What is the epitome of the perfect Parisian patisserie: Is it a grand establishment with centuries old baking traditions? A nouveau spot that blends daring flavours and artistry? Or the neighbourhood gem that locals hope will remain their secret? With such a delectable question, the simple answer is… all of the above!
Below are some of the patisseries, which have stood the test of time, while others are up and coming whose pedigree mark them as ones to be watched.
Dalloyau (101, rue de Faubourg Saint Honore) 8th arrondissement
For centuries the city’s refined boutiques have showcased pastries, chocolates and macarons, with Dallayou at the head of the list. The gourmet pastry company has been on rue de Faubourg Saint Honore since 1802, during the Ancien Regime, it supplied Louis XIV and the Court of Versailles with deliciously innovative pastries, including the Feuille d’Automme (1954), the Opera (1955) and the Mogador (1974). In keeping with the times, the current menu emphasizes fresh, organic products, chocolates made of “pure cocoa butter” and “fruit-only” sorbets.
Fauchon (24-26, place de la Madeleine) 8th arrondissement
Despite the fierce competition, Fauchon has managed to take the lead in the pastry race. The brand is present on four continents and has long since established itself as the leader for luxury foods in France. After a turbulent period at the turn of the century, Fauchon now shines brightly once again, mainly thanks to its instantly recognizable chocolates and their decadent packaging. The new “Choc made in F” collection includes several lines of delectable morsels with universal flavours (vanilla, spicy, caramel, etc) nestled into gift boxes that feature a decidedly contemporary design.
Lenotre (44, rue d’Auteuil) 16th arrondissement
Fauchon’s direct competitor, Lenotre, has its own loyal following. Founded by Gaston Lenotre in 1957 in a tiny boutique on the rue d’Auteuil, the brand has been growing ever since, developing new products without ever straying from its core business of pastry-making. Year after year the artisans at Lenotre continue to tweak their selection of sugary delights. Their enticing vanilla-raspberry Vacherins, sorbet domes, rose des sables and towers of macarons are incredibly hard to resist.
Laduree (16, rue Royal) 8th arrondissement
When it opened in 1862, Laduree was one of the city’s only tea salons. The star attractions here are the macarons, available in a rainbow of pastel colours that reflect their flavours (rose petal, orange blossom, salted caramel, pistachio, etc.). Seasonal macarons are also offered several months out of the year. But there are dozens of other douceurs to bite into, including religieuse cakes – a puff pastry filled with cream and painted with pastel coloured glaze- and the bakery’s own interpretation of the cupcake, done in French flavours such as black currant-violet.
Pierre Herme (72, rue Bonaparte) 6th arrondissement
A relatively newcomer on the scene Pierrre Herme has taken his training at Lenotre, Fauchon and finally Laduree before opening his own patisserie in Saint-Germain. This French chef was called the “Picasso of pastry” by Vogue and over the past dozen years he has developed a dessert empire where he reigns over a selection of “custom” macarons, with such flavours as lime and ginger and sweets like praline tarts, Miss Gla’Gla – an ice cream sandwich between two macarons - and the Plentitude Individual, a dark chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse and accented with salted caramel. Don’t miss your chance to savor a masterpiece by this sought after chef.
Stohrer (51, rue Montorgueil) 2nd arrondissement
Step across the “Stohrer”, scrolled in gold on the turquoise tiled floor of this patisserie on the rue Montorgueil, and reverse time. It was founded in 1730 by Nicholas Stohrer, who was King Louis XV’s pastry chef. He also created baba au rhum dessert when he splashed a dry Polish brioche with sweet Malaga wine. Don’t care for rum-soaked cake? You can leave the historic patisserie with almost any French classic, from raspberry tarts with perfectly aligned berries dusted with sugar to Puit d’Amour cake filled with vanilla custard.
Ble Sucre (7, rue Antoine Vollon) 12th arrondissement
After stints as pastry chef at the acclaimed Bristol and Plaza Athenee hotels, Fabrice Le Bourdat went to the residential 12th arrondissement to open a small patisserie with his wife. The modest size belies Le Bourdat’s expertise and the massive selection of pasteries, cakes and breads. Many Parisians insist his flaky pains au chocolate are the best in the city, and nary a soul will dispute that is classic madeleines – a moist and airy sponge cake with a layer of orange icing - take top honours.
Gontran Cherrier (22 rue Caulaincourt) 18th arrondissement
In Montmartre Gontran Cherrier creates a unique and cutting edge baking experience. Such as sourdough rounds baked through with red miso, or his baguettes flavoured with arugula juice and squid ink, a unique herb slash briny salty tastes that works wonderfully together. Squid ink not your style? Try instead his innovative citrus and pistachio tart a delectable combination that leaves you wanting more. Cherrier may have an elevated approach to taste but he is not elitist about his prices. For 10 euros you can leave with a decent selection of salty and sweet treats.
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