The US and France seem to have at least two things in common when it comes to Easter. We both buy chocolates and many of us wait until the last minute to buy them. Besides waiting until the last minute, I have a tendency to go to every store possible before making my purchase decision. In this case, I did a lot of window shopping as the windows of the chocolatiers here are filled with Easter chocolate displays, with each Chocolatier seemingly vying for the prize of having the biggest chocolate egg. I think either Jean Paul Hevin (first picture) or Hediard (second picture) won this year. Along with chocolate eggs, chickens are as popular. They also have fish and even little animals, called Les animaux de Paques (Animals of Easter). They seem to be your basic farm animals.
Chocolate here is pretty pricey. At Jean Paul Hevin, one of the finest chocolatiers in Paris, a chocolate egg of 200 grams (about 7 ounces) costs 36 euros. Yes, that works out to about 75 US dollars a pound. (And my aunties complain about how high See's Candies are--I think See's is a whole $14 per pound.)
I passed on the 36 euro egg at Jean Paul Hevin and instead went to the patisserie of Gerard Mulot. I had seen the little animals there and thought they were so cute, and also more affordable. They were a mere 83 euros per kilo, that averages to about 45 US dollars a pound. What a bargain!
I started to place my order in French. One thing I've learned is that if I ask a Parisian if he/she speaks English, the Parisian will automatically shake his/her head to signal, "NO!" So, I just rattled off my order in French.
(My French is bad, I know this, but I try. Even when I know the word, it never seems to come out of my mouth properly. I've meant to say that someone is old (vieux), but instead called them veal (veau); and instead of saying "my hair (cheveux) is curly," I end up saying, "my horse (chevaux) is curly." One time I was so happy a man called me "young girl" (jeune fille) that when it happened, I happily told a group of French friends, and they all started laughing because they couldn't understand why I would be so happy to be called a yellow string (jaune fils).)
So, I tried to order one each of Les petite animaux des Paques. "Je voudrais une poule," I said. "Que?" the salesclerk asked. "No, no," I said to myself, "that was the easiest one, poule, pronounced pool. How can it be pronounced any other way?" I tried to say it again, and the clerk said to me, "Je comprende rien" (I understand nothing). "Really? Nothing? How could I pronounce poule any other way?" I asked myself.
After that, I just pointed as I was obviously mispronouncing every other animal. Instead of a poule (chicken), I got an extra vache (cow). I also asked for a cheval (horse), but didn't receive one. I did end up with a duck, two cows, a turtle, a rabbit, and a pig. Aren't these chocolates so cute? Not too cute to eat, though. Obviously, cute and tasty chocolate animals eases my disgrace at trying to speak French.
Happy Easter (Bon Paques) everyone. Humm, I wonder if, like in the US, the day after Easter they have 50% off on all Easter chocolate?
Locations of Chocolatiers/Patissieries mentioned in this post:
Jean Paul Hevin
231, rue Saint-Honoré
76, rue de Seine