Eat your way through Paris — all the croissants, cheese, chocolate and pastries you need to try
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Paris is an incredible city to visit, but you have to make many, many trips before you can really get to know it. Frankly, you could spend weeks exploring the Louvre alone and barely scratch the surface. If you’re a foodie, the challenge of exploring Paris may be even more difficult. Food, too, is art — at least in Paris — and there are hundreds of incredible bakeries, cheese and charcuterie shops, patisseries, chocolatiers, specialty boutiques and markets.
I just returned from Paris, and with a home base at the Hotel du Louvre In The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, I spent many happy hours wandering the arrondissements and sampling bread, croissants, cheese, pastries, macarons, chocolates and more.
Here are the foodie hot spots I recommend you seek out on your next excursion to the City of Lights. And remember, purchases from some of these shops may code as dining so use a credit card that rewards you for that type of spend — even internationally. The American Express® Gold Card rewards 4x points at restaurants.
I adore bread but I’ve made a conscious effort to excise it from my diet at home in Florida. (It’s tough to make a good baguette in such a humid climate and it’s just not worth the carbs to eat bread that’s only OK.) But in Paris there is no way I could pass up those luscious, crusty baguettes.
I took a foodie tour of the Marais neighborhood via Paris by Mouth and learned a lot about the art of baking bread. When you visit a boulangerie in Paris, ask for the baguette de tradition, which is made fresh throughout the day with only four ingredients the old-fashioned way. It’s only fresh for a few hours, so the French will buy a baguette to consume immediately, which may mean buying a loaf in the morning and another on the way home from work to pair with dinner. You can also order a “regular” baguette that may include additional ingredients. Regular baguettes are cheaper than baguettes de tradition.
There is an annual competition, the Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris, that pits French bakers against each other. Hundreds of bakers compete for the title of the best baguette du tradition of the year. If you see the words Grad Prix de la Baguette or du Concours with a year next to it on a boulangerie’s window, you are certain to find excellent baguettes within.
There’s so much more to sample at these bakeries, too. Try the light and buttery croissants (plain, chocolate, almond) and choquettes, a fluffy bit of pastry. Many bakeries also sell sandwiches and salads. Here were some of my favorite spots:
There are locations throughout the city (including the 1st arrondissement: 4 rue de l’échelle, 75001), but don’t let that sway you. This is more than a commercial bakery. In fact, Paris by Mouth ranks the baguettes at Eric Kayser as No. 1 on their list of Paris’ top five baguettes. I also liked the olive bread and the fig bread.
2nd arrondissement: 53 rue Montmartre, 75002
I thought the croissants here were some of the best we had throughout our entire trip. The eclairs were also quite yummy. The only downside is this neighborhood bakery is closed on the weekend.
134 rue de Turenne, 75003
Tout Autour du Pain had the most delicious baguette de tradition we sampled, but what I absolutely fell in love with was the pain fantasie (bread with white chocolate mixed in).
Fromageries (cheese shops)
In my house, there is a definite difference of opinion when it comes to what types of cheese rank as delicious. I preferred pressed (cooked or uncooked) harder cheeses like Comté and Hércule, while my husband is in the bloomy rind and washed rind camp. If the cheese doesn’t stink, he’s not interested.
We visited a half-dozen cheese shops around the city to sample their offerings. We took some cheese back to our hotel to eat and had others vacuum-sealed to return to America with us. Here are some excellent shops, organized by arrondissement:
1st arrondissement: 47 rue de Richelieu, 75001
The concierge at the Hotel du Louvre suggested this shop but explained that the owners are actually Japanese and not French. That didn’t matter since the selection was stellar and it was just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel.
3rd arrondissement: 39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003
I especially loved the pretty — and delicately delicious — Chevre Frais aux Petales de Fleurs, a fresh goat cheese from Burgundy coated with flower petals when in season (which they were during our trip). My husband enjoyed the washed rind Époisses de Bourgogne that is washed in grappa.
