December 30 2009
Even in winter, whenever I’m in Paris, it’s time for ice cream. Because the best gelato Europe isn’t from Italy – it’s sold by the centuries-old glacière Berthillon on a tiny island at the heart of Paris. The empire is hidden on the Ile St Louis behind Notre Dame and, until recently, was sold only on this waterlogged scrap of land (an expansion means that Berthillon products are now available at certain spots across Paris).
Any restaurant on the Ile St Louis should offer a couple of flavours, but for the best selection hike to Berthillon’s HQ: at this café, on any day, two dozen or more varieties will be scrawled on the board – when it’s there, I always choose the groseille (redcurrant) and cerise (cherry). The décor inside is unprepossessing, though, so rather than linger over a sundae, I take a groaning, overloaded cone (from €2.10) and wander round the bucolic back streets of the Ile St Louis. On a chilly day, it’s a brief moment of summer.