The French city of Bordeaux may be world-famous for its wines, and with good reason. But the capital of the Aquitaine region also counts some of France's finest pastry shops (patisseries) and traditional sweets. Whether you're craving a tangy lemon tart topped with airy meringue, buttery chocolatine (the local word for pain au chocolat), macarons in creative and tempting flavors, or chewy local treats called canelés, these shops hit the spot.
Located in the heart of Bordeaux on the Place Pey Berland, Pierre Mathieu is widely considered to be one of the very best places in the city for pastries and sweets from the traditional to the inventive.
Headed up by a chef of the same name who was once pastry chef at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Paris, the boutique offers a wide and tempting array of patisseries, individual and whole cakes, sweet bakes (viennoiseries), handmade chocolates, and delicate macarons.
Wake up your palate with a "Gave Choc," an individual cake composed of crunchy praline, chocolate biscuit, and dark chocolate ganache, or order a box of mini petits-fours to take along on a decadent picnic nearby. Chocolate lovers will appreciate the shop's large, mouthwatering selection of handmade treats, from nutty rochers to creamy ganache bars while kids might go for a cup or cone of homemade ice cream.
The canelé—a gumdrop-shaped, chewy, intensely caramelized little custard pastry originating in Bordeaux—is one of the local specialties you should taste at least once. With several shops around the city center, Baillardran is widely considered one of the best places to taste the classic version of the treat, made with egg yolks, flour, butter, salt, vanilla, rum, and milk.
In addition to the classic version, which comes in three sizes to suit any appetite, Baillardran also bakes up "pur vanille" (pure vanilla) canelés that are rum-free. You can also find good macarons, nougatine (nutty caramel brittle), and other treats at their shops.
Baillardran's flagship on the Rue Sainte-Catherine shopping street is almost always busy, but don't be daunted by the lines; they generally move quickly. Either order a bag of a few canelés to go and enjoy while walking around the city on a sightseeing tour, or sit in and enjoy them warm with a strong espresso or cappuccino.
This gourmet bakery, patisserie, and tearoom has won accolades among gourmets for its uncompromising quality and unique sweet creations, melding French and Japanese traditions. Helmed by pastry chefs Satomi and Stanley Chan, who earned their chops as apprentices for French culinary legends like Pierre Hermé and Yannick Alléno, they also co-run a restaurant in Bordeaux called Grand Maison, alongside celebrated chef Joël Robuchon.
In 2017, they opened their first signature patisserie and tearoom in the city, and it's been a hit with locals ever since. Try delicious treats like the Dorayaki S., a red-bean based Japanese pastry surrounded by a delicate pancake, and filled with rich cream, vanilla matcha, or other flavors. The traditional French pastries and viennoiseries, from fresh strawberry or yuzu lemon tarts to chocolate cakes and pain au raisin, are equally delicious and often laced with careful, Japanese-inspired touches.
Sit in and enjoy them with a cup of loose-leaf tea or coffee; the tea menu is long and full of gourmet options and you certainly won't be rushed. Meanwhile, the "sweet weekend brunch" option is a big hit among the foodie Bordelais set, and includes fresh bread and croissants or other viennoiseries, homemade jams, freshly squeezed juice and seasonal fruit, coffee, and a slice of lemon cake.
Patisserie San Nicolas
If you've already tried a traditional canelé (see above) and are ready to taste some creative spins on the beloved Bordelais confection, beeline to this family-owned patisserie.
Helmed by chef Cyril San Nicolas and co-owned by his friendly wife, Audrey, this address is well known locally for its tempting shop windows, brimming with pastries that are at once beautifully presented and delicious.
While their more traditional "house" canelé is scrumptious—striking an ideal balance between a chewy interior and crunchy, caramelized, glossy outer crust—we recommend their decadent signature cake, the "Cream'lé." They've hollowed out the traditional canelé, then filled it with creamy chocolate ganache, salted butter caramel, and just a hint of lime. To finish, it's topped with vanilla-flavored mascarpone, and a bit more crust.
The shop also proffers a variety of other mouthwatering pastries, from lemon meringue mini-tarts to millefeuille cakes, handmade chocolates, croissants, and macarons.
This much-prized patisserie and chocolate shop a few blocks west of the Gare St-Jean station is an ideal first or last stop in the city before you hop on or off the train. It may feel a bit out of the city center, but believe us when we say it's worth a short detour.