With shops in the 4th, 5th, 9th and 15th arrondissements
When visiting cheese shops in Paris, look for those that are not just cheesemongers but also affineurs. Affineurs actually store and age cheese, so you can sometimes get a wider range of options because the cheese is aging on-site. There are many Laurent Dubois shops in the city, so it’s an easy first shop to explore.
6th arrondissement: 19 Rue Saint-Placide, 75006
In addition to a food tour of the Marais neighborhood, we booked a cheese workshop with Paris by Mouth. While the event was held in a tasting room above La Cave du Cherche-Midi, all of the cheese we sampled was from La Ferme d’Alexandre. In the goat cheese family, we enjoyed Brique de Ribiere, Crottin de Chavignol AOC and Le Saint-Domnin de Provence. Chaource AOC and Coulommiers were bloomy rind cheeses that we sampled, but I much preferred the Comte AOC, Salat Tradition, Hércule and Tomme Aramits (pressed cheeses). We also nibbled a Trou du Cro washed rind cheese and Le Régalis blue cheese from the Pyrénées.
7th arrondissement: 37 rue de Verneuil, 75007
We made a special trip to Androuet because we’d heard the team there is super helpful — even with Americans who don’t have the best grasp of the French language. The shop was charming and we did receive excellent advice about which cheeses and sausages to purchase. We bought some to consume during our stay and had the rest vacuum sealed so we could bring them home. (The TSA did take our bag for secondary screening and looked at the packages of cheese, but they did not stop us from bringing them back into the U.S.) Everything we tried from the Muenster to the Epoisses to the Morbier to the Selles-sur-Cher was delicious.
7th arrondissement: 12 rue du Champ de Mars, 75007
Marie-Ann Cantin is a cheesemonger and affinier, and at least six Parisians told us that this was the shop to visit. There are so many options — made from cow, sheep and goat’s milk — that we definitely needed some guidance as we made our selections. If you do visit this shop, you will wish you could buy everything!
If you like all types of meat, you’ll like charcuterie. The word really just means meat-based items like ham, sausages, pates, confit, terrines, bacon and more than are presented on a board for snacks or as part of a meal. You may also find duck-based or seafood items on your charcuterie platter. Here are some shops to learn more about these savory snacks:
With locations in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 9th and 15th arrondissement, though we visited the one in the Marais: 38 rue de Bretagne, 75003. This is a traditional deli-style establishment, so you can look at everything and decide what to try. Pick what looks good or explain your preferences to the staff and they will make recommendations. We tried the Rosette de Lyon salami, jambon persille (a terrine-style specialty from Burgundy), pate de campagne and a house-made smoked pork and garlic sausage.
3rd arrondissement: 42 rue Charlot, 75003
This shop in the Marais specializes in all things ham. Pick up some sandwiches or buy cured ham, sausages and other delicacies to enjoy at your hotel or Paris apartment. We tried the amazing cured pork with truffle, which was rolled in Parmesan. It was excellent.
I will admit that I can make a meal out of pastries. I love dessert, and French-style pastries hit all the right buttons for me. Here are the spots I return to again and again when visiting Paris:
1st arrondissement: 226 rue de Rivoli 75001 plus other locations around the city, including inside the Louvre
Yes, Angelina is a bit touristy, but that because it’s got such a long history and the pastries really are that good. The tearoom opened in 1903 with pastry chef Anton Rumpelmayer and his son Rene at the helm. It became a place to see and be seen, with patrons ranging from fashion designer Coco Chanel to literary genius Proust to the politicians of the day.
When you visit, no matter what else you order, try the Mont-Blanc — a house specialty– and the L’Africain hot chocolate. (When it’s cold out, Angelina parks a hot chocolate cart right outside the patisserie.) When we visited, the Mont-Blanc was offered in two flavors: chestnut (yum!) and cherry, though a pistachio version was being released the following week for the fall season. The base is a crisp meringue topped with whipped cream and covered by delicate vermicelli. Take home some macarons or chocolates for your family too.
