The Best Pastries in Paris, According to Top Chefs

It’s been the world’s favorite destination for luscious baked goods since forever. Now the French capital is outperforming even itself.

By Kate KraderKate Krader and Richard VinesRichard Vines
Photographs by Céline Clanet/Bloomberg
April 17, 2018

When someone offers you a Parisian dessert, you will always say, “Yes.”

The French capital is home to the masters of the pastry universe, dating back to Marie-Antoine Carême, who in the early 1800s popularized such elaborate confections as the millefeuille, the croquembouche (a caramel-enrobed tower of cream puffs), and strawberries Romanov, a parfait-like concoction of marinated berries and whipped cream. It’s one reason he became the world’s first celebrity chef.

The city’s pastry scene is more dynamic and expansive than ever, ranging from modern trompe l’oeil treasures that Carême would covet to exquisite classics and even some outrageous cookies. Dessert appreciation runs so high that one of Paris’s top patissiers has just opened a shop in the valuable real estate of le Meurice hotel. His is one of a baker’s dozen of the best pastries to try, as recommended by expert chefs who know a thing or two about making magic out of flour, butter, sugar, and cream.

From a sublime apple tart picked by one of America’s best bread bakers to the most exquisite lime cake chosen by the French-born creator of the Cronut, here’s where to indulge your sweet tooth now—with nary a macaron in sight.

Odette

77 rue Galande, 5th arrondissement

odette-paris.com

Pastry: Choux à la Crème

Empire builder Nobu Matsuhisa opened his first restaurant in Paris in 2016, and that’s when he fell in love with Odette’s cream puffs. “While this is a classic French dessert, it has been popular in Japan for many years, and Japanese chefs have even adapted the classic.” Here, golden, tender pastry rounds are stuffed with fillings from classic vanilla and chocolate to more fanciful praline, pistachio, and green tea. “The concept is simple, but every time you eat it, it somehow feels like a new experience.”

Recommended by Nobu Matsuhisa, chef/founder of Nobu restaurants worldwide

Odette sits on a picturesque Latin Quarter street.
Odette sits on a picturesque Latin Quarter street.
Up close with an orange cream puff.
Up close with an orange cream puff.
Odette sits on a picturesque Latin Quarter street (left); up close with an orange cream puff.

Le Meurice

228 rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement

dorchestercollection.com

Pastry: Le Citron Vert

At the Meurice’s well-appointed dining room, Cédric Grolet’s incredible creations have garnered so much attention, he’s opened a pastry boutique in the hotel, where Le Citron Vert is on offer, in season. Chef Dominique Ansel, who understands the power of innovating (see: the Cronut), is thrilled by the “beautiful” pastries that precisely resemble fresh fruits and nuts. For this dessert, an outside “skin” is textured to look just like a lime, complete with leaf and stem, and contains lime mousse and a nugget of lime tarragon marmalade at the center. “When I was at Fauchon in Paris years ago, I hired Cedric to join our team, and it’s wonderful to see how he’s grown and how he is pushing the boundaries of desserts.”

Recommended by Dominique Ansel, chef/co-owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo

Caramel perfection at Le Meurice.
Caramel perfection at Le Meurice.
“Pears” that are actually perfect little cakes.
“Pears” that are actually perfect little cakes.
Caramel perfection at Le Meurice (left); “pears” that are actually perfect little cakes.

Pierre Hermé

4 Rue Cambon, 1st arrondissement

pierreherme.com

Pastry: Plaisir Sucré

Two-Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze calls Pierre Hermé “the Picasso of pastry,” with her favorite creation of his being the Plaisir Sucré: a dacquoise (dessert cake) biscuit with crunchy hazelnuts, hazelnut crisp, thin wafers of milk chocolate, milk chocolate ganache, and milk chocolate cream. “They are perfection in terms of texture, balance, and sweetness. Pierre Hermé changed the world of pastry in France.”

Recommended by Hélène Darroze, chef/co-owner at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, London and Restaurant Hélène Darroze, Paris

Tough decisions at the world-renowned pastry shop.
Tough decisions at the world-renowned pastry shop.

