Paris may be the best place in the world to visit if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Blocks lined with patisseries, crèpe stands on street corners, butter-filled pastries for breakfast… Amy Thomas knows some great spots for off-the-radar sweet fixes, and she shares her favorite picks with us here. Happy eating!
Just as there are many must-know-slash-in-the-know restaurants that pepper the 11th and 12th arrondissements—Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Square Trousseau, La Gazetta, to name a few—there are also some killer sweet spots in this fringy neighborhood straddling le Faubourg Saint Antoine that are too good to be left unmentioned.
Perhaps the most notable is Blé Sucré, which was founded by ex-Bristol patissier Fabrice Le Bourdat. I’ve always wanted to treat myself to one of his sweets, but had previously only had the opportunity to ogle them through the window. But as I primed myself for this sweet tour, I did proper blogosphere research and arrived at the petite patisserie with a shortlist: the pain au chocolat, madeleine and financier. Still, it was a tortuous decision and the staff graciously humored me as I bounced between the rows of chocolate éclairs, raspberry bressons and chaussons aux pommes. Finally, I settled on the madeleine. Sold in packages of four, they’re moist and light; dense with some crispness along the ridge; and, coated with a thin layer of sugar glaçage, super satisfying.
Then it was on to La Ruche à Miel, a North African patisserie/salon de thé on rue d’Aligre. The sweets there come in very petite sizes. The Cigare, for example, flavored with almond and orange, is shaped like a cannoli, but can be put away in a mere three bites. Most other pastries are the same dainty size, but of course the giant pate de dattes caught my eye. Heftier than an American Pop Tart, it was as savory as it was sweet, with a coarse and exotic texture that I found addictive.
Because every sweet tour should have some cocoa and cake, I veered north into the 11th, where I was deliciously welcomed by the scent of chocolate inside Pause Détente. There’s a whole case of bonbons in the back of the chocolaterie/patisserie—milk and dark, ganache and praline, vanilla, cassis and mint—but to get there, you have to pass all kinds of other delights. Macarons, viennoiseries and beautiful, elaborate gateaux beckoned, and I noted the address so I could bring dessert to my next dinner party.
To finish with a tinier, but no less lovelier, piece of gateau, I went to one of my favorite spots in the city: Cupcakes & Co. A coffee and hazelnut cupcake? Poppy seed with orange cream cheese frosting? Or maybe vanilla bourbon cake with glazed figs and pine nuts? With over 20 varieties, split amongst buttercream and cream cheese frostings, fruity and savory toppings, and several cake flavors—all made with natural and organic products—it’s next to impossible to choose just one treat. Unless you’re a slave to the raspberry-pistachio combo like I am, in which case it’s a no-brainer. I ordered the Scheherazade, an irresistible combination of pistachio cake, with a raspberry jam center, topped with cream cheese frosting, and considered my touring responsibilities sweetly finished. At least for the day.
Blé Sucre: 7, rue Antoine Vollon, 12eme. Tel: 01 43 40 77 73
La Ruche à Miel: 19, rue d’Aligre 12eme. Tel: 01 43 41 27 10
Pause Détente: 98, avenue Ledru-Rollin, 11eme Tel: 01 48 07 22 78
Cupcakes & Co: 25, rue de la Forge Royale, 11eme Tel: 01 43 67 16 19