Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis! Bienvenue à DC!

I have a confession to make. Technically speaking, I am not a parisienne. Shakira’s hips don’t lie and neither do my passport and birth certificate. I was actually born a ch’ti in the northern French city of Lille and only moved to Paris at the age of five. Why confess to this now? Well, because soon there will be another ch’ti moving to DC, one that also hails from Lille and that shares my grandfather’s name: Paul.

Francis Holder opened the very first Paul bakery Place de Strasbourg in Lille back in 1953. Within 10 years, Francis was opening Paul branches throughout the city and by the 70s there were Pauls all over France. Today, there are over 450 Paul “stores” throughout the world and if you’ve been to London recently, I’m sure you’ll have no problem believing that outside of France, the UK holds the biggest concentration of Pauls. Paul entered the US market (rather unsuccessfully) by way of Miami and is now arriving in the District with a first opening planned for January 2011 May 2nd at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. They will open a second PAUL store will open in Georgetown at the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and M St. NW later in the year.

Back home, I’m not typically a Paul customer. Paul is chain and while their bread (especially the flutes and the emmental mimolette Flemish bread) is good, it hardly compares to Eric Kayser‘s. (Trust me, best pain in all of Paris!) But Eric Kayser has no intention of opening a store in DC and good bread is hard to come by in this town. So I’m pretty excited about the upcoming opening! Another reason why I’m very excited? Well, if you’ve read my blog in the past or followed my tweets, you may have noticed that I have a slight obsession with great appreciation of macarons. In 1993, Francis Holder, by then the head of a large baking empire called Groupe Holder, purchased a (somewhat famous) little pâtisserie located Rue Royale in Paris. You know, the one with the pastel green exterior and the line of Japanese tourists waiting outside to purchase a few macarons. Now Paul’s mini-macarons are not of the same caliber as Ladurée‘s, bien sûr, but they’re WAY better than those made by Château Blanc (remember those? I wrote about them previously), also a subsidary of Groupe Holder.

Paul’s mini-macarons come in many flavours including pistachio (pictured above), cassis (my fave)
and of course, the classic caramel beurre de sel, chocolate, vanille and raspberry.
So my thinking: basically until Kayser or Ladurée opens in DC I am more than happy to settle for fellow ch’ti Paul for my bread and my macarons (and the occasional tarte aux framboises, sandwich, quiches, chausson aux pommes, vienoiseries or glass of Orangina)!

3 thoughts on “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis! Bienvenue à DC!

  1. I didn't know that Paul was first opened in Lille! Their bread isn't the best but I like grabbing a few of their croissants or pains au chocolat, my son loves their tartes au sucre and they make pretty good sandwiches. And I love that they are in every train station. And homemade macs are always better than shop bought!


  2. The trickiest part of Paul's start up in Washington will be finding the right people to staff it.

    If Paul is careful to employ people who understand the quality of product and service that characterize Paul in Lille then there is every reason to believe it will be a great success in DC.


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