For me, the fresher the chocolate croissant, the better. Whenever I get one, I like to break it open evenly down the center and let the steam rise out slowly. If the flaky outside is still warm to the touch, it’s likely that the creamy chocolate in the middle will be in the perfect stage: melted and gooey. That first bite usually leaves embarrassing chocolate traces on my mouth and teeth but I don’t even care. The experience of eating these delicacies—especially in Paris—is a guilty pleasure that is totally worthwhile.
The perfect pain au chocolat
My first trip to Paris happened to coincide with an unexpected spring snowstorm. My fantasies of romantic picnics under the Eiffel Tower and adorable strolls along the Seine came crashing down as soon as I stepped off the plane. Instead of being greeted by a warm Paris spring, I found myself ankle-deep in snow. Needless to say, Paris wasn’t what I had anticipated.
So what does one do when the weather prompts an effort to seek refuge from the cold? Hunker down at one of Paris’ many patisseries, of course. I took advantage of my time indoors by relishing in the overwhelming flavors (and colors) of macarons, enjoying numerous cups of espresso, and probably putting on a few extra kilograms.
Viewfinder Tip: Hit the Paris patisseries early in the morning to enjoy the freshest baguettes in town.
Paris, the City of Lights, is renowned for its intricate pastries. Pain au chocolats, fresh baguettes, macarons, and mille feuilles are some of my favorites. I spent my week in Paris scouring the town (and sacrificing my waistline) in search of the best patisseries and French delights out there. Behold, a list of some of my favorites are listed below.
For the best baguette, look no further than Le Grenier à Pain. Located in the heart of Montmartre, this patisserie serves some of the most prestigious bread around. Grab one of their award-winning baguettes and walk around the city like a true Parisian. Eat it right away or save it to go alongside whatever you eat for dinner. If you want to act très French, take your baguette on a stroll around town. You’ll blend right in with the locals.
If you want to crack your teeth into one of the best macarons around, stop into Pierre Hermé. These Parisian treats come in an assortment of colors and a variety of whimsical flavors. Try the Infiniment Jasmine (flavored with jasmine flower and jasmine tea), the Satine (with cream cheese, orange, and passionfruit compote), or a Huile d’Olive et Vanille (with olive oil, vanilla, and bits of green olive). These sweet treats are parfait as souvenirs for loved ones back home, although I can’t guarantee to any of my friends that my stash would survive the flight. Le whoops.
La Maison Ladurée is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a cup of coffee with friends. While I’m also a huge fan of their beautiful macaron displays, it’s their delicate mille feuille that has me coming back for more. This dessert, literally translated to “cake of a thousand sheets,” is a discothèque of textures in your mouth. Between the flaky puff pastry, the sweet cream, and the vanilla and chocolate icing on top, the sweet cannot get any more beautiful?
My extensive research might have left me with a little extra winter weight, but I easily walked it off once the sun appeared and the snow began to melt. The next time you find yourself in Paris, but sure to indulge in a pain au chocolat…or three.