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Paris--best pastries to try

My husband, daughter and I will be in Paris the week of Thanksgiving. I have found lots of lists of great bakeries and pastry shops--which we will check out. Once we get there, what specific pastries should we sample? Last time we were in Paris we ate many croissants, varieties of croissants, and every flavor of macaron we could find. We also tried several local ice creams. What else (especially that might be uncommon in the US outside of large cities) should we add to our mix?

Many thanks.

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  1. I was there back in 83 and 85. I loved the croissants with the chocolate in them. I was reading today about Kouign Aman, pastry with layers of buttery sugar dough. Do a search and see how they look, they either are baked in one big pastry or individual ones. I didn't know about them back then or I'd have looked for them. I've printed off many recipes for them and one day i'll make one!!!! :) :) :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Barbarainnc

      Try the pâtisserie Aurore Capucine (3 rue de Rochechouart), esp the pastries using lavender.and other flowers

      1. re: Parigi

        Parigi, I'm sorry to repeat your endorsement. With our mutual rec of this insolite address, we need to meet sometime. What an adventure!

        1. re: mangeur

          (Transcendentally off topic):
          Geniuses think alike.

      2. re: Barbarainnc

        Thank you. I looked it up, and it looks and sounds like the ideal thing to alternate with croissants for breakfast.

      3. Whenever we are in town for a few days, and they are the right days, I try to get to Vandermeersch just inside the periphique in the 12th. ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS ONLY they make an incredible array of kuglehofp, airy brioche-like tube cakes with almonds, fruit or not. Go early. They usually sell out before noon.

        A small one will serve two for breakfast for two days (if you are both restrained). We call for room service coffee and have a feast.

        The first time I brought one back to the hotel, my husband looked at it and said that it wasn't the kind of thing he liked. He tried a small piece and from then on I had to beat him away from it with a club.

        278, Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France
        01 43 47 21 66

        5 Replies
        1. re: mangeur

          Although I'll gladly second the general recomendation of Gugelhopf (my tastes in pastry go more towards the germanophone Alps), it's a very non-French style of pastry and not something widely adopted either. It never would have occured to me to ask, but if anyone has a recommendation for Dampfknödeln...

          Isinicki: since we're talking non-French pastries as well, do you have access to arab pastries where you are?

          1. re: tmso

            Ran into 4 shops in Toulouse a bit back, but that l am sure is no help.

            1. re: tmso

              I live in Portland, Maine-- and I'm not aware of any arab pastries. But we do have a fairly diverse population, so there may be pastry in one of the tiny ethnic mini-markets we have. What do you suggest I look for?

              1. re: lsinicki

                In that case, I would suggest you look for them in Paris. We have a lovely Algerian pastry shop, La bague de Kenza. The main store is on the rue St-Maur, but there are a few other locations around the city. Things to try would include cornes de gazelle, cigares, skandriates, maqrout-el-louz, droits de Kenza, and galb-elouz.

                For Tunisian pastries, there's a boutique Masmoudi on the bd St-Germain. Baklawas, melfoufs, mlabes, tajins and dawamas would be good things to try.

                1. re: tmso

                  Thank you. We may have to skip meals to leave more room for pastry.

          2. Another off the wall place is Aurore-Capucine Patisserie on lower rue Rochechouart in the 9th. This tiny whimsical place makes you shake your head in wonder: savory (rosemary, thyme) and floral (rose, violet) sable cookies, fantasy cakes and pastries. The proprietess is someone out of a fairytale.


            1. At Pierre Hermé, be sure to try the pastry called "Carrément Chocolat." It is incredible.
              They also have a fabulous "tartelette au café," something I haven't come across anywhere else.


              1. Kouigh Aman are my favs as well. Right now consuming one from my wonderful supplier. Au Grenier du Pain, but only the one on Rue Abbesses. Been trying these pastries all over France, especially Bretagné where they are based, and IMHO this bakery has it right.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  I often go up to Abbesses, to the poissonnerie on Lepic-Abbesses. Now I must check out Au Grenier du Pain...
                  There is also the very popular yet no-frill "Les Petits Mitrons" on 26 Rue Lepic, a pie specialist. The outside crowd equals that at the Amélie café across the street.
                  Another good place in the general neighborhood of Aurore-Capucine is Pâtisserie Seurre. Seurre is not a baker but a real chef pâtissier, of several generations at that.
                  Delmontel on rue des Martyrs makes an excellent old-fashioned lemon pie (tarte au citron à l'ancienne), using crushed lemon peel, but one has to "book" a pie as the bakery makes very few on spec.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    Interesting; our local supplier of Kouigh Aman, who's become a legend, at least in our diminutive batiment, is Arnaud Larher: 53 rue Caulaincourt in the unfashionable18th.

                    John Talbott

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        Quick, all you kouign aman fans in Paris:
                        The charcuterie Aux Papilles gourmands on rue des Martyrs just got a one-time-deal delivery of a very limited supply from Frédéric Jegou, this year's trophée d'or for best KA of Brittany. The store has 4 left. I got the 5th one.

