We’ll always have pain au chocolat…

Paris is a world hub in many aspects of culture: in art, literature, and of course, food! Paris is such a culinary capital, it feels almost overwhelming to decide where to go first and what to prioritize. And when it comes to a good pastry? Paris is like the homeland of pâtisserie!

Luckily we are here for everyone looking not only to be amazed by the Eiffel Tower but also to enjoy some life-changing good baguettes, or croissants, or macarons, pain au chocolat, éclair, croque monsieur…. you get the gist.

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The French pâtisserie

The history of pâtisserie can be traced back to the Ancient Mediterranean (phyllo masters) and pastries have been a pillar of European cuisine and culture since at least the 16th century when the first choux pastry was probably made.

In France, pâtisserie grew into an art form, and the pastry culture in France is unlike any other place; pâtisserie is a simultaneously traditional and fresh industry, employing more than 100,000 people, one eight of them apprentices, and bringing in more than 1 million euro per year. The role of pastry chef in France and Paris is highly respected and admired: today, some of the top chefs in Paris are more like pop stars than bakers, and awards on the best chefs, best recipes, and best pastry shops populate the walls of pastry shops, pâtisseries, and boulangeries in Paris.

Related: A Guide To Barcelona’s Most Delicious Delicacies (That You Can Find At Local Markets)

The pastry culture in France can be summarized in the words of star chef Cédric Grôlet: “Le beau fait venir et le bon fait revenir.” (The beautiful makes people come and the good, makes them come back again.)

Exploring Paris’ pastries

When visiting Paris, foodies and pasty lovers ought to give special attention to where to explore and where to find the best treats for their pétit dejeuner, a particularly amazing dessert, an afternoon café, or a sweet treat to grab before going to the Tuileries.

Like Haute Couture, high fashion, Haute Pâtisserie is the Haute Cuisine adjacent name sometimes given to high-end and luxury pastry making. In Paris, there are a handful of big-name brands and Maisons helmed by some of the top pastry chefs in the world, or so traditional they’re existing, functioning troves of food history.

Such is the case of Maison Ladurée, founded in 1862 and largely credited with the invention of the double-decker macaron.

  • Location: 75 avenue des Champs Elysées, Paris.
  • Recommendations: The macarons and cake au citron.

Angelina Paris was founded in 1903 at the height of the Belle Époque, and you can tell from the art nouveau décor to the impossibly delicate confections.

  • Location: 226 rue de Rivoli , Paris.
  • Recommendations: The traditional Mont-Blanc and the famous hot chocolate.

Lenôtre Paris was founded in 1957 by pastry and dessert revolutionary innovators Gaston and Colette Lenôtre. House of many a Meilleures Ouvriers de France awards, Lenôtre is the marriage of innovation and artisanry.

  • Location: 75 avenue des Champs Elysées, Paris.
  • Recommendations: The opera cake and the Concorde meringue cake.

These pastry shops are pâtisserie staples, with history, beautiful décor, and, of course, amazing confections waiting for you beyond their doors.

For the interested in the up and coming rockstars of pâtisserie, Maison Hermé, by Pierre Hermé, Maurice Pâtisserie, by Cédric Grôlet, and Hugo & Victor, by Hugues Pouget are all inventive masters and award-winning pastry chefs, that promote the tastier encounters between cuisine and chemistry.

Related: The Best Bakeries In L.A., Paris, And Other Major Cities (According To Stars)

Boulangeries that deserve love

Boulangerie is the French word for bakery, and boulangerie-pâtisserie establishments are found left and right in Paris. Many beloved and popular bakeries/pastry shops like this are also considerably less expensive than the haute cuisine pâtisseries, so if the money is a bit tight, that does not mean you can’t experience true, artisanal, and mouth-watering French pastries.

A good rule of thumb on deciding if a bakery or pastry shop is worth it in Paris is this: see if there’s a line outside. If people are waiting around the corner to buy pastries, it’s a good bet that it's a worthwhile food stop.

Du Pain et Des Idées is a bakery founded in 2002 by passionate pastry chef and baker Christophe Vasseur, in a bakery building that dates back to 1875. Their savoir-faire and objective are to make fully artisanal, healthy, and delicious pastries.

  • Location: 34 rue Yves Toudic, Paris.
  • Recommendations: The orange blossom brioche, the pistachio, and chocolate chip escargot (don’t worry, it does not have any snails) and the house invention Pain des Amis.

Gérard Mulot is a very well-respected pâtissier, Boulanger, and chocolatier in Paris, and Maison Mulot is a Michelin-listed cozy bakery and pastry shop, a veritable favorite among residents.

  • Location: 76 rue de Seine, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris.
  • Recommendations: The fruity tarts, like the charlotte aux framboise and the pain aux raisins.

Winner of the 2018 best croissant in Paris award, Maison d’Isabelle is a small-ish boulangerie with amazing pastries lining their stands, and croissants being baked and made fresh all day long.

  • Location: 47 boulevard Saint Germain, Paris.
  • Recommendations: The apple tartes and, of course, the croissants!

Blé Sucré is a bit of a hidden gem, Fabrice Le Bourdat’s (former chef at Le Bristol) little boulangerie pâtisserie tucked away near Place de la Bastille. You won’t be disappointed by stopping in for a bite (even if there’s no place to sit).

  • Location: 7 rue Antoine Vollon, Paris.
  • Recommendations: The madeleines and the homemade ice cream.

Next: Old Paris: How To Find The Most Historic Parts Of France's Greatest City