This Wonderful Little Place: La Buvette, Paris

A lover of FRENCH FOOD CULTURE, chef CHRISTINE O’SULLIVAN unwinds in a charming NEIGHBOURHOOD WINE BAR

I’ve been living in Paris for almost five years. Myself and my partner Chris, who is also a pastry chef, live in the tenth arrondissement just by the canal Saint Martin. It is a beautiful, eclectic neighbourhood with great bars, boulangeries and butchers. The canal bank is always a great place in summer to share a bottle of wine and cheese with friends.

Broken Biscuits is our little café pâtisserie on a small side street in the eleventh arondissement. We are lucky enough to be right beside a beautiful park, Square Gardette. The neighbourhood is quite residential but is becoming very well known for its food and wine scene. Chris and I are passionate about excellent cake and coffee so we decided to open Broken Biscuits. The concept is simply about creating fresh, authentic pastries along with quality coffee in a warm, friendly environment. Our best sellers are choux à la crème, financiers and traditional scones. For Christmas specials this month we will do our version of traditional mince pies, Christmas cakes, spiced pumpkin mini cakes, festive cookies, and a few surprises. We’re looking forward to spending our first ever Christmas in Paris this year; my family are coming to visit and we are planning an abundance of food to go with the festive spirit!

Square Gardette

I grew up in the country in Ballinhassig, Co Cork. It was here my parents opened Bawnleigh, their country house. Bawnleigh was a huge part of my childhood; what began as a small restaurant and bar grew to become a successful business. I used to spend my weekends in the kitchen and would help out wherever I could. I loved the buzz and busyness – the chef and staff were family too and I guess my passion for the food industry started here.

I studied architecture in college but after three years I felt my heart was not in it, and instead found myself reaching for a book about food. I decided to enter Masterchef Ireland and made it to the last four. Afterwards I moved to Dublin, when Dylan McGrath, one of the judges, offered me a job in his restaurant Rustic Stone. I started at the bottom and worked hard and learned more; the only recipe, along with passion, for moving forward in the kitchen. After two years in Dublin, I decided I wanted to learn more about pastry so I left for Paris to study at a school called Ferrandi. There I enrolled in a six-month intensive pastry course which I loved.

Broken Biscuits

When I am not at Broken Biscuits, we love to go for lunch, then take a walk around the Jardin des Plantes, grabbing a coffee at La Fontaine in the afternoon, browsing some vintage antique shops. Paris has some great places and we both love furniture design and crockery.

La Buvette

Chris and I also enjoy trying new restaurants and pastry shops. My favourite is La Buvette (67 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011), just around the corner from our shop. It’s a local wine bar, which also serves the most delicious small plates carefully selected by Camille who owns and runs the shop. We meet our neighbours there to share a glass of wine and catch up on the latest news. It’s the perfect way to wind down after a busy day in the kitchen. Sitting in La Buvette eating a slice of terrine with homemade pickles accompanied by a glass of wine reminds me of why I love France. I admire the culture here and the respect they have for good food and chefs. It goes without saying Paris is an incredibly beautiful city architecturally, and living here doesn’t ever get old. Paris has its own wonderful charm.

As told to Síomha Connolly. Broken Biscuits Pâtisserie, 10 Passage Rochebrune, 75011, Paris.

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