If you’re looking for the heart and soul of a neighbourhood in Paris, follow your nose. The scent of freshly baked bread, warm from the oven, is one of the city’s great delights. Parisians still make a daily pilgrimage to their local boulangerie for crusty baguettes – after all, no meal is truly complete without one to share. In recent years, the best bakery in town has become a hotly contested subject. The scene’s much respected stalwarts now wrestle for the top spots with plucky up-and-comers doing fabulous things with sourdough and heritage flours. Thankfully, it’s no hardship to try as many as you can. From the most traditional to the most experimental, here are the best bakeries in Paris worth a visit.
Legend has it Le Moulin de la Vierge’s original site was saved from a wrecking crew by owner Basil Kamir wielding a shotgun. His old-school bakeries have carefully preserved art nouveau details, such as gilded façades and curlicued shelves; their baked goods equally honour tradition. If the olive-studded fougasse doesn’t catch your eye, the towering raspberry mille-feuille is far too tempting to ignore.
The quality’s next-level at this Canal St-Martin address, run by former chef Anthony Courteille. Made with heritage flours, his slow-proved breads are terrific, from the signature Saint-Martin to the seasonal specials (turmeric and squash, say, or hazelnut and wild garlic). If there are any left, try a chausson aux pommes, with perfectly caramelised apples and flaking, sugar-crusted pastry.
If the original Ten Belles café kickstarted the city’s coffee scene, this sleek new offshoot taps into the sourdough trend. Drop by for an organic loaf, with a matchless taste and texture – or a round of the remarkable chocolate bread. Naturally, its all-day café isn’t for the carb-averse, with a menu that runs from breakfast-time tartines to generous, comté-oozing toasties.
Everything’s organic and gluten-free at this stylish bakery, which mills its own rice and buckwheat flours in the south of France. Its staples run from seeded, five-grain loaves to olive-spiked focaccia, while the moreish pain de sucre is laced with orange-blossom water. Head to the airy café for sandwiches and home-made soups, followed by a decadent, meringue-topped lemon tart.
This small but ambitious boulangerie does a roaring trade, so turn up early or prepare to wait in line. It’s famous in foodie circles for its boundary-pushing breads and pastries – like the playful black sesame éclair. Every week brings a bold new invention, from colourful hibiscus sourdough to wildly creative cakes, spiked with unusual ingredients like dill or kaffir lime.
Whether it’s a simple, oven-fresh baguette, or something a little more complex, like a crème-filled religieuse, French baking is hard to beat. But there are also marvels in French bakeries not made of flour and butter.
We’ve found 4 #nofilter-worthy boulangeries with incredible décor and photogenic displays.
Brimming with Belle Époque grandeur, the painted exterior of this 19th-century bakery is enough to stop you in your tracks. Step inside and you’re in a mini Versailles, with a painted-tile ceiling and crystal chandeliers.
The décor may be historic but the exquisite bread and pâtisseries are the freshest, created by Academie du Pain founder Christian Vabret.
Christophe Vasseur opened the place of his dreams in a shuttered 19th-century boulangerie with fancy painted-glass ceilings and huge gilded mirrors. The Belle Époque décor also inspired his dedication to selling only traditional bread and pâtisserie.
Locals flock here for signature products like the poppy-seed rye bread and chocolate-and-pistachio escargot pastries.
Like owner François Brault’s own conversion from financial analyst to baker, this store is styled with lovingly-converted pieces, such as a lamp from the old Concorde hangar, and offcuts of old wooden mouldings.
Brault’s focus is specialty breads made with organic leaven and rare wheats such as kamut, as well as a range of ‘naturally without gluten’ breads.
For Gaudard, whose father was a well-known pastry chef, his metier is all about reviving the pleasurable sensations of childhood. So, moving away from his creative past under famed pâtissier Pierre Hermé, he now focuses on perfecting traditional French recipes, such as the Paris-Brest, as well as his father’s signature Mussipontain, a light meringue cake filled with vanilla cream.
His new shop’s beautifully photogenic, with its marble counters, gilt fittings and flea-market finds.