While Mayson Kayser and Ladurée may have made their way Stateside, it’s still worth heading to the French capital for its famous fresh-baked goods. You may find a boulangerie or patisserie (or both) on every corner, but these eight spots take the cake.
Boulangerie La Parisienne
Every year, the mayor holds a competition to find the Best Baguette in Paris. The 2016 Grand Prix went to Florian Charles and Mickaël Reydellet, who bake their traditional batons to a golden, crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside perfection at the boulangerie’s Saint-Germain location.
Des Gâteaux et du Pain
Des Gâteaux et du Pain translates to cake and bread (and yes, you’ll want both). Pierre Hermé protégée Claire Damon—one of Paris’s few female pastry chefs—plucks seasonal fruits straight from the source for each of her preciously crafted, surprisingly light creations, from chestnut-and-almond “petits bateaux de l’automne” to tarts bursting with freshly candied peaches. Her partner, David Granger, kneads wonderfully airy, naturally leavened loaves
Du Pain et des Idées
Since Christophe Vasseur set up shop near the Canal Saint Martin, the neighborhood has gone from heck-no to hip. Break bread (or orange-blossom brioche) around the table at his 19th-century cafe and boutique, where Vasseur—fresh off publishing his first cookbook, Le pain, de la terre à la table (“Bread, from the terrain to the table”)—also serves delectably sweet “escargots,” with fresh cassis, pistachio paste, rum-soaked raisins, and dark chocolate spun into a croissant wheel.
Fou de Pâtisserie
In April, the team behind the Paris-based magazine Fou de Patisserie (Pastry Crazy) opened this tiny concept shop in the center of town, tapping top patissiers like Philippe Conticini and Gilles Marchal to deliver goodies on a daily basis. The menu changes constantly, in keeping with the seasons, and may include anything from Nicolas Bacheyre’s tart of the month (currently chestnut and litchi) to mini Mont Blancs by Christophe Appert and Jacques Genin chocolates.
Go here for one of the city’s best croissants—delightfully fluffy with a flaky exterior—not to mention the pain au chocolat or the doughy, buttery Kouign Amann. Cherrier’s bread is also serious business, with flavors (curry multigrain; miso rye) inspired by his travels around the world.
Pâtisserie Yann Couvreur
Gourmands have been flocking to Couvreur’s first pastry shop, which recently opened in lively Goncourt. They come for the 30-something wunderkind’s unique flavor pairings (see café mocha and star anise éclairs) and playful “fugue” (runaway) pastries—prepared on demand, sculptural and seasonally inspired—to be eaten within five minutes. Whether you score a seat at the counter or join the crowd outside, you really must devour his Madagascar-vanilla millefeuille before it loses its delicate crunch.
RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Paris
It’s worth following the masses to the “Picasso of Pastry” turned 2016 World’s Best Pastry Chef. Hermé’s cult-favorite macarons come in unusual, limited-edition flavors (white truffle from Piedmont, black lemon from Persia, foie gras with hazelnut). He also makes excellent truffles and bonbons filled with Corsican honey and matcha-tea ganache, and has a new book—Pierre Hermé & Chocolate—with 50 years of his cocoa-related recipes.
Don’t expect to find baguettes at this historic, family-run boulangerie. It’s all about the miche: handmade loaves of sourdough that are slowly fermented with stone-ground wheat, baked a wood-fired oven, and embossed with a capital P. It’s been this way for three generations, since Lionel Poîlane (who once crafted a bedroom entirely from bread for Salvador Dali) started his artisanal Saint-Germain-des-Prés bakehouse in 1932. Nowadays, it also offers gingerbread, bread chips, and more.