What of the following would be something I could not get in New York? - SWEETS
Here is the "sweets" post as I am obsessed with desserts and baked goods in general.
I've done a lot more exploration here in the past four or five forays to Paris because getting sweets is a lot less expensive than eating out. I've done very little eating out in Paris because of the cost. This time, I'm saving as much as I can so I can treat myself to one or two nice meals out.
Here are some of the bakeries/patisseries I've already visited: Laduree (loved their macarons, esp pistachio and salted butter caramel and chocolat noir; loved their pistachio chocolate croissant), Pierre Herme (liked Laduree macarons better, didn't try the tarts, good canele), Gerard Mulot (croissant too bready, great tarts and cerisai though), Jean Millet, Eric Kayser baguettes and bread, Poilane, and a few others I forgot. I will also let you know that my favorite frangipane croissant and pain au chocolat in the US is at Tartine Bakery in SF.
I haven't tried any ice cream there.
ICE CREAM/GELATO (we have Grom and L'Arte del Gelato)
Le BAR a glaces on place du marche st. catherine (is it still open??)
La Patisserie des Reves (Paris-Brest or St. Honore?)
Jacques Genin (millefeuille is "best" in Paris? Or Chez Josephine's? I'm on a mission to find the most delicious millefeuille - I love them)
Du Pain et des Idees (baguette)
Mamie Tevennec (crepes)
Breizh Cafe (buckwheat crepes - both savory and sweet)
Seurre - almond croissant
Aoki - (Black Sesame Eclair)
Des Gateaux et du Pain
Hugo & Victor
Pascal Caffet (very interested in this - anyone been???)
Carl Marletti (also very interested in this - anyone been???)
Are there places that are really known for their stellar croissants? And I'm always searching for pain au chocolat (or variations including pistachio or almond) - I will travel far for them. Any other amazing pastries I must try? This will be a big part of my eating schedule in Paris.
Baguettes? I really liked the Kayser, but am curious about others.
Thank you, thank you again!!
For ice cream, I still think that Christian Constant (the chocolatier at rue de Fleurus and Assas, not the pop star in rue Saint Dominique) dwarfes all competitors. Bon, on rue Saint Jacques, is not half bad either, if less good and less expensive.
For bread, le Pain des Alpages at Mayeur, 100, rue du Théatre, is mine and Jacques Génin's favorite in town. For the time being, you won't find it in the food guides (but there are pics on my blog and Picasa).
At La Patisserie des Reves, I would vote neither for the Saint Honoré or the Paris-Brest: both are great, both are better at Jacques Génin's, in particular due to much superior pastry part. If you get the Paris-Brest at PdR though, I would advise to eat it with a spoon and leave the dough.
But the chocolate cake ("grand cru") and the coffe one ("moka") are indeed, in my opinion, the stuff dreams are made of. This is almost as true of the chausson aux pommes, and the brioche feuilletée is spectacular, though no better than Pichard's (an other place I would add to your list). Last word on PdR: they do a millefeuile, but only on sundays.
Olivier is right about the millefeuile: Senderens with the wine pairing, definitely. Also Génin's. Joséphine is great, and very big, but it's more sloppy than the other two. There again, Pichard should be considered. And the millefeuille is the one pastry that Pierre Hermé actually does well.
About Seurre: indeed everything is good, but if you ask me, their best is not quite their almond croissant, but their almond chocolate croissant (pain au chocolat aux amandes). It's unrivaled as far as I'm concerned, because, if I may disagree with Parigi (ooooh), it's not all about texture -- it's also about the way the sugar articulartes with the almond, the chocolate and the dough. Like any other viennese pastry, there's no rule as to what makes a good almond croissant. It can be soggy and delicious. It can be freshn crispy and disgusting. No rule, I tell you.
At Du Pain et des Idées, you want the big traditional breads more than the baguette, if you ask me. And if you ask me, it's not nearly as good as they say.
Sourdough, organic breads: I like Bosson, at the corner of Blanqui and Barrault. Go on a sunday morning and visit the Blanqui morning at the same time.
