Food

Au Merveilleux de Fred: A Meringue Bakery in Paris

by Rosa Jackson

While some French food enthusiasts cherish the macaron, the piled high buttercream cupcake or the newly-enamored whoopie pie, I remain an original meringue fan. Whenever I pick up my baguette in Paris, I always add a simple gigantic meringue to my order, as every bakery keeps a few at the ready. A lot of egg whites and sugar, whipped and baked, meringues are an old standby and perfectly resilient. We think the new Au Merveilleux de Fred bakery, a spot heavily dedicated  to meringue, will change all that soon. Thanks to our friend Rosa Jackson for sharing it with the world and, hopefully, making it au courant again. – Maggie

When my friend Maniko casually mentioned a meringue shop in her neighborhood, I stopped her in mid-sentence.

“Did you say a meringue shop? As in a shop selling only meringues?”

Nearly every French pastry shop has its puffy meringues piled up somewhere near the window, but they often seem to be more of a decoration than something that people actually eat. Yet meringues have their fans, among them my son, Sam. Just as I did at his age, he loves to bite into the crispy shell, working his way in a cloud of crumbs to the center where the egg whites have retained some chewiness. I would no longer eat a meringue by itself, but I do buy them to crumble into a glass bowl with fromage blanc and ruby-red strawberries in summer.

What I love most about meringues is their very unfashionableness: while the little macaron must always prove itself with ever wilder flavor combinations and colors, the meringue seems to exist in its own dimension, unaffected by changing Parisian tastes.

That era may be about to end thanks to Au Merveilleux de Fred. Frédéric Vaucamp trained at Lenôtre before opening his first meringue shop in Lille, home to the sugar-filled gaufre and the cramique, a brioche studded with raisins or chocolate and topped with crunchy sugar. He has had a Paris presence for the past two years, first in the outer reaches of the 15th arrondissement and since last November in the chic 16th. Though Fred is not yet a household name here, I suspect that will soon change once the glitterati get a taste of his cakes.

Of course, I accepted Maniko’s invitation to join her at the rue St-Charles branch, which faces a lively, partly organic street market that takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays. The shop has a whimsical old-fashioned feel to it, with the touch of humor that you would expect from the person who named it. In the window, young women laugh and chat as they coat snowball-sized meringues with whipped cream before rolling them in chocolate shavings or crystalized coffee.

The finished cakes have names like Le Merveilleux, L’Incroyable and L’Impensable, referring to the period after the French Revolution when young people known as les incroyables and les merveilleux dressed extravagantly, took on odd mannerisms and refused to pronounce the letter “r” (as in Revolution), which they said had done too much harm.

How to choose between a Merveilleux, an Incroyable and an Impensable? Now there is a dilemma I would like to have every day. Reasoning that the Merveilleux – coated in whipped cream and rolled in dark chocolate – seemed the least original of the three even if was the eponymous cake, I took one each of the coffee and speculoos versions. The smiling salesgirl carefully packed them in a box and said I could keep them in the refrigerator for up to three days… yes, I suppose I could.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that Au Merveilleux is only a meringue shop, as it also sells some marvellous looking gaufres filled with vanilla and rum-scented sugar, gleaming cramiques and tartes au sucre, and loaves of country-style bread. I would have loved to try it all, but there is only so much that one person can eat in a day, and we had just come from a three-course lunch at Inake Aizpitarte’s new restaurant Le Dauphin. (I did order cheese rather than dessert, anticipating the meringues.)

Back on the other side of town, I decided that I would try half of the Incroyable, just to be able to tell you about it. A few minutes later, I found myself scraping the last crumbs of meringue with my fork, having demolished the whole thing. Fred, the idea of coating layers of meringue in whipped cream sweetened with spice cookie crumbs before rolling them in white chocolate was sheer genius, incroyable even. Tomorrow I will do the impensable and try the coffee version.

Au Merveilleux de Fred
129 bis rue St-Charles, 15th, 01 45 79 72 47.
29 rue de l’Annonciation, 16th, 01 45 20 13 82.

