Paris was my first home; the 7th arrondissement, a few blocks flanked by blvd. St. Germain, rue du Bac and the rue de Grenelle that housed the poisonnier, boulanger and tabac where my Mamie and I greeted, shopped for and indulged every afternoon. As I grew and the city’s reach did, my little world expanded to include the 6th and its new chocolatiers. I return as often as I can, gleefully watching the renaissance of chocolate, bread and patisseries, mirroring the burgeoning artisanal movements in the States, expanding beyond the tony streets of the city’s interior and into the cobbled alleyways and outer reaches of Paris.
6th and 7th arrondissement:
Barthelemy 51 rue de Grenelle
Nicole Barthelemy’s tiny fromagerie holds the most poignant (and pungent) olfactory memories of my childhood. My grandmother and I, following a pastis prerequisite, would head to the back right corner of the store and get their famous Boulamour, a generous dome of fresh cow’s milk cheese enrobed in rum-soaked raisins. This tiny cheese shop is everything that means everything to Paris; it’s been there forever, is still run by the same family, curates beautifully and makes no apologies for its midday closures.
Thierry Marx 53 rue de Grenelle
Croissant connaisseurs fall into two camps: classic, light, slightly custardy croissants with a delicate, malted and sweet & tangy flavor and the newer, more bien cuit, butter-bombs that shatter to the touch, and those in between. We could go much deeper into this wormhole, but Marx’s location anchoring the newly opened Beau Passage ushers in a newer, darker era of laminated pastries. Everything in this shop looks beautiful, but looks aren’t everything.
Des Gateaux et du Pain 89 rue du Bac
A lovely, tiny and fine patisserie on my favorite street.
Patisserie des Reves 93 rue du Bac
This little shop is famous for its laminated brioche and other-worldly creations. Buy one of their entremets if nothing else but to see their domed displays unveil the sweet creations.
Jacques Genin 27 rue d Varenne
Passion. Fruit. Caramels.
Le Bon Marche 24 rue de Sevres
If Dean & Deluca and Saks had a baby back in 1838, this would be it. Spanning two square blocks in two grand buildings, the Epicerie section of this venerable behemoth is not to be missed. The (four) chocolate aisles are filled with craft and couverture chocolates and bars, the confections section is dreamy and upstairs, the cafe features an impressive number of good laminated pastries.
Poilane 8 rue du Cherche-Midi
Poilane is the most venerated boulangerie with a cult-like following at home and abroad (yes, you can have a loaf mailed to you as far as Los Angeles). You’ll find the sliced loaves at supermarkets around Paris, but the tiny storefront in this arrondissement has boules and miches as high as the eye can see and the warm, familiar smells of freshly baked loaves emanating from the ovens below.
Jules + Emile 2 rue Vavin
I had been wandering around the city for over a week, looking high and low for any bread baker who could not only name the wheat they were working with, but had been to the farms and knew how to mill, when I stumbled upon a father and son farmer/miller/baker team who were opening their Paris outpost that very morning (let’s be clear: I was on a mission to get my hands on Roger’s chocolates- see below). This Spelt loaf, studded with sprouted grains, was the best-tasting bread of the entire trip.
Patrick Roger 108 blvd St Germain
Roger is the King of chocolate making in France (just try and prove me wrong). His eccentricity is matched by a restraint meant to let the allow the fresh flavors of his ganaches and fillings, cultivated and crafted from his garden and hives outside of Paris, shine. Budget a fair amount of time and euros here; the staff is open, friendly and helpful.
The 2nd arrondissement is lively, diverse and home to the most interesting mix of new boulangers.
Boulangerie de Nil 7 rue du Nil
This itty bitty boulangerie is a stone’s throw from Echo Deli and has the best whole grain loaves in the neighborhood. It is clear from everyone from the owner to the staff that their mission is use the best stone ground flours available (and how to describe their flavor profile. Merci!
Echo Deli 95 rue D’Aboukir
Neither a bakery, chocolate shop or boulangerie, this L.A.-chef run hipster cafe serves up avocado toast (on the Boulangerie de Nil around the corner) with a fresh California vibe.
Boulangerie Meunier 181 rue Saint-Denis
Large trays of soft brioche buns and tidy rows of perfectly imperfect eclairs welcome the most harried commuters in; this perfect blend of industrial chic and the warmth of a neighborhood bakery makes this my favorite place to sit, sip and indulge.
Storher 51 rue Montorgueil
It’s the oldest patisserie in Paris and worth it for the small, precious macarons and entremets.
L’academie du Pain 30 rue D’Alesia
This corner bakery feels as much like a tabac than a boulangerie, but their baguettes are lovely. You can book a bread baking class here as well!
Dominique Saibron 77 avenue General Leclerc
This rather large bakery features breads- which are pretty good- but the tarts in the window, with their frangipane, honey glaze and seasonal fruits are the bee’s knees (see the winged guests in the photo).
Le Quartier du Pain 93 rue Raymond Losserand
Du Pain et Des Idées (MY FAVORITE IN PARIS) 34 rue Yves Toudic
Did I mention this is my favorite place in Paris? This sweet boulangerie knows which lane to stay in; they’ve got a few base doughs that get fruit, flours and fillings changed up seasonally (THE FIG TART)! and simple viennoiseries with blend a new-school, caramelized finish with tender, light-as-air crumb with the sweet tang of a longer fermentation that made us fall in love with yeasted doughs.
Liberte 39 rue des Vinaigriers
Some of the best breads in the city in a space that feels more industrial that a traditional neighborhood joint. Their miche is fantastic and, like most of the boulangers in the city, allow you to purchase the bread in half or quarter loaves.
Lendemaine 130 rue de la Roquette
This famous bread bakery is closed on Thursdays, the one day I had to return to the 10th, so you’ll have to take the word of the locals about how fantastic their boules are.