If there’s one thing the French do exceptionally well, it’s pastries (patisseries), and Paris harbors some of the most talented pastry chefs in the country. Whether it’s a chocolate éclair, lemon tart, macaron, or simple buttery croissant you crave, these delicious and often beautiful concoctions will satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth. Take note: If it's bread you're after, consult our guide to the best Paris bakeries. It's a bit of a truism that the best patissiers (pastry makers) are not necessarily the most exceptional bread bakers, and vice versa, but, well, it tends to also be true (with a few notable exceptions)!
Also make sure to consult our mouth-watering guide on identifying and ordering typical French bakery and patisserie items-- and avoid being overwhelmed by the delicious panoply of items in the display cases.
Croissants and ViennoiseriesThe croissant is the quintessential French pastry, and finding the best one is no easy feat. Luckily, the Concours du Meilleur Croissant au Beurre AOC Charantes-Poitou makes it easy, with an annual competition electing the best butter croissant of the year. The 2013 winner was 30 year-old Romain Thomann, who has worked at the family bakery in the Parisian suburb of Lilas since he was 16 and has since taken the reins there. It’s not the first award for Thomann – the passionate baker also won best apprentice when he was first put on the job. Getting to Lilas is a bit of a trek, but with a buttery croissant waiting at the end of your train ride, in addition to a panoply of other delicious viennoiseries (a French term for bread-type pastries including pain au chocolat or pain au raisin), what could be so bad about that?
8 Boulevard de la Liberté, Les Lilas
Metro: Mairie des Lilas (Line 11)
Tel: +33 (0)1 48 97 84 06
More top-notch croissants and pastriesIf you’re not motivated enough to trek to Lilas for your croissant, pain au chocolat, or apricot tart, you’re in luck – six of the ten top croissants elected in the recent competition are located inside of Paris proper. Ranked number two, the oddly-named 134 RdT is anything but obscure. Besides coming in second for its croissants, it won second place for its baguette in 2009. In third place was Le Grenier à Pain des Abbessess. The bakery’s stunning, intricately decorated cakes are a must, and while you’re there, make sure pick up a baguette – head baker Djibril Bodian won the award for best baguette in 2010, breaking that aforementioned rule. Rounding in at 3rd place is Boulangerie L’Essentiel Mouffetard. After you’ve picked up your flaky croissants, admire (and fill up on) the chocolate éclairs, layered cakes and other goodies spectacularly presented in glass cases.
134 Rue de Turenne, 3rd arrondissement
Hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am-8:30pm, Saturday 7am-2pm
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 78 04 72
Le Grenier à Pain des Abbessess
38 Rue des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
Metro: Abbesses, Blanche or Pigalle
Hours: Every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 7:30am-8pm
Tel: +33 (0)1 46 06 41 81
Visit the official website for more store locations.
Boulangerie L’Essentiel Mouffetard
2 Rue Mouffetard, 5th arrondissement
Metro: Place Monge or Cardinal Lemoine
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8am-9:30pm
Tel: +33 (0)1 56 81 86 64
Macarons and CakesIf you're craving a macaron-- a French-style pastry that's gained enormous popularity in recent years, check out our guide to the best macarons in Paris, including Ladureé and Pierre Hermé. These highly prized Parisian patissiers also make an exceptional range of cakes, tarts and other traditional sweet delicacies, all made with top-notch ingredients.
On the cakes front, Jean-Paul Hevin (one of the city's finest chocolate makers) also peddles some of the city's most delicious cakes, and the upstairs tearoom is a perfect spot for a sweet-toothed break. He also concocts some amazing macarons, with the chocolate varieties especially standing out.
Patisseries From Around the World
La Bague de Kenza
If you’ve grown tired of traditional French pastries (while unlikely, this can happen), stop by this patisserie specializing in Algerian confectionary delights. Dozens of beautiful platters line the shop's tables, piled high with pastries made primarily with nuts, dates, figs, honey, or pistachio. Flavored with rose water, orange blossom, vanilla and other delicious essences, these palm-sized cakes are good enough to order by the handful. Simply point at the ones that look appealing if you don’t know the names – you’ll surely be happy with any choice you make.<
106, Rue Saint-Maur, 11th arrondissement
Metro: Rue Saint-Maur or Parmentier
Hours: Monday to Sunday : 9:00-10:00, Friday : 13h30 - 21h (2:30-9pm in the summer)
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 14 93 15
See the official website for more store locations.
Patisserie Sadaharu AOKI: Japanese Specialties
With training in Japan as well as France, Sadaharu Aoki creates pastries that combine traditional French design and a Japanese eye for detail and simplicity. Aoki says that when he sees customers enjoying his pastries, he thinks, “Good, but I can do even better!” This search for greatness comes through in Aoki’s exquisite creations, where macha green tea, wasabi and black sesame turn ordinary cakes and puff pastries into a wondrous treat for your taste buds. You’ll also find classic French pastries here, like the much-recommended salted caramel tart.
35 rue de Vaugirard, 6th arrondissement
Metro: Rennes, Saint-Placide or Notre-Dame-des-Champs
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 10am-6pm
Tel: + 33 (0)1 45 44 48 90
See the official website for more store locations.
Paris Gourmet Food Markets
Some of the best pastries and cakes--including varieties from around the world-- can be found in dedicated stands and corners at Paris gourmet food shops and markets such as Lafayette Gourmet and the Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marche Department Store. Warning: never come on an empty stomach!
Like This? Check out our other mouth-watering features on food and dining in Paris:
- Scrumptious Street Food in Paris
- Best Crepes and Creperies in Paris
- Browsing and Tasting at Paris Food Markets
- Best Wine Bars in Paris
- Best Falafel in Paris