nouveau is everywhere so we indulge. Then to the Christmas Market at the Champs Elysées.


The Champs Elysées Christmas Market

The streets are lined with saucisson and cheese which you can buy to take home, roasted chestnuts, vin chaud (mulled wine: both red and white), tartiflette, giant pans of it, lots of gifts, some good some bad, but the atmosphere is great and we have fun.


The Champs Elysées Christmas Market

The next day, we need downtime. We have shopped out hearts out and we want to indulge. So we hit the Mandarin Oriental, pausing to ogle beautiful dresses in glamorous windows as we do.


Lunch at Camelia

We dine in Camelia, a restaurant from Thierry Marx who spent several years in Japan. This is French food but with a strong influence from Japan. Sea bream with clear broth and kombu seaweed (€36) was light and rich and one of the best things that I have eaten in a while. The desserts are terrific, there is even a cake shop as you walk in. We nabbed some canelés as we left for the train home. One of the chefs is from Bordeaux, and I can’t leave those behind.

Dessert at Camelia, Paris (based on a traditional dessert from that area)

Dessert at Camelia, Paris (based on a traditional dessert from that area)

As we leave, I discover the bar manager at the Mandarin Oriental is also Irish, so we pop in to say hi. And have a drink, and maybe another one. My friend has wanted cocktails so she is very happy, and once I taste them, I am too. I love cocktails but too many are too sweet. These are high end, and expensive, but what a treat they are.

Cocktails at the Mandarin Oriental Bar (made by Fiachra!)

Cocktails at the Mandarin Oriental Bar (made by Fiachra!)

We float out, but it is time to consider home. Back to the Eurostar we go. We are sad to leave but our journey home contains wine and canéles and cheese. So we are happy. And we have lots of goodies for Christmas too.

Merry Christmas! Silly season has started.

(most of the cheese didn’t survive the week but – HEY – it was too delicious to keep it)

Hit List

E Dehillerin, 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris, France
Closed on Sunday

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris, France

Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysées, from Friday, November 16 2012 to Sunday, January 6 2013

Camelia at the Mandarin Oriental, 251 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France

I travelled as a guest of Superbreak who organise great value Christmas shopping packages to Paris including return Eurostar travel and one night at 4* Crowne Plaza Republique with full breakfast and a river cruise from £159pp. Book on or call 0871 700 4384.


Tickets for Bacon Masterclasses and Christmas Gift Making Classes

Ok, folks. It took a while but I made a decision on a ticketing solution for my classes. I am trialling Eventbrite – links below.

I am absorbing the £5 fees into the existing ticket price, for now. In the long term this may not be possible but I don’t want to push prices up at the moment. I spend so much time in email and spreadsheets trying to work out attendance right now, that I think this should be much better for everyone, and worth it.

There are still tickets for this Saturday 24th November and Saturday 8th December for the morning Christmas Gift Making Class and the afternoon Bacon Masterclass. Further information on the booking links below.

I also do bespoke classes, and can do classes for small numbers in private homes. Please drop me a line if these are of interest.

Get booking! Hope to see lots of you there! :)

Eventbrite - Christmas Gift Making Cooking Class

Eventbrite - Bacon Masterclass (Cooking Class)


Last Postcard from Grenada

I spent my last couple of hours in Grenada putting together this post. I hit publish, boarded the plane, and got back today. Only when I hit publish, my post disappeared into some unknown ether. Gone from drafts to nowhere I can find, so I have just put it together again, with a very sleepy head.

Recipes, Grenada restaurants and more soon. Enjoy my last postcard for now :)


Buying Jacks (small fish) in the blazing sunshine in Grenada

Selling jacks on the key in Grenada


Old phone boxes, Grenada

Happy Hill, Grenada

Fisherman, Grenada

Buying nutmeg in the shell at the nutmeg factory, Grenada

Victoria Secrets, Grenada

The wild Atlantic, North Grenada

Met this guy sun drying his own cocoa in his driveway – most people have their own trees and do this

Bananas, Grenada

The Pink Palace, Grenada

Lush gorgeous rainforest in Grenada (the monkeys are in there!)

Avocados on the tree, Grenada

Vanilla on the vine, Grenada

Charlie at Charlie’s Bar, Grenada


A Postcard from Grenada



I can’t quite believe that my week on this beautiful Caribbean island is coming to an end, but it is. It has been quite the non-stop adventure. I am busier here than I am in London, simply because there is so much that I want to see, and taste.

