Forget the Baguette: One Writer’s Case for the Parisian Doughnut

PanTan Photographes

In the French city of lights, it’s easy to overlook the pastry with the tinge of Americana. But Paris-based writer Elena Berton explains why travelers should seek out this slice of glazed gastronomy.

In the land of haute pâtisserie, doughnuts are supplanting traditional French pastries. The iconic American confections have become a favorite sweet treat thanks to homesick Americans transplanted in Paris and well-traveled locals with a taste for Americana, who have set up donut shop in the capital.

Of course, this being France, Parisian doughnuts are artisanal creations made in small batches with organic or locally sourced ingredients, and as a result, they sell out quickly. In other words: visit early or reserve in advance. C’est la vie.


Courtesy Humm... Donuts

It’s not a coincidence if you start drooling at the sight of Humm…Donuts’  rainbow-colored confections: owner Henry Gnanou became obsessed with doughnuts as child while watching The Simpsons on TV.  Years later, he discovered the real deal during an internship in India—where Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme have become household names—and decided to bring his taste for Americana back to France. The café may be a stone’s throw from the iconic Moulin Rouge, but the atmosphere is pure Brooklyn with vintage chairs and unfinished-wood décor. The XXL-size doughnut—the violet-flavored “Galaxy” flavor is a standout—have become so popular with locals (as well visitors from Asia and Dubai) that they often sell out by mid-afternoon.  To keep up with demand there are plans for a second outpost, but in the meantime, customers can place 24-hour reservations on the website to secure their favorite flavor. (Probably the best chance to grab the elusive cheddar cheese and basil-infused olive oil donut.)


Courtesy Boneshaker Doughnuts (L); PanTan Photographes (R)

No tour through Paris’ haute- doughnut scene is complete without a trip to Boneshaker Paris. When American Amanda Bankert and Louis Scott, her Irish husband, set up a bicycle cart to bring their favorite sugary confection to Parisians (the name ‘Boneshaker’ comes from the first bicycles invented in France in the 19th century) demand for their fluffy doughnuts soared. Soon, the couple moved to a mom-and-pop shop near rue Montorgueil, one of Paris’ classic market streets. Their suggestively named doughnuts range from ‘Beach Heaven’ (classic cinnamon and sugar) to ‘Happy Days’ (chocolate-stout beer dough, chocolate-stout glaze and torched marshmallow topping), along with seasonal and vegan flavors that change throughout the year. Notable mention goes to the matcha doughnuts and the raspberry-lime vegan variety. The excellent filter coffee comes from acclaimed Parisian coffee roaster Belleville Brûlerie.


Courtesy Les Petits Donuts

But my personal favorite spot, however, is Les Petits Donuts. At the time of writing, the original premises have closed down and the owners are preparing the opening of a new location on rue de Turenne, in the chic Marais neighborhood. The celebrated baked doughnuts, which have won plaudits for their feather-light texture and flavors inspired by traditional French pastries, will be back in mid-June, along with a new lineup of fried donuts.  Until then, the sweet delicacies conceived by award-winning pastry chef Gabrielle Jones are only available on demand for special events, with a minimum order of 30.