In advance of every holiday, I do some research into the crème de la crème of the “bakery and pâtisserie” offerings of a city. I don’t recall when my obsession with amazing cakes began, but I do know that it’s a passion that will have staying power for life.
When it comes to eating, I’ve always had the philosophy that you save the best for last. My second (and third) stomach for dessert has always managed to come through even in the face of the most hearty of meals.
When I landed in Tokyo in 2015, my first inclination after deplaning was to directly beeline to the quiet and unassuming doors of Hidemi Sugino, named Asia’s best Pastry Chef in 2015. The sublimely luxurious mousse cakes are made in limited quantities, but my cousin and I managed to lay claim to the few remaining slices before the store closed for the day.
Paris, as one can imagine, is home to what can only be described as a mythical paradise turned reality for my aesthetic and sensory consumption. No visit to Paris is complete without enjoying the exquisite pastries, tempting breads, and delicate cakes that leave you enthralled by first encounter. Paris comes in as the city that I’ve visited the most aside from my hometown of Vancouver – so I’ve had some time to eat my way through the city. In the face of globalization and mass manufacturing, Paris still manages to retain the quality boulangeries and pâtisseries culture. Being there was reminiscent of a time when life was slower and when one could take the time to enjoy a coffee and a tarte while reading the paper. 2019 is the year to improve my French!
Below here is a round-up of some of my favorite pâtisseries and bakeries that will leave you with a feeling that no city in the world can do a refined and simple decadence like Paris can.
Upon arrival at Cyril Lignac’s doors, a sense of pleasant order and arrangement greets you. Lignac is the owner of several restaurants in Paris, including Michelin starred La Quinzième. The service here is impeccable and for someone who is neurotically fastidious, I felt right at home. I purchased two of their divine chocolate bars (Sesame-Green Tea and a Dark Chocolate from Papua New Guinea). The sesame and green tea ingredients were perfectly embedded in the center of each chocolate square. I also picked up an Equinoxe (featured below) and a Paris-Brest. It’s easy to have a ball here!
Although Pierre Hermé sells an assortment of pastries, teas, and candles, their signature masterpiece lies in their macarons. I decided to bring some back stateside with me and picked out some unexpected flavors for macarons such as caviar (Petrossian caviar & walnut liqueur) and noisette et fois gras (Piedmont hazelnuts & foie gras). My favorite is still the classic rose. Pierre Hermé is also known for their Ispahan collection (rose petals and raspberry).
Brach is a buzzing new restaurant in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. My friend Paul (my host in Paris) and his girlfriend Gabrielle live in the neighborhood, so they decided to take me on a jaunt to the latest addition in their locale. While Brach serves as a restaurant, bar and pâtisserie all rolled into one, my eyes and feet dashed immediately towards the layout of pastries! Designed by French designer, Phillipe Starck, the space oozes of modern luxury with a design slant. Take a look at the adorable green apple cake below!
I have visited Des Gâteaux et du Pain each time I’ve come to Paris. It was rare to read about a female pastry chef in the many reviews of Paris bakeries, so I always like to pay homage. The pear tart is elegantly scrumptious. I also bought lots of bread here!
Here are a few other bakeries and stores that I loved:
À La Mère De Famille – I always buy chocolates from here to bring back for my family. The packaging, taste and displays are 10/10.
Angelina – If you’re looking for hot chocolate, this is where you find it.
Le Grand Epicierie – This is a heavenly landmark for fine groceries and gifts owned by LVMH. I walked out of here with bags full of teas, biscuits, chocolates, honey, and all sorts of goods that Paul and Gabrielle helped me pick out.
If you have the chance, pick up a box of Clipper’s gingerbread and citron infusion from Monoprix (2-3 Euros). If you’ve indulged in all the delicacies that Paris has to offer, you’ll need a detox!
May your life always have a bit of sweetness in it!