There is no denying that the Métro strike is irritating: how cruel and inhuman to shut down the only line that leads directly to the Salon du Chocolat at Porte de Versailles.
But, somehow or other, Paris always brings a smile to my face.
I walked down this street after chatting with Michel Chaudun, who must be the city's warmest and happiest chocolatier. He isn't taking part in the Salon du Chocolat because he doesn't need to: the crème de la crème of Paris society comes through his glass door each day. His chocolates are expensive at 98 euros a kilo (about $60 a pound) but their exquisite freshness sets them apart, even at the highest level of Paris chocolate.
Michel produces around 300 kg (660 lbs) of chocolates every day in his doll-sized workshop, known in French as a laboratoire, and just about all of this is sold the same day. He insists on filling each box of chocolates to order to prevent the chocolates from "contaminating" each other (his word). Even his display case is designed so that the chocolates are not shut in. "Chocolate needs to breathe," he says. Once you buy them his chocolates keep for up to three weeks, preferably just below room temperature, "but it's up to my customers to eat them as quickly as possible," he chuckles.
That's not to say that Michel Chaudun's loyal customers are stuffing themselves with a pound of chocolates every day. The beauty of enjoying chocolate in Paris is that it's perfectly all right to stroll into a deluxe boutique and order une petite gourmandise, which might be one or two ganache-filled chocolates or a mini-box of Michel's little square truffles. My latest discovery is his Veragua, a simple but extraordinary combination of dark chocolate, praline and caramel.
When chocolate is this finely balanced, a little takes you a very long way - a good thing when your Métro line has shut down and there is no Vel'ib for miles.
Michel Chaudun, 149 rue de l'Université, 7th, 01 47 53 74 40.