Pastries on display at Arnaud Larhrer's shop. Image courtesy of Arnaud Larhrer.
I’ve been a dedicated follower of pastries since my first trip to Paris at age 15. I remember standing in front of the polished glass display case at Ladurée, beaming beatifically at the jewel-box assortment of sweet treats as if they were Azzedine Alaïa shoes. My love has only deepened over the years. Every time I visit Paris, I make sure to stop at these five wonderful pastry shops to taste old favourites and try new flavours. They make a trip to the world’s most beautiful city even more delicious.
Best Paris pastry shop: Arnaud Larhrer
With its vibrant orange storefront, Arnaud Larhrer is like a beacon of sweet delight on a leafy winding street in Montmartre. Locals and tourists alike gather in front of the beautifully crafted confections in the window: velvety lemon mousse, delicate millefeuilles layered with vanilla bean custard and the Noisette Royale, a creamy hazelnut confection with a crunchy wafer crust, that I rate as the best pastry I’ve eaten in my life.
Other highlights: Don’t miss the Pause Pistache, a shockingly good mix of crème brûlée, Sicilian pistachio Chantilly cream and poached strawberries.
Getting there: 53 rue Caulaincourt; Métro stop: Lamarck-Caulaincourt (18th arrondissement)
Nearby attractions: Sacré-Coeur cathedral, Place du Tertre square, Montmartre Cemetery
Best Paris pastry shop: Gérard Mulot
Gérard Mulot, a pastry chef for more than 30 years, is celebrated for his many delicious offerings: savoury quiches, just-baked bread, creatively flavoured macarons (think orange with a hint of cinnamon). But the most wonderful pastries chez Mulot are his exquisite fruit tarts, which offer an experience in three parts: first, the berries bursting with flavour, then the silky sweet custard flecked with vanilla beans, and finally, the pastry itself, impossibly smooth and butter-rich. My advice? Try everything. Or, at least, order a selection of six tartlets, which come wrapped in a signature pink Mulot box.
Other highlights: The Fraisier, the French take on strawberry shortcake, which is almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
Getting there: Multiple locations, but my favourite is 76, rue de Seine, in the chic Saint Germain du Près neighbourhood. Métro stop: Odeon (6th arrondissement)
Nearby attractions: Luxembourg Gardens, which are less than a five-minute walk away—the perfect place for a pastry-filled picnic.
3 more must-have Parisian pastries on the next page...
The pastry counter at Ladurée. Image courtesy of Ladurée.
Best Paris pastry shop: Ladurée
A pilgrimmage to Ladurée is as much a Parisian rite of passage as paying a visit to the Eiffel Tower. (Hint: Hit the Eiffel Tower after Ladurée, so you can walk off some of your inevitable indulgence.) The macarons are the standout here: bite-size morsels with creative combinations of say, chocolate and lime, or mango paired with jasmine. Delicious, they’re also sufficiently stunning to have been chosen as the royal treat of choice by the famously aesthetically discerning Sofia Coppola for her 2006 film, Marie Antoinette.
Other highlights: The Ispahan, a kind of double decker macaron filled with fresh, tart raspberries, is perfect for a quick snack. For a major raspberry rush, try the St. Honoré Rose Framboise, which combines various cream puffs held together with icing and whipped cream.
Getting there: All the locations are lovely, but the original shop at 16 rue Royale remains the most memorable, in part because of its incredible 19th century frescoes. Métro stop: Madeleine (8th arrondissement)
Nearby attractions: La Madeleine, Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysées
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Best Paris pastry shop: Lenôtre
Lenôtre boasts a history as rich as its pastries. Its eponymous founder, Gaston Lenôtre, was the first French chef to open a chain of high-end pastry shops and, through his cooking school, acted as unofficial mentor of the modern French pastry movement. (Macaron master Pierre Hermé was a former pupil.) In 1960, Lenôtre also gifted the world the Opéra, a refined multi-layered creation consisting of Joconde biscuits soaked in Grand Marnier, butter cream, ganache and chocolate flecked with gold leaf. It’s one of the world’s most wonderful pastries. I had my first one at 15 and I can still remember walking to the Métro through fresh spring breezes, chocolate dusting still on my fingertips, planning to return the next day.
Other highlights: The Strawberry Vanilla Charlotte is a great afternoon tea cake: a simple-yet-sweet mix of strawberries, strawberry mouse and airy lady fingers.
Getting there: Joy is guaranteed at all locations, but if you visit 24, Place des Vosges, you can take your treats to the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris. Métro stop: Saint-Paul (4th arrondissement)
Nearby attractions: The Marais, the Georges Pompidou Centre (one of the city’s must-visit galleries)
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Best Paris pastry shop: Angelina
Angelina is more of a grand café than a pastry shop, but it’s my favourite place in the city to sit down with a cup of something steaming and a plate of something sweet. The majestic room, complete with tableaux and chandeliers, has attracted the chic set since Angelina opened in 1903, counting Coco Chanel among its customers. Today, the fashion crowd indulges in Angelina’s famous chocolat chaud, which is so rich that it’s served with a glass of water.
Other highlights: The glass display case at the front offers a feast for the senses, including the pastry specialty of the house: a Mont-Blanc, made with meringue and silky Chantilly and chesnut cream.
Getting there: 226 rue de Rivoli. Métro stop: Concorde (3rd arrondissement)
Nearby attractions: The Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre