The Best Pastries in Paris :: Top 17 Pâtisseries

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What are the best pastries in Paris? After eating nearly 300 pâtisseries from dozens of the most famous pastry shops, I’ve come to an elite list of 17 unforgettable masterpieces. Consider it your shopping list next time you’re here.

If you’re wondering, “Why 17?” That’s simple. There’s more than a “Top 10” of the best pastries, or even 15, and yet there were not 20. This is not an arbitrary list; it’s the culmination of hundreds of hours of savoring and cataloging the great pastries of Paris. This is Paris Pâtisseries’ 17 Best Pastries in Paris for 2010

Remember that you can follow my adventures with hundreds more when you “like” the Paris Pâtisseries Facebook Page.

#1 Hugo Chocolat by Hugo & Victor

Hugo & Victor :: Hugo Chocolat

The Hugo Chocolat is a pastry connoisseur’s fantasy. Tanzanian chocolate combines with the exotic Venezuelan tonka bean and lime to dazzle your palate and leave you speechless. Not necessarily for those who would prefer an excellent cream puff or classic macaron as their Parisian pastry experience, this is for those in search of the exquisite and the cutting edge.

#2 Tarte Framboise Pistache by Pascal Caffet

Pascal Caffet :: Tarte Framboise Pistache

Ruby-red raspberries, rich pistachio crème, complex and slightly chewy pistachio frangipan, with a hint of curry-like tones, and a sweet tart shell unite for one of the most incredible experiences of texture and flavor . . . ever.

#3 Tarte Vanille Infiniment by Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé :: Tarte Vanille Infiniment

Do you love all-things vanilla? Then your life is truly not complete until you’ve indulged in Hermé’s Tarte Vanille. Luxuriously smooth and exploding with vanilla flavor, this is the one pastry on this list most likely to please anyone of any age and any level of pastry snobbery.

#4 Tarte au Caramel Beurre Salé by Sadaharu Aoki

Sadaharu Aoki :: Tarte Caramel au Beurre Salé

Imagine if a Twix bar were made of the absolute finest ingredients available, contained five times as much caramel in every bite, had its waxen chocolate swapped out for concentric rings of cocoa-dusted silky-smooth milk chocolate crème, and possessed a cookie base that was instead a crumbly buttery expertly-prepared tarte shell. That gives you a vague idea of how incredible Aoki’s Tarte au Caramel is.

#5 Alliance by La Pâtisserie des Rêves

La Pâtisserie des Rêves :: Alliance

A laughably bland exterior hides one of the most elegant flavor combinations. White chocolate mousse, apricot, and hazelnut biscuit are the three simple constituents of this brilliant piece by pastry guru Philippe Conticini. Don’t let the outside steer you away; this is #5 on the list for a reason. It is phenomenal.

#6 Marie-Antoinette by Carl Marletti

Carl Marletti :: Marie Antoinette

Take one macaron shell, fill it with raspberry syrup, encircle that with fresh raspeberries, add a generous mound of rose-flavored crème, and top it off with another macaron shell sprinkled with candied violettes. Very similar to Hermé’s and Ladurée’s Ispahans, but far better, this version has no litchi, swapping it instead for the aforementioned raspberry syrup.

#7 Grand Cru by La Pâtisserie des Rêves

La Patisserie des Reves :: Grand Cru

There are desserts for people who love chocolate, and then there’s the Grand Cru, the dessert for people who wish it were legally possible to marry a mountain of it. This is perhaps the greatest pure chocolate dessert known to man. Successive layers of Venezuelan chocolate preparations (mousse, ganache and biscuit) rest above an ultra-thin layer of praliné croustillant, which adds just the right touch of character.

#8 Millefeuille by Pain de Sucre

Pain de Sucre :: Millefeuille

An ooey-gooey fantasy millefeullie like you can’t imagine. It’s an absolutely perfect expression of this French classic – and from one of the most fanciful and idyllic pâtisseries in Paris. Go to the shop, stare at their gorgeous ceiling for a few minutes, and walk out with one of these in-hand and in-mouth. It’s a Parisian pastry experience you won’t forget.

