Part 1. How to find a good bakery.
A trip to Paris must include many visits to bakeries throughout the city (i.e. boulangeries or patisseries) for a taste of the finest breads and pastries on earth.
But all is not as it seems behind that door. A false step will find you eating a baked off frozen baguette prepared in a factory miles away and months ago that is full of preservatives. And it will cost the same as a great one thanks to the French government and the importance of baguette to their culture.
The secret, as George Clinton said, is to pay attention Like these young men are doing. Oh, to grow up with those baked goods at your corner.
What to do?
Learn to tell the good bakeries from the mediocre ones. What you are looking for is an artisan bakery that has maintained the traditions of French baking that date back hundreds of years. It is true that French bakeries are in crisis. But their struggle is no greater than those faced by many food producers in this world as they fracture into camps, artisanal and industrial. Fortunately there are lots of easy ways to identify one. And by seeking out the artisan bakers you keep their traditions alive.
Our neighborhood in Paris features bakeries of all kinds and stripes. As you walk around try to follow these recommendations and soon you will quickly spot the good ones.
Here are some rules to follow.
- Look for the words artisan or authentique anywhere outside of the bakery or for this sign.
- Look for the name of the baker somewhere on the exterior of the bakery. It shows ownership.
- As with so many things when you travel, look for and then follow the lines. The neighborhood knows what is going on.
- Don’t buy your bread at the supermarket even if it appears they are baking them.
What is the difference between a boulangerie and a patisserie? Bakeries (boulangeries) in Paris feature baked goods. And they sell a lot more than baguette and croissants. They also sell sandwiches, sodas, espresso and salads. They are often your best bet for a quick lunch to go on a touring day or breakfast before hand. Patisseries specialize in high-end baked goods. They focus on desserts.
But the lines often blur as many boulangeries often sell pastries and desserts as well. Some carry both names.
Your efforts will pay off. My recent experiences at La Croquandise, the closest artisan bakery to the Yellow Flat, were exceptional. The combination of a solid crunchy baguette, exceptional almond croissants and a wonderful cashier was perfect. Never did I think I would hear these words in a French bakery as I made a purchase: “I wish you an excellent day”. Wow that breaks a stereotype, doesn’t it. I went back for a tuna salad that afternoon and it was equally good, clean and fresh.
Here are some neighborhood bakeries within walking distance of the Yellow Flat worth checking out:
La Croquandise, mentioned above. Just follow the link to see where it is located. It is worth the 5 minute walk as opposed to the shop on the corner of Rue Alasseur, only to be used in emergency. 10 Rue du Laos 75015 Paris France.
Les Gouramndise Eiffel. Just across the Champ De Mars, consistent award winner for baguettes. 187 Rue De Grenelle, Paris 75007
Polaine. Famous for a reason. Enjoy the tartlets aux pommes (apples) and all of the breads. Then head to Rue Lourmel to keep shopping for goodies (here is a guide to shopping that street). 49 Boulevard de Grenelle, 75015 Paris.
Aux Merveilleux De Fred. Specialzes in massive meringue desserts. If you have a thing for meringue you have to try them. 94 Rue Saint-Dominique Paris
Want to research more? Here is a comprehensive list of the best bakeries by neighborhood: http://parisbymouth.com/paris-bakeries
And once you there, just what do you order? I will cover that in Part 2 in two weeks.
Do you have a favorite bakery to share with us? Then please do so in the comments section. I would appreciate that!
And as always be sure to enjoy Paris at the Yellow Flat.