Join our food columnist Rosa Jackson on an early-morning foodie tour of the capital
I fell in love with Paris through its breakfast pastries, and nothing much has changed in the past few decades. Over the years, though, I have become more selective: if I am going to indulge in a buttery pastry first thing in the morning, it had better be worth it. If some bakeries shamelessly heat up frozen pre-made croissants, others take real pride in their craft. Though a good bakery is never far away, I would happily cross town for the following pastries.
Brioche: Bread & Roses, 62 Rue Madame, 6th arrondissement
You can’t go wrong with any of the organic breads and pastries at this café-bakery, but nothing beats their cloud-like brioche, sold in its own little basket for you to pick off the shelf. It’s hard to believe that such a puffy and ethereal bread begins with a massive slab of butter. Taste it fresh, then toast the leftovers the next day and give them a swipe of jam (tel: (Fr) 1 42 22 06 06, www.breadandroses.fr).
Croissant: Boulangerie Pichard, 88 Rue Cambronne, 15th
Not many tourists wander into this residential district, but it’s worth it for the outstanding breads and croissants at this family-run bakery. I don’t know if their croissant is the best in the city (Pierre Hermé is often credited with that), but its light, flaky layers were tempting enough to make me leap out of bed while I was living in the neighbourhood (tel: (Fr) 1 43 06 97 37).
Pain au chocolat: Lenôtre, 61 Rue Lecourbe, 15th
You’ll find branches of this pâtisserie and traiteur all over town, but Lenôtre has never compromised the quality of its pastries and especially of the unabashedly buttery pain au chocolat, with its double chocolate filling. Treating myself here is like choosing champagne over sparkling wine ; I know there is more to it than mere snobbery (tel: (Fr)1 42 73 20 97, www.lenotre.com).
Escargot: Du Pain et des Idées, 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th
Much as I love a good pain aux raisins (swirled brioche with raisins), even better is the escargot, made with a flakier dough and a variety of fillings. Perhaps the ultimate example is the pink praline version at this fairy-tale bakery near the Canal Saint-Martin. If you want a more classic experience, choose the rum-raisin version (tel: (Fr) 1 42 40 44 52, www.dupainetdesidees.com).
Chausson aux pommes: Poilâne, 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th
It lives mostly in the shadow of the croissant, yet at its best the apple turnover is the queen of breakfast pastries. The trick is finding a place that gives you a high proportion of freshly made apple compote to pastry: for this, look no further than Poilâne, which also sells a stunning open-faced apple tart (tel: (Fr) 1 45 48 42 59).