The Best Ice Cream in Paris: Berthillon


berthillonWhen you’re in Paris and you’re heading for the islands in the middle of the Seine River, your first and most logical landmark and “must-see” is (of course) Nôtre-Dame. This is only right, as it’s one of Paris’ most popular tourist sights. And yet just a few steps away, on the other (smaller) island, is one of my personal favorite Paris landmarks – the Berthillon ice cream shop.

Berthillon (pronounced kind of like bear-tee-yone, not with a “th” or an “l” sound) is located on the Île Saint-Louis, and is world-famous for its ice cream. So although it’s far less visited than, say, the Eiffel Tower, don’t expect to turn the corner and find that you’ve got the shop to yourself. On the contrary, you’re likely to be able to locate it simply by looking for the exceedingly long line that stretches from the window.

The Berthillon shop on Île Saint-Louis isn’t the only one in Paris, but it is the most famous and most charming. You can get cones of ice cream here, or – if you’re lucky enough to be renting an apartment in Paris and have access to a freezer – you can also buy the ice cream in larger quantities to take home. And, if you really can’t stand the line, you can find Berthillon (both by the cone and by the container) in several non-Berthillon markets and shops around the city as well. I would encourage you to visit the Île Saint-Louis shop at least once, however – it’s part of any good foodie’s trip to Paris!

My introduction to Berthillon came when I was on a break from a study-abroad trip in the UK, and visiting my cousins who lived at that time in Paris. I’d never heard of Berthillon before that, but I’ve never forgotten it since that visit – and we’re talking about a good number of years ago, people. The ice cream is just that good. The array of flavors is almost overwhelming, so you may need to visit a few times in order to sample all the ones that sound appealing. And you’ll be pleased to know that Berthillon uses only natural ingredients in their ice creams – this is about as healthy as ice cream can get (if “healthy ice cream” isn’t some kind of oxymoron).

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Unfortunately for those of us who don’t speak French, the Berthillon website is in French only. But here are some things you’ll need to know before you set off on a Berthillon excursion:

Location: 29-31 rue saint Louis en l’ile, 75004 Paris (map here)
Getting There: Metro stations Pont Marie (line 7), Saint Paul (line 1), Cardinal Lemoine (lines 9 and 10); bus lines 86, 87, 63, 67, and 24
Hours: (These hours are listed for 2008, so double-check them before you go for the most up-to-date hours.)
Wednesday-Sunday – 10:00-20:00 (closed Monday-Tuesday)
Closures for 2008: January 1-2, April 21-May 1, July 21-September 2, December 25-26