Australia has exceptional food. But here in Paris, the macaroons are crispier and tastier, and the tarte tatin more tart.
But where to start? As well as pounding the pavements, we researched pâtisserie recommendations from waiters, bookshop staff, and people next to us queuing up for their daily baguette. Here is our work-in-progress list. Bon appétit!
1. Pierre Hermé
This is the first pâtisserie stop for many people, and with good reason. This is a busy establishment, filled with Parisians and tourists alike. Pierre Hermé is famous for his macaroons, with a crispy almond based meringue filled with ganache. My simple tastes go for the rose and jasmine, which are sensational. Next time I will try the white truffle hazelnut – it comes highly recommended. There is also the amazing bonbon chocolat au macaron, which is basically a macaroon inside a slab of chocolate. The French must have iron-clad arteries. In Australia they taste like cardboard du coconut. Pierre Hermé also has a dizzying array of beautifully presented tarts and cakes. Who would have thought anything could taste so good?
72 Rue Bonaparte, 6ème
185 rue Vaugirard, 15ème
Elegantly appointed, Ladurée is an old school luxury pâtisserie, and a Paris institution. Enter and you step into a lush world of beautifully presented produce and mouth-watering delights. It is best known for its soft, chewy yet crispy macaroons, clearly a French speciality, but the pastries here are also delicious. Try la Religieuse, a super dressed-up profiterole. And definitely try les Baisers Ladurée (the kisses of Ladurée) with macaroon biscuit, coconut, raspberries, cream and something sensational called ‘vanilla mousseline’.
75 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8ème
16 rue Royale, 8ème
21 rue Bonaparte, 6ème
3. Boulangerie du Pain et des Idées
I came across this boulangerie near our hotel on an early morning walk, and thanked my lucky foodie stars as it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere with no other shops in sight. The shop looks promising with its traditional wooden French exterior, and the inside feels like a scene from an old fashioned French film. The bread is wonderful, but my three favourite morsels are: the chaussons aux pommes, made with fresh apple; mouth-watering bites of flaky pastry and light custard called niflettes; and the peach tart with lemon cream. It’s a great place to pick up breakfast.
34 rue Yves Toudic, 10ème
4. Sacha Finkelsztajn
We’ve discovered Jewish bakeries in Paris that outdo even the legendary Monarch in Melbourne’s famous Acland Street and Aviv in Glenhuntly Road. Tucked into the old quarter of the Marais district is my husband’s favourite cake shop, which he refers to as ‘that yellow cake shop’. Indeed, the shop is referred to as la boutique jaune. Three generations of Finkelsztajns have run this shop (clearly with an iron fist) as the service is business-like and brusque. However, the strudel and the cakes, particularly the pavé aux amandes et raisins, more than make up for this.
27 rue des Rosiers, Marais, 4ème
There’s another eastern European bakery just down the road from Finkelsztajn’s where we find more strudel, and more poppy seed breads and cakes. I recommend the fruit tarts, the moist apple strudel, and the galette aux amandes (almond cake), which has a lovely firm consistency and crunchy crust.
29 rue des Rosiers, Marais, 4ème
6. Pain de Sucre
Around the corner in rue Rambuteau, Pain de Sucre is reported to be one of the best patisseries in Paris, and my husband passionately confirms this. As well as exquisitely decorated cakes, he likes the soft, chewy, sticky marshmallows, known as guimauves, that come in many flavours including orange, green tea, and saffron. They are prominently and enticingly displayed in eye-catchingly large glass jars in the front window. I will never be able to go back to supermarket marshmallows.
14, rue Rambuteau, Marais, 3ème
7. La Bonbonnière de Buci
This last is a recommendation from a waiter at Les Deux Magots. La Bonbonnière de Buci supplies this popular left-bank restaurant with croissants. However, the lemon tart is also delicious and, most importantly, not too sugary. I have since heard that the mille-feuilles, and palmiers (puff pastry and sugar) are not to be missed. This gives me something to look forward to on my next visit.
12 rue de Buci, 6ème
Last year, I discovered Gérard Mulot and re-discovered Angelina’s, which should also be on my list.
Thank you Cynthia Karena for this guest post!
3. Eric Parker on Flickr