I’ve been away this weekend enjoying the food and festivities at Eat Drink Blog in Brisbane. While I recover from an excess of food and wine, Laura has generously written a post covering her time spent eating the best pastries in the world. Thanks Laura!
We are in Paris for a week, it is our second last night and we feel like we are getting the hang of things – shopping at the little bakeries, butchers and greengrocer around our neighbourhood, even managing to be understood when ordering in French. We have mastered public transport. So, full of this local Parisian confidence we head out for an evening stroll, just taking a camera, a few euros and the keys. It is all very pleasant, walking in the park, along the streets and ending up with the goal of the walk – a view of the arch de triomphe. As we take a different route home I turn to see a look on my husbands face that causes my heart to sink – a look of complete alarm followed by a truly horrifying phrase: “the keys have gone”. All thoughts turn to the fact that while I have become great at ordering a coffee (and maybe it was just because ‘café’ is almost universal), I am by no means capable of explaining my way out of this one in French. But this is not a post about husbands who put keys in a pocket they know has a hole in it. This is a post about silver linings.
The owner of the apartment is on a ferry in Greece somewhere. There is a concierge who has a key but we know she doesn’t speak English and even if she did we don’t know where she is. We have a key-code for the building but no keys. So before we spend our few euros on an internet café to get the owner’s mobile number from an email and a pay phone to try to call him – we try our neighbour. We have not seen or heard from this person during our time in Paris and ring the doorbell with trepidation. The door opens on a young French man. To cut a long story short he spoke English, called the concierge, took us to her apartment, got us a spare key and invited us over for wine and cheese the next day. This is where the silver lining comes in. This is when we met his girlfriend Louise.
Of all the neighbours to have in Paris probably the best would be Louise. She is a food blogger and not just that, she is a food blogger whose interest is in patisseries. And she wants to give us tips. We decide to forget all plans for our last day (who really wants to go to the Louvre?) and undertake a culinary tour of Paris.
Stop 1 – Boulangerie de Pichard.
Address: 88 Rue Cambronne 75015.
This is a double whammy with the promise of the best baguette and croissant in Paris. The store itself is a simple bakery with no option to eat in. Two cabinets line either side of the shop, filled with sweet pastries and baked goods, the back of the store has a counter filled with croissants, pain-au-chocolat and baguettes. We order 2 croissants and a Pichard baguette. The croissants are crispy and buttery with no hint of dryness and no need for the addition of anything – perfection. The baguette is rumoured to use wheat that is hand selected by Pichard himself and has a solid crustiness without being heavy. This is a good start.
Stop 2 – Jaques Genin.
Address: 133 Rue de Turenne 75003
Here is the money-stop. In Louise’s words this is where we will get “the best pastry in Paris and thus The World”. The shop is a classy joint, not what I expected, sleek and minimalist with seemingly an overabundance of staff with white cotton gloves making up chocolate boxes. We sit in the café and order the pièce de résistance, the lemon tart plus the degustation of caramels which also has Louise’s tick of approval. The tart is extremely tangy with the interesting addition of mint on the surface. The best of the caramels was the passionfruit, which had a great mix of sweet/tart. A free selection of chocolates tops off the tasting.
Stop 3 – Hugo Desnoyer
Address: 28, rue du Docteur Blanche75016
This is where we deviated from pastries for a while. Hugo Desnoyer is a butcher, and you guessed it – the best butcher in Paris. Apparently he supplies all the palaces in France. He has a shop which is a combination of butcher and a very small restaurant where you can eat a plate of the day. We were unable to get a table (and really didn’t feel like eating at this point!) but we did pick up a piece of steak which we cooked for dinner that night. If that piece of steak was anything to go by, that restaurant would be top of my list of places to try on return.
Stop 4 – Patisserie de Reves
Address: 93 Rue de Bac, 75007
We dropped in to this patisserie as our final stop. It had a futuristic feel, everything was under glass domes and when you ordered the food came up behind the counter in some variety of dumb-waiter. The other oddity was the woman who served us apologised profusely for not speaking better English. You don’t see that very often in Paris! We ordered the specialty, the Paris-Brest, two layers of pastry with a praline filling. We took it home with the intention of eating it in the morning as we were still stuffed from the earlier pastry gorging. We tried a small bite each after dinner and immediately ate the whole thing. The praline cream was the perfect amount of sweetness, not at all sickly or overbearing and the pastry had the texture of éclair pastry. A perfect end to our culinary day.
If you happen to find yourself in Paris and looking for tips on what to eat from the abundance of options, these would be great places to start. It was probably best that we only found them near the end or we would be about 5kgs heavier and would have neglected to see any of the sights!
The woman who made it all possible – Lousie Chauchard: Raid’s Patisserie
Words and photos by Laura Bullock.
Featured Image by Florian Lacombe via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons licence.