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Tuesday
Apr272010

Cakewalk: A Patisserie for Each Parisian Arrondissement

On a recent trip to Paris, my travel goal was simple: I wanted to try at least one pâtisserie in each of the 20 arrondissements. Happily, I attained my goal and then some, having visited a staggering 35 bakeries in a mere 7 days (I'll leave you to ponder that for a few moments).

My game plan? To try a mix of places I'd heard (and dreamed about) from books, guides, and trusted websites, but to also go to several arrondissements with no particular destination in mind, thereby allowing for some unexpected sweet experiences. And may I highly suggest this as a method of tourism? Not only did we make it to neighborhoods we probably wouldn't have discovered otherwise, but we also ate some seriously sweet stuff at every point along the way!

Here, I've listed at least one pâtisserie visited in each of the 20 arrondissements.

Note: While you may recognize several of these from my report on Serious Eats, I've also expanded and added several other spots to the roundup; enjoy!

1ème 

Cafe Angelina: Our pick here? The hot chocolate. The legendary hot chocolate here, called "L'africaine," is so thick that when sold by the bottle, it doesn't budge even when you turn bottle upside down. When heated, the hot chocolate is extremely thick and velvety, with a rich, dark chocolate flavor that isn't overpoweringly sweet. And it doesn't hurt that it's served up in a grand old tea room in the shadow of the Louvre by austere waitresses in French Maid-esque getups. 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001, 1st Arrondissement, Paris, France‎ (map) 01 42 60 82 00‎

2ème 

Stohrer: For one thing, if a bakery has been around since the 1730s, it's probably doing something right. While Stohrer's chocolate éclair was voted among the best in Paris, I think their coffee-flavored ones are even better: a perfectly piped cloud of choux gives way to an insanely rich coffee-toned cream and icing. 51 Rue Montorgueil, 75002, 2nd Arrondissement, Paris, France‎ (map) 01 42 33 38 20‎; stohrer.fr

3ème 

Pain de Sucre: This gorgeous little shop featured a sweet variety of goods, including baguette-shaped macarons (!), but our victim--er, choice--was the quatre quarts cake, which was rich, buttery, and oh so good. 14, rue rambuteau, 75003, 3rd Arrondissement, Paris, France; patisseriepaindesucre.fr. 

4ème 

Berthillon: You've probably read about this place in a tour guide or seen it on a travel show—I'm here to tell you that you should listen to them. This ice cream is amazingly creamy and flavorful, with a rotating cast of flavors like salted caramel, roasted pistachio, and creamy coconut, and served up in clever two-cupped cones which taste pretty good themselves. 31 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile, 75004, 4th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 43 54 31 61; berthillon.fr

Boulangerie Julien: Oh, bebe. The delicious rhubarb tart here was the stuff of dreams; read a full review here. 24, rue St. Martin, 75004, 4th Arrondissement, Paris, France.

Legay Choc: The first patisserie we visited after landing, and one of our favorite stops. Two words sum it all up: Roulé Cannelle. Read all about it here. 17, Rue Des Archives, Paris 04; online at legaychoc.fr

5ème 

Le Maison Kayser: Now, I had headed to Kayser intent on trying the Tigrés (Tiger Tea Cakes) as featured in Dorie Greenspan's book Paris Sweets (which, by the way, if you don't own, I have to say "You've got to be kidding me". Buy it now). But when I got to the bakery, I couldn't seem to drag myself away from the vision of these little chocolate tarts, served in sweet little squares topped with a disc of white chocolate and some candied hazelnuts. 8, rue monge, 75005, 5th Arrondissement, Paris, France (other locations too) maison-kayser.fr.

6ème 

Pierre Hermé: So I'll admit it: I feel like macarons are often better in theory than in practice. Unless they're done perfectly, they can fall into the traps of being too chewy, too brittle, or too sweet. But if there's a macaron that can make you a believer, I think Pierre Hermé's may be it. Biting into one is like biting into a cloud: the macaron is light as air, and yields perfectly to the generous dab of ganache, which is smooth, rich, and creamy without having a texture that is incongruous with the delicate cookie base. And this dude is somehow able to make crazy flavors like strawberry and wasabi not only work, but work well. 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006, 6th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 43 54 47 77; pierreherme.com

7ème

La Patisserie des Rêves: I couldn't imagine a sweeter place to pick up Breton specialty Kouign Amann Breton than Dorie Greenspan-approved La Patisserie des Rêves, where large glass domes that resemble huge upside-down wineglasses cover gorgeous cakes arranged in a circle on a main table, and then shelves off to the side have various individually-sized treats. Also noteworthy: their unique brioche. 93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, France‎ (map) 01 42 84 00 82‎; lapatisseriedesreves.com

8ème

Dalloyau: Opera Cake wasn't technically invented at Dalloyau (it's derived from another version of the fancy cake, the Clichy) but it was made famous here. For well over 100 years they've been serving up this slice of heaven, a serious cake comprised of thin layers of biscuit Viennois soaked in coffee syrup and then layered with coffee-flavored buttercream and bittersweet chocolate ganache. Various locations in Paris; we visited the one in the 8th; dalloyau.fr

