Gallery: Snapshots from Paris: Ice Cream at Berthillon

Exterior of the Berthillon Shop
Exterior of the Berthillon Shop
The shop, where Berthillon has been located since its opening, is at 31, rue St. Louis-en-Île, smack in the middle of the island. This is where Raymond Berthillon, a bread baker by trade, set up his ice cream machine by the door of his mother-in-law's café. Nowadays, ice cream is made on the ground floor, sorbet upstairs – up to 1,000 liters and 30 flavors each day.

In addition to the take away service at number 31, there is a tea room at number 29. If you're planning to visit the shop, make sure you remember the address: with so many other purveyors on the island, it can be hard to find, unless you know where to look.

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]

Interior of the Tea Room at no. 29
Interior of the Tea Room at no. 29
Going to the tea room is a nice way to turn your visit into an occasion.

[Photograph: Pablo D. del Valle]

Sometimes simple is best...
Sometimes simple is best...
Deciding what to get in the tea room is no easier than at the take away windows, but the choices are different. Of course you can get unadorned scoops here as well, served in chilled silver cups.

[Photograph: Pablo D. del Valle]

... and sometimes decadence is the way to go
... and sometimes decadence is the way to go
But I chose the fraises des bois (wild strawberry) melba: a scoop each of vanilla ice cream and wild strawberry sorbet, smothered in a daunting amount of whipped cream, liberally studded with wild strawberries, and a mammoth almond tuile.

If you've ever worked with wild strawberries, you know that their deliciousness is in direct proportion to their frustrating perishability. They taste like the essence of strawberry, but they will bruise and turn to mush if you so much as brush them with a feather. The berries topping this dessert looked as if they had just been picked.

Muriel Delpuech, M. Berthillon’s granddaughter, said that they have been working with the same wild strawberry grower for 35 years. He picks the berries in the morning, they arrive at Orly airport that night, and are used in the sorbet the next day.

[Photograph: Pablo D. del Valle]

Interior of no. 31, rue St. Louis-en-Île
Interior of no. 31, rue St. Louis-en-Île
When I was done at the tea room, I needed to cleanse my palate so I stepped over to number 31 where I got a scoop of cherry sorbet. And nougat ice cream, just because it’s so good. (I am not ashamed. It was in the name of research.)

[Photograph: Pablo D. del Valle]

Vine Peach Sorbet
Vine Peach Sorbet
The colors of Berthillon's sorbets are as intense as the flavors.

[Photograph: Pablo D. del Valle]

Chocolate Macaron Glacé: before...
Chocolate Macaron Glacé: before...
On my first trip to the tea room, a little boy at the next table had ordered a macaron glacé. He got triple chocolate - chocolate macaron with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. It looked so delicious that I had to come back a few days later and try it for myself. This my is macaron before.

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]

And after
And after
Tarte Tatin with a scoop of vanilla
Tarte Tatin with a scoop of vanilla
There are other pastries – including a tall tarte tatin, dark moist brownies and a honey cinnamon financier. They are all Muriel’s recipes.

She said: “When I was younger, I wanted to make ice cream, too. And they said, 'No, it’s too difficult for a woman!' Ah-ha! I was very angry… And I said, ‘Ok, now I’ll make my cakes, and like that people will also come for my cakes and not only for ice cream."

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]

Poire (pear) Belle Hélène
Poire (pear) Belle Hélène
One scoop of vanilla ice cream, a scoop of pear sorbet, whipped cream, and to top it off an entire poached pear drizzled in chocolate sauce.

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]

Berthillon: A Family Affair
Berthillon: A Family Affair
Muriel Delpuech, Monsieur Berthillon's granddaughter: “My mother (and I) are in the shop, and then there is my grandfather, my father and my brother… sometimes its, err, difficult! But we are stronger like that.” “We eat ice cream every day because it (changes) with the season. Now we have the wild strawberry, we have the rhubarb, we have the melon. Every season you have new flavors.”

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]

Cone of Berthillon Vanilla
Cone of Berthillon Vanilla
At 88 years old, M. Berthillon still makes the vanilla every morning.

Muriel: "He makes only this flavor. And he said that’s the most important flavor to succeed, because all ice cream makers make vanilla ice cream, and you really can compare."

When you have ice cream here, because we make the ice cream just in the back, he made the ice cream at 9 o’clock, and you have it now (right after). Every day.”

A good reason to go to the original location.

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]

Berthillon: Since 1954
Berthillon: Since 1954
Berthillon is open Wednesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 8 PM. The store closes for summer vacation in August, however they continue to make ice cream to be sold at other shops.

[Photograph: Gabrielle Mondesir]