From the elegant Place Vendôme to the humblest local shop, no one does Noël like the Parisians. Whether the sparkle be grand or humble, their Christmas spirit is always adventurous. This season, we say: join in! Seek your Christmas treats outside the traditional temples of patisserie (Angelina, Fauchon, Hévin, Ladurée). Discover something special from one of these specialists.
Pâtisserie des Rêves
Although it only opened in September, this is one of the most-talked-about places in town. Backed by the upscale hotelier Thierry Teyssier, Pâtisserie des Rêves is cunningly iconic, from its trendy palette (dove gray, salmon and apple green) to its presentation of the pastries in shiny glass ovoids. Customers study them, give their order and then collect. The process may get chaotic at times, but the critics are right to rave, since these adaptations of the classics are wonderful. They’ve been greeted as a return to the flavors of yesteryear. L’Express went even further, calling this shop an antidote to “Hermédolatrie”—the worship of Pierre Hermé–style novelties by inferior bakers.
Available December 24–31: The shop’s romantic Petit-Déjeuner de Noël for two. Specially packaged for positioning at the foot of your tree, this elegant box contains their simplest yet tastiest fare. To order, call 01 53 63 49 39 and ask for Charlotte.
Artist in residence: Philippe Conticini
Treat yourself to: The Paris-Brest with supple hazelnut cream; a silky tarte tatin
Pain de Sucre
If you know guimauves are marshmallows, you know Pain de Sucre, whose elegant windows showcase vase after vase of them. Flavors range from the delicate (angelica or orange blossom) to the daring (Campari or pimiento). Duck in for magical Christmas treats for children or adults, as well as whimsical pastries and inventive compotes. The bright orange packaging here is a stylish extra.
Artists in residence: Nathalie Robert and Didier Mathray
Treat yourself to: The perfect tarte au citron
Pâtisserie de l’Église
A step from the Jourdain metro station, Pâtisserie de l’Église looks deceptively homey. Yet a glance inside reveals some of Paris’s most famous patisserie. The perfect choice for your fanciest dinner is Le Triollo: their fabulous sculpture of almond crème, crème légère, pistachio, ripe figs and mulberries. Just around the corner is their sister bakery, Boulangerie au 140.
Artist in residence: Laurent Demoncy
Treat yourself to: The mille-feuille
The rue St.-Honoré branch of Boulangerie Julien balances frenetic traffic with placid luxury while serving up specialties such as the ultranoir Malicieux. Paris food guru Elodie Rouge sums it up: “Their name is to Viennese pastries what that of Hermès is to handbags.”
Artist in residence: Jean Noël Julien
Treat yourself to: The pain viennois au chocolat
This is a definite neighborhood hangout, with locals addicted to their supergrainy baguette, the Bazinette. Others, however, come for flamboyant pastries such as the square Choco-Orange (self-descriptive) or the scalloped Vulcano (a rosy confection of coconut mousse and cassis).
Artist in residence: Jacques Bazin
Treat yourself to: A flan nature
In Paris, debating the perfect macaroon is a city sport; as with éclairs, financiers and madeleines, reimagining one can define a true master. Macaroons are the reason to visit Sadaharu Aoki, already part of our Best Pastry section. The beautiful packaging here makes for singular Christmas gifts. Aoki’s pastry art has played a central role in the fervent love affair between Parisians and Japanese virtuosity.
Artist in residence: Sadaharu Aoki
Treat yourself to: Green tea macaroons
Supplier to the presidential palace Arnaud Delmontel impresses with wit and quality. Although he trained with Whole Foods, Delmontel still won the Best Baguette in Paris prize in 2007. His shop is now crammed with fantastic treats, including a garland for your sapin (Christmas tree) whose plastic balls contain macaroons.
Artist in residence: Arnaud Delmontel
Treat yourself to: His postmodern Bûche de Noël (Yule log), rectangular in shape and bright canary in color . . . but filled with dark chocolate, Asian yuzu and Japanese citrus fruits