Paris by Sweet Tooth: A Tour of Paris’ Best Bakeries
By Antonia Opiah
It’s been over two years since I quit my job and moved to Paris. (Details about that here for those who are interested). And a good part of the time I’ve spent here so far has been dedicated to discovering some of Paris’s most delectable treats! For those who like to enjoy a city’s sweeter offerings, I present to you the result of my two-year “study”: a tour of Paris’s tastiest bakeries and chocalateries.
Miss Cupcake in Montmartre
Start at the top of Paris in Montmartre (the neighborhood on a hill) and pop into Miss Cupcake. Cupcakes aren’t very French. In fact, Miss Cupcake is one of the few places you’ll actually find a cupcake in Paris, but this will be a good primer for the more French pastries ahead. Among the classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla, you’ll find a menu of flavors that changes each day. Each visit will offer something new.
An Award-Winning Bakery in the 9th
While you’re in Montmartre feel free to take in the view at Sacré Coeur, then make your way down to the 9th district (on the south side of the hill) where you’ll find popular bakery Arnaud Del Montel on 39 rue des Martyrs (note: they’re not open on Tuesdays).
The bakery won the 2007 prize for the Best Baguette in Paris, but when you visit you’ll likely be more interested in the array of pastries on display. I recommend the chocolate dome-looking cake, which is unexpectedly light and has a nice surprise in the center. But you really can’t go wrong with anything they have to offer. While you’re there you might as well pick up a macaron or two.
While you’re in the area, if you want to take a pit stop from sweets, wander over to Hotel Amour, which is right around the corner for Del Montel. I’m not a fan of the food, but it has a great ambiance. Be sure to sit in the covered garden. Alternatively, while still in the 9th, you can stop by one of my favorite spots, Privé de Dessert, where all the main plates are savory meals that are presented as desserts. You’ll find french fries in the form of churros and burgers (with a veggie option) in the form of a Paris Brest. It’s a fun and tasty experience.
The Sugary Marais
Make your way down toward the center of Paris and dive into the Marais, a neighborhood that’s often likened to New York’s Soho. There’s a couple places to explore here. Let’s start with the chocolaterie!
When you google ‘best cafe’ or ‘best chocolate in Paris,’ Jacques Genin comes up as one of the first places in the results. Genin is known for experimenting with flavors and fusing his exposure to Japanese cuisine with French sensibilities, which he does in his laboratory right above his beautifully designed cafe/chocolate shop. I love popping in here after a long day of walking around in the 3rd district. It’s a great place to have a cup of tea or coffee and indulge in the Mille-feuille they’re known for. Only problem is there’s always a bit of wait to get a seat. But it’s definitely worth it if you have the time.
After Jacques Genin (or perhaps before) walk about 5 minutes to Pain de Sucre. This place is pretty popular, but I only just gave it a try. Like many of the places on this list, there’s so many wonderful yummies to choose from here, so you might be a little overwhelmed. Let your senses guide you when selecting a treat. You really can’t go wrong. But do get a couple macarons. They’re a little on the pricey side, but they’re worth every penny. (Personally, Pain de Sucre is my new favorite macaron spot.)
La Durée vs. Pierre Hermé in Saint Germain
It wouldn’t be a trip to Paris without getting some of the classics. La Durée is famous for its macarons, and you can now find them in many cities outside France but that shouldn’t stop you from paying a visit to their Saint Germain location on 21 rue Bonaparte. From there Piere Hermé (the macaron-erie of choice for locals) is a five minute walk at 72 rue Boneparte. Grab your macrons to go and head over to Café de Flore at 172 boulevard Saint Germain (a see-and-be-seen tourist trap, but a must-do either way) and sip espresso while letting your tastebuds decide which macaron takes the gold.
Something Marvelous Under Something Marvelous
I’ve saved the best for last, and I’m going to make you take a bit of a hike for it. Hop on the nearest metro and make your way over to the 16th district where you’ll find the most delicious dessert in the world at Aux Merveilleux de Fred on 29 Rue de l’Annonciation. There’s actually quite a few locations, but going to the one in the 16th will put you in a neighborhood that I find underrated.
The 16th is like the Upper East Side of New York. It’s neighborhood-y and relatively quiet but has beautiful architecture and can be quite bustling in the area where you’ll find our last dessert. It’s hard to even describe the Merveilleux … it’s just a mouthful of love, happiness and everything that’s good in the world. You can watch the bakers make it through the window. It comes in around four flavors. Get all four! …and maybe two of the Speculos. You’ll thank me later.
While in the area you can end your day by walking through the neighborhood and finding little-known views of the Eiffel Tour, or you can walk a few minutes directly over to Champs de Mars and enjoy your baked good under Paris’ most iconic structure.
I'm the founder of Un-ruly.com, a site dedicated to Black hair and content that creates conversations around both the surface and profound levels about image and identity. Through Un-ruly I a short film called "You Can Touch My Hair" and recently released, "Pretty," a documentary series that looks at beauty across the globe. I moved to Paris some years ago to learn French and have been enjoying being able to easily jump from country-to-country within Europe.