Des Gateaux et du Pain: don't miss their bostock, their quiche if you feel so inclined, and their specialty bread like the ones with nuts or multigrain. Their pastry are a bit too precious, not unlike Hugo and Victor's (we'd call them "prout prout", which I won't translate but you have the picture the mouth movements it takes to pronounce it)
Marletti is super special, if too sweet for my taste.
Never heard about Pascal Caffet.
Buckwheat crepes: try le Pot O Lait: it's as good, more authentic than Breizh, and you won't have to fight for a seat.
Baguettes: like croissants, they're very different from one another. I like the tradition at Gosselin, but I'm in the minority (it's very buttery, even if without butter). The one at Julien everyone likes. Le Grenier à Pain is also worth a visit (well, one of them). Le Moulin de la Vierge also (same). Delmontel is great when it's fresh out of the oven -- I'm less convinced half an hour later. Pichard is also worth trying. Dominique Saibron is the former "boulanger de Monge" and he has a very distinct style. Come to think of it, you should also try his millefeuille (He's at carrrefour d'Alésia).
Like for Du Pain et des Idées, I'm not sure baguette is Kayser's strong suit. But their walnut bread, their financiers, their "tourte" bread, some of their fruit tarts are seriously exceptional.
Speaking of financier, try Ducasse's bakery: it's called BE, on bd de Courcelles, and they also have very nice passion fruit macarons and other exciting stuff.
That's all I have for now. If you consider that I don't eat wheat and stay away from sugar, it's not that bad.
Re: "And the millefeuille is the one pastry that Pierre Hermé actually does well."
That depends what you're looking for in a millefeuille, but I don't really care about it much... but it's very different from the competition and worth a try. Also, it's not that expensive, if you consider that it's called 2000 feuilles and it's a bit less than twice the usual price.
A few years ago I, too, searched Paris for the best millefeuille and ate at least 15 different ones in the course of 14 days. I did enjoy the one at Chez Josephine (huge!) but it was far from my favorite. The best thing about it was how fresh it was because they assemble it right before they serve it, as most good restaurants do. That's why those seem to be "the best" even if they don't have the most flavorful or greatest consistency fillings.
My favorite was found at Julien (75 Rue Saint-Honoré, although they have a couple of other outlets.) But I had this totally amazing one at Julien and then returned a week later and bought another one and the this one had none of the crispness of the first one and had clearly been sitting in the case for too many hours before I purchased it (maybe even since yesterday?!) When buying from a shop, I'd recommend asking when the millefeuille was assembled.
And finally, it's personal what makes something the "best." Some folks like them barely sweetened and mostly crunchy pastry with very little creme and others like a sweet later of good frosting on top and lots of creme. Although I think everyone wants the pastry to be crisp and fresh!
Wow, thank you so much for the absolute wealth of information here.
At Le Pain des Alpages et Mayeur, is it a country or levain bread you speak of or a baguette or something else? If both you and Genin give it a seal of approval, I will have to go.
Pichard, with touts from both you and olivier, has officially gone on the list.
As far as ice cream at Constant, is it just chocolate ice cream? Or are there more flavors?
Marletti - I couldn't tell if you really like it or not?
Genin is going to get a large order from me and/or daily visits.
That said, any recommendations for clothing stores so I can purchase some larger clothes while I'm there?
You don't eat wheat?? Or sugar?? Oh my! :)
Le Pain des Alpages is a sourdough, wheat and rye bread, with a very long fermentation time. It's a twenty pound gigantic bread of which they cut you a piece. And yeah, that guy Génin is OK.
Ice cream at Constant: oh no it's not only chocolate. Day before yesterday I had vanilla and coconut. Still dreaming about it. There is a choice of maybe seven flavours at any given time. More choice if you want to buy your icecream in a box and not in a cone.
I don't like Marletti personally, but I think it's great.
Daily visits at Génin are a good idea. Don't miss the mango caramels, and the fresh pastry. And the chocolate called "rocher". Oh and the hot cocoa.
