Hediard is a 155 year old grocer which started off as the first purveyor of exotic fruits in Paris. Some 32 years OLDER than La Maison Fauchon, Hediard appears to have stuck closer to its roots, with an emphasis on fruit and fruit based products, teas, coffees, spices, etc. Established by Ferdinand Hediard in 1854, their website says the young Ferdinand was smitten by the smell, look and taste of exotic fruit being unloaded at the port of Le Havre… and he later opened a shop in Paris that became the toast of the town. Imagine folks in chateaus all dressed up in silks and lace “kilig to the bones” after buying a pineapple at Hediard! I personally have always loved the intense vibrancy of Hediard’s black and red color scheme, which is now used to shocking proportions in their Place de la Madeleine shop. Their windows are no where near as snazzy as Fauchon, but there is an increidble “solidness” to this shop, another one of our favorites at the upper end of the retail food/gourmet shop scale…
One must pay homage to the heart of the Hediard history, tropical fruit. In store there is always a FABULOUS, but FABULOUS display of both Western and tropical fruit. On our recent visit, there was passion fruit, mangosteen, mangoes, fresh almonds, coconuts, grapes, lychees, melons, kiwis, etc. But it wasn’t just the fruit, it was the way it was displayed. In this age of jet travel and air freight, I think the novelty of unusual fruit has certainly waned, but true to their roots, Hediard maintains this simply stunning display… one of the most attractive small mountain of fruits from across the globe. I have never seen anyone actually buying fruit here, so i suspect much of the produce eventually ends up on pastries and other desserts, but it is still magical. Why we don’t have a single store in Manila that can even come close to this display of fruit is completely beyond me.
And if the literal fresh fruit isn’t going to float your boat, you may want to try what is possibly the next best thing… this incredible array of pates de fruits… fruit jellies that are so intensely fruity, just one square is enough to last you a day. I don’t know how they extract the essence or flavor of the fruit, but it’s as though the blackberry or mango or passion fruit has been boiled down so much that the flavor is more intense than you can imagine. Again, I can see a Parisian coming into this store and literally buying one square, leaving with a smile on their lips…
The selection of teas in the bright red tins is pretty impressive and you can purchase the loose leaf tea by the gram.
exotic spices like chillies, green cardamom, lots of different peppers, etc. fill large glass jars and the aroma in this part of the store is simply intoxicating…
And how could we ignore the good Tahitian vanilla, sold in little glass tubes with a price tag in excess of Euro1,000 per kilo, thats roughly PHP70,000 per kilo or PHP70 per gram! Yipes.
Various bottled fruit essences and concentrates were beautifully displayed under their stairs, which I presume lead up to their cafe (we’ve never been).
Various non-tea leaf infusions such as rose, lavender, chamomile, etc. are stored in glass jars near the leaf teas.
It was the first morning of our trip and we were worried about our minimal luggage allowance, so despite all the temptation, we actually left this store without a single purchase! If you ever get to Paris, don’t miss the shops around the Place de la Madeleine! Oh and finally, if you ever need a gift basket for a host or foodie friend, this shop makes some of the most wonderful looking gift baskets I have ever seen.
21 Place de la Madeleine