#9 Belle Helene by Carl Marletti

Carl Marletti :: Belle Hélène

Much like #2 on the list, Carl Marletti’s Belle Helene is an ultimate expression of texture and balance in flavors. A simple tarte crust, with a surprisingly complex range of flavors in itself, cups chocolate, nuts and pears – all crowned with a dollop of mascarpone. Stunning.

#10 Fleur d’Oranger Macarons by Ladurée

Laduree :: Fleur d'Oranger Macarons

Like eating springtime. Impossible to explain without experiencing them first-hand, the highly floral flavor and signature delicate frame of the Ladurée macaron make it intoxicatingly delicious. If you enjoy rose or lavender flavored pastries and confections, there’s an excellent chance these will blow your mind.

#11 Cheese-Cake Citron by Sadaharu Aoki

Sadaharu Aoki :: Cheese-Cake Citron

Absolutely the most controversial item of the list. As a cheesecake lover, you will either adore this or pass entirely – the same as happens with any other cheesecake you eat. Aoki’s take is relatively light and decidedly tangy with a perfectly chosen level of sweetness and pop of lemon flavor. If lighter, more nuanced cheesecake is your preference, this could be one of your all-time favorites.

#12 Victor Fraise Millefeuille by Hugo & Victor

Hugo & Victor :: Victor Fraise Millefeuille

Imagine hundreds of layers of insanely thin pastry sandwiching an intensely flavorful, yet wonderfully delicate and acidicly pert strawberry cream, dotted with strawberries. It contains about 1/3 the sugar of most other strawberry millefeuille, so those looking for a classic strawberry millefeuille are better served by visiting Laduree or Carl Marletti. However, if you’ve ever wanted a millefeuille that felt fresh and satisfying, rather than heavy and overbearing, look no further.

#13 Caramel au Beurre Salé Macarons by Pain de Sucre

Hugo & Victor :: Caramel au Beurre Salé Macarons

While most caramel macarons merely have some flavor of caramel, Pain de Sucre gives you a delicious oozing blob of it between two pumpkin-orange-colored macaron halves, which have a chewy texture and flavor reminiscent of Bit-o-Honey candy. Almost more like a confection than pastry, these are obscenely tasty.

#14 Lily-Valley by Carl Marletti

Carl Marletti :: Lily-Valley

Few pastries capture the storybook fantasy of Parisian pâtisseries so well – loaded with violet cream, glazed with violet icing, and garnished with a flare violet-flavored violet sugar artistry. Whether you love anything this color, love eating violet-flavored anything, or love its beautifully frilly looks, you’re sure to fall for the Lily-Valley.

#15 Victor Abricot Éclair by Hugo & Victor

Hugo & Victor :: Victor Abricot Éclair

Like virtually all Hugo & Victor pieces, the Victor Abricot Éclair is an incomparable expression of flavor. The choux pastry, apricot and crème alone are all that is needed to make the piece magic, but the addition of a fine wafer of white chocolate top it all adds a subtle element of optional sweetness to this new spin on a classic.

#16 Éclair Sesame Noir by Sadaharu Aoki

Sadaharu Aoki :: Éclair au Sésame Noir

With all the off-beat combinations available in Parisian pastry, this stands out more than any other. Black sesame seeds and a sweet creamy éclair might seem like the last two things that should ever come in contact with one another, but the duo is addictive. And while the exterior has a defined eastern minimalism, the interior is bursting with the gorgeous blue-lavender tones and dark specks of black sesame.

#17 Croissant Ispahan by Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé :: Croissant Ispahan

Regular butter croissants are technically termed viennoiseries, not pastries, but this is not your ordinary croissant. Glazed, sprinkled with candied rose petals, and filled with rose pâte, it can propel any dreams you have of Parisian café life into the stratosphere. Snagging one of these before walking a few blocks over to the famed Luxembourg Gardens is a prescription for an indelible memory.