La Pâtisserie des Réves

93 Rue du Bac, 7th arrondissement

lapatisseriedesreves.com

Pastry: Saint Honoré

One of the city’s most high-styled pâtisseries opened its doors in 2009 on the Left Bank, with Philippe Conticini’s confections displayed like jewels in the small, pastel colored space. For Fabian von Hauske, who made desserts at Noma in Copenhagen before opening Contra and Wildair in New York, their Saint Honoré is his “favorite pastry ever.” The cake, an arrangement of puff pastry piled with caramelized cream puffs and a swirl of Saint Honoré cream, provides layers of crunch and silkiness. “The secret is the pastry cream inside,” proclaims von Hauske. “It’s the best I’ve ever had.”

Recommended by Fabian von Hauske, chef/co-owner of Contra and Wildair in New York

Individual domes protect chef Philippe Conticini’s elegant desserts.
Individual domes protect chef Philippe Conticini’s elegant desserts.

Stohrer

51 Rue Montorgueil, 2nd arrondissement

stohrer.fr

Pastry: Puit d’Amour

As Paris’s oldest bakery—Nicolas Stohrer was Louis XV’s pastry chef and opened this storefront in 1730—the creations at Stohrer are classic, reflecting centuries of French tradition. One of its most celebrated is the Puit d’Amour, or Well of Love, where a base of puff pastry gets topped with bourbon vanilla pastry cream and a caramel glaze. “It’s very creamy, very old-fashioned, and very French,” says London-based French chef Pascal Aussignac. “Don’t try it if you are on a diet.”

Recommended by Pascal Aussignac, chef/co-owner of Club Gascon, London

The Stohrer boutique, open since 1730.
The Stohrer boutique, open since 1730.
Another must-try dessert is the tarte au chocolat.
Another must-try dessert is the tarte au chocolat.
The Stohrer boutique, open since 1730 (left); another must-try dessert is the tarte au chocolat.

La Patisserie Cyril Lignac

2 rue de Chaillot, 16th arrondissement

gourmand-croquant.com

Pastry: Equinoxe

“I go to Paris around three times a year, and I always pop into the shop on rue de Chaillot,” says chef Tom Aikens of this patisserie, which now has five outlets. As well as going for fresh croissants, baguette, and pain aux chocolat each day, he picks up treats for the family—and always, an Equinoxe. The first signature pastry by Cyril Lignac and Benoît Couvrand is made with a light bourbon vanilla cream, with a center of salted butter caramel on a crisp Speculoos biscuit, all wrapped within a cool gray coating decorated with three precise red dots.

Recommended by Tom Aikens, chef/co-owner of Tom’s Kitchen, London, and the Pawn, Hong Kong

The specialty at Cyril Lignac is futuristic-looking pastries--and very giftable chocolate bars.
The specialty at Cyril Lignac is futuristic-looking pastries—and very giftable chocolate bars.

Du Pain et des Idées

34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th arrondissement

dupainetdesidees.com

Pastry: Pistachio and Chocolate Escargot

Since it opened in 2002, this neighborhood bakery has evolved into one of Paris’s top destinations for bread, as well as for its whimsical, croissant-styled “Escargot.” The snail-shaped pastry fillings change seasonally, but founder Christophe Vasseur is most famed for the pistachio-and-chocolate version. “It’s a combination of the pistachio flavored pastry cream, chocolate chips, and airy yet buttery pâte feuilletée, all of which complement each other,”  says chef Pierre Koffmann. “A guilty pleasure!”

Recommended by Pierre Koffmann, former chef/co-owner of La Tante Claire in London

A neighborhood institution.
A neighborhood institution.

Sebastien Gaudard

1 rue des Pyramides, 1st arrondissement

sebastiengaudard.com

Pastry: Le Mussipontain

Sebastien Gaudard, an alum of Fauchon, has been called one of France’s best patissiers by one of the country’s major food critics. “Some find his style a little austere, I think it is pure and gourmand and very Parisian—only the best ingredients and very simple tastes and natural colors,” says chef Daniel Rose. Among the display of elegant cakes in the elegant tea room, Rose says to home in on Le Mussipontain, a concoction of meringue, vanilla cream, and caramelized almonds invented by Gaudard’s father Daniel.

Recommended by Daniel Rose, chef at Le Coucou, New York

Vanilla cream oozes from the mussipontain pastry.
Vanilla cream oozes from the mussipontain pastry.
A server readies one.
A server readies one.
Vanilla cream oozes from the mussipontain pastry (left); a server readies one.

