Perfect Parisian Patisseries
In a country where patisseries routinely combine sumptuous interiors, impeccable service and an artisan range of delicacies, it’s not surprising that Parisians expect something a little special. Luckily, they’re not disappointed. The city’s pastry chefs are some of the world’s finest, and the patisseries they work in are often exquisitely innovative.
What to buy in a French Patisserie
The number of available cakes in any one patisserie is limited only by the imagination of the chef. That said, most high-end patisseries only offer a small selection of treats.
In France, only those establishments that employ a licensed ‘maître pâtissier’ (master pastry chef) may legally use the term ‘patisserie’. Most patisseries will offer variations on stock favourites such as éclairs, tartlets, macaroons, mille-feuille, and petits fours.
How to behave in a French Patisserie
While patisseries are more relaxed and friendly than brasseries or restaurants, they still exude an air of sophistication. It’s wise to behave as if in a British restaurant rather than a British bakery. Nevertheless, for those who want to learn French in Paris patisseries can be good places to strike up conversations with locals.
Legendary patisserie chefs
The Godfather of the Parisian patisserie was the late Gaston Lenôtre. Lenôtre started an influential cookery school and opened a string of patisseries, such as the modernist offering found on the Avenue Victor Hugo.
Pierre Hermé is another influential chef that helped revolutionise the traditional French patisserie. He has a number of shops in Paris, all of which are clinically chic and intimidating expensive – one cake can cost £85. Head for number 4 Rue Cambon for an example of a typical Hermé establishment.
Jacques Genin spent years operating from his own tiny cake lab, but has since opened a public shop at 133 rue de Turenne. His chocolate tartlets and mille-feuille are particularly noteworthy. Other pastry masters worth keeping an eye out for include Carl Marletti, Jean-Paul Hevin and Sadaharu Aoki.
Ladurée at 75 Avenue des Champs Elysées is everything a traditional patisserie should be. Established more than one hundred years ago, the shop is all dark wood, good service and tasty cakes.
Patisserie Stohrer on 51 Rue Montorgueil is the city’s oldest patisserie. Its cakes are traditionalist to the point of almost being basic. The interior of the shop however, with its vast oil paintings in gilded frames, more than compensates for the cakes’ modest decorations.
Sampling the avant-garde
La Patisserie des Réves is the city’s most avant-garde patisserie. Situated at 93 Rue du Bac and 111 Rue de Longchamp, the shop displays just a single table of cakes. Each of these is a small work of art and is treated as such.
If you want to try out your French in the most delicious way, visiting one of these patisseries is an excellent place to start. Should visiting France for a long or short stay be on your to-do list, language courses abroad with ESL Languages are a great way to learn the national language.
This article is brought to you by ESL Language Travel who offer tailor-made language and educational programs in over two hundred destinations.
Photo credits: French Patisserie by Dustinpsmith, Cafe au Lait by Heatheronhertravels.com, Paris Patisserie by Don Ward, Pierre Herme by Yuichi Sakuraba, Laduree Macarons by Josh Leo, Patisserie des Reves by Edward Kimber
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