A l’Etoile d’Or and Denise Acabo

December 23rd, 2009  | Category: Travel

A l'Etoile d'Or 1

On my second day in Paris, I met David Lebovitz at the Blanche metro station right across The Moulin Rouge and visited the best candy shop in Paris: A l’Etoile d’Or.

If you’re an avid reader of food blogs, you’ve probably already heard about A l’Etoile d’Or and it’s owner, Denise Acabo. Is there anyone else in the world like her? With her cute schoolgirl uniform (complete with a plaid skirt, tie and navy V-neck sweater), blond pigtails and endless passion for every single item she sells in her shop, Denise is one of the most charming people I have ever met. Add to that the caramels from Jacques Genin, Henri Le Roux‘s luscious salted-butter caramel spread “Le Caramelier”, Bernachon chocolate bars and the company of a personal hero of mine. It surely was an unforgettable day.

Cenk Sönmezsoy David Lebovitz

The moment I stepped into the shop, I saw Mr. Genin’s caramels lined up on the white marble counter top on the right (top photo). In an hour or so, we will step outside, I’ll take a bite of the mango passion fruit caramel and the world will never be the same. But I don’t know that yet, so I start perusing the shop and try to take it all in.

A l'Etoile d'Or 6

There are colorful boxes everywhere. Which one to choose? I remind myself that I have to buy a box of “Bergamotes de Nancy” – one of many items on my A l’Etoile d’Or shopping list.

A l'Etoile d'Or 5

A LEtoile dOr 9

Then I turn around and there’s a table on the left filled with Bernachon chocolate bars. Now, these are very special. Bernachon is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Lyon, and outside of their original shop, A l’Etoile d’Or is the only place you can buy them.

A l'Etoile d'Or 2

David shows the one with caramel oozing from the sides, and then mentions that “Café” has loads of ground coffee in it.

Bernachon Chocolate

I am instantly sold! I offered a small portion of the bars to friends over a dinner party and it was unanimous: these were one of the best chocolates we have ever tasted.

Then Denise enters through a door from the back of the shop, greets us warmly while she braids her hair and starts explaining every single item in the shop.

Denise Acabo 1

David kindly translates simultaneously, but I have to admit – I am listening with only half an ear. With all that Caramel-Beurre-Salé waiting for me on the other side of the shop, how can I focus on anything else?

Denise Acabo 2

As soon as Denise pulls out sheets of paper from a drawer and starts explaining something to David, I run to the other side and start stacking caramels on a tray.

A l'Etoile d'Or 11

Fast forward a few days and I am standing over my backpack in my hotel room, about to burst into tears after realizing that my stash of caramels is running low. There is absolutely no time to visit Denise’s shop on Saturday, my notes read she’s closed on Sundays and Monday mornings AND our flight is on Tuesday. Yet another reason to visit Paris again, but still… it hurts. And then this happens (I think on Monday):

Jacques genin

As we’re talking towards Goumanyat, which turns out to be closed that day, I read the word CARAMEL on a shop window. And underneath it, the maker of the caramels that rocked my world: Jacques Genin. This is what I call divine intervention.

Here’s what’s left of them after I return back home.

Henri Le Roux Caramel Beurre Sale

Back to Denise’s shop..

Here’s a jar of caramel beurre salé spread with almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts from Henri Le Roux – Le Caramelier. The combination of smooth caramel, crunchy nuts and salt is out of this world. Stay tuned for a Le Caramelier filled sandwich cookies recipe.

Le Caramelier Henri Le Roux

A l'Etoile d'Or 12

A l'Etoile d'Or 3

Above photo courtesy of David Lebovitz.

A l'Etoile d'Or 13

By the way, you just have to have Denise’s assistant pack a few of the items you buy as gifts regardless of your plans on sharing them. Her wrapping paper is too cute to pass up. According to a commentor on David’s blog (pedant), “the wrapping paper that Denise uses (called le papier d’Epinal) features an 18th-century design of a set of scenes that contain a riddle which is solved when the image is turned upside down… these cards were given out by the nuns who taught her at school at the end of every week for well-behaved children, and were, in her words, sought after like mad by children. She never got any and now dispenses these delightful designs on a daily basis.”

