Quinces, broken hearts and the city of love

The Paris skyline as seen from the roof of Printemps

One of the blogs I find most inspiring, is the very fantastic Not Quite Nigella. On her blog today, Lorraine had announced a competition to win one of four Fauchon Tea, Chocolate & Butter Caramel Packs. To win a pack, Lorraine wants to know what you love about France and why. The question posed by Lorraine really got me thinking about what it is that I love so much about France, being on the 6 week countdown to my fourth trip back to France in the space of about six years. What is it that lures me back each time I plan a trip?

View from the bedroom window in my lovely friend's very gorgeous apartment

Glimpses of Pei Pyramids in the courtyard of the Louvre 

You've probably heard the old saying that Paris offers a remedy for broken hearts. While maybe not devastatingly broken hearted, I found myself in Paris about six years ago certainly foot loose and fancy free. I was a year or two on from a breakup and I was by no means looking for love. My career was blossoming, I had just bought my own apartment and I looking forward to a big catch up and spending time in France with one of my very best friends, la belle femme, who had moved to Paris from Canberra. Finding love in Paris was the last thing on my mind. 

Classic Paris

Boulangerie in the Marais 

I'm not sure if it was the aromas wafting from the Fromagerie in Charles de Galle airport or the warm early morning light hitting the wrought iron flourishes on the rows of Haussmann apartment balconies but within hours of landing, I was under Paris' spell. Yes it could have been the jet lag after a direct 24 hour flight, but I wasn't tired. I felt drugged, like everything was unfolding in a grainy old film. From the art to the architecture I was in sensory overload. It must have been to protect my sensory sanity, but whenever I think of those first few days in Paris, I see the streets, the views, the scenes of daily life in black and white. There is, however, one exception. I see the food, the markets and the wine in colour.

Street market in Convention, in full colour

The very helpful, generous and warm stall holders at the Convention market 
Figs absolutely bursting with ripeness after a long, hot summer 

The most delicious, gnarled heirloom tomatoes 
French bread... the same taste can never be found outside France 

While the beautiful, complex, polished meals of the brasseries, cafes and restaurants captured my imagination, it was the produce in the markets the captured my heart. Each and every stall looked as though it had been arranged by and was ready to be painted by Monet or Cezanne. The stall holders were wise, warm and bursting to share their knowledge. There were redcurrants, raspberries, cold water seafood varieties, rich oozing cheeses, heirloom tomatoes and the bread, oh the bread. I was smitten. I was in love. I had no time for the handsome business suited gentlemen chasing la belle femme and I around the Musée de l'Orangerie, stalking us in the supermarché or flirting and fawning with us over menus, train tickets, magazine purchases..... I was deeply involved in an unfolding love affair with Paris and her food.  

My love of French cheese goes beyond words

La belle femme, selecting a suitable match for all the cheese we bought

La belle femme's helpful reminders for negotiating
the market. How to get a coffee, water and
what you wanted. 
And it didn't stop with the produce at the markets. Un noisette? Oh why not, it's only small. A layered, heaving falafel from the Rue de Rosiers eaten in the Place des Vosges. Yes please. A punnet of perfect raspberries while wandering in Montmartre. It would be rude not too. An illicit macaron from Laduree and bottle of Provencal rose smuggled into and consumed in Monet's garden on a day trip. Oh, encourageable. Smoked salmon blinis, creme fraiche and champagne on the train. But of course!! A bottle or two of delicious wine from the Languedoc and Loire regions, with stunning charcuterie and cheese platters at Melac. Well, we have travelled all this way! Thank heavens I was walking everywhere from dusk until dawn. 

The amazing falafel's from the Rue de Rosiers in the Marais 
Dinner at Melac

Making our selection at Laduree 
The illicit rose and half nibbled macarons 

From Paris, travelling through France, my love only deepened. On this trip I was to taste many firsts. One of them, which has stood most clearly in my mind since then, was the quince. I don't know how it had come to be that I'd never actually tasted quince before. It all started with the taste of a dusky pink coloured quince jelly at the market in Convention. Once I started - from deep rusty coloured quince paste with cheese to light sparkling jellies and the fruit itself, poached gently with spices or baked with cinnamon until it was a dark, caramel pink - I could not get enough. 

Returning to Australia, I was a changed woman. France changes you. It doesn't matter if you are there for 10 days or 10 years. The sensory overload I experienced left me with a heart that aches when I think of France. But it also left me with a heart that was open to love. Was it the wines at Melac? The quinces from the market? Whatever it was, while my life in Sydney as it had been was still very important, I had a new set of priorities and my world was shaped with a new sense of meaning. And very lucky it was too because within a month or two of stepping off the tarmac in Sydney, I met Mr K and my world really did change forever. It was fitting that when we tied the knot five years later, la belle femme was the one to place the wedding rings on our fingers. 

La belle femme, planning our wedding rings on our fingers during our ceremony 
Now when I eat quinces, I eat them with Mr K. I think of France and how all of the wonderful discoveries, because there are always more to make in France, will be shared with my soul mate.

This little recipe really sums up my feelings and connection with France. Quince jelly because I first tasted it at that market in Paris and Rosemary for remembrance, both the memories of France and the changes that were to come in my life. 

Travel details for this post can be found at Mrs Mulberry's travel index.


  1. A lovely post - I would like to visit France one day, for sure. Your quince jelly sounds like it would taste very pretty!

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely words!! The quince and rosemary jelly definitely tastes lovely, perfect with cheese and even roast pork.

  2. Beautiful photos. You have me yearning for Paris. I feel everything you have written.

    1. Thanks Barbara, thoughtful comments like yours are very encouraging to write more posts on my next visit to Paris! I hope you are not yearning for to long and have some time there soon ; )

  3. You already know what I am going to say.... apart from the fact that I love this post (and your blog), what about those beautiful figs and tomatoes... another place to visit on my bucket list! Beautiful images too.

    1. Oh Lizzy, they tasted even better than they looked!! I really hope you tick France off your list. It's a trip you'll never regret!!

  4. Oh wow! That's one of my dream places to visit! I hope I don't have to dream for long! Lovely photos!

    1. I hope you get to visit soon too!! Everywhere you look there is an amazing photo opportunity!


Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate every single one!

© Mulberry and Pomegranate
Maira Gall