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For Valentine, The Best Boulangeries in Paris

It’s hard, and maybe impossible, to find a bad bakery in Paris. Expert bakers using plenty of butter produce goods that rarely disappoint. But some are especially good. Every year the city honours one of them for making the city’s best baguette or rod-shaped loaf, and the winner gets to supply bread to the President of the Republic for a year. Past winners constitute a roll of honour, and a good indication that they’re worth a visit. Here are a few:

LE GRENIER A PAIN (Abbesses, 38)

Michel Galloyer has 30 branches in Paris and the provinces, but the original in Montmartre is the one awarded the 2010 Best Baguette prize. There’s no room to sample the fare in the shop, but the nearby stairway to the gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica is a good alternative, thanks to the incomparable view of the city. The bakery boasts a large variety of breads that are baked in sight of the customer, as well as sandwiches starting at 3€ pizza or a bit more than 2€, and wonderful fougasses (flat bread roll stuffed with savoury ingredients). The goat cheese and tomato version costs only 2.20€. The croissants are out of this world, as are the chausson aux pommes, or apple turnovers.

PAIN DE SUCRE (Rambuteau, 14)

The success of the boulangerie-patisserie that opened a decade ago in Le Marais necessitated the opening of additional premises almost next door, with two tables indoors and five outdoors for sampling the sweet pastries. The main shop sells bread, sweet and savoury pastries, quiches, pain roulé (bread stuffed with spinach, bacon and cheese, spicy sausage and plums, etc.), focaccias (special flat bred topped with herbs and other ingredients), homemade creamy soups (try the pumpkin and chestnut!), and other treats. The décor is avant-garde, the food itself is colourful (check out the marshmallows), and you can order coffee. It’s a bit pricy –like almost everything in Paris—but worth everysou. You should consider the roule au pistaches (breakfast snail with pistachios) and the pain au chocolat.

LEGAY CHOC (Ste. Croix de la Bretonnerie, 45)

Le Marais is one of the city’s most gay-friendly district and the owner of this little bakery is not only gay and proud, but his surname is Legay. And indeed, his shop is famed for its penis-shaped loaves and brioches (2.30€), but everything in the shop is of the highest quality, including the hot dogs, wraps, and pizza, as well as the bread, pastry, quiches, and small pies. There are no tables, so it’s a take-away, but not at all expensive.

MURCIANO (Rosiers, 14)

This is a charming traditional Jewish bakery in Le Marais, featuring a menorah (Hebrew candelabra) in the window. The speciality is apple and cinnamon strudel (2.80€ per portion), as good as it gets. There are also traditional Jewish bread like the braided challah eaten on the Sabbath and other holy days, or rogallah, a sort of croissant with chocolate edges.

ERIC KAYSER

This boulangerie now has about a hundred branches all over the world, thanks master baker Eric Kayser, whose latest honours are for “Best Croissant” and “Best Bread” in Tokyo. His first bakery stands on rue Monge, 6, near Notre Dame cathedral, and features a bar and outdoor table –all branches have some seating facilities. A 100% ecological branch now operates at number 14 of the same street. Aside from bread and pastries, there are sandwiches, salads, tarts,quiches, and various combination for the lunch menu.

POILÂNE (Cherche-Midi, 8)

There are often long queues outside this little bakery in Saint-Germain des Près, one of the most celebrated in all Paris. The bread is believed to taste exactly the same is it did when the shop was opened in 1932 by Pierre Poilâne. The recipe calls for sea salt from Guérande, stone-ground organic flour, and fresh yeast, and baking is done in a wood-fired oven. There are two more branches in Paris and two in London. Don’t fail to try the delicious nut and raisin bread!

DES PAIN ET DES IDEES (Yves Toudic, 34)

Paris’ most “hipster” bakery, near the Canal Saint Martin, has a one large wooden table for all in front of the shop. With a lovely interior and show windows filled with charming knick-knacks, the shop features baked goods made with top-quality organic ingredients, and the bread is called “des amis” (for friends), Though his background is in fashion, proprietor Christophe Vasseur was named Paris’ best boulanger by the prestigious guide Gault&Millau. He offers traditional product, but also likes to experiment, and he also sell croissants made with matcha tea, Mouna (brioche with orange blossom), and even escargot made with lemon and almond nougat.

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By Isabel Loscertales / Gastronomistas.com

 

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