Paris Bakeries

A couple of days ago it was le 14 juillet, Bastille Day.  I was reminded that this time last year I was playing visitor and traveller around Paris.  I spent a week in this captivating city with a mission.  Visit as many delightful Boulangeries et Pâtisseries as possible.

My experience of a bakery as a child went something like this.  Walk into shop.  Ask for desired item (for example, Lamington).  Wait for sales assistant to extract item with a set of tongs from the display area, then pop the item inside a plain white paper bag, and thrust across the counter for payment.

In stark contrast, the Boulangerie et Pâtisserie in Paris is an experience. Pâtisserie boutiques present their creations like works of art.  Macarons, chocolates, pastries are all eagerly showcased to full advantage.  The care and attention taken is beyond words.  The bread you find in a Boulangerie is bold, crusty and chewy.  It is always fresh and smells heady.  The accompanying packaging to present your macarons, or pocket your baguette, is often striking in itself and serves to highlight the deliberate effort to deliver nothing but quality. 

So after much walking, admiring and tasting, I present my top visits during that week. They truly were some of the best bakeries and pastries in Paris.

:: Pierre Hermé :: is undisputedly one of the pastry masters in Paris.  Visiting a boutique is an experience, a true sensory overload.  The pastry is exquisite.  Faultless.  You cannot make a bad choice if you tried.  { Read more here … }
72, rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

:: Ladurée :: is French through and through … it has a certain je ne sais quoi.  You cannot visit Paris without a visit.  And if you are obsessed with the macaron (like me!), you probably will not be able to stop with dropping in just the once.  { Read more here … }
21, rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

:: Gérard Mulot :: is an institution in Paris.  Visit and take in the impressive macarons, les petits gateaux, and les chocolates on offer.  If you plan to visit Paris, book yourself in to a “behind the scenes” tour organised by the Paris Tourist Board.  It is priceless.  { Read more here and here … }
93 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris

:: Fauchon :: is modern and slick.   Expecting a simple éclair with chocolate glaze?  Think again.  The pastries are vibrant and bold.  Make sure you pick up some of their famous madeleines.  { Read more here … }
30, Place Madeleine, 75008 Paris

:: Gosselin :: is known for its baguettes.  It truly is one of the best bakeries in Paris.  They make great sandwiches which are perfect to pick up while sightseeing.  Popular with locals and tourists alike.  { Read more here … }
258 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris

:: Poilâne :: is a destination boulangerie.  There is an outstanding selection of sourdough, definitely not to be missed.  The petit store is just adorable, too.  { Read more here … }
8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris

:: Maison Kayser :: is deservedly known for its croissants.  Wickedly rich, but light.  They practically melt in your mouth.  They are a taste sensation and certainly one of the best pastries in Paris.  { Read more here … }
14 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

:: le Boulanger de Monge :: is a little gem.  Grab a baguette, then pick up a few items at the near by markets at Rue Mouffetard for your own Paris picnic.  { Read more here … }
123 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

:: Chez Angelina :: serves hot chocolate that is out of this world.  A (not so healthy!) dose of hot chocolate plus coffee – served with deliciously warm milk – kick-started my Boulangeries et Pâtisseries challenge.
226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

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le-boulanger-de-monge 

When sightseeing in Paris last year, my partner and I decided to combine a trip to the markets at Rue Mouffetard with a visit to le Boulanger de Monge.  It was not hard to find this little bakery.  It was the store with the line of customers out the door.

I wanted to familiarise myself with the offerings so took a wander by the window.  In full view of passersby and customers, staff were weighting and shaping great volumes of bread dough.  The speed with which they handled this task was astonishing.  It was a rare sight having this activity so upfront.

I wandered to the back of the line, and once inside, in shaky French unconfidently declared, “Je voudrais une baguette, s’il vous plaît”. After a few other dialogue exchanges – including a number of agreeable nods from me – I whipped the baguette offered to me under arm and proceeded with my partner to the markets.  We were off to find accompaniments. 

In the little narrow street of the markets there were a host of vendors selling beautiful fruits, flowers, cheeses, meats.  We both noticed this grand chicken rotisserie outside Pascal Gosnet.  We were instantly sold.  After the purchase of half a chicken and a few potatoes (soaked in chicken fat!) later, we then walked to Le Jardin des Plantes– a stunningly beautiful botanical garden in Paris – to find a quiet spot to eat.

The bread was impressive. The flavour was rich and complex, and it was almost nutty.  Le Boulanger de Monge only use 100% wheat flour and it showed.  The bread was earthy with a slightly off-white colour.  It was delicious by itself sans butter or any condiment.

I was amazed how each Boulangerie, with such a simple set of strict ingredients, can produce such unique bread full of depth. In this case I guess that is why Le Boulanger de Monge had a string of customers out the door.  I am sure most locals visit every few days for their daily bread supplies.  What a life!

While munching on our purchases at Le Jardin des Plantes we noticed a group of girls going from person to person. They reached us and said something in French I could not decipher (I probably should have lengthened my enrolment duration at Alliance Francaise!). They quickly switched to English (merci), and we found out that one girl was about to be married.  They were selling homemade crepes to raise money.  Well, despite my fill of bread, chicken and potatoes, how could I not support this girl taking her next step in life?

I selected Nutella as my topping of choice for the crepe. Typically I am strictly a lemon/sugar girl but thought a change would be good. The crepes were lovely, and it was so special to enjoy a homemade version of such a French specialty.  I am not sure if this is a tradition in France, but it was lovely experience.

Le Boulanger de Monge
123 rue Monge, 75006 Paris