Tastes of Paris: Patisseries, Chocolatiers et Cafés

Original article written for Montecristo Magazine.

“On every corner” is what everyone seems to say. In a city where cafés sprawl and spill onto boulevards and cobblestoned alleys, and elegant pâtisseries stud the streets like jewellery shops, it’s hard to argue against this claim. I have a sneaking suspicion the stereotype may be true, evidenced by the fact that the signature scent of Paris seems to be an intermingling of cologne, city grit, cigarette smoke, and, of course, freshly baked baguettes.

So how does one navigate to find gold, when everything seems to glitter? Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you view it, it’s simply trial and error—with fervent curiosity, tasting, testing, and tasting again to uncover the city’s best, one beautiful bite at a time.

Patrick Roger

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Known as one of the best chocolatiers in the world, Roger goes to almost obsessive lengths to create unparalleled chocolates; he bought his own almond grove in order to control the quality of his ingredients. His artistry has inspired a generation of pâtissiers and chocolatiers. In the presence of him and his chocolates, even alpha chefs have been known to fumble for words.

The must:
Lemon basil ganache chocolate and almond saffron.

The tip: 
If at the boutique by Saint Sulpice, ask to sit in his private upstairs gallery to enjoy the chocolate amidst his art collection.

Sadaharu Aoki

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This Japanese chef almost singlehandedly changed the way the French perceive their own pastries. Infusing Asian flavour profiles with traditional French techniques, imagine yuzu, matcha, adzuki, and black sesame in a luscious crémeux or airy dacquoise. Irresistible and perfectly executed, even the French find themselves breaking their own rules, coming out of the closet of culinary tradition, en masse.

The must: 
Tarte matcha caramel salé, Citron Praliné, Saya.

The tip: 
There is a strict no photos policy at all of his boutiques, but there are ample samples of chocolates to make up for it.

Le Boot Café

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This café, the size of an enviable walk-in closet, is immediately as charming as its Aussie barista, a charismatic one-man show in an old shoe repair shop. The coffee is perfect and the space is plastered with a good sense of hipster humor, cheeky postcards, and posters. Best of all, unlike most cafés in Paris, you can actually take this coffee for the road.

The must:
In addition to the coffee, their daily granola is a nice morning start.

The tip:
On Sundays, the café serves up their version of a salmon congee.

Café Kitsune

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Within the mosaic-carpeted galleries of the Palais Royal lives this little café created by the Japanese-French fashion label, Maison Kitsuné, best known for tastefully tongue-in-cheek clothing. Intended to be a lifestyle brand extension, the space is just as one would expect: modern, quaint, and whimsical with fox-shaped cookies, music, and accessories to accompany a cortado.

The must:
After caffeinating, forgo the usual beret souvenir and pick up one of their iconic “Parisien” pieces.

The tip:
Browse their catalog of newest collections while sitting and sipping.

La Maison du Chou

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This hidden gem in the sixth arrondisement sells one item in four flavours: chou with chocolat, nature, caramel, or praliné. The genius of this tiny shop is that each puff is piped à la minute so that exterior pastry stays crisp against the unctuous filling.

The must:
Nature is a lovely vanilla with a hint of sweet fromage.

The tip:
The shop sits in a quiet enclave of boutiques, perfect window shopping while nibbling on the petite pastries.

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