Paris is a haven for those with a sweet tooth, boasting a host of pastry shops to discover, each more tempting than the next. From hazelnut praline Paris-Brest to decadent chocolate éclairs, from simple madeleines to ornate, cream-filled Saint-Honorés, there’s truly something for everyone.
Be forewarned: You won’t find croissants at most of these spots. The classic French breakfast roll is not considered a patisserie but rather a viennoiserie – a member of the category of Austrian-inspired “Vienna breads” that took Paris by storm in the 19th century and have been within the purview of bread-baking boulangers and touriers ever since. A pastry, by definition, is not made with a yeasted dough and is far more delicate than even the airiest of pains au chocolat.
From classic shops to mono-pastry spots specializing in just one or two types of cake, here are the must-try pastry shops for any visitor to the French capital.
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After founding contemporary bakery Liberté back in 2013, Benoit Castel has continued in the vein of “freeing” French pastry from its stodgy reputation at his eponymous boutiques, which break from tradition in more ways than one. Marrying the idea of a café and that of a patisserie, Castel offers visitors the rare Parisian space where you can dig into treats on-site.
Offerings range from simple traveling cakes like almond flour financiers and madeleines to modern plays on classics like a deconstructed fraisier or a lemon “tart” featuring nine perfectly piped dollops of curd arranged across a square shortbread biscuit–one of the house specialties. Supersized cream puffs are filled with coffee or chocolate; seasonal offerings like tarte tatin or clafoutis make the most of fresh fruit.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the simple tarte à la crème, filled with clouds of vanilla-scented Chantilly cream.
Once an employee of his now arch-rival Ladurée, Pierre Hermé has risen to become Paris’ inarguable macaron king. His offerings range from classics like chocolate and caramel to seasonal offerings taking inspiration from elsewhere. Strawberry is paired with pungent Japanese wasabi, pistachio, and sour cherry are punched up with a hint of cinnamon.
While some of Hermé’s shops sell only macarons and chocolates, at other outposts, you may be able to try his equally delicious pastries, from the Piedmont hazelnut millefeuille to the Ispahan—a macaron base filled with raspberries and scented with rose and litchi.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the two macaron stalwarts: Ispahan (with rose, raspberry, and litchi) and Mogador (marrying milk chocolate and passion fruit).
What Pierre Hermé has done for macarons, Gilles Marchal has done for the humble but oh-so-delicious traveling cake that is the madeleine. The shell-shaped cake supposedly got its start in eastern French Lorraine at the time of the exile of the deposed Polish King Stanislas I. During a state dinner, over the course of which the pastry chef stormed out following a dispute with the court jester (you really can’t make this stuff up), a young woman working in the kitchen ostensibly cooked up this simple butter cake that has since become a favorite across France.
At Gilles Marchal’s eponymous Montmartre boutique, you can sample a dozen of the over 70 flavors he has crafted thus far: some marbled, some filled with jam or ganache, some glazed, and even a handful of savory choices laced with cheese or truffle.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the lime and thyme madeleine: the chef’s favorite.
Ritz Paris Le Comptoir
François Perret has been making pastry at the glamorous Ritz since 2015, but it wasn’t until 2021 that he launched the Ritz Le Comptoir pastry shop, where even those who aren’t guests of the palace hotel can get a taste of his delicious creations.
The menu features the madeleine trompe l’oeil cake he crafted at the luxury hotel’s Bar Vendôme, comprised of a Savoy biscuit, toasted almonds, and a chestnut honey center. The madeleines author Marcel Proust so loved—and for whom the hotel’s Salon de Proust is named—are filled with jam, chocolate, or chestnut honey. In a nod to the “to-go” mentality of the shop, viennoiseries and even sandwiches are served in an ultra-long, mess-free format that is perfect for enjoying while you flâne.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the ten-inch-long millefeuille filled with caramelized nuts and just-sweet-enough vanilla pastry cream.
Algerian-inspired Laouz marries tradition and innovation with forms inspired by Chef Rachid Sellali’s heritage and flavors drawn from his travels. Algerian corne de gazelle might be flavored with Basque Espelette pepper; almond paste flowers could be scented with mint chocolate, lemon verbena, or raspberry-litchi. Laouz is like a jewelry shop for any dessert lover, boasting bright colors and gorgeous shapes.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the rich, marzipan-like flavor of walnut mkhabez, glazed in a sweet lemon fondant
Fou de Pâtisserie
This shop boasts no pastry chef. Instead, Fou de Pâtisserie unites the best pastries from over a dozen of the capital’s top pâtissiers. While offerings revolve regularly, frequent fliers include the nut tartlet from Nicolas Haelewyn, with its rich caramel coating and an assortment of hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. There are also gluten-free options and easy-to-transport cookies, babka, and loaf cake.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss Jardin Sucré’s now-famous pistachio and orange blossom tart.
The braided Polish babka has taken Paris by storm, joining classic French viennoiseries in many a bakery window. But at Babka Zana, it’s the true star of the menu. This pastry shop specializes almost exclusively in babka, with flavors including chocolate hazelnut, lemon halva, or cinnamon. Joining the namesake pastries are light, fluffy labneh cheesecakes and rugelach, as well as a handful of savory options like sabiches or boreka.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the seasonal babka roll, which changes regularly. Coconut, lemon curd, pumpkin, and pistachio-strawberry have all been featured previously. Check their Instagram to see what will be on offer during your visit.