Lets start with an overview, and I will be back with more details and videos soon. More photos too, as this is really just the very tip of what I have taken.

Nutmeg in the shell, Grenada

Nutmeg in the shell, Grenada

Mace drying the sun, Grenada

Mace drying the sun, Grenada

Sun dried mace, Grenada

Sun dried mace, Grenada

Nutmeg, with mace, in the fruit - all parts are used

Nutmeg, with mace, in the fruit – all parts are used

Met this young guy on the road, Grenada

Met this young guy on the road, Grenada

The lovely folks at Belmont Estate, Grenada

The lovely folks at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Grenada Chocolate Company

Grenada Chocolate Company

Selling fresh fish from the back of a truck - jacks, very popular and in season now

Selling fresh fish from the back of a truck – jacks, very popular and in season now

Sorrel at the market, Grenada

Sorrel at the market, Grenada

Land crabs at the market, Grenada

Land crabs at the market, Grenada

The fish market, Grenada

The fish market, Grenada

Selling offal soup at the meat market, Grenada

Selling offal soup at the meat market, Grenada

Eating Crab Back at BB's Crab Back, Grenada

Eating Crab Back at BB’s Crab Back, Grenada

Land Crab, at BB's, Grenada

Land Crab, at BB’s, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada


Greetings from Grenada! And Now for Something Completely Different: MONKEYS

Greetings from Grenada folks! Gre-nay-dah! Not Greh-nah-dah! In the Caribbean and not in Spain. I have been explaining that a lot. When my Irish accent meets Grenada, everyone thinks I am in Spain.

I am on the Spice Island. There is nutmeg everywhere, cinnamon too. Pimento, and in season cloves. Bay everywhere. Larger and more luscious waxy leaves than what we know. Bergamot scents the air occasionally. Mangos, papaya, so many bananas. Rich flavours, colours and smells permeate the air, and the Atlantic washes the coast every few seconds. My Atlantic from Ireland but the other side of it. The warmer bit.

I have done so much, I am very tired as I type. Hundreds – actually thousands of photographs in – video too. I take video on all my trips but never get the time to edit it. Rather I am never that inclined to. I am forcing myself to do that now. My little craptop, which is missing keys and has others that refuse to work gets me by, but is very whiny when I edit video.

I did though. And here it is. My first one from Grenada is not about food, except that it features bananas. More importantly it features monkeys. Mona monkeys from Grenada. How could I not?!

Now just to warn any newbies – I shoot and edit this myself, so it is well – not BBC standard. But I hope you like it anyway. I had fun.

Enjoy and back soon with lots more spice, seafood and chocolate talk.

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BACON ACTION: Book tickets for Baconmas at The Thatched and Bacon Masterclasses

photo from Gastronomical Heights by James Woollerton

Bacon Masterclasses – photo from Gastronomical Heights by James Woollerton

It is bacon o’clock, folks!

My Bacon Masterclasses were very popular in the summer and I have had many requests to bring them back. So I did, along with new Christmas Gift Making Classes.

The Christmas Classes have been more popular, but there are still plenty of places for both, so please email me to book at niamh at :) Further details on all class details, prices and times here. See below for bacon masterclass specifics.

In other very exciting news, I am declaring BACONMAS at The Thatched in London on December 10th. The Thatched is a great pub in Hammersmith and I will be behind the stove, serving a delicious bacon / pork centric dinner which will include a lot of the secret bacon treats that I have been working on for my bacon app.

It will be fun – I promise – and also really delicious. All for a bargain £27.50. I hope to see a lot of you there :)

Buy tickets for BACONMAS here.

If any of you bacon fiends have friends that don’t like bacon or are veggie, I can accommodate them too, and that will also be delicious. Just let me know when you book.



Chipotle Bacon Jam & Goats Curd on Toast

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Bacon Bits & Sage

6 hour Pork Belly with Lentils

Chocolate Mousse with Bacon Crunchie

Bacon petit fours

Bacon Masterclass at the Hampstead Theatre

Bacon Jam – better than any you have tasted with only the best ingredients. Chipotle fuelled, smoky and sticky.
Candied Bacon – crisp and addictive, most students eat all of this before they even leave the class
Bacon Jam Fudge – it takes time but it is fantastic, and it is amazing with a single malt
Bourbon Bacon Brownie – perfect Christmas tea time snack, isn’t it?