How long is a piece of string? Asking a Parisian to name their favourite patisserie has about as many answers, from the simple shop churning our baguettes next door to the designer cake emporium they’ll cross the city to visit. On every corner in every arondissement you will find someone selling freshly baked bread, decadent cakes and traditional pastries. So, how to choose? Follow Rough Guides’ Helen Ochyra to find the very best.
La Pâtisserie des Rêves
The name of Philippe Conticini’s patisserie translates as “the cake of dreams” and it’s a fanciful place, filled with innovative takes on traditional pastries. There is no space for clutter here, with each type of cake artfully arranged beneath a glass jar more reminiscent of a science lesson than a cafe. Let your eyes take their pick and if they can’t decide, guide them to the mille-feuille (vanilla slice), which is superbly vanilla scented.
Address: 93 Rue du Bac
A patisserie with real pedigree, Patisserie Stohrer is the oldest in the city, dating from 1725, when the eponymous pastry chef Nichola Stohrer travelled to Paris with the daughter of the King of Poland after her marriage to Louis XV. Desserts fit for the Royal Court were created here, but the fabulously simple chocolate éclair is now the firm favourite. The Rum Baba – a small yeast cake saturated in hard liquor – is also said to have been invented here.
Address: 51 Rue Montorgueil
Fancy something different? Pierre Hermé is known for his unusually flavoured macarons, so why not take a leap of faith and try olive oil with mandarin orange and cucumber water, or perhaps the apricot and pistachio? Hermé uses sugar sparingly and savoury ingredients imaginatively, which makes for a truly unique taste, and a gorgeous array of colours. This is the macaron as an art form – no wonder French Vogue once called him the “Picasso of pastry”.
Address: 18 Rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie
Located within baguette swinging distance of stunning Sacre Coeur Basillica, this small and simple patisserie boulangerie is the perfect place to pick up a snack to sustain you on the walk up those famous steps. Try the “villageoise” baguette for a true taste of France, with the perfect mix of rye and salt, or indulge in a pain au chocolat or the delicious ‘belle arôme” baguette made with honey and spice.
Address: 63 Rue Caulaincourt
Cake Shop, Mandarin Oriental
For something truly unforgettable head to the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where the Cake Shop offers a range of exquisite cakes and pastries. Choose the classic puff pastry Saint-Honoré or one of the many macarons to enjoy in the flower-filled lobby. If you’re feeling like really treating yourself though, take a table among the foliage of the courtyard garden of the Camélia restaurant and order Le Mandarin – a 62% dark chocolate mousse that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Address: 251 Rue Saint-Honoré
Des Gateaux et du Pain
With its black surfaces and sparkling glass cases, this upmarket patisserie looks more like it should be selling diamonds than cakes. But let the design-heavy interior put you off and you’ll be missing out on one of Paris’s most highly regarded pastries – the chausson aux pommes. It may look simple but this apple tart has the perfect texture and flavour, and it won chef Claire Damon the top spot in Le Figaro’s recent search for the city’s best.
Address: 63 Boulevard Pasteur
Chef Sadaharu Aoki was born in Tokyo and his creations reflect this heritage, with an Asian twist applied to even the most traditional French pastries. Try the éclair au sésame noir, with black sesame cream, or the unmistakeably floral violet macaron. Alternatively, for something totally different, the Kimagure choux pastry with sweet azuki beans is divine.
Address: 35 Rue de Vaugirard
Un Dimanche à Paris
This experimental patisserie is the perfect place to try something new. Don’t call in here unless you’re prepared to be seriously tempted – there’s everything from a simple tartelette fraise-cocoa (chocolate and strawberry tart) to a fruit-laden choux pistache aux fruits rouges and a delicately floral coquelicot (poppy flower) macaron. Chocaholics are particularly well served by the range of chocolates and shouldn’t miss the chocolate foie gras – take some away for later, this is one to be savoured.
Address: 4-8 Cour du Commerce Saint André
No list of Parisian patisseries would be complete without Ladurée. Yes, everyone knows the name, but there is also a reason for that. Here you will find what are consistently the best macarons in Paris and every flavour you can think of is laid out for you to select from. You could go for a simple chocolate or pistachio, but we suggest you try the new pink pepper flavour – a pale grey creation that is sure to surprise.
Address: 13 Rue Lincoln
Le Flore en L’Ile
Ok, so it’s not technically a patisserie, but this café on Île Saint-Louis simply cannot be missed. The ice cream here is the best in Paris and can be enjoyed right next to the Seine with views of Notre Dame (just). Order chocolate, caramel and vanilla in one bowl, sit back and savour a true taste of Paris.
Address: 42 Quai d'Orléans
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