Crisp upon crisper layers of puff. Firm, dark chocolate in every bite. Buttery flakes of pastry that melt on your tongue…but then, Stendhal famously said, “Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it.” Experience the nuances of the perfect pain au chocolat on this tour of Parisian patisseries that promises an array of interpretations for your sweet tooth. French pastries are really just mouth art because from one chocolate croissant to the next, each one will bear the distinctive signature of its chef. One thing is certain: they’ll all be sublime.
62, Rue Madame | 75006 Paris | 01 42 22 06 06
Before or after a visit to the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens, enjoy one of the few organic bakeries in Paris. Situated right outside the gardens, it’s a patisserie with the kind of tearoom you can easily sit in for hours. And naturally, enough pastries to keep you busy for just as long. But, you know what you came for, so start with what many deem this the #1 pain au chocolat in the city.
34, Rue Yves Toudic | 75010 Paris | 01 42 40 44 52
Those seeking the “simple yet intense happiness with something as simple as a piece of bread,” will appreciate the pastry chef’s attention to the craft of time-honored methods found here. Dating back to 1889, original interiors transport you to a Paris of a different time. Named the best French bakery in Paris by Gault & Millau gourmet magazine in 2008, it’s more than just its elegant ambience, though; it’s the pain au chocolat that locals and globetrotters avow is the best of the best.
3. 134 r.d.t.
134, Rue de Turenne | 75003 Paris | 33 1 42 78 04 72
While the rule of thumb with most Parisian bakeries is to arrive early, this simply appointed boulangerie in fact does have the locals lined up at dawn’s break. Located in the charming medieval streets of Le Marais, the place is busy all day (including the daily flock of Parisian children who swarm the place afterschool for their French pastry treats), so be prepared to wait a bit. It’ll be worth it when you behold the exquisite feuilletage (flakiness) of the pains au chocolat here.
4. Gérard Mulot
76, Rue de Seine | 75006 Paris | 33 1 43 26 85 77
One of the most celebrated patisseries in all of Paris, the bliss of this establishment begins before you even enter the front door. Have your camera ready to snap some of the most gorgeous pastry displays in all of Paris. Positively architectural confections beckon you to a veritable Shangri-La of tarts, cakes, éclairs, caramels and of course, pains au chocolat. Of all the selections on this list, this one boasts the deepest, richest dark chocolate within its flaky layers.
63, Boulevard Pasteur | 75006 Paris | 33 1 43 26 85 77
Another photogenic entry, this beautiful bakery is amongst those known as a bijouterie, owing luxuriant interiors reminiscent of a luxe Parisian jewelry shop. After you absorb the visual splendor, sample the pain au chocolat that makes our list for being airy, and if it’s possible, the lightest version of this delicious classic pastry.