………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

You might be curious why Gerard Mulot, Lenôtre, Dalloyau, Stohrer, Secco, Delmontel, Larher and many others you’ve heard of are not on the list. That is because their work, while generally good, is rarely great. Even the fabled Ladurée only makes one appearance, and I ate there practically every single day for months on-end. While it was impossible for me to go literally everywhere and eat everything, in general, it’s not for lack of exposure to their pieces that many of these well-known shops don’t have better representation here.

Des Gâteaux et Du Pain, Jean-Paul Hevin and several others, who produce consistently excellent pastries, are just outside the “Top 17″. Were I to rank the shops based on their entire body of work, as I will one day, rather just individual pieces, that’s when such pâtisseries would begin to appear.

Keep in mind that not everyone will love everything on the list. That is why I’ve included brief descriptions to help you marry the visuals with the taste experience. For instance, the Victor Fraise Millefeuille has very little sugar in it; even though it’s full of strawberries and crème, it won’t taste sticky sweet. The Grand Cru by La Pâtisserie des Rêves is a square made purely of different preparations of dark chocolate; some would kill to eat this – others might find it far too rich. And Aoki’s Éclair Sesame Noir is an éclair filled with black sesame seeds and crème, which is most definitely not for everyone.

So if you’re in Paris, are headed there soon, or simply wish you could be . . . which of these is the most tempting for you? Please share a comment. I’d love to hear what’s grabbed your attention.

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35 Responses to “ The Best Pastries in Paris :: Top 17 Pâtisseries ”

  1. Hélène says:

    I am very happy to see the tarte infiniment vanille and the grand cru in your list. I have my work cut out for me on my next visit in november since these are the only ones I have tried on your list! I will bring your list along for sure.
    Hélène

  2. Louise says:

    Oh my, what a cracker of a post. My only sadness is that I have just returned from a trip to Paris, and it'll be at least a few years before I get back to try out some of these glorious triumphs of the patissier's art.

  3. Captain Croissant says:

    I think I managed to try five of these on my last trip. I can't wait to get back to Paris to try to the other twelve!!! I will have to mark their stores on a map and make sure to stop by when I'm in the area. The Tarte Vanille Infinement was definitely my favorite so far. I was trying to figure out how to incorporate that into every meal ("Monsieur Sommelier, what type of wine would you recommend to go with this. . ."). And yes the fleur d'oranger is like eating springtime (one of those flavors you can't quite describe because it would be like, as you once said, "discovering a new color"). Thanks again for the list.

  4. elena says:

    Not "Paris Pâtisseries’ 17 Best Pastries in Paris for 2010", but "Paris Pâtisseries’ 17 Best Pastries in Paris for the first half of 2010"

    I hope you will give a similar top at the end of the year :)

    • Paris Patisseries says:

      True. But the title was already so long ;) There are a lot of seasonal pieces to come in the next few months. But much of what's on this list are year-round pastries — pretty much everything except the ones with fruit.

  5. Suzan says:

    We have very similar (discerning) tastes! J'adore Pierre Herme!

  6. Luke says:

    I'm surprised the Croissant Isphan made the list… the gelee looked awfully firm in your cross-section pix and a pate de fruits wedged into a laminated dough kind of makes my headache. That said, I'd absolutely kill for one of the Eclair Sesame Noir, and the Vanille Infiniment certainly piques my interest in a big way–though I'd not kick any of these out of bed, that's for sure.

    You've not posted the Lily-Valley yet, no? I have absolutely no benchmark for violet as a *flavor*, so looking forward to that!

    • Paris Patisseries says:

      Hi, Luke. Oddly, the rose goo in the croissant is not too firm, but it does sure look like it! As I said in the review, internal aesthetics aren't so hot :( But if you close your eyes, it's amazing. Trust me, if I found the texture even mildly disturbing, it would have been off the list.

      I have not posted about half of these yet, including the Lily-Valley. It's Carl Marletti's most "fabulous" (you know what I mean ;) ) creation. – PP

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  8. elena says:

    Pain de Sucre has an odd macaron flavour: "fleur de sureau" – have you tried it?

