As a the owner of Beaucoup Bakery in Vancouver and a general food nerd, I spend a lot of time traveling in search of the most inspiring culinary experiences. I spend many months in Paris each year for The Paris Tours hosting pastry tours. As a result, I get to explore and discover Paris from many angles. My favourite part? Getting to share my findings!
1. Le Suzerain Butter – Artisanal Butter (image below) This is, quite literally, the best butter I’ve ever tasted in my life. Hand-churned butter with crunchy fleur de sel from a small French Island called Noirmoutier. I found this artisanal butter in the corner of a tiny cheese shop. It was sitting next to a famous butter (Bordier) and I asked the shop owner her opinion. She nodded once, almost arrogantly, “this is better”. Of course it was.
2. Beautiful Baguette A trip to Paris is not complete unless you can say you’ve done a handful of iconic things: Visited the Eiffel Tower, people-watched at a café, tasted a beautiful baguette. The French give prestigious awards for the best baguette each year and these are amongst the past winners and some of my favourites. Au Levain d’Antan, 6 rue des Abbesses, 75018 and Au Petit Versailles du Marais at 27 rue François Miron, 75004 3. Chez Georges – Sole Meunière (image below) In keeping with the iconic tradition, this bistro is known as one of Julia Child’s favourites, and the Sole Meniere, one of the most perfectly executed classics there. 1 rue Mail, 75002
4. Pierre Hermé – Tarte Infiniment Vanille (image below) Everything that this pastry god makes is excellent but I’ve loved this tart from the time a former intern told me they used 30 vanilla beans per litre of milk in the pastry cream. It is perfection in deceptive simplicity. Tip: Go to the Rue Bonaparte location, ask for forks, sit on a bench at St. Sulpice and “MacGyver” the plastic bag into a waterproof seat if the benches are wet. 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006
5. Au Passage – Cherry-Pickled Dishes (image below) For an updated perspective on the classic French bistro, Au Passage focuses on fresh dishes where their menu is continually changing with the seasons. They have cherry-picked the best of contemporary cuisine and classic French gastronomy, and serve it in a charming space on a hidden alleyway. 1 bis, Passage Saint-Sébastien?75011
6. Patrick Roger – Delhi Chocolate (image below) Patrick Roger is one of the most celebrated chocolatiers in Paris. He closes his doors during summer to fill his shop window with giant chocolate art sculptures and installations. Try his Delhi chocolate with essence of lemon and basil or the saffron-scented marzipan chocolate. 108 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006
7. Le Comptoir du Relais – Charcuterie & Brandade Gratinée (image below) For tourists and locals alike, this is a quintessential Parisian experience with wonderful classics, charcuterie and my personal favourite, the Brandade Gratinée (a popular dish with salted cod). If you’re looking for French tapas with lots of personality, their standing only wine bar next door, L’avant Comptoir, is a lively experience. Be ready to fight for a space at a counter, elbows and all! 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006
8. Bastille Farmers’ Market (image below) This is one of my favourite foodie places on earth! It’s football fields worth of colourful vegetables, hundreds of cheeses, fresh fish, meat, dried fruits, flowers, simmering tagines and choucroute, buckwheat crepes with goat cheese and honey, sea salts, oils and wines. If you’re heading out for a picnic, buy a rotisserie chicken and potatoes basted in its fat, some fresh fruits, a baguette, and have yourself a French Sunday dinner. Bastille Metro Station
9. Jacques Genin I heard Jacques Genin made the best caramels in Paris and when I tasted them…speechless! The texture is technically perfect and flavours pure. Be sure to try their salted caramel and mango passionfruit. They also have an amazing mille feuille that can only be ordered in their salon du thé. 133 Rue de Turenne, 75003
10. Frenchie Wine Bar This is one of the best places to get classic French flavour combinations, in an unexpected new way. This wine bar opened as a solution to their very overbooked restaurant across the alley, offering a gourmet experience to satisfy the “unlucky castaways” without a month-long reservation. 5-6 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France
11. The Broken Arm In recent visits my friend and food photographer, Joann Pai, began to show me new facets of Paris that I have come to love. This new, hip, coffee-obsessed culture has given new meaning to the word “café” for the French. 12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris
12. Café Pouchekine The croissant is another Parisian icon that must be experienced, and this version is the perfect croissant scented with vanilla bean. Not only are the pastries at this Russian-French influenced shop beautiful tasting, they are decorated with the intricacy of a Matryoshka doll. 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008
13. L’as Du Falafel (image below) I know, how many more people need to write about this falafel, can it be that good? Frankly, it’s pretty satisfying whether you’re on the bandwagon or not. It’s the toppings that push it over the edge: pickled red cabbage, white cabbage slaw in a T’hina sauce, fried eggplant, fresh tomatoes and THE BEST part….”that” hot sauce.
14. L’Ami Jean This little restaurant is one of the hardest in Paris to get a reservation, rightly so, it is French comfort food at its best. The portions are enormous and hearty but the flavours are refined and well balanced. You must have the garlic soup and save room for a rice pudding big enough for four. 27 Rue Malar, 75007
15. E. Dellherein – French Cookware (image below) This is a food lover’s heaven! A French cookware store known for supplying Julia herself, amongst almost every notable chef. Imagine walls of copperware, and old, well-worn wooden corners of the store where you might just discover your next favourite rolling pin. 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001
16. Pâte à Tartiner – Un Dimanche à Paris (image below) In this beautiful location on a cobblestone alley, Un Dimanche à Paris has created a lovely modern pâtisserie and one of the only salon du thé open on a Sunday in Paris. They are known for their pastries but this pâte à tartiner (goat butter and buckwheat caramel and hazelnut star anise praliné shown here) had unexpected and lovely flavour combinations and some of the city’s best. 4-6-8 Cours du Commerce Saint-André, 75006
17. Mary Celeste (image below) There is new wave of contemporary restaurants are taking over the hip areas of Paris with innovative cocktails and food. Mary Celeste explores new, bold (and lighter) combinations of flavours that take French dining onto new paths. 1 Rue Commines, 75003 Paris
18. Agape Substance Some of the best dishes I had in Paris were here. The chef shows such restraint by allowing each ingredient to shine while still enhancing each other. There is no menu; the chef cooks whatever is fresh and inspired that day. Dishes like brioche cream & low-temp egg, dry-aged beef with baby onion mash, baby leek and dark beer sauce, beet root gateaux with beet infused tapioca pearls, Greek yogurt and crispy meringue, were all paired with wine from quirky rogue producers. 66 Rue Mazarine, 75006
19. Sadaharu Aoki – Caramel Matcha Tarte (image below) I am always trying new products for inspiration and staying abreast to trends. On the last pastry tour I held for “The Paris Tours” I decided to try the newest addition to Aoiki’s pastry case. It was simply amazing how he managed to balance subtle flavour of matcha and caramel, each holding their own on the palate and playing off each other. Wow. 35 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006
20. Lenôtre – Chausson Aux Pommes Years ago, I fell in love with this chausson aux pommes. Since then, each time I visit Paris, it is not complete without a taste of this pastry. It is overwhelmingly buttery; the apple compote is smooth, sweet and tart. The entire thing melts in your mouth and I have yet to find another that rivals. Multiple locations
Jackie Kai Ellis is the owner and baker of Beaucoup Bakery, CEO/co-founder of The Paris Tours, JKE, Bespoken, Recette and The Invisible Thread. To Learn more about her, follow her on Twitter @JackieKaiEllis.