Enjoy a slice of France – in Blairgowrie

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

If you are a fan of everything French, Blairgowrie’s French Market and Patisserie de Paris is the place for you.

Located at 9 Mackay Avenue, Patisserie de Paris and The French Market are owned by Paul Zwick and Suzanne Himely respectively. Zwick’s story began with a career change from the film industry which saw him spend several years studying and working at various renowned culinary institutes and restaurants in France and Switzerland. After returning to Johannesburg in 2012 and being unable to “find a decent loaf of bread anywhere” he decided to open Patisserie de Paris.

Himely gravitated towards the world of gourmet French cuisine after many successful years in the travel industry. Her foray began with a stand at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town which paved the way for ‘La Cremerie’, a French food specialist shop which she also set up in Cape Town. One thing led to another and in 2015, Himely opened The French Market next to Patisserie de Paris.

Zwick and Himely hit it off and decided to pool their efforts to create their own little corner of France characterised by a linked coffee shop, Zwick’s patisserie and bakery and Himely’s market, all of which sport delightful pink and blue colour schemes and French style décor. The pair also set up a charming outside eating area on the pavement complete with French flag coloured umbrellas and blue chairs.

In Zwick’s bakery you’ll find all manner of delicious artisanal breads including award winning baguettes, olive sourdough, sundried tomato sourdough, multi-seed sourdough, pecan nut and cranberry bread, rye bread, ciabatta, cheese cake, lemon meringue, crisp croissants, peach Danishes, pear pinwheels, cheese sticks, mini chocolate eclairs filled with fresh cream, chocolate twists and pain au chocolat, just to name a few items. For those who want to celebrate a special event in style, celebratory cakes can also be ordered.

Zwick only uses the best natural ingredients in his products, all of which are handmade fresh at the crack of dawn each day. In true French style, all the delicious smelling breads are displayed in wooden racks and the decadent cakes and pastries are stacked along shelves in an old-fashioned glass display case and on a central table. Nothing is held over until the next day and what little is left is sold at half price from 4pm onwards.

The French Market’s wares are equally moreish. Over 40 imported cheeses make up the bulk of Himely’s offering. Varieties on offer include, amongst many others, Bleu d’ Auvergne, Brie Maubert, Buche de Chevre, Emmental (Alsace), St Nectaire, Brie de Meaux, Camembert de Normandie, Epoisses, Morbier, Comte, Reblechon and Roquefort. Interestingly, many of the cheeses Himely imports are ‘protected’ under strict ‘designation of origin’ rules which means you’re getting the real deal. My personal favourite? The Comte, a hard, slightly sweet cheese which goes well with fondues and salads.

While traditional cheeses make up the bulk of Himely’s offering, there are plenty of other gourmet nibbles to try. Over 100 French truffle oils, mayonnaises, foie gras, chestnut spreads, pates, sauces, jams, preserved fruits and mustards to be exact. Rillettes – a popular French meat spread which is usually derived from pork is also on offer. But what of the prices? Although most products at the market would probably fall under the ‘luxury’ banner, they’re surprisingly well priced if you take the recent exchange rate fluctuations into consideration. For instance, a jar of ‘moutarde en grains’ (grain mustard) costs only R52 and 100 grams of Bleu d’ Auvergne costs R51.

Once you’ve finished browsing and filling your shopping bag with truffle oil and baguettes, take a load off and enjoy a filled baguette or croissant, a salad, a piece of quiche or a slice of cake at the coffee shop. The service is great, the atmosphere welcoming and the food is fresh, delicious and, of course, as French as it gets.

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