The first thing that amazed me when I walked in Blé Sucré in Paris was the beautiful pastries. The second thing was how cheap everything was. After having worked at luxury hotels such as Le Bristol and the Plaza Athénée in Paris, or the Hotel Martinez in Cannes, Fabrice Le Bourdat opened his own bakery/pastry shop in Paris and named it Blé Sucré (sweet wheat). Blé Sucré is a high end pastry shop with very sweet prices—a first in Paris. The morning pastries at Blé Sucré are a must—the pain au chocolat (chocolat croissant) has been voted the best one in Paris. I have to say that their chausson aux pommes (apple turnover) and pain aux raisins (raisin roll) are as good as they can get. Those are the morning pastries you want to experience when you come to France, the kind that will never taste as good anywhere else. Blé Sucré has a few tables outside where you can eat your pastries or have lunch: the 6.60€ menu offers a sandwich, mini pizza or quiche, with a drink and a dessert (count 6€ for the food to go.) Or you can eat their sweets in the lovely square Trousseau just across the street from them.
The café-restaurant Le Square Trousseau, located a few doors down, serves their croissants and pain au chocolats for breakfast.
And while you are at Blé Sucré buying a morning pastry thinking about all the other things you could try in the bakery, please do ask for one more thing: a bag of madeleines and/or a bag of financiers. Trust me, if there’s a place where you should buy some madeleines and financiers in Paris it’s definitely there. One more thing: do not leave without trying their Raboliot bread—a decadently tender bread made with hazelnut flour, halzelnuts and raisins. It is so good that you will eat it like a pastry—you won’t leave any for later!
7 Rue Antoine Vollon
Closed on Monday and in August.
It is true what they say, Christophe Vasseur’s caramelized apple tartelette is to die for. It is simply the best one I’ve had—it probably came out of the oven a little before I bought it because it was still warm and that only added to my one-of-a-kind experience of apple tartelette consumption. It’s funny how some very simple pleasures can change the course of your day. I think I will forever associate that part of the 10th arrondissement with Du Pain et Des Idées bakery.
Christophe Vasseur is passionate about his trade. At 30 years old he left the corporate world to become the renown baker that he is; he opened his bakery Du Pain et Des Idées in 2002 and was elected Meilleur Boulanger de Paris 2008 (Best Baker of Paris) by Gault & Millau.
At Du Pain et Des Idées all of the breads and pastries are made the most traditional way (here a baguette is made in seven hours as opposed to the average hour and half) and with the best ingredients (only fresh seasonal fruits are used for the pastries.) Three-Michelin-star chef Alain Passard says of Christophe Vasseur’s Le Pain des Amis that it is the best he’s had.
Du Pain et Des Idées
34 Rue Yves Toudic
Metro: Jacques Bonsergent, République
Closed on Saturday, Sunday
There are the classic caramels, the famous ones au beurre salé (salty butter caramels) from Brittany and then there are the flavored ones such as the passion-mango caramels from Jacques Genin that are absolutely decadent and probably some of the best in the world—I weigh my words. Other flavors are: pistachio, almond, hazelnut, coffee, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, licorice… They are so soft and buttery you wonder how they manage to keep their shape and you tell yourself you can’t eat more than one but you can’t stop going back to them. His chocolates drive me nuts—oh! the caramelized almond Rochers, mmm the hazelnut pralinés! They are made with the finest ingredients, the flavors are as delicate as the patterns drawn onto their perfectly square shape and their names are as playful as they are appetizing. And then there are Jacques Genin’s pastries: he has mastered the art of the classic French pastries (éclair, Paris-Brest, tarte au chocolat noir, mille-feuille…)
After years of working in his lab and selling his treats to high-end restaurants and hotels, Jacques Genin has finally opened his own shop/tea salon. It is located a few blocks away from the busy area of rue de Bretagne, its trendy cafés and popular shops.
