I have a little tradition when I’m in Paris. Every morning, I seek out a different bakery and buy a croissant (or two). With just 10 days to spend in Paris, I knew that at most I could only sample a baker’s dozen of croissants. This time I wanted to take notes in case I found the best croissants in Paris.
In most cased I tried to judge solely on the basis of a simple croisssant au beurre, but I did have a few fancier pastries along the way. I must have lost count somewhere, because I ended up with fewer than a dozen on my list. Here they are.
Croissant #1: Events conspired against me the first day. I had multiple errands to run, one of which was getting cash. By the time I finally reached a bakery it was late afternoon and I was exhausted. I darted into an open shop and bought the most regrettable croissant I’ve ever eaten in Paris. It was soggy and and a sin against croissants. I didn’t even take note of the shop. I also bought a tarte au citron, which was decent and made up slightly for the sub-par croissant.
Croissant #2: This time I started closer to home, and bought a croissant from Ernest et Valentin, just across the street from my apartment. It was light, crisp, buttery, and delicious. For most of the trip, this rated as my favorite, and I even went back for a second.
Croissant #3: I picked this one up during a ramble in Montmartre. I wish I had noted the shop name, because the pain Suisse I picked up was amazing. It was a twisted pastry filled with some sort of custard and flecked with small morsels of chocolate. Just heaven. (pictured below).
Croissant #4: I had passed by Le Loup Gourmand several times and was drawn to the beautiful displays in the window. I made a point of heading there for my daily croissant one morning. I picked up the croissant au buerre, which had a wonderful flavor and unusual shape. However, the texture reminded me more of a tender brioche dough rather than the flakiness I like in a croissant. I also picked up a cannelé and a pretty little cup of chocolate mousse. The cannelé was flavorful but not as deeply caramelized as I would like. The chocolate mousse was very good, with the exception of the texture of the raw hazelnuts sprinkled on top, which I ended up eating around.
Croissant #5: This one was from Maison Landemaine. It was beautifully flakey and buttery, with exactly the right amount of chew. It was ever so slightly too dark, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment.
Croissant #6: I’d been told that previous visitors to this apartment preferred Boulangerie CD to Ernest et Valentin, so I had to try them. The croissant was flakey and chewy, with a very tender bite to the layers. Honestly, it reminded me slightly of milk bread or an American dinner roll in croissant form. It was unusual, but not one I’d go back for.
Croissants #7 & 8: I wandered into Désirs au Manon twice, hoping to find the marzipan and pear croissant that I remember fondly from my last trip. Sadly, they seemed not to be in season, or I arrived too late in the day. During my first visit, I picked up a custard and apricot croissant that was bright and delicious. The second time I picked up a plain croissant, which was beautifully flakey and golden, with a good chew. If you’re near the St. Paul Metro station, take the time to visit.
Croissant #9: Another must-do on this trip was breakfast at Angelina. This allowed me to sample miniature versions of their croissant, pain au chocolat, and pain au raisin. The croissant was crisp and amazing, and rose to the top of the list. I would highly recommend everything I sampled, but especially the chocolat chaud.
Croissant #10: There had to have been other croissants after Angelina, because that was on Monday, and my notes pick up again on Thursday. I’m pretty sure I didn’t skip those days. Alas, I have no notes, so those croissants have vanished from my memory. The final croissants of my trip came from Boulangerie Pezeril on Rue du Temple, which I passed while I was searching for Boulangerie CD. I made my way back on the way to Versailles. The plain croissant was utter perfection, but the chocolate and pistachio snail (pictured top) was truly outstanding. It was moist, crisp along the edges, with a wonderful mix of pistachio and those tiny chocolate morsels. It made the perfect goûter (afternoon snack), as well as a perfect finale to my taste testing.
Obviously, with only 10 days to spend, I know I can’t claim to have found the absolute best croissants in Paris. That will have to wait for future trips and much, much more sampling.
Several of these bakeries were near the Arts et Metiers Metro stop. Of those, my favorite was Ernest et Valentin, followed closely by Boulangerie Pezeril. I would also recommend Désirs au Manon and Angelina, which will be on my short list for my next trip, regardless of which neighborhood I stay in.
Do you have a favorite boulangerie for the best croissants in Paris? If so, let me know in the comments.