Boulangerie. Pâtisserie. Viennoiserie. Chances are you’ll see these words on shopfronts and cafes during your Parisian adventures. And what’s a trip to Paris if you haven’t stuffed yourself silly with sugary delicacies. We embarked on a sensory expedition across the City of Love to seek out the best bakeries and pâtisseries in Paris run by culinary masters.
There are distinct and subtle differences between bread and pastry and pâtisserie and viennoiserie. Pastry is different from bread by its higher fat content, which results in a flakier texture. Pâtisseries encompass cakes, cookies, petit-fours and tarts, usually filled or embellished with creams, frostings, fruit and custards. Our favourites, butter croissants and pain au chocolats are actually examples of viennoiserie, a family of French pastries made from a leavened, sweetened dough, said to have originated in Vienna. Danishes and brioche also are categorised as viennoiseries.
Whatever your preference, we can guarantee that you’ll want to visit these eight.
FIND THE BEST BAKERIES IN PARIS
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1. Sébastien Gaudard
With skills passed down from father to son, Sébastien Gaudard has gained a reputation for being an alchemist of sweets. Lauded as the “Tom Ford” of pastry, Gaudard also dabbles in chocolate-making, ice-cream and other confectionery. The glass cases of his two stores are lined with rows of cream-filled and fruit-topped cakes with christened names such as Mont Blanc, Paris-Brest, Yarrow (mille-feuille), Saint Honoré and Rum Baba. Shelves are stacked with clear cellophane encasing an array of sweets and biscuits. If you choose to visit the Tuileries location, sink into one of the plush velvet armchairs in the Salon de Thé and savour the crispy, flaky pastry.
2. Le Grenier à Pain
Established and owned by the renowned pastry chef Michel Galloyer, the bakery chain operates throughout France and now has stores in Japan, China, Russia and the Middle East. We found this branch of Le Grenier à Pain during our Christmas visit to Paris. The scene that greets you inside is mind-boggling and the days before Christmas did not allow time for ogling. Rows of traditional éclairs, tarte tatin, madeleines and other pastry creations gleam at you seductively. It is a devastatingly difficult decision to make but we satisfied ourselves with a chocolate éclair and a brioche au sucre. The branches also make and sell a variety of long-shelf items such as cookies, homemade jam, boxes of caramels and meringues.
TIP: Take your sweet treats a short walk down the road and sit in the park opposite Le mur des je t’aime.
3. PAIN PAIN
On a corner block in Montmartre, this bold blue boulangerie and patisserie by Sébastien Mauvieux exudes a luxuriousness that doesn’t come from the smell of freshly baked homemade bread and pastries alone. The gold lettering on the shop front invites you into a warmly lit space. Parisians exit the bakery with perfectly wrapped boxes laden with sweet and savoury treats. Classy ladies in sheer black polka dot blouses serve behind rows of immaculately crafted cakes and flaky pastries. It bustles efficiently with calls of “Oui Monseiur!” and “C’est tout, Madame?”.
PAIN PAIN served us the BEST almond croissant that we have EVER tasted. EVER. We are still having dreams about it. The sheer size of le croissant aux amandes is more than generous and came to us still warm and wrapped gently in baking paper. It’s a cross between a pastry and a cookie; flaky, crumbly and the perfect amount of sweetness. We fought over who would get the last bite. We guarantee you won’t waste a crumb!
One of the most famous names intimately tied to patisserie since 1862. Art and ardour adorns every inch of a Ladurée Salon de Thé. From the chubby cherubs decorating the ceilings to the crystal chandeliers and gilded chairs, Ladurée has long been associated with beauty, delicacy and timeless elegance. The House is world renowned for its macarons, the recipe remaining unchanged and fiercely guarded since its creation. Find one of the tea rooms in Paris to admire the decoration and creativity of the rooms and the food. The hardest choice will be selecting which macaron flavours to sample!
5. Boulangerie Bo
Smack bang in the middle of the Quatre-Vingts district on the edge of the 12eme arrondissement is where you’ll find Boulangerie Bo. “Boulangerie” glitters in gold above the shop entrance and the beautiful art-deco façade invites curious souls to take a peek at the magic inside. The former Bazin bakery fell into the hands of two friends, Benoit Gindre (the “B” of “Bo”) and Olivier Haustraete (the “O” of “Bo”). The two Frenchmen have respectfully maintained the façade and signature famer’s bread whilst also breathing new life into the baked goods.
Mint green counter tops have peeling paint but together with the old floral tiles on the back wall, the décor gives off a rustic feel. Iron wielded shelves stock crusty loaves and fresh baguettes. Desserts in the display cabinets gleam with gold leaf decorations atop decadent chocolate tarts and eclairs. Meringues are piled high on one side of the store and the mille-feuille look so exquisite that it seems a shame to break the delicate layers. Japanese inspirations run through several of the desserts with flavours including yuzu, green matcha and creamy black tea written in elegant cursive on ingredient cards.
If you find yourself staying in or wandering this area, be sure to check out le marché d’Aligre, the local farmers’ market which is open Tuesday – Sunday. Once you’ve stocked up on sweet treats from Boulangerie Bo or the market, head up to Coulée verte René-Dumont, a disused railway line converted into an aerial linear sky park.
The 11eme and 3eme arrondissement also house some of the better cafés where artisanal quality can thankfully be found at the coffee grinder and the café setting. Read about where to find the best coffee in Paris.
6. The Smiths Bakery
In the heart of the bustling Saint Germain-des-Pres, visitors and locals alike go about their day in this now-affluent area historically frequented by famous artists and writers. Don’t let the word “bakery” in the shop’s name fool you. The Smiths Bakery offers a wide selection of high-quality fresh sandwiches, patisseries and viennoiseries.
French and international specialities occupy one side of the glass cabinet in a colourful display of fruit tarts, lemon meringue, chocolate slices and cookies. The other side offers plenty of baguette and croquet varieties including “le poulet et le salade”, “le fromage et le jambon” or just “le fromage”. Take-away is available but if you choose “sur place”, outdoor seating at round wooden table tops and wicker chairs provides the perfect vantage point to observe Parisians shuffling by with a baguette under one arm and holding a dog lead in the other.
TIP: The shop also sells the famous “Maison Berthillon” ice cream in 20 different flavours all year round.
7. Fou de Pâtisserie
Save yourself time and energy from traipsing all over Paris (although if you’re eating your way through the city, walking might be a welcome relief on your waistline!). Julie Mathieu and Murial Tallandier had the marvellous idea to create one shop to offer a selection of decadent desserts from some of the greatest pastry chefs in the city.
Since April 2016, Fou de Pâtisserie (“Crazy Pastry”) offers the best of the best fresh daily from resident chefs, foreign chefs and provincial chefs. The luxurious creations are filled with fruit confits, salted caramel and whipped vanilla creams; everything handled with the utmost care by the shopkeepers dressed in immaculate aprons. We treated ourselves to a Tarte de Mars by Nicolas Bacheyre. Featuring a salted biscuit base with hints of almond and nuts, the fusion of ginger ganache, pear confit and vanilla cream had us fighting for the last crumb. Everything in the display case is €6.50 a pop.
Popular takeaway choices in the store window include Les Madeleines, Les Financiers and Les Kararolls (we saw at least half a dozen of these sold in a space of 5 minutes!) start at €2 each. The small shop also sells cookbooks, granola, biscuits, meringues, macarons, chocolate and other confitures. We promise you are going to want one of everything. Open 7 days a week.
8. Gérard Mulot
One of Paris’ most revered masters in patisserie, baking and chocolate-making, Gérard Mulot was in fact a name we hadn’t heard of until our most recent visit to Paris. Participating in a Flavors of Paris gourmet food walking tour courtesy of SideStory*, we entered the airy corner shop with our tour guide, Lisa. A visual feast greeted us, the tasting feast soon followed. Grand cakes, dainty tarts, picture-perfect macarons, rows of petit-fours and savoury dishes tantalizing invite you to sample, with beaming shopkeepers on hand to take your order.
Mulot is renowned for his fruit tarts as well as his milk and dark chocolates filled with ganache, truffles, marzipan and liqueurs. If you’re after a heartier meal, generous lunch options are also readily available. We learned that Gérard Mulot’s stores are Michelin-listed, meaning that while the establishment doesn’t receive stars, the quality and calibre of the food produced has been recognized as being worthy of the highest commendation. Despite the flagship shop being located in posh Saint Germain-des-Pres, one does not feel unwelcome by those in the upper echelon of Parisian society. It’s a warm, welcoming space that we were delighted to discover.
As we understand, Gérard Mulot and his wife have now taken a step back from the business side of things having been in the industry for over 30 years. With competition fierce in the French capital, we hope that Mulot’s successor retains the finesse and warmth of the namesake owner whilst also making room for their own sweet impressions.
MORE OF THE BEST BAKERIES AND PÂTISSERIES IN PARIS...
Address | 22 Rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris
Closest metros | Abbesses
Opening Hours | Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday 7.30am – 8.00pm. Sunday 8.00am – 7.30pm
Website | http://www.gontrancherrierboulanger.com
Tout Autour du Pain Boulangerie
Address | 134 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
Closest metros | Filles du Calvaire
Opening Hours | Monday – Friday 7.00am – 8.30pm
*This is not a sponsored, affiliated or paid partnership. All views and opinions stated are our own.