133 Rue de Turenne
Metro: Filles du Calvaire
Closed on Monday
This is a perfect place for hot drinks on a cold and rainy day. La Patisserie Viennoise is a quaint, and almost centenarian, tea salon nested right between the University René Descartes and La Sorbonne. Located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, at the edge of the Latin Quarter, it is often packed with students sipping the decadent house signature drink: a bittersweet hot chocolate topped with a mountain of homemade whipped cream (if you order the small hot chocolate I suggest you ask for half the amount of whipped cream so that you don’t end up with a lukewarm drink.) La Patisserie Viennoise serves traditional Viennese pastries (apfelstrudel, sacher torte, linzer torte…) and salads, quiches and pasta dishes for lunch. When in the neighborhood, do not miss the master chocolatier Patrick Roger located a block away.
La Patisserie Viennoise
8 Rue de l’École de Médecine
Metro: Cluny - La Sorbonne, Odéon
Closed on Saturday, Sunday
Stéphane Vandermeersch, who worked five years for Pierre Hermé, bakes breads and pastries that make his shop one of the most visited in the 12th arrondissement, and draws crowds from all corners of Paris. While his morning pastries and breads will make people line up at his bakery on the weekend, he is most famous for his Galette des Rois (the Twelfth Night cake that celebrates the Epiphany), he sells about 4000 of them each year, and if that wasn’t enough he has also been crowned the master of Kouglof, and his Millefeuille (an unpretentious delectable classic French pastry) has been voted number one in Paris! Now go, run, race to Vandermeersch!
278 Avenue Daumesnil
Metro: Porte Dorée
Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
I will take the metro at dawn and endure the early morning dense crowd for croissants from Le Triomphe, even if some of Paris’ croissants voted “best of” can be found a few blocks away from my place. They are what I would call the quintessential Parisian croissants and Le Triomphe makes them how I like them best: no fancy sweet glaze on top, flaky on the outside, doughy inside, buttery but not greasy, just the right texture and flavor. It’s this kind of croissant that makes a Frenchman homesick when he is away from the motherland and has a tourist rush to a bakery on his arrival to France. Le Triomphe pastry shop has three stores, two in Paris (I went to the one in the 20th arrondissement) and one right outside of the city limits. I tried some of their pastries too and they are absolutely delightful. I will go back for more of those too. Thank you A. & D. for pointing me in the right direction.
Le Triomphe 20th arrondissement
95 Rue d’Avron
Closed on Monday
Le Triomphe 12th arrondissement
23 Rue du Rendez-Vous
Tu-F: 8am-2pm / 4pm-7.30pm
Closed on Monday
Le Triomphe Vincennes
117 Avenue de Paris
94160 Saint Mande
Tu-Th: 9am-2pm / 4pm-8pm
F, Sat: 9am-8pm
Closed on Monday
La Petite Rose in Paris is a great place to get some high quality pastries and chocolates. Along with Blé Sucré’s their mendiants are my favorite. The chef Miyuki Watanabe worked with renown pastry chef and chocolatier Gérard Mulot before opening her own shop a few blocs from the Parc Monceau and the Nissim de Camondo museum. La Petite Rose has a few tables in lieu of a tea salon and is located right next to the metro station Villiers.
La Petite Rose
11 Boulevard de Courcelles
Closed on Wednesday
If you are looking for Lebanese pastries in Paris, Bistrot Beyrouth is where you want to get them from. Baked to the perfect golden crisp and with the right touch of honey so the sweetness won’t make you hit your sugar wall instantly, the Baklava (layers of fillo pastry and cashew nuts brushed with butter), Bookaj (pyramid-shaped pastry with cashew nut filling in layers of fillo pastry and topped with pistachios) or Lady fingers (crunchy ground cashew nuts tightly rolled into fillo pastry), to name a few, will make you go back and order more. Count 5€ for an assortment of 6 pastries. Also, Bistrot Beyrouth serves an amazing rose-flavored infusion served with fresh mint leaves and aniseeds—it is their version of the traditional Lebanese café blanc (white coffee) and is a perfect hot beverage to accompany the pastries. The food is good (they serve a Lebanese-style burger with homemade French fries that I have to try) and the service is great. The service is non-stop from noon until midnight and the food can be ordered to go.
103 Rue de Charonne
M-Sat: 12pm-2am (Food is served all day until 12am)
Closed on Sunday