On my most recent trip to Paris, December and January just gone, I was fortunate enough to visit the charming ville of Rueil-Malmaison. For non-native French speakers, those 4 consecutive vowel sounds are a total nightmare. But, as I soon discovered, the hard-to-pronounce name is just about the only bad point about this très mignon suburb.
Located about 10 kilometres from the centre of Paris, and just a few stops on the RER A from Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Rueil is close enough so you still feel like a part of Paris, though far enough away to enjoy suburban luxuries like open spaces and off-street parking.
Thanks to the generosity of Max’s long-time meilleur ami, Mathieu, we were afforded an insiders experience of the area. For those who enjoy museums, historically significant places and the like, Rueil’s claim to fame is the home of Napolean’s first wife, the Chateau de Malmaison. As you may have gleaned by now, I’m less of the museum and chateau persuasion, and more interested in discovering local delicacies and interesting places to eat.
Now I should preface this by saying that we had our meals firmly planned out months in advance, in order to visit all of our favourite Parisien establishments that had been dominating our dreams and conversations for the entire 15 months since we’d last been in France. As such, we did not eat a single meal out in a Rueil restaurant.
But we did have breakfast, which of course, necessitated a trip to the local boulangerie. The main commercial district of Rueil is littered with bakeries. But I was told there was only one place to go. Au pain du Cardinal. Not only is their bread simply divine, they’re also the incredibly intelligent owners of the famed bread machine.
Every evening after the bakery closes, leftover bread is placed into a vending-type machine in front of the store. For the small price of 2 euros, one can enjoy delicious bread at anytime of the night. More than once, Max and Mathieu would end up here after a night out on the town – gourmet bread definitely beats greasy kebabs in my book!
Of course, there is perhaps one other negative of living in Rueil-Malmaison, and that is that one is expected to support Paris St Germain in the Ligue 1.