There isn’t one right way to take in Paris. To get the true essence of Paris, you have to roam the jardins (gardens), see the sights, and of course, taste all the Paris delicacies. The City of Light has some of the best flavors in the world, whether that’s the taste of un autre carafe du vin (another round of wine), bubbling fondue from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Montmartre, or a steaming cup of cocoa at Angelina. Of course, there is no food more quintessentially Parisienne than their pastries. Just taking a bite of croissant at a local bakery can make any Francophiles yearn for la belle Paris.
The true Paris love story is between a first-time visitor and their favorite French pastry. Whether Paris has its grips in you from that very first melt-in-your-mouth bite of croissant au beurre, or it takes a while before you settle on your gateau (cake) of choice, every lover of Paris has a flaky delicacy they crave the moment they get off the plane at Charles de Gaulle.
If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the city of lights, and you need to brush up on your local patisserie offerings before hitting the streets of Paris, these are nine pastries that will help Paris steal your heart all over again. Not only that, but we’ve included the bakeshop where you’ll find the best of each pastry. Bon appetit.
Aside from the fact that Paris is in the name, it combines praline pastry cream with a light choux pastry exterior. The best one in the city will literally melt in your mouth at La Pâtisserie des Rêves, or the pastry shop of your dreams.
Croissant au beurre
Of course, you’ll need to try the trinity of exquisite French croissants: an almond croissant, a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), and a butter croissant. A croissant au beurre is the classic, and should be light, buttery, and have distinctive layers of pastry when you bite into it. The best croissant in Paris is hotly debated, but some of the best chefs in the world agree Blé Sucré’s croissant is a must-try.
Opéra cake, much like the Opéra Garnier in Paris, is chic and luxurious. An opéra gateau has rich chocolate ganache layered with light coffee buttercream and almond sponge cake—a perfect marriage of flavors. Try the opéra at Des Gâteaux et du Pain (and grab a butter croissant while you’re in there).
Two light almond cookies sandwich cream, jam, or ganache to make up a perfect French macaron. They are the classic French cookie—often displayed enticingly in boulangerie windows. You’ll find some of the best macarons in the city at Pierre Hermé.
Tarte au Citron
A tarte au citron is a simple lemon tart, and no one does delectable simplicity better than the French. To find the best in the city, head to Stohrer, which is rumored to be the oldest pastry shop in Paris.
A Madeline is a small, buttery cake that can be enjoyed for breakfast, dessert, or anytime in between. For some exquisitely flavored madeleines, including staples like dark chocolate and lemon, visit Gilles Marchal, where chef Marchal is known for his madeleines.
Millefeuille is all about the layers—it’s sheets of custard, Chantilly cream, and puff pastry assembled meticulously to create a stunning, minimal pastry design. For something different, try the highly sought after deconstructed millefeuille at Yann Couvreur—or for a more traditional millefeuille, Blé Sucré makes one of the city’s best.
An éclair is delicate choux pastry filled and topped with flavored cream. L’Éclair de Génie, in the Marais, is an éclair specialty shop with an extensive array of flavors—try the vanilla pecan or salted caramel for a modern take on a classique.
Chausson aux Pommes
Similar to an apple turnover, a chausson aux pommes is a favorite French breakfast pastry, or viennoiserie. An ideal chausson aux pommes should be sweet but not too sweet, with a sturdy but flaky exterior. Find one of the best chaussons at Des Gâteaux et du Pain.