                          1. re: souphie

                            I also broke down and bought a hard drug that Daniel Rose got me into: beurre bordier aux algues.

                    1. Thank you everyone. I'm adding all of your suggestions to my map.

                      1. Pierre Herme is considered by many to be the best patissier in Paris. He has a shop in the 6th and in the 15th. His Ispahan pastry is a modern classic (a marriage of rose, lichis, raspberries) and is an absolute must. Pierre Herme used to be the pat. chef at Laduree. You will see a version of Ispahan in Laduree (if you go there). Laduree's version IMHO is far inferior to the masterpiece he sells in his shops. My other favorite at PH's is Deux Mille Feuilles; a praline flavored napoleon. His croissants are beautiful and delicious. His macarons are famous, you should be there in time to taste the white truffle macarons. I also like the rose, caramel and vanilla versions. PH's macaron's are dense and intense.

                        The light macaron philosophy is beautifully represented by Laduree. In this case, you can easily eat half a dozen of these light tasty treats. I am partial to the reglisse flavor. Laduree's Sunday brunch at the 6th arrondissement location is delicious and affordable. One order is good for two and includes a large assortment of treats including viennoiserie, pastries, macarons, fruit salad and much, much more.

                        For croissants I have always been a big fan of Kaiser. He has several shops in different locales.

                        Are you interested in chocolates? Pierre Herme makes some very interesting and delicious newfangled ones. Michel Cluizel on the right bank makes my favorite traditional pralines and ganaches and has the most intense dark chocolate tablettes around (go for the Venezuelan Conception bar). Debauve and Gallais is a venerable chocolate house worthy of visiting. While I am not a fan, Maison du Chocolat has its followers.


                        19 Replies
                        1. re: chickenluv

                          So good to see a reasoned compare and contrast of macarons rather than the simple X is better than Y. It is interesting to understand the difference in styles. I like both but can see how different styles appeal to different people.

                          1. re: chickenluv

                            Sounds like we need to hit PH several times. Will definitely try the Deux Mille Feuilles.

                            And of course we like chocolate.

                            Many thanks.

                            1. re: chickenluv

                              Pierre Hermé also has a croissant he calls Ispahan for similar flavoring to the pastry of the same name. It`s filled with raspberry jam and, to me, was way too sweet and heavy. Not a nice thing to do to his otherwise superb croissants.

                              1. re: RandyB

                                Hmmm... I don't know whether to try it or avoid it.

                                1. re: lsinicki

                                  TRY IT!!! We loved the Ispahan croissants so much that we toted four (!!) onto the plane to bring home to our family. I have been day dreaming about them ever since my return to NY.

                                  1. re: alyssabrooke

                                    It's near the top of my extremely long list. Thank you.

                                2. re: RandyB

                                  I am a huge Pierre Herme fan, but I agree completely with RandyB. The Isfahan croissant is awful. The tragedy, so to speak, is that it has replaced the almond croissant at PH, which was IMHO the best almond croissant I ever tasted

                                  1. re: parislovernyc

                                    That's sad. I love almond croissants. Where is what you would consider your next favorite?

                                    1. re: lsinicki

                                      I wasn't asked, but I'd say Seurre, rue des Martyrs.

                                      1. re: souphie

                                        Seurre is a hugely underrated pâtisserie, probably because the interior looks like crap, but don't be fooled !

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          Thanks to Souphie and Parigi for the ringing endorsement of Seurre. I don't know it, but intend to know it well.

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            Maybe after 100 yrs. the patisserie Seurre is finally gaining more recognition; Gérard just won the National Order of Merit last week.

                                        2. re: lsinicki

                                          For almond croissants that are split, filled with almond paste and baked the second time, try the one from Au Levain de Marais.

                                          1. re: PBSF

                                            Are you talking about the one on rue de Turenne in the Marais? The original one on blvd. Beaumarchais no longer has that name, and the original owner/baker is apparently gone from both.

                                            1. re: RandyB

                                              Yes, on rue de Turenne. It was a favorite when our apartment was in the Marais.

                                          2. re: lsinicki

                                            I don't have a next favorite, as nothing ever came close for me, but now I will, alas, have to start a new search and I'm grateful for the suggestions given here. I drowned my sorror over the (I hope, temporary) loss of Pierre Herme's classic almond croissant by focusing on his totally superb kugelhof instead. I know it may be too sweet for some chowhounds, but I think it's the best. By the way, I would also recommend the pain cereal at Secco in the 7th. It's not pastry but it's really good.

                                            1. re: parislovernyc

                                              Funny you should mention Kugelhoff because I was absolutely addicted to the min Kugelhoff's from Laduree.
                                              The classic Kug is a nice, fairly light and yeasty sweet bread but Laduree's version is denser with a light rum syrup and are coated with granular sugar. Completely different from the usual (and some might say not a real Kug. at all) but I absolutely loved them and even better they travel really well.
                                              I got a box of them to bring home to Vancouver and they were just fine two days later.

                                              1. re: eatrustic

                                                You should try the one from La Fleur d'Oranger, rue Lebon, on saturdays. Actually, you can probably try two or three for the price of Hermé's or Ladurée's.

