Summer's here, and Paris's gourmet ice cream scene has never been sweeter. Every neighborhood in the city has its own dreamy version guaranteed to satisfy everyone from the most persnickety aficionado to families on the go.
Turin-based gelato-maker extraordinaire Grom is among the best in Paris—no mean feat, considering the competition. Made with organic, premium-quality raw materials—tart Sfusato lemons from Amalfi, Leonforte peaches, tender Ribera strawberries—with no coloring or additives, it's not only one of the most delectable, but guilt-free to boot.
Must Try: Refreshing mandarin, coffee, lemon, or the limited-edition strawberry granitas are summer standouts.
Paris's Île Saint-Louis could be nicknamed the Isle of Bertillon, where a cone or cup of France's most beloved ice cream can be had from scores of vendors on the island or in a towering ice cream sundae topped with billowy crème Chantilly in the flagship shop's own elegant wood-paneled tea salon. Based here since 1954, the preservative-free ice creams and sorbets come in more than 65 natural flavors.
Must Try: Luscious fraises des bois, which comes with whole tiny berries and velvety caramel au beurre sale, is a classic.
The Raimo family opened this neighborhood shop in 1947, making it the oldest in Paris, and the silky ice creams and sorbets are still churned on the premises by a team of chefs who regularly update flavors and keep the quality top-notch. Along with the original 12th arrondissement shop and tea salon (59 blvd de Reuilly)—perfect for a sundae with all the toppings or an ice-cream pastry—there are two smaller shops in more touristy Paris locations.
Must Try: Wild chestnut honey, jasmine, or prune-Armagnac ice cream; tart griotte cherry or lemon-basil sorbets; kids love the cotton candy ice cream.
Artisan glacier Martine Lambert plundered the dairy land splendors of Normandy for her Deauville-based shop. Founded in 1975, Lambert has spent 30 years perfecting her imaginative concoctions, using only unpasteurized milk and cream and a whopping 70% fruit for her flavor-packed sorbets. Parisians rejoiced when Lambert's first two outlets opened in Paris's 7th arrondissment.
Must Try: Nuit de Chine, a dense chocolate with Szechuan pepper and truffle chips, or handpicked wild blackberry sorbet
After beating 25 Italian gelatieri for the Cono d'Oro, Milan's prestigious competition for best gelato (with her coffee ice cream), the young gelato-maker decided to bring her expertise to Paris. Mary's resolutely artisanal creations, handmade on the premises of the finest organic ingredients, are light, inventive and change according to what's fresh that day. (1 rue Charles-François Dupuis, 3e)
Must Try: Delicately perfumed fleur d'oranger gelato with bits of candied orange peel or the ethereal flocon de neige (snowflake)
Follow the line snaking down the rue du Roi de Sicile to Pozzetto's takeout window, where Marais shoppers and ice cream aficionados flock for some of the best gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut) gelato on the planet. With a roster of straightforward standards made fresh in the shop, you can't go wrong with any one of them.
Must Try: Profoundly rich pistachio or the intensely flavored fig
Many of the city's notable pâtisseries–chocolatiers carry their own signature ice creams, here's a short list of the very best.
Maison du Chocolat (225 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré; 52 rue François 1er)
Patrice Chapon (69 rue du Bac)
La Mere de Famille (35 rue du Faubourg Montmartre)
On the Go
(Yes, there are even more places to get ice cream that are magnifique.)
While purists may call it just another "fast food" chain, with a dozen outlets in most of Paris's busiest neighborhoods, Amorino's dense, satisfying ice cream is an easy and excellent quick fix, with flavors like tiramisu, dolce de leche, amarena cherry, and a pleasantly tart passion fruit sorbet.
It may not travel around blasting Ave Maris, but the sleek black Glazed ice cream truck does a mean gourmet ice cream. It parks at the hip Canal St. Martin on Sunday afternoons (3:00 pm-6:00 pm) to dispense cones, cups, and pints of five wickedly good flavors, like Smoke on the Water, with madagascar vanilla and hemp seeds; and Tunnel of Love, wild strawberry with tangy Japanese sansho pepper.