The plaque proudly placed in front of this rue Montorgueil pastry shop proclaims it as Paris’ oldest patisserie. Founded in 1730 by Nicolas Stohrer, the pastry chef to King Louis XV, Stohrer boasts a beautifully tiled interior and an appetizing window of all French pastry classics. From chocolate-coffee opéra to hazelnut Paris-Brest, vanilla-caramel Saint-Honoré to lemon tart, this is the place to come if you’re in the market for a truly traditional Parisian pastry experience.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the two pastries Stohrer purportedly invented: the baba au rhum, designed as a way to render drier Eastern European cakes more to the liking of Stanislas I, and the custard-filled Puits d’Amour or “well of love”–a pastry case filled with custard and caramelized in the manner of a crème brûlée.
Gluten-free diners don’t have to worry about missing out on delicious Parisian pastries thanks to Sucré Coeur, a shoebox of a shop in Montmartre touting organic, gluten-free pastries devoid of artificial colors and additives. The ever-changing range of tarts provides variations on a theme: A biscuit base is topped with ganache, gelée, and more, for choices that could include the lime-mint-cucumber Guillaume or Gaspard, a chocoholic’s dream. Gluten-free brownies, cookies, and financiers are on offer, and there’s always at least one vegan choice.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the creative sweet-and-savory Jean, with popcorn ganache and salted butter caramel.
Long-time fans of the maple syrup tart at Clamato, a seafood-focused offshoot of Michelin-starred Septime, gave a huge round of applause when Chef Grégory Marchand opened his first Tapisserie just up the block, serving up not just the tartlet with its come-hither dollop of soft-whipped cream but also glazed croissants, lemon tarts, and the hazelnut-infused Succès, with dacquoise and caramelized raw cream. Now boasting two outposts – the original in the 11th and a second a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, Tapisserie is a must-visit.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss that famous maple tartlet…and snag an ethereal cream puff for good measure.
Few pastry chefs of Marletti’s caliber commit to the sheer variety of pastries you’ll find at his eponymous 5th arrondissement shop. Indeed, the choice can be paralyzing but know that it’s hard to go wrong – especially if you snag something made with choux pastry, like his seasonal éclair or purple Lily Valley, named for his florist wife and boasting violet-scented pastry cream and purple sugar décor. Skip the too-sweet macarons, but grab a citrus-infused gâteau basque in its buttery pastry casing – the perfect transportable snack for later.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss Le Désir–a chocoholic’s dream–with cocoa nib cake layered with dark chocolate cream and covered in a rich, solid chocolate coating.
Des Gâteaux et du Pain
Claire Damon’s rural French childhood informs her pastry approach at Des Gâteaux et du Pain, with fruit-driven pastries crafted by way of classic French technique. Organic ingredients sourced from small producers are at the heart of her masterpieces, ranging from rhubarb cream puffs to raspberry cheesecake to a wild strawberry tart almost too pretty to eat.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the caramelized vanilla millefeuille with its welcome sprinkle of fleur de sel to counterbalance the sweetness.
Utopie offers exquisite examples of pastry and viennoiserie – something many shops are hard-pressed to do. And while its croissants and breads are excellent, it’s the pastry that keeps us coming back, with unique, internationally-inspired cakes like a stunner of a sesame-lime creation (a creamy dome dusted in black sesame) or strawberry entremets paired with pecan cream, black lemon Chantilly, and basil oil.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the decadent, creamy black sesame éclair with its seed-speckled vanilla icing.
Kévin Lacoste’s 17th arrondissement KL Pâtisserie is worth crossing Paris for. His fresh, food-coloring-free pastry creations certainly take their inspiration from French pastry tradition, with seasonal plays on millefeuille, Saint-Honoré, and éclairs, but his unique pastries truly take the proverbial cake. Courmarine combines chocolate and spicy tonka bean, while Kara Damia unites salted butter caramel with coconut dacquoise and caramelized macadamia nuts for richness to the extreme.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss Lacoste’s seasonal cheesecake creations, which see a light cheesecake mousse paired with spiced speculoos biscuits and fresh fruit confit. Strawberry, grapefruit and more have enjoyed the treatment thus far!
This superstar shot to fame as executive pastry chef at Le Meurice, where his trompe l’oeil pastries have inspired awe in many. Most of his ultra-grammable designs begin with a fruit or nut, which is then distilled down into a pastry-inspired form–Timut pepper-spiked mandarin cream, for instance, or a coriander-infused mango compote–before being reassembled in a pastry that looks like the original ingredient. Such artistry and creativity, of course, come at a heftier price than most, but these beautiful creations are worth trying at least once.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss whatever seasonal form the trompe l’oeil pastry has taken.
Les Choupettes de Chouchou
Cream puffs can be found at almost every pastry shop in Paris, but rarely are they treated with such care as at this mono-pastry shop in Montmartre. At Les Choupettes de Chouchou, the choux pastry puffs are filled to order with organic Chantilly cream: chocolate, coffee, lemon, or plain vanilla. An occasional seasonal flavor joins the melee, and savory iterations can be ordered in advance.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the creamy lemon, with its perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.