When Dominique Ansel created the Cronut, he became a household name with imitators all around the world. But the pastry chef, in the midst of opening a new bakery in London, his first European location, deserves credit for far more than his delicious, donut-croissant hybrids. He’s set the sweet standard in New York, popularizing Parisian pastries from the Paris-Brest to the caramelized, brown sugary Kouign Amann.
So where does Ansel go first when he’s in the City of Light?
“It’s hard for me to choose,” he repeated over and over before settling on a list of his current favorites. He described the rapid pace of innovation in Paris—how there’s always somewhere new and exciting to go, no matter how often he visits—creating an inspiring mix of talented newcomers and personal mentors.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what Yann Couvreur is doing—people are already buzzing about it,” he said, speaking of Patisserie Yann Couvreur, the hot new spot he’d like to try next.
And can we expect a Dominique Ansel Paris in the future? One day.
“Paris is a very dear city to me,” he said, musing on how he'd love to show people what he's learned from all his travels and “give them a different perspective.”
133 Rue de Turenne
You’ll watch Le Marais transform from boutique shopping mecca to a hodgepodge of fabric and textile shops as you walk to Jacques Genin, in the neighborhood’s northernmost tip. But it’s worth going ever so slightly out of your way for a taste of the caramels and pâte de fruit peddled from jewelry-like displays in this two-tiered space.
Have the attendants create a silver tin box of assorted fruit jellies (they come in hard-to-find flavors like kiwi and apricot, which all taste uncannily pure). Sneak a few ultra-buttery caramels in your shopping bag while you’re at it—they’re practically religious objects in Paris. And then sit down in the tea salon for a made-to-order pastry while you marvel over the rest of it.
Ansel’s order: The made-to-order millefeuille, served in the salon
Le Grenier a Pain
33 bis Rue Saint-Amand
Marie-Anne Cantin might be one of Paris’s top cheesemongers, but what is a beautifully ripened morbier without a perfect baguette to go with it? For that, Ansel recommends Le Grenier a Pain, a short walk from Gare Montparnasse.
“It's hard to choose the best baguette in Paris,” he says, “but the ones here are consistently wonderful.”
Cut one into cross-sections, and you’ll see layers almost as flaky and delicate as in a croissant. And if you’d rather not hop around town to cobble together the perfect picnic, the unassuming, brick-walled shop sells sandwiches to-go on its fabulously crunchy bread.
Ansel’s order: Baguettes, some of Paris’ finest
108 Boulevard Saint-Germain
“Of all the chocolatiers in Paris, Patrick Roger is someone I greatly respect,” said Ansel. “I remember years ago in France, he made a life-sized elephant all out of chocolate. The guy is truly an artist.”
That said, it’s Roger’s more unassuming works that steal the show. His ganaches are intense and packed with clear, pristine flavors—anything from lemongrass to caramel. And many of the bonbons that enrobe them are painted to resemble luminous baubles. Order a dozen based on nothing but looks, then play a guessing game to figure out what flavors are in your box. Chances are, you won’t have any trouble deciding.
Ansel’s order: A box of bonbons
L'Éclair de Génie
14 rue Pavée
This pioneering, citron-colored shop is set just off the iconic Boulevard Saint-Germain, in the 6th Arrondissement. Inside, a tidy, colorful display peddles avant-garde éclairs in an array of rotating flavors. (On a recent visit, they included pistachio-raspberry and passion fruit, topped with a shimmering stripe of icing and ruby-like sprinkles.) As for the mad genius behind the operation, that’s Christophe Adam—one of Ansel’s mentors.
Ansel’s order: Holiday-themed flavors, whenever available
Patisserie Christophe Michalak
16 rue de le Verrerie
This gleaming white and Lucite shop in the 10th has a clever conceit: half of its pastry case is packaged up in jars with spoons. It means you can pick up reimagined classics from one of Paris’s genius pastry chefs (Michalak was the Chef Patissier at the Plaza Athenee for many years) and take them down to the Seine for a waterside treat—or better yet, to one of the prettiest gardens in town, the Place des Vosges.
Before you do, ogle at some of his crazier confections, like the “Brownie de l’espace,” topped with chocolate “noodles,” or the “sushi en trompe l’oeil,” which uses apricot confit and vanilla-orange mousse in place of trout roe and sushi rice.
Ansel’s order: A reimagined religieuse
Hugo & Victor
40 Boulevard Raspail
Most pastry shops have dedicated cases for bonbons, pastries, and macarons—but not Hugo & Victor. This sleek shop, with locations on both the left and right banks, organizes its treats based on flavor, so chocolate lovers can find everything they’d want to order all in one place. (You’ll find chocolate, vanilla, and caramel all year round, while five additional flavors rotate according to the seasons.)
Ansel’s order: Anything from the caramel collection
Un Dimanche a Paris
4-6-8 Cours du Commerce Saint André
This sweets shop, culinary academy, and restaurant space feels like an untapped discovery: It’s tucked-away on a cobblestoned alley alongside postcard-perfect bistros and a perfect little épicerie. But at Charles de Gaulle Airport, you're likely to see gift bags from the culinary concept store slung around other travelers’ Louis Vuitton roll-aboards.
Ansel recommends going for breakfast, when the restaurant serves perfect omelets, and then grabbing some gifts to go. The slender loaf cakes, a specialty, are lined up on shelves with accompanying diagrams—they have as many as eight components apiece. Our favorite: the Cake Chocolat, heaped with caramel squares and peanuts.
Ansel’s order: Any of the intricate loaf cakes
22 Rue Caulaincourt
Want to live like a Parisian? Go to Montmarte. Specifically, go to Gontran Cherrier, which Ansel describes as “a true neighborhood bakery.”
The croissants are among the city’s best—which you can chalk up to the chef’s obsession with bread or his experience alongside the great Alain Passard. So much of what Cherrier serves comes piled atop fresh bread, whether it’s olive oil focaccia or €1 slices of bread with chocolate spread, a beloved after-school treat.
Ansel’s order: Rustic butter croissants and kouign amann
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