At the rue de Rivoli location, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in its ornate Belle Epoque dining room. Some say it’s the best breakfast/brunch you’ll find in Paris.
1st arrondissement: 228 rue de Rivoli, 75001
Located inside Le Meurice hotel, this pastry shop shows off the work of Cedric Grolet. Half dessert and half work of art, you should try these pricey pastries at least once. Many of the snacks are made to look like a piece of fruit, and you’ll feel slightly guilty ripping in to them, but the taste is worth it. The fruit-inspired pastries run 17 euros, while you can pick up a Paris-Brest or Saint-Honore for 12 to 14 euros. Cookies are 5 euros.
1st arrondissement: 1 rue des Pyramides, 75001
This teahouse was right around the block from our hotel so we popped in a few times to see what was on offer. I really liked the bab au rhum, which was brioche soaked in Grand Agricole Martinique AOC rum with whipped cream. This shop also had the best mille-feuille we tried: a beautifully caramelized puff pastry with a light vanilla cream.
With nearly 20 shops in Paris, a Pierre Herme is almost always nearby. Some locations just sell pastries, while others sell macarons and chocolates. There are also six cafes but I like the one at 86 avenue des Champs-Elysées best. I wish there was a location near me at home! If you happen to be in Paris leading up to the holidays, look for the shop’s advent calendar. The treats inside definitely raise the bar on this holiday tradition. On our trip, we sampled the tarte infiniment pistache d’Iran that consisted of shortbread, Iranian pistachio praline, cake and Chantilly cream. But everything in the shop is a work of art, like the Ispahan, which features rose, raspberry and lychee flavors. The Venus, which its paper-thin rings of apple paired with quince and rose also was just lovely. But I was surprisingly enamored with Pierre Herme’s simple pound cakes, like the cake infiniment citron with lemon zest.
You’ll find a lot of guidebooks that suggest a visit to places like La Maison du Chocolat and Fauchon. And, that’s good advice. They are the stalwarts of Parisian confections. But try to branch out and try some other options as well. Here are two of my current favorites:
1st arrondissement: 231 rue Saint Honore, 75001
These boutiques have a little bit of everything, from macarons to chocolate bars to pastries to chocolate confections like truffles, pralines and more. I really liked the “Allegro,” which is ganache soaked in Earl Grey tea and enrobed in chocolate.
3rd arrondissement: 133 rue de Turenne, 75003
On this visit to Paris we tried a new-to-us chocolate shop: Jacques Genin in the Marais. As with other high-quality products, these chocolates aren’t inexpensive, but they are delicious. We especially enjoyed the mint-filled dark chocolates. The caramels are luscious and come in flavors like mango-passionfruit, raspberry and rhubarb. Some even have mix-ins like pistachios, ginger or licorice. The fruit jellies were my favorite sweet in the shop, though. We tried lychee, pineapple, cassis, beetroot, pumpkin and fennel. Yum!
With locations in the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 9th arrondissements: 9 rue des Petits Carreaux 75002, 60 rue Vieille du Temple 75003, 20 rue de Buci 75006 and 9 rue des Martyrs 75009
If you have room in your checked bag back home, pick up a few jars of preserves, spreads or honey from La Chambre aux Configures. My favorite jams flavors are guava, apricot and lavender, and rosehip though the fig, walnut and brandy is also really special. There are also chocolate and caramel spreads plus some condiment gift boxes that help dress up cheese platters.
There are thousands of shops selling gourmet goods throughout Paris. Get recommendations from friends, but also just wander the streets and call on as many stores as you can. Even the tiniest of shops can have delicious gems within.
What’s your favorite spots in Paris to buy bread, croissants, pastries, cheese, chocolates and more? Let us know in the comments section below.
Featured image by Andrea M. Rotondo/The Points Guy
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