Denise Acabo

Just another detail showing Denise’s enthusiasm.

A l'Etoile d'Or 7

After spending a small fortune on caramels and chocolate, we also stopped by Fouquet and guess what… I bought more caramels!


I absolutely have to mention another cute box. Right after our mini tour, we had lunch with David and upon the arrival of our orders he pulled out the cutest wooden box from his bag, filled with Fleur de sel de Guérande.

Fleur de Sel de Guarande

It’s funny because I recall a certain friend mocking me when I grabbed a tiny sack of fleur de sel at La Fayette Gourmet to bring back home by saying “Are you really going to carry “salt” all the way to Turkey?” And yes, I did carry not one but two mini sacks of salt to Turkey.

No more Korova Cookies for him.

A l’Étoile d’Or, Denise Acabo
30, rue Pierre Fontaine 75009 Paris
Metro: Blanche
01 48 74 59 55

Jacques Genin
133 rue de Turenne 75003 Paris
Get Directions

01 45 77 29 01

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  1. 1 - The Hungry Mouse on December 23rd, 2009

    Yowee, thanks for the fabulous pictures! What a great shop!

    Happy holidays,

  2. 2 - Sean on December 23rd, 2009

    Oh, it’s as beautiful as a jewelry store. Everything seems to shimmer and call out to you. Kudos on the shots. And isn’t David a dear?

  3. 3 - Ghille on December 23rd, 2009

    Looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing the photos….now, going to share the candy??

  4. 4 - Cenk on December 23rd, 2009

    Sean – Thanks! And yes, David is a sweetheart.

    Ghille – Glad you liked them. Well, actually, you can bid on a year’s supply of Bernachon chocolates right here!!!

  5. 5 - Gera @ SweetsFoods on December 24th, 2009

    Those sweeties are dangerous with me around! Swoon…

    Happy Holidays Cenk!



  6. 6 - Soma on December 24th, 2009

    Dear Cenk – Happy Holidays & Happy New year to you and your loved ones.

  7. 7 - Natalia on December 24th, 2009

    Thank god you posted this in english, I was so curious seeing your pictures at the turkish blog that I used google translator, with terrible yet amusing results;) Now I know what you said but as a result I`m craving chocolate and caramel. Well, you win some you lose some.
    Happy Hollidays to you!

  8. 8 - Heidi from Savory Tv on December 24th, 2009

    A beautiful photo story. I’m looking forward to see what you make with the caramel beurre spread!

  9. 9 - CrossRoads on December 25th, 2009

    Smiling Hello:)
    A great ‘rich’ food blog for all things delicious, all comfort recipes, all the passion, and modesty that come with it. Keep up the good quality work!

  10. 10 - Cynthia on December 25th, 2009

    Thanks for taking me on the trip albeit virtually.

    Happy Holidays!

  11. 11 - Shaheen on December 27th, 2009

    A l’Étoile d’Or has been on my list of places that I’m going to go to when I go to Paris. So cool that you met David Leb too.

  12. 12 - nora@ffr on December 28th, 2009

    great blog! very interesting post!! seasons greetings and wish you a very happy new year 2010!!

  13. 13 - Mrs Ergül on December 29th, 2009

    What a ‘sweet’ trip to Paris. Talking about fleur de sel, my brother failed me by not bringing any back for me when he went there just last week. I’m still fuming!!

  14. 14 - Paloma Piquick on December 29th, 2009
  15. 15 - Dawn (KitchenTravels) on December 29th, 2009

    Hello – arriving here for the first time via David Lebovitz’s site. You have a lovely blog, beautiful photos. Looking forward to poking around. 🙂 My parents lived on the island of Crete for a year or two around the time I was born, and they did a lot of travelling. My mom has told me many times that she loved visiting Turkey. I hope to travel there myself one day. Happy New Year!

