It’s well known that France and sophisticated food goes hand in hand, so it’s no surprise that the French are world renowned to have the best bread and pastries. Bread is so important to the history of France that at the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700’s, the average Frenchman was reported to have eaten three pounds a day of bread! Riots resulted from bread supplies running short or if the quality was bad. Talk about being really serious about their bread!
If you’re in Paris and would like to sample the best of Parisian bakes and pastries, look no further! I get to list my favourites, of course 😆
#HHWT Tip: Say « Bonjour. Excusez-moi, y a t-il de l’alcool ou de la gélatine dans les pâtisseries? » (Hello. Excuse me, is there alcohol or gelatin inside these pastries?) to ask about the ingredients if you’re unsure!
A classic, but a must try. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside, is the mark of a winning baguette. There is even a nationwide baguette competition in France where they select the best Baguette of the Year (The Loaf is serious business). Usually, the French would just break off the baguette right on the spot in the bakery, to eat it while still warm 😍
Try your baguette at ‘Grenier à Pain’ at rue des Abbesses, which won the 21st edition of the ‘Best Baguette of Paris’ 2015 competition. Their baker, Djibril Bodian, is a two-time winner, having won the same competition in 2010. Thus, you have twice the reason to try his baguette. Among his prizes for winning? A yearlong contract to supply baguettes to the Elysée Palace (the Presidential residence) for a year!
Credit: Eric Martin/Le Figaro Magazine
‘Grenier à Pain’ at rue des Abbesses
Address: 38 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris, France (nearest metro Abbesses)
Opening hours: 07:30 – 20:00, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
2. Croissant & Pain au Chocolat
Flaky, buttery goodness which are easy to eat on-the-go, the croissant and pain au chocolat are another trademarks of French baked goods. Pain au chocolat means chocolate bread – its texture is the same as a croissant, but it has chocolate chips in it. These are favourite choices for breakfast or tea, but at 404 calories each for a butter croissant, they are quite a sinful pleasure!
Credit: Stijn Nieuwendijk
Did you know that the croissant only came to France in 1770 when Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Princess married King Louis XVI of France? It was the bakers of Vienna who first made them to commemorate the end of the siege of their city by the Turkish Ottomans in 1683.
You can try them at Au Duc De La Chapelle Paris. The bakery is owned by Mr. Anis Bouabsa, who was the youngest winner of the ‘Best Craftsman of France’ when he was 24. His croissants and pain au chocolat, (pardon the pun) sell like hotcakes.
Au Duc De La Chapelle Paris
Address: 32 Rue Tristan Tzara, 75018 Paris, France (nearest metro Porte de la Chapelle)
Opening Hours: 05:30 – 20:30, Monday to Friday
Now that we are well initiated, the millefeuille is the next step forward. Think of it as the sweet version of the Indian curry puff – sans the filling. Curious to taste it? As well as you should be! The millefeuille are layers of puff pastry stacked on top of one another, with cream filling in between, dusted with sugar on top.
Mille means thousand, and feuille means sheet or layer, thus millefeuille means thousand layers. The classic millefeuille has three layers with cream in between (like the picture above). Its cream usually contains gelatine as a stabilizer, and some variations have alcohol too, so do ask about the ingredients before buying. For peace of mind, try it at a halal boulangerie (bakery), such as the one near the Grand Mosque of Paris.
Boulangerie & Salon de Thé 17 Rue Daubenton
Address: 17 Rue Daubenton, 75005 Paris, France (nearest metro Censier – Daubenton)
4. Tarte au Chocolat
Nothing is as easy to please a crowd of many as a tarte au chocolat. A tart with dark chocolate filling is deeply satisfying to end any meal on a sweet note. Of all chocolate consumed in France, 30% is dark chocolate, compared to only 5% everywhere else in Europe. This is not surprising, considering that they have many delightful creations made out of them.
In a blind taste test by Le Figaro, the tarte au chocolat by Jean-Paul Hévin emerged tops. The finest ingredients at the hands of a master chocolatier? Best chocolate tart ever!
Address: 231 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris, France (nearest metro Tuileries, Concorde, Opéra)
Opening hours: 10:00 – 19:30, Monday to Saturday
5. Choux à la crème pâtissière, fraises et chantilly
The French has a term for a decadent indulgence: “gourmand”. For example, if you want a second serving of a sweet something, this might be considered as gourmand. Or, if you want to savor this heavenly strawberries and cream puff – gourmand! Its pastry is light, airy and fluffy, with cream oozing down both sides at each bite, and tart strawberries balancing the sweetness; the best strawberries and cream choux I’ve had so far was at 17 Rue Daubenton, in a bakery near the Grand Mosque of Paris.
Boulangerie & Salon de Thé 17 Rue Daubenton
Address : 17 Rue Daubenton, 75005 Paris, France (nearest metro Censier – Daubenton)
The freshness and flavours of French bakes and pastries are on a class of their own. I bet after your Paris trip, you would definitely miss these treats!
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