Let’s be honest with ourselves, Paris is not Paris without the delicious food, above all the beautiful, mouth-watering pastries and sweet treats. Unlike the poor French imitation patisseries found throughout the rest of Europe, true French patisseries actually tend to taste as good as they look. I easily spent hours in boulangeries, always torn between two delectable treats and normally coming away with both of them. My eyes were too big for my stomach. I rarely listen to my stomach when I am busy shovelling citron tarts and pains au chocolat into my mouth until it is too late and I end up lying on my bed unable to move. I also do not tend to learn from my mistakes. Hence the reason I returned from Paris half a stone heavier than when I arrived. Do I regret any of it? Not a single patisserie. These are the boulangeries I hold completely responsible for my inadvertent weight gain – proceed with caution.
Hands down my favourite boulangerie in the city. It is the very best that Paris has to offer. Situated right in the heart of Paris, it is a mere ten-minute walk from the Louvre just off the Avenue de l’Opéra. Choose whatever you would like because you cannot go wrong here. Everything I had from baguette sandwiches to pastries knocked me off my feet. To my eternal sadness they are not open on weekends but I took full advantage of the fact that Julien was on my way to my language school. One of my personal favourites was the chocolate and pistachio torsade, which was not only the best but also the biggest chocolate twist I have ever eaten. I am also not normally much of a chocolate éclair fan but Julien’s éclairs changed that within the first bite.
Le Grenier à Pain
There are supposedly a few of these boulangeries in the city but my favourite was just around the corner from my apartment in Montmartre – a blessing and a curse. The first time I visited there was a line out the door and down the street. I do not think I have ever waited quite so long for a pastry but it was well worth it. For the best selection of sandwiches and treats, make sure to visit before lunch. Every time I gave into temptation and went in the evening to pick myself up a dessert, their cabinet was almost empty. I never tried their baguette sandwiches but their freshly baked pastries were incredible. I loved their madeleine cookies and their many tarts were mind-bogglingly good. I also do not think there is a croissant to equal theirs in all of Paris.
Though not quite as good as the two above and a little more expensive, this was my favourite place on the left bank of the Seine. A five-minute walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg, it is the perfect stop off for a quick treat to take to the gardens. They have an array of colourful and delicious macarons as well as beautiful cakes and warm, fresh pastries. I highly recommend their chaussons aux pommes. Be prepared for a line at peak hours during the day.
Aux Pains de la Ferme
Though not technically in Paris, this boulangerie cannot be kept off the list. I loved it so much I went back twice in one day. Located a few minutes away from the Versailles Château Rive Gauche station, it is the perfect place to grab a sandwich or pastry to enjoy while wandering the Château de Versailles’ magnificent gardens. They have a wide selection of delicious baguette sandwiches and jaw dropping patisseries. It tends to be crowded so it is definitely a place where you either should know what you want already or be able to think quickly on your feet!
Eric Kayser boulangeries are dotted all over the city, but this is no ordinary chain. The typical low quality pastries and sandwiches you’d expect from a chain of this size were nowhere to be found. Though certainly not a match for Julien or Le Grenier à Pain, Eric Kayser was my go to when I desperately needed a sugar fix and none of the above options were available – a more than adequate substitute. My personal favourite? The chocolate and almond croissant.
Top: View of Paris from the Arc de Triomphe
Photography by Savannah Hayes