The bread to get now at Du Pain et des Idees is a loaf about 16" for small and 24" for large and about 5 inches in diameter. It is similar to a perfect Sullivan St filone on it's best day. It is currently my favorite loaf in the city. Some years back they made a very expensive large round loaf that was wonderful. They have now switched to a round loaf that, as Souphie says, is undistinguished, Most bakeries have a baguette traditional and is always far better than the regular, costs a few centimes more. My favorites are Julien, the ficelle at Grenier du Pain either on Rue Abbesses on Place D'Italie, and small bakery on Blvd Voltaire one block up from Nation, on right just past first light.
Best millefeuille in Paris: Genin or Senderens (the restaurant, but it's possible to just have dessert, tell them in advance).
Something you won't find in NY: good local bakeries with that French feel. There probably are lot of them. One I know very well and which almost never disappoint is Pichard, rue Cambronne in the 15th. Their bread, viennese pastry and most of their pastry are pitch perfect, in a very traditional and unpretentious fashion, with reasonable prices. I alwas like buying one gigantic St Honoré from them for birthdays for example. Their millefeuille is also fantastic if you manage to come by just when they're out of the kitchen.
As for ice cream, I could not say if I like Pozzetto more than Grom, but it's a different style, and I really like sitting down at Pozzetto, and have a good espresso with my gelato.
Try Constant in the 6th for ice cream, too.
Also, one place that you would probably enjoy if you're looking for something that feels French is L'Etoile d'Or, near Pigalle. It's a chocolat/candy shop whose owner is an old lady dressed like a schoolgirl, who will chat with you for 30 minutes even if you've just come to buy one chocolate tablet (granted, that's a 9 EUR one we're talking about).
For ice cream, I love Martine Lambert. I think Berthillon is good, but I would only get it at the original -- I think it tastes fresher. Le Bar a Glace no longer exists. For bread, I agree with Delmontel, but I also like Gerard Mulot's baguette. Des Gateaux et du Pain makes excellent croissants, as well as exquisite pastries. I did not love the vanilla pastry cream in the millfeuille at Jacques Genin, but the pastry part was superb -- next time I would have the chocolate (I tasted the chocolate pastry cream in the eclair and it was perfect). Carl Marletti is also a wonderful place for pastry -- especially the lemon tart. I would add Ble Sucre for their tart tatin and Pain du Sucre for their pastries as well. Breizh Cafe is nice for crepes, both savory and sweet, but note that they will be closed until Sept. 8.
Of the list I know Seurre well, as it is down the street from chez moi. All of its pastries are good, not just the croissants aux amandes. Try its moelleux au chocolat and other pastries. Another pâtisserie you should try, not far from Seurre, is Aurore Capucine, which uses many flowers, yes flowers, in its pastries.
For croissants aux amandes, I like Bourdaloue's very much, also in the neighborhood. In a croissnt aux amandes, texture is everything. It is easy to become soggy. Bourdaloue makes it almond-crunchy on the outside and almond-pasty moist inside without getting the whole thing soggy.
For baguette, I am faithful to the "Renaissance" at Delmontel, up the street from Seurre.
There is now a great gelatteria on the same street - rue des Martyrs - called Caramella. Esp try the Mojito sherbert. It is as good as Bertillon, but without the Berthillon queues.
Lastly, "What of the following would be something I could not get in New York?", one would really need to try all of New York's bakeries and pastry shops in order to reply. I don't know if anyone can reply except maybe health inspectors of NY. But I have noticed that in NY or SF, what they call, for example, "a moelleux au chocolat" or even "macaron" has nothing to do with what is known as a moelleux au chocolat or macaron here in Paris. First of all, much of the pastries that you find in France, Germany and Austria uses much less sugar than pastries in America, which means in the former you can really taste the different ingredients and fruits in season. Therefore my answer to your post title question would be that it's all different here.
Ceci dit, just enjoy pastries in France. Bon voyage.