9ème

Ladurée: A religieuse is a pastry supposedly takes its name from its resemblance to a nun's habit, but some hard-core pastry lovers might argue the name stems from its taste (which approaches an absolutely religieuse experience). Ladurée's intriguing Blackcurrant-Violet Religieuse, made up of choux pastry, blackcurrant and violet flavored confectioner's custard, is exquisite--but the violet taste is powerful, and this one is best shared. Various locations in Paris, including one in the 9th, and beyond; laduree.fr

10ème

La Baie des Anges: This place didn't look like much from the outside--and it was raining and we were eager to get into a bakery and get back to our hotel-- but the eclair was surprisingly delicious, fresh even at the end of the day, and redolent with chocolate-y goodness. 23 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, 75010 Paris, France.

11ème

La Bague de Kenza: I was intrigued by the writeup on Chocolate and Zucchini of the rfisse, which she described as "a mix of semolina, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, date, and honey, ground into a marzipan-like, pleasantly grainy paste"; happily, the sweet pastry was freshly made and delicious--vaguely reminding me of my days of serving Basbousa in Brooklyn106 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011, 11th Arrondissement, Paris, France.

12ème

Aux Castelblangeois: Our favored pastry here? The Tartelette aux Fraises. Starting with the fattest, most flavorful strawberries you've ever tasted on top of a rich bed of cream and a flaky pastry crust, this was a sweet tart indeed. 104 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012, 12th Arrondissement, Paris, France‎ (map) 01 40 19 93 36

13ème

Boulangerie Pâtisserie Renard: While walking around this neighborhood, which was nearby a hospital and was full of medical students and doctors, we found ourselves in this unassuming little bakery and were happily rewarded with a heavenly pear and chocolate tart. 113 bis, boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013, 13th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map); 01 44 24 13 49

14ème

Bonjour Bakery: What we indulged in here was something called a chouquette aux marrons. What's that? Well. Imagine an éclair. Now, fill it with rich, unbelievably creamy chestnut filling and top it with sweet vanilla icing. You're getting the idea, and it is delicious. 16 Avenue René Coty, 75014, 14th Arrondissement, Paris, France‎ (map) 01 43 27 70 97‎

15ème

Maeder Véronique: Even blueberries are different in Paris! I didn't actually realize that's what the little berries were on top of this tart until I later looked it up: these were small, piquant, and more tart than mere US blueberries. Studded with pistachios atop a layer of pastry cream, all perched on a sturdy crust, this little tart was basically like heaven. 18 Rue de Lourmel, 75015, 15th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 45 78 89 31

16eme

Lenôtre: Walking into Lenôtre is kind of like walking into Tiffany & Co., only the wares are edible. The brioche, which was light and buttery all at once, was beautifully accentuated by the rose-colored candied nuts (I believe pistachios)—I think I liked their version even better than the famous Praluline, which is similarly flavored, if different in construction. 48, Avenue Victor Hugo, 75016, 16th Arrondissement, Paris, France (map) 01 45 02 21 21; Brioche Pralines Rose, lenotre.fr

17ème

Alain Bernard Artisan: Here is where we devoured the Salambo. Named after a literary character, this choux pastry filled with pastry cream and topped with icing and chocolate sprinkles is much more delicious to gobble than any old book. 6, Place Henri, 75017, 17th Arrondissement, Paris, France, 01 47 57 43 89.

18ème

Berko: An American cupcake shop in Paris! But what made these cupcakes so good? My theory is that it's the butter. France takes it a whole lot more seriously than the U.S., and it shows in these cakes, which are so tantalizingly buttery that really, a small one is sufficient (honestly). Their cake is unbelievably moist, and the frosting...well, it's buttercream (accent on the butter). 31, rue lepic, 75018, 18th Arrondissement, Paris, France. (note: there is also another location in the 4th Arrondissement)

19ème

La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc: This sweet shop seems a bit hidden, but is worth seeking out: we had an apple and raisin tart which, in spite of its name and ingredients, managed to taste buttery enough to make up for the virtuous fruit. 83 rue de Crimée, 75019, 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France.

20ème

Banette: Here, we scored La Figue. This unusual little squat pastry was on show at patisseries all over town, and nearby Pere LaChaise I finally picked one up at Banette, a boulangerie-patisserie with several locations throughout Paris (and, it seems, Montreal as well). Comprised of a fig-and-chocolate mixture topped with a rich green marzipan wrapped in a way to suggest a fig-like form, this was an absolute pleasure to eat. It tastes somewhere between cake and confection. Boulevard de Menilmontant, 75020, 20th Arrondissement, Paris, France; various Banette locations can also be found around Paris; banette.fr

Boulangerie 140: After having read about this place on David Lebovitz, we simply had to give this gem a try. Everything in the case was so obviously made with care that it was hard to decide what to settle on; while the bread was definitely the point of pride here, we tried the pain au chocolat, and were not disappointed. 140, rue de Belleville, 75020; au140.fr.

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