All bread is good bread, but some loaves are a cut above.
Every single day, French bakeries welcome 12 million customers, or about 18% of the entire country’s population. L’Observatoire du Pain, the group that monitors the country’s bread, estimates that French people eat 320 baguettes every second, or about 10 billion baguettes every single year. That’s a lot of dough.
A good portion of that carby goodness comes out of Paris, where over 1,000 bakeries churn out everything from the traditional baguette to the rustic, grainy loaves that have become more popular with consumers in recent years. (There’s a helpful guide to all the different types of French bread here.)
But with such a hefty helping of boulangeries to choose from, how can anyone know where to get the best bread in Paris? We’re talking loaves you’ll dream about for years to come or crusty creations that can elevate a simple sandwich to the next level. Before you head to Paris, check out our list of the most beloved and hailed bakeries in town. Pack an appetite, and you’ll never end up heading home worried you missed out on that one perfect bite.
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One of Paris’s oldest continually operating bakeries, Poilâne, has been around since 1932. There are four Poilâne shops in Paris to choose from, including one that’s not too far from the Eiffel Tower. The bakery is still family-owned and operated, and the bakery has become famous for its massive 4.5-pound sourdough wheat loaf, which is emblazoned with a swooping P. The bread’s wheat flour blend uses all sorts of stone-ground French grains, but other loaves at the bakery have garnered attention for what they do with raisins, nuts, and rye flour.
Another Parisian classic, Maison Landemaine, has almost 20 locations in and around the city. That doesn’t mean they sacrifice quality for quantity, though. Each location bakes all of its bread in-house every single day—it’s actually the law in France that, to qualify as a bakery, you must bake in-house—and their baguette is the perfect blend of a crunchy exterior and an airy, rip-apart interior. All of the bread is made with eco-friendly organic flour that’s sustainably farmed, and the in-house leavening process means that you won’t be getting cookie-cutter baguettes here. The bakery actually makes several baguette varieties and a whole slew of other carb-friendly options, like cocoa bread, fougasse, Nordic bread, and all manner of delicious pastries and cookies. Try one of everything, because you only live once.
Maison Julien Les Saveurs de Pierre Demours
Every year in Paris, the city holds a competition to see which bakery has the very best baguette, with the winner nabbing the right to supply France’s presidential palace. The 2020 winner of Le Grand Prix de la Baguette de Traditional Française de la Ville de Paris was Maison Julien Les Saveurs de Pierre Demours, a family-run bakery in the 17th arrondissement, just a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The shop’s head baker, Taheb Sahal, is only in his mid-20s, so it should be interesting to see what he does in years to come.
Le Grenier à Pain
The only bakery to have gotten the “best baguette” nod twice, Le Grenier à Pain has shops all over Paris, including one near Montmartre. The owners describe themselves as “great artisans of bread,“ and they clearly have a passion for the product. Their bakery is practically a cathedral to the art of breadmaking, with ten or so different varieties made daily, plus all the other delicious delectables they have to offer. You have to try a baguette, of course, but Le Grenier also dabbles in sourdough, fougasses, and bread full of things like hazelnuts and figs.
A charmingly modern spin on the traditional French boulangerie, Mamiche is heaven for pastry and bread lovers alike. The bakery’s flagship in the 9th arrondissement can draw lines, so Mamiche opened a second spot in the 10th a few years back. Mamiche believes in the power of human skill and know-how, remarking on its website that, because they don’t mass produce what they have in store, “Your bread may be more dimpled today, or your cookie may be chocolatier than usual!” All the breads are great here, but check out their babkas, sweets, and pastry because the in-house diversity can be truly impressive.
Le Moulin de la Vierge
Le Moulin de la Vierge might look like a classic French bakery, but it has an interesting history. Music journalist Basile Kamir first opened the space in the ‘70s as a place to store his record collection, but after finding out that the building was slated for demolition, he reverted the Le Moulin back to its original purpose as a bakery in an effort to keep the building afloat. It worked, and 40 years and a couple of additional outposts later, he’s still producing products as stunning as the hand-painted fresco on the bakery’s ceiling. Known for its wood-fired cooking method, Le Moulin de la Vierge specializes in pain de campagne, sourdough baguettes, and their chocolate croissants, which have received rave reviews from all sorts of travelers. If you’re into a nice mille-feuille, you’ll also love this spot.