                                                1. re: souphie

                                                  Thanks for the recommendation, Souphie. We'll be back in Paris in March and will make a beeline to rue Lebon the first Saturday.

                                    2. Try the Escargots at La Boulangerie de Monge, the pain perdu at Des Gateaux et du Pain, the salt/chocolate macaron at Grégory Renard.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: souphie

                                        Also the feuillette au framboise and the chausson au pomme at Des Gateaux et du Pain. Des Gateaux et du Pain also had a pear/caramel tarte that I never had a chance to taste, but it looked beautiful. (Last summer they had a similar one with white peach and verbena that was stellar.)

                                        1. re: Nancy S.

                                          Do any of the bakeries sell tartes by the slice, or do we need to go to a tea room for that?

                                          1. re: lsinicki

                                            I would say nearly all of them do.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              I suggest the peach tart at Gerard Mulot. As soon as we go back to Paris this spring it will be the first thing I eat!

                                              1. re: DaisyM

                                                Mulot, IMO, is good for any fruit tarts. After that, it's purely personal preference. For me, it's raspberry - anytime.

                                                1. re: Dodo

                                                  Okay, I guess I'll just have to force myself to have a raspberry tart, too!

                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                    Anybody been to this rececently opened high end patisserie:

                                                    Hugo & Victor, 40, Boulevard Raspail, 6th arr.?

                                                    Article from La Tribune (February 25, 2010):

                                                    1. re: Dodo

                                                      I've been yesterday (after two weeks eating nothing more solid than puree, what a relief!). It's a very luxurious shop, could as well have been Van Cleef & Arpels. I'd say it's a bit over the top, but hey it's bd Raspail after all.

                                                      Pastries are broken down by flavor (litchi, blood orange, praline, combawa, vanilla, chocolate, caramel). For each flavor, there's two different pastries, one classical, and a more creative one, and little chocolate balls.
                                                      I've tasted four pastries: vanilla eclair, chocolate (the creative one), and both caramel ones (a millefeuille and a chocolate sphere/caramel cream cake)
                                                      It's good overall. The creative ones didn't appeal to me that much.
                                                      The eclair was really fine, the cream really tasting of vanilla, and the pastry was very present, salty. It's too small, though.
                                                      The caramel mille-feuille was good too, with yummy caramel, flaky puff pastry. I'd buy it again.

                                                      I will come back to taste other things, but I have no urge, and I believe I won't miss the shop when I move (that's me trying to reassure myself).

                                                      A few photos here (not great and would need color tweaking):

                                                      1. re: olivierb

                                                        Thanks, olivierb. Sonds like a like worth to be checked out.

                                                        Well, I've noticed that lots of high end patisseries and chocolatd shops look like luxurious jewelry shops these days. I first noticed that with Pierre Marcolini chocolatier, when he opened on Rue de Seine.

                                      2. Check out Dalloyeau. Great pastries. Great chocolates. GREAT macaron. Great everything.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: jarona

                                          better chocolates than Jacques Genin? How could that be???

                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                            It isn't.
                                            And I have not been to Dalloyeau but I do not need to.
                                            Though I am not saying it is not good or better than that.

                                            1. re: dietndesire

                                              I'm not comparing Dalloyeau to anyone else in particular. It just happens to be my "go to" pastry shop whenever I'm in Paris. For chocolates, I'll hit Fouchon but for pastry it is Dalloyeau. But the absolute greatest thing about Paris is there is a favorite pastry place, a favorite chocolatier, a favorite fromagerie...well, just a favorite for each individual's taste!

                                            2. re: ChefJune

                                              They're actually as different as can be. In a way, Dalloyau's chocolate macarons are better than Génin: because they're sweeter, more addictive. Génin's chocolates are like some classic painting, appreciated and admired in one bite, leaving a lasting impression. Dalloyau's chocolate macaron is like chocolate jam with a crust.

                                              1. re: souphie

                                                In spite of the fact that it is heresy on this board, I am not a huge macaron fan.
                                                I know, if I had even an iota of credibility, it is all gone and more.
                                                Will have to have one of Genin's it seems, lest you have me banned.

                                                1. re: dietndesire

                                                  dietndesire, you are not alone regarding macarons.Nonetheless, any reason to visit Genin is a good reason.

                                                  1. re: RandyB

                                                    Sentence 1, thanks for the support.
                                                    Sentence 2, probably should be put under definition of "truth" in the dictionary.

                                                    1. re: dietndesire

                                                      That said, Génin may share your distaste of macarons. In any case, he does not have any.

                                                      1. re: souphie

                                                        Indeed. I never noticed any but it is hardly as if I am there every week. Much to my dismay.
                                                        And I, obviously, misread your post to mean that there were Genin macarons.

                                                        1. re: souphie

                                                          I guess I never noticed the absence of macarons at Genin since I would never look for them in the first place.

                                                          Meanwhile, I also was not a fan of caramels until I visited Genin at his old atelier a number of years ago. His mango-passionfruit caramel converted me, and I always get them at the new boutique.