  16. 16 - Cenk on December 30th, 2009

    Paloma – Unbelievable! She doesn’t look a day older than 60.

    Dawn – Thank you! Let me know before you visit and I’ll tell you all about my favorite restaurants.

    Mrs. Ergül – I would be, too!

  17. 17 - Walter on December 30th, 2009

    I will be in Paris next month and now I know one place I have to go!! I better had start dieting now. Great photos. Keep up the great work Cenk!

  18. 18 - parisbreakfast on December 30th, 2009

    what a fairyland that shop is..I treasure the sheet of epinal paper she gave me 3 years ago still.
    I have to say I do not understand why a perfectly fine caramel spread has to be ruined by chunks of almond? Why Le Roux why?
    Fauchon makes very nice caramels as well…but who doesn’t in Paris?
    Merci for the wonderful photos!

  19. 19 - Lisa Westbrook on December 30th, 2009

    What great photos and an adorable shop. I have a Villeroy and Boch candy dish like yours, but with a different scene. Wish I had some goodies to put in it!

  20. 20 - Cenk on December 30th, 2009

    Walter – Thank you!

    Lisa – I found mine from the St. Quen flea market. It was a steal!

    parisbreakfast – Thanks Carolg. I recently baked a sandwich cookie and used Henri Le Roux’s spread as well as another one without any nuts and – to my surprise – everyone preferred the latter!

  21. 21 - Connie Cullen on December 31st, 2009

    Thank you for the memories! I visited Denise’s shop last year while in Paris with my mother and sister-in-law. We had such a delightful time, and like you, found that our caramel supply was running low before we came home! Thank goodness her shop was open so we could stock up again before leaving.

    Can’t wait to visit again.

  22. 22 - Leesa Garcia on January 1st, 2010

    Hi Cenk,

    Happy New Year! I just LOVE this post – both pics and commentary! What a treat to meet David in person and to visit this lovely store- WOW! Thanks so much for sharing it with us, too… I had absolutely NO idea of it’s existence but I must visit it now.
    I also wanted to send along this link to you.. I don’t know if you know of this blog already, but I thought you’d like it if you hadn’t seen it before… It’s called Canelle et Vanille and it’s exki!

  23. 23 - Lars Kiilerich on January 2nd, 2010

    The shop is fantastic! The pictures make me drool.. and I want to go visit her again.. but I’m not sure I am allowed for the wife, since last time i spent.. ehm.. enough Euros there.. 8)

  24. 24 - rona on January 10th, 2010

    likes this!:)

  25. 25 - Shelly Borrell on January 13th, 2010

    It sounds like a magical day.

  26. 26 - Kitchen Butterfly on January 18th, 2010

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time….and how can you come to Paris and NOT take back true fleur de sel….no more Korova cookies for your friend. Can I have them instead????????

  27. 27 - Gali on March 14th, 2010

    I like your last sentence. Yes, one can carry salt far away. I bring my salt from Camargue all the way to Helsinki (even though I could also buy it here… but it’s not the same) and I also bring herbes de Provence bought at a local market in Marseille. It’s worth it!

  28. 28 - Lola on March 28th, 2010

    Thanks for the photos. I’m planning my trip to Paris soon. I will definitely visit this great candy shoppe now! Can’t wait!

  29. 29 - erika on February 13th, 2011

    where did he get that salt box????????!!!!!

  30. 30 - taylor on April 28th, 2012

    thats funny cause my sister somehow carried a 5 kg bag of sea salt back from mexico, to ireland. still not sure how she managed, we’re still using it in our bakery, a year and a half later!

  31. 31 - Paula on March 4th, 2014

    In case you have not heard, on February 14th of this year, there was a gas explosion under Denise’s store that did extensive damage. Several gas workers were injured, but Denise is ok. What a loss. I hope a l’Etoile will recover.

  32. 32 - Cenk on March 7th, 2014

    Paula – This is so sad! Glad to hear Denise is OK. Thanks for letting me know.

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