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Founder of Paris’s iconic Berthillon ice-cream shop dies

© Lionel Bonaventure, AFP | Tourists stand in line to buy a Berthillon ice cream on Ile Saint Louis in Paris

Text by Louise NORDSTROM

Latest update : 2014-08-12

Raymond Berthillon, the founder of Paris’s celebrated ice-cream parlour Maison Berthillon, has died aged 90. Since the shop opened 60 years ago, ice-cream lovers from all over the world, including then US President Bill Clinton, have flocked to it.

A Paris landmark in its own right, “Berthillon is to ice cream what Château Lafitte Rothschild is to wine and Valrhona is to chocolate”, says the Paris section of the French travel guide by Lonely Planet.

There are few who contest the claim. Located in the heart of Paris, the shop has attracted millions of visitors ever since the revered French food critic duo, Henri Gault and Christian Millau, discovered and wrote about “this astonishing ice-cream shop hidden in a bistro on the Ile Saint-Louis” in 1961.

Charlotte Twort, a British schoolteacher, said she has paid a visit to the Berthillon shop at 29 rue Saint Louis en L'ile every time she has visited Paris since she was about three years old.

“Berthillon has a special place in my heart,” she told FRANCE 24.  Although it’s a long way to travel for an ice-cream, she says “it’s a ceremonious event” that just can’t be missed. “Last time I was in Paris, it was pretty much the only thing on my 'to do' list."

Even Bill Clinton couldn’t resist Berthillon’s ice-creams when he paid a visit in 1999 while serving as US president.

‘Monument of delight’

Announcing Berthillon's death at the weekend on its website, the store described some of the secrets of his signature taste.

"He made his ice-creams only with high-quality ingredients: whole milk, eggs, cream that he went to buy at dawn from Les Halles market," it said.

Christophe Girard, the mayor of Paris’s fourth arrondissement where the iconic shop is located, was quick to express his condolences on Twitter.

“A monument of delight has just passed away, Raymond Berthillon, (an) institution of Ile St Louis. Respect and sadness,” he wrote.

Berthillon was just 30 years old when he broke away from the family trade of baking and installed an ice-cream maker at his mother-in-law’s café, La Bourgogne, in 1954.

Although the ice-cream has grabbed most of the spotlight since then, the café remains a centre-piece of the Berthillon family empire.

Berthillon visitors can choose from a host of different flavoured ice creams and sorbets, including candied chestnuts, lavender and tempting fusions such as Armagnac and prunes.

Paris by Mouth, a website dedicated to exploring the best of Paris’s food and wine scene, recently rated the ice-cream shop as “an absolute favourite”, telling its readers that, “if you have only one ice-cream cone in Paris, make sure it comes from Berthillon, the longstanding grande dame of glaces”.

Date created : 2014-08-11


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