Entering the shop, it may be difficult to choose what to fill your take-away box with. We particularly recommend the rich chocolate or coffee eclairs, lemon tarts, and millefeuilles, with delicate, crunchy layers of pastry interspersed with cream and chocolate. Meanwhile, the house réligieuse is intensely delicious: three layers of choux pastry are towered atop one another, filled with pleasingly cold chocolate crème patissière, then topped with a silky round of dark chocolate and a macaron.
If you can't decide on a single pastry and there are at least two of you, consider taking away the "plateau de lunch," which offers a tempting selection of cakes and pastries. And the in-house selection of chocolates are as pleasing to the eyes as they are to the palate.
This cheerful patisserie just on the outskirts of the city center in an area known as "Le Bouscat" is worth the 20-minute walk, especially if you're not a fan of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in your sweet treats.
Owned by Diego Cervantes et Blanca Bertely, the family-run shop offers a mesmerizing and delicious array of traditional French pastries, often with creative spins. Try the choco-noisette, a crunchy praline and chocolate ganache square topped with freshly chopped hazelnuts, perfect for a small treat accompanied by an espresso. The lemon tart with mint is summery and refreshing, while the house millefeuille, towering with creamy chocolate mounds and chocolate shavings, makes a meal in its own right.
Pastry chef Diego Cervantes also creates a variety of frozen cakes and tarts, from frozen chocolate mousse with tonka bean and hazelnut ice cream on a biscuit base, to iced raspberry mousse cake with Madagascar vanilla ice cream.
Meanwhile, vegans will appreciate the absence of animal gelatin in all of Mi Cielo's creations, especially since it's often an easy-to-miss ingredient in certain French pastries and cakes.
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
The "merveilleux" is a rich, feather-light cake made with cream, meringue, and chocolate shavings that originated in the northern French city of Lille. But ever since one of its most popular purveyors, Aux Merveilleux de Fred, opened a boutique in Bordeaux, it's become one of the top places to go for sweet-toothed locals and travelers.
We recommend having a light lunch, then stopping buy to sample at least two of the mouthwatering creations displayed behind the glass. The shop offers larger and smaller sizes, so you can splurge a bit.
Even more than the original merveilleux—composed of airy meringue, fresh whipped cream, and dark chocolate shavings adding crunch and extra flavor—we recommend trying the "Magnifique," a meringue and praline-flavored whipped cream base topped with almond chips and caramelized hazelnuts.
If you like enjoying a viennoiserie with coffee, try a chocolate, sugar, or raisin "cramique," intensely golden, light yet buttery brioche-type breads that originated in Belgium.
Pâtisserie Micheline & Paulette
This alluring patisserie just around the corner from the Bordeaux Museum of Contemporary Art is owned by a young couple named Juliette Bontemps and Valentin Brault. Brault, a pastry chef who earned accolades for his creations at the tearoom of the Paris luxury hotel Le Meurice, notes on the official website that he named the shop after his two grandmothers, who instilled in him a passion for delicious and expertly made pastries.
At the boutique, it can be hard to narrow your choices down among the many tempting creations artfully presented behind the glass. The "Kawa" is a house specialty and a creative spin on a traditional eclair: a biscuit soaked in Amaretto liqueur and topped with ganache and coffee-infused icing.
Others sure to make your stomach rumble include the Pavlova with granny smith apples, an airy delight topped with tender meringue and a variety of gourmet brioches in different flavors.
If you're looking to take home some excellent artisanal chocolates (or, let's face it, devour the box in your hotel room before you leave), this address in close reach of Bordeaux Cathedral is an excellent option.
Yves Thuriès has earned solid accolades for his cocoa-based creations, twice named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best French artisan) in the chocolate-making category. His company carefully oversees the production and harvest of the cocoa beans used in the final chocolates, keeping the quality high.
At the shop, you'll find a head-spinning selection of milk and dark chocolate bars (most made with single-origin cocoa beans), pralines, truffles, and "boucheés"(larger pieces of milk and dark chocolate perfect for a light dessert, and flavored with ginger, orange, caramel-vanilla, and other delightful fillings).
The selection of nutty, praline-laced rochers in both milk and dark chocolate are some of the best we've tasted. The shop also stocks a large variety of chocolate spreads, candied fruits, marzipan, and other typical French sweets. In short? This is one of the best places in town to satisfy your sweet tooth, and find something to take home in your suitcase.