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 six 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.