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Written by Rosa Jackson for Edible Adventures. All images by Julien Hausherr. Julien Hausherr is a photographer based in Paris, specializing in architecture, still-life and reporting. Contact: [email protected]. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Rosa Jackson

Rosa Jackson is a Canadian-born food writer and cooking teacher based in Nice and Paris. After ten years in Paris, where she wrote about restaurants for a number of guidebooks and magazines and founded the company Edible Paris. She now spends most of her time in Nice where she teaches Provençal cooking in her home. She spends a few days every month in Paris keeping up with restaurants, conducting food tours, and sampling the finest patisseries and chocolates. View Rosa Jackson's Website

26 comments on “Au Merveilleux de Fred: A Meringue Bakery in Paris

I’ve always liked meringue, but these just took me over the top. I’m sitting here in a coma licking the last bit of chocolate and meringue from my lips…

Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe these… they are… an experience to be savored.

I think since this was written one was opened near where we stayed near the Latin Quarter/St. Germain. My husband came back from a morning coffee run to tell me about a “bakery” he saw and the next day, we bought two of the mini puffs to share – one coffee and one chocolate. There were four of us and let me tell you, those little tastes disappeared in the blink of an eye. Ethereal and unbelievable.

But, do you know the “marvellous” new: The next pastry shop “Aux Merveilleux de Fred” will open in London the 5th of february, 2013, in South Kensington. You will find each of the Merveilleux, every flavours, every shapes (mini, single, pie) and also our brioches “cramiques”. I hope you will enjoy this new.

Feel free to comment. I will be very happy to give further informations about adress and date 🙂

jaqueline sebben cembrani

Delicious.

Melody Thomas-Morgan

Am speechless!

Maria @ Scandifoodie

These photos look fantastic! I wish I was in France!!

Ok!I need to drop everything and move to Paris and work in a pastry shop. YUM!!!

I discovered some time ago your website and felt in love with the beautiful images…That why I also added your website on my Favorite Blog List… I hope I can one day realise a stay in one of your appartments or cottages… The Meringue Bakery looks great and as I love sweets….. And I have seen that you discussed the difference between french and american kitchen..now I think there is also an obvious difference in sweets and the way in presenting them, no ?
Have a nice day

I am back in Paris and ready to check out Fred and his merveilles. Merci Rosa! And merci Julien for the amazing photos. Erica

I just found your blog through Lindsey’s Lost in Cheeseland! I LOVE your blog already! Will keep reading and i will def. include you on my blog roll!!!

If I had a dream bakery / patisserie, Au Merveilleux de Fred is the kind I would have in my dreams! This place is gorgeous! The pastries are gorgeous! I am definitely bookmarking this for my future Paris trips! A real treasure!

Extraordinary photos! I agree – I’m not a huge macaron fan – too popular, too fashionable.

FAY HART FLORENCE ITALY

Hi Rosa and your yummy meringues,Ive awarded you the stylish bloggers award please see my blog 161 for details fay x

These are some of the most delectable photos I have ever seen! I would LOVE LOVE to go back to Paris and try these delicious airy clouds!

I agre with nmaha…I am so jealous of the lives you HIP Paris girls lead!

Sigh…Paris….

Yummmmm! These are fantastic mouth watering photos!!!

Oh my, in love, can there be anything better? meringues in any shape, flavor or form!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

ZOMG – YUM! I am so there on my next visit. I *love* meringue – in hard form, in pie form, in any form!

I passed the 16eme location before leaving Paris a couple months ago… yes, you read that right: I PASSED it! I didn’t sample! What was I thinking? Now I’m kicking myself twice as hard!

Wonderful pictures Julian! Makes me wish I was back there now.

Mmmm delicious, my mouth is watering!

Oh, my goodness, absolutely delicious! Great images…oh, Paris, swoon! xoxo Beth

Is it acceptable to say I’d love to have a life like yours?

I love meringues! Thanks for letting us know about these addresses – I’m very excited to try them out!

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