The Best Croissant in Paris?

23 June 2010 · 2 comments

Viennoiserie from Pierre Hermé: bostock, pain au chocolat, and kughelopf.

Nothing epitomizes France more than the baguette, but I would say the croissant comes in a close second. Croissants can be found in just about any boulangerie, pâtisserie, or café, but the one to go out of your way for (thanks to a tip from friend Flora) in Paris is at Pierre Hermé, one of the city’s top pastry shops—some say the best. The shop I like to stop in at is at 72 rue Bonaparte in the Latin Quarter. 

Pierre Hermé at 72 rue Bonaparte in Paris.

At first glance, you might walk by this pâtisserie mistaking it for a jewelry shop. Once you step past the dark, automatic gliding doors of this sliver of a shop, you indeed enter a rarefied place. The pastries are laid out like jewels along one long case amid dark walls, muted lighting, and hushed tones (no photos are permitted). This is one place where you will want to spend your time ogling some of the most amazing and beautiful pastries and will find yourself wanting to try one of everything. And later, as you swoon over every bite of whatever you choose, you will have fond memories of what you ate for years.

As you snake down the single line along the pastry case toward the end you reach the section with macarons, which Parisians are crazy about. There are the classic flavors like lemon, pistachio, caramel, and chocolate, but the city’s pastry chefs are into concocting all kinds of crazy flavor combinations, and Pierre Hermé is no exception with flavors like strawberry and wasabi, rose and rose petals, and olive oil and vanilla. Whatever your preference, do what other customers are doing, and that is, buy a bunch packaged in a pretty box as a gift (for yourself).  

Flaky pain au chocolat.

But wait, there’s more. At the far end of the shop across from the macarons is a small selection of viennoiserie that most people miss. This is the type of pastry I covet. At least when I’m making morning breakfast choices in Paris. The flakiness of the pain au chocolate filled with smooth, dark gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut paste) puts this croissant in another galaxy.

A kouign-amann with berry jam.

For the first time, I tried a brioche-based, orange-flavored bostock with almonds (shown above) and a kouign-amann, a flaky, buttery, caramelized pastry with a berry jam (right). And I loved the sugar-coated kughelopf with raisins (shown above). As I dabbed my lips ever so delicately with my napkin, I noticed that every pastry delivered “Un univers de goûts, de sensations & de plaisirs,” (a universe of tastes, sensations & pleasures) as was printed on the napkin from Pierre Hermé. So French!

Pierre Hermé
72 rue Bonaparte (6th arrondisement)
And other locations throughout Paris

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie Cornell June 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

I haven’t tried this place, but will next time I’m there – sounds like a little piece of heaven! It’s getting harder and harder to find great croissants in Paris. According to one baker I talked with, it’s because so many bakeries are using frozen dough rather than making it by hand. You can definitely tell the difference as the frozen dough makes croissants that are more bread-like and much less flaky. Nothing frozen for Pierre Herme!

Lydia June 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

It is a little piece of heaven, for sure! I hope the French are able to stem the tide of mass production with their croissants and breads.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: