On our upcoming visit to Paris, I like to visit "original" locations if there's more than one. I've read somewhere that Paul has one of the best raisin breads in Paris. I've scoured the website and cannot determine which of the numerous locations was the first. Does anyone on here know? And does anyone have any thoughts on this patisserie in general? Many thanks.
It is a good reliable chain of boulangeries (I wouldn't call it a patisserie) which produce above average bread, sandwiches, tarts etc. They are a good stand-by; if there isn't a small independent artisan baker nearby I would be happy with Paul. The larger ones also have acceptable cafes which are good for a light lunch (salad/quiche).
As a high street baker they are a cut above other chains (Note: Holder, Paul's parent company also owns the Laduree brand and others business to business brands).
Where is the first branch in Paris? I am not certain it matters, the Paris stores, as we know them, were part of a corporate expansion in the 1990's. The original bakery from 1889 had morphed into a company that supplied quality industrial bread to supermarkets, then added local franchised outlets that baked on the premises, and then in the 1993 invented the familiar/popular high quality Paul high street concept and brand. There are now 30+ high street branches in Paris using the same formula for bread and merchandising (the McDonalds approach to standardisation).
A recommendation for a good branch, try the one on the corner of Rue du Rivioli and Rue du Renard opposite the Hotel de Ville, it is in the same location that the "Cafe de L’Hotel de Ville" was located which is featured in Robert Doisneau’s photograph "Kiss by the Hotel de Vile".
Especially for breakfast, we've liked the beautiful back room of the Paul at 77 rue de Seine in the 6th, at the corner of rue Buci (Métro: Odéon). (By the way, neither this nor the other Pauls should be confused with totally different Restaurant Paul -- circa 1940 or so? -- at lovely Place Dauphine.)