Du Pain et Des Idées
About a decade ago, Du Pain et Des Idées baker Christophe Vasseur started selling pain des amis (“bread of friends”) out of his shop. A complicated and time-consuming bread to make, with a deep, smoky aroma and nutty flavor, pain des amis reminded Parisians of the bread that was popular before WWII and of the deeply communal and convivial experience a group of friends can have when enjoying a meal with a nice big plate of fresh bread. Since then, Du Pain et Des Idées has continued selling the bread, and visitors have come to fall in love with many of their other items, including their extensive line of escargots, which are filled pastry cookies rolled up to look like their namesake snails. Filled with combinations of pistachios and chocolate or praline, honey, and lemons, they’re tantalizingly sweet and savory and can really hit the spot.
Au Petit Versailles du Marais
Owned by master baker and bread booster Christian Vabret, Au Petit Versailles du Marais is practically a shrine to the carb-centric arts. It’s picture-perfect inside, and Au Petit Versailles actually got its name from the golden mirrors that line its walls, a la Versailles’ famous Hall Of Mirrors. Vabret founded the World Cup of Baking in 1992 and is an expert in the world of bread, so trust that whatever you get at Au Petit Versailles will be great. They’re generally contenders in La Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris, and Bon Appetit has sung the praises of the bakery’s country-style Vabret miche, which is a sourdough loaf with an extremely doughy center.
Levain, Le Vin
Christophe Fertillet’s Levain, Le Vin is more than just a boulangerie. Sure, they offer delicious loaves of bread, all made from natural and sustainable flours, but the space also slings hand-chosen charcuterie and carefully curated biodynamic “natural” wines, all of which can either be taken to go or enjoyed in-house. It’s the perfect place to while away a couple of hours, enjoying some of the best of what France has to offer.
Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Terroirs d'Avenir
If you’re as interested in where your food comes from as what it tastes like, you’ll love Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Terroirs d’Avenir, which is owned and operated by the sustainable agriculture organization Terroirs d’Avenir. The group’s mission is to promote small farms, buying locally and using what’s both in season and native to the region. All of that is evident in the Boulangerie, which sits in a row of brightly-painted shops on Rue du Nil that are all run by the organization, including a grocery, dairy, butcher, and fishmonger. The bakery specializes in old varieties of bread made with local grains, but they carry old favorites, too, like brioche, pastries, and the good ol’ baguette.
It’s not impossible to find gluten-free products in French bakeries; you just have to know where to look. Boulangerie Chambelland specializes in organic, naturally gluten-free bread made with rice and buckwheat flour. They also make gluten-free cookies, cream puffs, and a few pastries, though you won’t find anything that would rely on traditional puff pastry, like croissants. Prices do tend to be a little higher than your traditional Paris boulangerie, but everything’s organic and small-batch, so that’s to be expected.
Shinya Pain Montmartre
Shinya Inagaki worked as a baker in some of the best boulangeries in Paris before striking out on his own with Shinya Pain. Located in Montmartre, the bakery specializes in natural sourdough loaves, locally-loved scones, and innovative loaves you might not find elsewhere in Paris. One look at the bakery’s Instagram will tell you the operation is pretty no-frills: The only pictures posted are of each day’s offerings written out on butcher paper.
There are Gontran Cherrier bakeries all over the world—including one at Charles DeGaulle airport—but don’t let that turn you off. The baker’s first location was in Paris’ 17th arrondissement, and that’s still where his heart lies. While the shop slings all the traditional baguettes, croissants, and loaves you’d expect from your run-of-the-mill boulangerie, it also takes creative stabs at other loaves, including one infused with rye and miso, or one speckled with sardines, pine nuts, and fresh coriander. The bakery even offers a monochrome range of buns in all different rainbow hues, from a red roll flavored with paprika, a squid ink black roll, and a green roll made with nigella or fennel flower.