Berthillon | The Sorbet of Saint-Louis

I remember my first visit to Ile Saint-Louis thirteen years ago and seeing a line of people queueing up for, of all things, ice cream. Back then I thought “how silly is that” – why not just buy some from somewhere else. It may have been quality ice cream, but surely it wasn’t that difficult to make, that they couldn’t be that different from the next. After all, it’s just ice cream.
It took a few more years and countless scoops before I came to appreciate the value of the singular experience.
This time around, despite the cold, our group was in the mood for ice cream, and it proved to be the perfect time to revisit. The streets of the tiny isles on the Seine are the same as how I remembered, still atmospheric. It helps there aren’t too many cars on the street, and the shops that line the main road are quite beautiful.
In the lovely Ile Saint-Louis, with small shops left and right it was easy to pass the hours away simply wandering around. It wasn’t difficult to linger if the store happens to look like this from street-side…

Unfortunately, the one we were looking for wasn’t welcoming anyone that day.
Berthillon is one of those prototypical things Parisian, an original from which others had to follow. It’s often called the best ice cream in Paris if not the whole country, and necessary for those checking items off a to-do list. Sadly, they don’t entertain customers on Mondays nor on Tuesdays, preferring strangely to start their workweek on a Wednesday. Unusual business practice for a company that famous and well sought-out. Stupid me, I’d written that down on my cheat-sheet but forgot all about it as we busily tried to find their store on the rue Saint Louis. Luckily, our group didn’t leave empty-handed as their much-admired ice cream was available from other shops on the island. A little bit disappointing not to have seen the original. Will just have to savor the sorbet of Saint-Louis another time.

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