Baking isn’t just baking in France; it’s close to an art form. Every year France is awarded prizes for its excellent baguettes, puff pastry, or croissants. These highly coveted awards are a testament to how the French consider baking a sacred act. Paris is brimming with bakeries (boulangeries) of varying qualities. If you’re visiting Paris, make sure you don’t fall into a tasteless tourist trap while searching for the perfect pain au chocolat.
The trick is to look for the bakery with the longest line. No line outside? No good. If you don’t see patrons waiting, you should move on. The French are known to be willing to wait for up to half an hour for their favorite baguette, no matter how short the line is at the bakery across the street.
To get your tastebuds buzzing, here are some of the best bakeries in town:
(See the official website for locations in Paris)
“Being a good baker means making a little miracle every day”
From New York to Moscow, Eric Kayser’s bakeries are world renowned. With over fifteen locations in Paris alone, it’s safe to say that he’s done pretty well for himself.
For an extra treat, some of his bakeries offer seating. What better than watching Paris wake up while enjoying your morning coffee and croissant?
Food critic David Lebovitz highly recommends Eric’s multi-grain bread (pain aux céréales). Grab a loaf to go for an impromptu picnic. This healthy staple would be great with a big chunk of cheese and a glass of wine in the sunshine.
If buying wine in France seems intimidating (Saumur? Maçon? Chateauneuf de… panic!), why not try going on a wine tasting? You’ll be identifying those woody notes in no time.
134 RdT134 rue de Turenne, 75003
The award-winning “134 RdT” bakery located in the upper Marais Quarter is truly a sight for sore eyes. Loaves and loaves of scrumptious baguettes are stacked against traditional, timeworn stone walls. It’s like standing in someone’s private wine cellar, except that there is fresh, chewy bread instead of bottles of Bordeaux waiting to tempt your taste buds.
Benjamin Turquier, aka Benjamin the Baker, having won second prize for the best baguette in Paris in 2009, is now on the jury for the same contest. Not resting on his laurels, Benjamin enjoys experimenting with exciting new flavors. Apparently his white chocolate bread is magical and should not be missed. Take note: this bakery is closed all day Sunday.
Du Pain et Des Idées34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010
I was lucky enough to call this my local bakery when I lived close to the Canal Saint Martin a few years ago.
Christophe Vasseur worked in Sales but gave it all up at the age of thirty to pursue his dream of being a professional baker. It seemed that aside from his amazing raw talent, fortune smiled upon him when gourmet magazine ‘Gault & Millau’ named him Best Baker in Paris in 2008. I still have cravings for his pain au raisin. Important to note: this bakery is open weekdays only.
Dominique Saibron77 avenue du Général leclerc, 75014
Located in the 14th District is another haunt of mine. They ecently set up a little outdoor area providing seating and heaters for patrons who either can’t get a seat inside, or prefer to people-watch while eating their baked goodies. Recommended are the chocolate and pistachio tournicotis. For those with a “savory tooth”, try their goat cheese and spinach quiches. Yum.
Top tip: the line can go around the block on Sunday mornings. Watch out for the locals who try to cut in front of the tourists!
Of course, if you do end up buying a baguette, you’ll need a panier to put it in. Do like the locals and hop on a bike to see the city, with a guided bike tour. Pedal away those croissants!