Award-winning boulanger Christophe Vasseur opened this shop, at the corner of Marseille and Yves Toudic streets in the 10th, in 2002 and has risen in the bakery ranks like wildly proofing yeast dough ever since. His secret lies in making all things old—in flour and butter terms—new again. Set in a historical 19th-century building and furnished with flea-market finds, the rustic space takes you back to another era. Plus, he crafts everything using traditional methods such as making sourdough from natural starters and baking breads on a stone. With his viennoiseries, old and new intersect in the most appealing way. Find classic butter croissants but also versions incorporating rose water and matcha tea, pain au chocolat loaded with fresh bananas, and pastry-cream-filled "snails" highlighting black currant and kirsch. I snagged the seasonal apple tart with salted butter and a puff-pastry bottom so caramelized it almost formed its own dish.
On the way back to my Marais apartment, the scent drifting upwards from my bag seduced me into making a bad judgment call: nibbling at my croissant while walking through the harrowing traffic and construction at Place de la Republique, getting lost and nearly run over by a scooter in the process. Next time, I'll join the Parisians who gather at the wooden communal table outside the bakery—certainly a much better option when it comes to bread and brilliant ideas.
If the 19th century had the equivalent of a cupcake craze, it would be the French macarons at Laduree. These dainty, almond-meringue gerbets sandwiched around layers of flavored ganache are sweet and beautiful, come in pastel colors, and attract women in droves. Founded in 1862 by Louis Ernest Laduree, the original bakery at 16 rue Royale took its place among the other luxurious shops in and around Place de la Madeleine. But leave it to a smart, trendsetting woman to reinvent it. Sometime after the original bakery burned down, Laduree's wife, Jeanne Souchard, turned the shop into both a patisserie and one of the first tea salons in Paris, giving ladies a place to gather publically. And do they ever gather, even today (just observe the line that snakes around the shop and well onto the sidewalk outside).
Inside, belle choses coat every inch: Frescoes of gourmet cherubs by painter Jules Cheret adorn the ceiling, delectable desserts flirt from inside the extended counter, and signature celadon boxes on shelves beckon to be packed, gracefully, one macaron at a time. The first Paris macaron (invented in the 20th century by Pierre Desfontaines, a distant cousin to Laduree) came in flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, and the list of favorites has expanded to include caramel with salted butter, pistachio, lemon, and raspberry. Current Pastry Chef Philippe Andrieu stays ever en vogue by adding new seasonal editions; while I was there in spring, it was cherry blossom.
Other classics—like the violet Religieuse (two cream puffs dressed to resemble a nun), the Ispahan (a rose macaron with fresh raspberries and lychee), and even special 150th Anniversary pastries—will also appeal to anyone's feminine side. Laduree currently has several boutiques, including another tearoom on the Champs-Elysees.
La Bague De Kenza