  9. chelsea says:

    I am going to Paris for the first time in September and I cannot wait to try some of these! (especially #1, 2, 8, 17). Thank you for doing all the research and compiling this list. I feel prepared to take on the patisserie shops!

    • Paris Patisseries says:

      Hi, Chelsea. You will love them, I'm sure! Tragically, #2 no longer exists in Paris, as Pascal Caffet closed his shop there. I just had to keep it on the list, since it was a patisserie in Paris until a few weeks ago. Anyway, all your other favorites are regular, non-seasonal items. Just wait until you see Hugo & Victor's shop, too. It's gonna blow your mind :) – PP

  10. Cam says:

    What a labor of love! Dorie Greenspan just wrote an article about H&V and I started pooling drool even more. Then the death anvil came—his shop is closed the first two weeks of August when I am there!

    Thank you for the listing of the other shops. I'm going to have to make do.

    • Paris Patisseries says:

      That's so funny that Dorie just covered them. Her article in April was not so kind. Anyway, not only did I meet with Hugues Pouget last Monday, he made two of his pastries for me and my camera. And the photos I got . . . spectacular. If you liked Dorie's piece, just wait . . . :)

  11. [...] ends for this project.  I hope you enjoy it and learn as much as I do! Joining us today, we have Paris Patisseries with an article entitled The Best Pastries in Paris: Top 17 Patisseries.  [...]

  12. Monika says:

    You made me want to go to Paris now! And try all 17 of them ;)

  13. Nicole says:

    Hi, first-time commenter, so please excuse the mini-novel!

    My greatest regret may be that I discovered your blog less than a week after I had just spent two weeks in Paris, for the first time, and wandered aimlessly through every street wishing I could eat, chronicle, and discuss every delicate pastry I found in their beautiful display cases. Some – but few – were disappointing, and many I ached to buy off the shelves but could not run the chance with my very limited student budget… if I ever step foot in Paris again, this will be my Bible, prices be damned. ;)

    Just to say, for all of us in America with little better than line-manufactured Entemann's to corrupt our palette – thank you for this blog. It's just what I hoped had existed, and your way with a camera is only matched by your way with words. I feel if I ate it, it wouldn't be as eloquent and descriptive of an experience as your descriptions. So as a foodie and a reading-nerd, your talent is much appreciated. ;) I'd like to know – what inspired this journey? And (I have to be a girl) how did you do this, afford it, and NOT gain 300 pounds?

    On the actual Top 17 post: Laduree` Fleur d'Oranger macaron was tasty, with a unique and clean taste, but I personally was blown away by their cassis macaron. The airport workers in the security line looked at me like I was insane for how big I was grinning!

    And… by chance, did you ever run across a patisserie selling 'baguettes magique'?

    • Paris Patisseries says:

      Hi, Nicole. The mini-novel is cool with me. I'm sorry to hear you wandered aimlessly through Paris. Although I had done some research before my first trip, I felt the same way . . . a lot of info out there pointed me in the wrong direction. That's part of why I came up with the blog. For as many people go to Paris for pastry, there was so little unbiased and well-informed info out there for them to tap. Plus, most of it's very outdated. La Patisserie des Reves, Carl Marletti and Hugo & Victor are all less than 2 years old, so most lists make no reference to their greatness.

      Thanks for the kind words on the photos and writing. As for what inspired it all – that, too, is a novella. Maybe I'll post a blog entry one day that explains it all. I don't know how to encapsulate in a few sentences. As for the other questions . . . I have my own business and can work online anywhere, so that helped ;) I afforded it by renting a cheaper apartment in Paris than I had in DC + trimming back my usual spending. And I did gain about 10-12lbs., but I intentionally lost 20lbs. in the months before the trip, so it all worked out.

      You know, cassis is my all-time favorite Laduree macaron. If you skim back through past entries I have, you'll find one where I refer to it as Divinely inspired. But the Top 17 wasn't just about what I liked or what was amazing. It was what was amazing + what was peerless + what suited tastes beyond my own. If I did it just on what I liked to eat, it would look a lot different. I had to be impartial. There are cassis macarons that semi-approximate Laduree's, but there's nothing remotely close to their Fleur d'Oranger.

