There really is a bakery on practically every street corner in Paris, so beware: Not all baguettes are equal. A good baguette has a deep golden, crisp, and crunchy exterior and inside the bread should be chewy and full of holes, even rather big ones! Good bakeries have loyal followings. Not surprisingly, Parisians take their bread very seriously—it’s a staple on every home and restaurant table—and the long slender loaves of bread have come to epitomize the romance of the city itself. Paris even hosts an annual competition where it discerns the best baguette, with the winner taking home 4,000€ and the commission to supply the Elysée Palace, office, and home to the President, for the coming year. To compete, the baguettes “must measure between 55 and 65 cm, weigh between 250 and 300 grams, and contain a salt level of 18 grams per kilo of flour.” Now you know.
On the gourmet Rue des Martyrs strip below Pigalle, this long-standing bakery and patisserie is famous for its award-winning “Renaissance” baguette. Waiting in the queue will give you time to eyeball the cake and pastry displays; I recommend the lemon tart, or the almond croissant.
Du Pain et des Idées
Everything at this pared-down affair by the Canal St-Martin is excellent. Alain Ducasse thinks so too, and features the crusty sourdough “Pain des Amis” in all his Paris restaurants. Its delicious “escargots” are filled with an inventive range of flavor combinations such as lemon and nougat, praline, chocolate and pistachio, blackcurrant, or rum and raisin. The beautiful old-world space only adds to the charm.
This organic bakery is right by the bustling Aligre Market. Join the queue, pick up one or more of their crusty baguettes, and then pop over to the market for the butter, cheese, and ham to fill it. For dessert, it also prepares tasty viennoiseries and simple but delicious fruit tarts.
Stop here for award-winning baguettes and croissants from accountant turned passionate artisanal baker Benjamin Turquier in the upper Marais. His crisp and golden baguette “Tradition” includes a touch of buckwheat, and he produces many other delicious breads including a pain de mie, a rye loaf, and buns filled with figs, apricot and walnuts, or hazelnut.
This designer, marble-lined space by the Canal St. Martin features an open kitchen where you can watch the team led by baker Benoît Castel at work, preparing their delicious range of bread and cakes, including an excellent baguette. The cakes are exceptional too, including the maison’s signature creation, the moreish tarte à la crème.