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Paris: E. Dehillerin and Les Halles

E. Dehillerin  shows up in all the Paris city guide books as one of those quintessential shops that every foodie should visit.  Dark green, distinctive lettering, the words: Materiel de cuisine.

Of course, we had to check it out.  When we pulled up in front in a taxi, there was a crowd gathered around the door.  Jack asked,” Do you think there is a line to get in?”  We experienced that in NYC when the Muji store opened in Soho.  Such a flutter over that one.

But no, it was a small tour group—possibly a food tour—poking their heads into the store.

We made our way into the shop founded in 1820, more warehouse in feel.  Yes, it was a flashback in time.  Felt like an old time hardware store with uneven wood floors, challenging lighting, long isles of floor to ceiling rough wooden shelving.

Shoppers wend their way through the maze like isles handling the many products used by chefs and home cooks alike.  When we inquired about the price of a whisk, a green jacketed snarly sales rep headed to a book like contraption hanging on the wall.  He poured over pages of printed products to find the price.

Twenty dollars! Yikes.

He didn’t seem to care if we made a purchase or not.


We marveled at the displays of big knives, like really big.  Big enough to chop up a cow.  And then enormous pots to cook it in.

What an experience.  We shook our heads, admired the heavy duty pots and pans in every possible size and made our way down the creaky stairs to the basement where huge pots and roasting pans were stored. All in all, a good time.

From there we wandered to Montorgueil Street, known for centuries as the foodie part of town.  At one time it was connected to the food wholesaler area.  Understandably, food was the focus.

It’s an interesting thing.  The wholesalers were moved to the outskirts of Paris in the late 1960s.  The French spent ten years trying to figure out what to do with the area and then build a god-awful underground shopping mall and an atrocious looking building—upside down cubist umbrellas, I’ve seen it described.  This building and the area around it decayed and deteriorated  so now they are tearing that down.

Ironic.  So many buildings have stood proudly in Paris for hundreds of years.  Les Halles only lasted 40.

The new structure will have a huge canopy, parks and fountains. The idea is that it will be an architecturally striking landmark.  Could be a big mistake.   The reports I read said it will take 900 million dollars and four years.  I suspect those numbers will go up.

We enjoyed lunch on Montorgueil  Street at a café that looked like it predated the wholesalers. This street is loaded with patisseries, fromageries and boucheries. These traditional French shops are mixed in with Sushi and Quick Burgers. Funny.    The meal was fine but the people watching kept us entertained.  The little dog across the way seemed to enjoy it too.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


1 Comment
  1. posted by
    May 27, 2011 Reply

    Paris…ahhh. Makes me want to return…like NOW! 😉

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