      And I did not come across baguette magique, but now I'd like to. The coolest bread I ever found was La Patisserie des Reves' brioche. It's ridiculously awesome. – PP

  14. Nicole says:

    Haha! Perhaps you should do a list of your personal favorites sometime, too… a little personal opinion is good to hear, as long as you give a disclaimer. Either way, thanks again – I don't feel as if I missed out on all the pastries when I get to see them here.

    As for the baguettes… I snapped a picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/52624583@N02/4851675...
    I saw them the third day in Paris, I can't even recall where… the five of us just had to stop dead and laugh. After all the creative works of pastry cream and art we'd passed – THIS was the one titled 'magique'! We weren't brave enough to try them, I'd been on a quest to find my first macaron and couldn't be distracted.

    • Paris Patisseries says:

      Those certainly do appear to be magique. I'm surprised Laduree doesn't carry something similar. I can see it being a big hit in their tea rooms.

  15. courtney says:

    oh so sad that most all of these shops are shut now for the holidays. sigh… i pressed my face against the glass at pain de sucre – scouring for just one millefeuille left dangling… but nothing. :(

  16. Not a cracker but just someone who has loved Paris pastries for a long time and is happy to read someone else's opinion. Nothing more. People so passionnate about pastries are hard to come by.

  17. ron mendoza says:

    a few months ago i spent a few days in Paris. tried to hit most of the big spots. pierre herme's vanilla tart was mind blowing. how something seemingly simple can achieve so much is amazing. his rose croissant was also brilliant. loved aoki's pastries. if you rate the shops on design aoki's would win hands down.
    great post

  18. RT @petitfranceblog: RT @mjb39 The Best Pastries in Paris :: Top 17 Pâtisseries http://bit.ly/9mPswn #worksofart

  19. RT @petitfranceblog @mjb39 Best Pastries in Paris -Top 17 Pâtisseries http://bit.ly/9mPswn << wow, these look too beautiful to eat!

  20. Kate Morgan says:

    I only made my way through 4 of the top 17 pastries in Paris but my god they were good. See no 3,4, 8 & 13. http://bit.ly/9mPswn

  21. [...] I described it in my Top 17 Best Pastries in Paris list, the experience of this macaron is like eating springtime. Put another way, one might say that [...]

  22. toufic says:

    hi can i have the recipe of the glacage of la grand cru ,it's really fantastic ………..thank u

  23. [...] with candied violets and silver leaf atop it all. And, yes, it tastes amazing. After all, it is #6 on my Top 17 Best Pastries in Paris list – and far better than the Ispahan from Ladurée or Pierre Hermé. For real – it’s [...]

  24. [...] that I mean that not only is it a delight of flavors and textures (the only criteria I used in my Top 17 Best Pastries ranking), but it’s also aesthetically dazzling. I mean . . . it looks like you imagine fine [...]

  25. leifringtved says:

    It is a very impressing amount of delicious pastry which is represented on this site. what we need is the address of the place where you can actually sit , have your coffee and enjoy these pastries.

  26. Jen Laceda says:

    I am definitely "Stumbling" this / bookmarking this / sharing this post! thanks for such a comprehensive list! Can we, like, exchange lives for a second, coz you have such a fantastic one!!! (I almost want to hate you for being so fab!) However, I feel like I found a kindred spirit in you. I am so crazy about pastries, French in particular, and this post just about gave me the Big O. LOL! So many of these things I want to try!!! That Millefeuille from Pain de Sucre look so simple…but I just know that it's delish!!!

  27. [...] as our all-time favorite spots on the face of the earth.  I’m going to eat everything on this list and not feel bad about it.  And we are going to bask in the simple-but-too-often-forgotten fact [...]

  28. Gabriel sasson says:

    Hello,
    Please i need to know where i can get theese pastries, you mention them
    But where can i get them, i have 3 days in paris and one of them is
    For versailles
    Please help me

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