Jean-Paul Hévin

231 Rue Saint Honoré, 1st arrondissement

jeanpaulhevin.com

Pastry: Pomme de Terre

The son of a farmer, Jean-Paul Hévin honed his craft as a chocolatier in Japan and is known for the originality and beauty of his creations. “I go to his store every time I am in Paris,” says prolific chef Jason Atherton. He is a particular fan of the Pomme de Terre, an unusual confection of chocolate ganache with a marzipan skin toasted to look like a potato. There’s orange peel, walnuts, and raisins in there, too, as well as a hint of alcohol. “It is delicious, but I like it more for the fun,” Atherton says. “It’s crazy.”

Recommended by Jason Atherton, chef/co-owner of Pollen Street Social, London, and the Clocktower, New York

The interior of Hévin suggests the surface of a chocolate bar.
The interior of Hévin suggests the surface of a chocolate bar.
Up close with the “crazy” pomme de terre.
Up close with the “crazy” pomme de terre.
The interior of Hévin (left) suggests the surface of a chocolate bar; up close with the “crazy” pomme de terre.

Poilâne Bakery

8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th arrondissement

poilane.com

Pastry: Apple Tart

Poilâne is renowned for its signature, dense, chewy loaves of bread, emblazoned with an elegant “P,” but for master baker Jim Lahey, it’s all about the elemental apple tart. “They are so simple and so buttery, constructed of perfect puff pastry, with apples and sugar. It’s the perfect size, too—it fits right into your hand. You can eat it before you even get down the block.”

Recommended by Jim Lahey, founder of Sullivan Street Bakery, New York

Alongside the fabled bread: exquisite apple tarts.
Alongside the fabled bread: exquisite apple tarts.

Angelina

226 rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement

angelina-paris.fr

Pastry: Mont Blanc

Angelina salon, with its Belle Époque interior, may be synonymous with the thickest, richest hot chocolate, but it’s almost as famous for its Mont Blanc. “It’s a simple patisserie, a delicious contrast of textures with just the right sweetness,” says lauded chef Eric Ripert. Balls of crisp meringue and light whipped cream are topped by swirls of chestnut cream in a pattern that somewhat resembles a bird’s nest.

Recommended by Eric Ripert, chef/co-owner of Le Bernardin, New York

An eclair, one of Angelina’s additional specialties, being packed to go.
An eclair, one of Angelina’s additional specialties, being packed to go.

Mokonuts

5, rue Saint-Bernard, 11th arrondissement

Pastry: Chocolate Chip Cookie

In a charming storefront in the Bastille quarter, husband-and-wife team Omar Koreitem and Moko Hirayama serve a short, sweet menu of Middle Eastern dishes such as tabbouleh. But the café is best-known for Hirayama’s desserts. The chocolate chip cookies are a particular favorite of three-Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm. “It’s the total opposite of the pastries most people think of in Paris. But they are insane!” promises Humm. The treats are baked throughout the day, so they’re soft, chewy, and studded with molten chocolate.

Recommended by Daniel Humm, chef/co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, New York

Fresh-baked cookies, before...
Fresh-baked cookies, before&ellips;
...and after.
&ellips;and after.
Fresh-baked cookies, before (left) and after.

Ble Sucré

7 rue Antoine Vollon, 12th arrondissement

blesucre.fr

Pastry: Madeleine

For those who don’t appreciate the subtleties of the fabled French madeleine—little scalloped cakes comprising flour, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon, and not much else—seek out Ble Sucré. There, Fabrice e Boudrat, a former three-Michelin-starred pastry chef, creates ethereal versions that’d knock Proust out all over again. “They’re topped with a citrus glaze,” explains chef Michael Anthony, who studied cooking in France. “It’s light but adds genius flavor to the madeleines.” When there, Anthony endorses indulging in an additional classic: le Boudrat’s flaky, buttery croissants.

Recommended by Michael Anthony, chef/co-owner of Gramercy Tavern, New York

Croissant in progress.
Croissant in progress.
A madeleine to tempt skeptics.
A madeleine to tempt skeptics.
Croissant in progress (left); a madeleine to tempt skeptics.