Even visitors who aren't terribly food-oriented could not fail to be enthralled by the first encounter with a traditional Parisian bakery and its tempting, beautifully presented breads, cakes, tarts and other goods. Despite the growing popularity of supermarkets in the capital, the genuinely traditional boulangeries have managed to withstand globalization and mass production, by continuing to produce quality breads, pastries, and cakes that are eye-catching, sumptuous, and often downright decadent. With one on virtually every corner, you will never go hungry for a chunk of crusty bread, but if you're looking for that extra-special baguette or country loaf, read on for a concise list of some of the best bakeries the city currently has to offer.
You won't automatically find the best eclair or tarte au citron (lemon tart) at the same place as a top-notch baguette, and the same is true for the inverse case. Learn how to identify and select these incomparable goodies like a local.
Address: 38 rue des Abbesses
Tel.: 33 (0)1 46 06 41 81
Winner of the 2010 prize for Best Baguette in Paris, this prestigious bakery located in the heart of Montmartre is run by Michel Galloyer, a member of France's "Académie Culiniaire". The decor is appealingly rustic, with the breads and cakes strikingly presented. The almond and apricot bread is sublime, and the chocolate tarts are second-to-none. Breads are reasonably priced, while the individual tarts are slightly above average (3.20 Euros for a chocolate tart), but in this instance, worth the extra cents.
Established by Pierre Poilane in 1932, this bakery has stood the test of time. Son Lionel continues to bake bread in the original wood-fired oven. Sourdough bread baked from stone-ground flour is a specialty here, as are exquisite butter cookies. The unique online ordering system offers potential original gifts, or the chance to keep up your bread habit if your trip to Paris is temporary.
Address: 166 avenue de Suffren
Tel.: 33 1 47 83 45 55
Andre Lefort, the last living representative of this family bakery, is something of a wood-fired oven guru around Paris. He still oversees the running of the bakery, where organic flour is used and wood-fired cooking takes precedence. Bread favorites include the pain de campagne and the paresseuse sourdough baguette. The pain au raisins (fluffy custard-filled pastry with raisins) is also a must for any visit. Le Moulin de la Vierge has additional outlets in Paris' 7th, 14th & 15th arrondissements.
Address: 14 rue Monge
Tel: 33 (0)1 44 07 17 81
Metro: Maubert Mutualité
Three generations of Kaysers have established a number of bakeries across Paris, where they sell their unique variety of bread, comprising a mix of milk, hazelnuts and honey. The pain céréales (multigrain loaf) has a notably light and fluffy texture, and the raisin baguette makes for a perfect breakfast treat. Gourmet ready-made sandwiches and salads are a lunchtime feature at this Latin Quarter bakery.
Situated on lively rue de Belleville in Northeast Paris, Au 140 counts a list of awards to its name. The official supplier to the presidential palace in 2001, its baguette was named the best in Paris that same year. Talented baker Pierre Demoncy also earned the bakery second prize in Paris' croissant competition. Au 140 features a large selection of organic breads to choose from, which are worth the detour.
Address: 10 rue Saint Antoine
Tel.: 33 (0)1 53 01 91 91
Le Notre's window displays are an art form in themselves, and tourists are frequently spotted staring longingly at the impeccably presented opéra (a dense chocolate cake) or fraisier (sponge cake with strawberries). Unfortunately for some, prices veer on the outrageous side (you can pay up to 50 Euros for a cake of four servings), but if you're out to impress or looking for something extra special, Le Notre will deliver. Top-quality foie gras and smoked salmon are also available.