Paris. Saint-Germain-des-Prés and around
Quiet streets, locals carrying grocery bags with fruit and veg from the local market sticking out, peace and quiet. That’s what a Sunday in the neighbourhood of St. Germain-des-Prés looks like.
They were one of the first to take enjoying coffee in Paris to a new level, offering great roasted beans, which, with the help of the right latte art, would be turned into fabulous cappuccinos, cortados and lattes. Which, with the slow trickle of cold water through them, would make a fantastic cold brew (available in bottles for takeaway). And they knew how to make a great V60 or siphon coffee. And that’s not all – they also showed how to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in a slightly different way, for example, making a meal out of avocado cream served on toast with asparagus, peas, broccoli, a poached egg and feta cheese. How to use a countryside chicken fillet for a crunchy schnitzel, served with baked watermelon and a light salad.
How to turn pancakes into an adventure, by making them big and round and pouring chestnut honey over them, then sprinkling them with thyme and blueberries and serving them with a fluffy mascarpone cream. And at the same time never forgetting what the locals love as well – croissants, excellent sandwiches and pastries (their pâte à choux with vanilla custard was just fantastic!). Coutume Café combines so many good things that even if you visit them often you’ll never grow bored. There’s always space in your belly for a quinoa salad with buttermilk dressing, a burrata with herbs and tangerines or something seasonal, a mango and coconut salad or anything else that takes over the baton in summer. And then the biscuits, brownies, flapjacks and all the rest. You don’t want to leave, but when you do, you wish to plan your next visit already.
47 Rue de Babylone, 7ar, Paris
One of the most famous breads in Paris and the whole of France is made here by already the third generation of bakers. It was right here on Rue du Cherche-Midi that they opened the first bakery in 1932, and it’s still the most famous to keep churning out breads, pastries and the renowned Poilâne sablé biscuits – the classic from Normandy, the native region of the owners, where all you need to make a good biscuit is excellent butter, sugar and flour.
Their assortment of breads is not big, but consistently good, just as their croissants, chausson aux pommes and pain au chocolat. Classic, but so perfect that you don’t really need anything more.
Looking for a meal? Pop into the related Cuisine de Bar in the same building.
8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris
They’re famous for their Paris-Brest pastry and éclairs. I can’t comment on the latter just yet (though I’m sure they’re perfect), but their Paris-Brest is something you just must try. A generous amount of relatively dense cream filling between two layers of pâte à choux. And, as if it’s not enough, there’s a crunchy sweet and juicy nut praline in the middle, making the whole thing so marvellous that it’s just impossible to stop eating a second and a third helping. This is a must-try classic – although there are plenty of variations around, some of them are nothing special, but this is one of the standouts.
14 Boulevard Saint-Michel, Paris
Des Gâteaux et du Pain
Itching to try a brioche that’s different from all others because it’s just too good? Craving a super-crisp croissant? Or maybe a pastry that combines croissant and brioche pastry, and with crème pâtissière to boot? Then head to Des Gâteaux et du Pain. Rumour has it, they have magnificent tarte au citron, tarte aux fraises, tarte tatin and financiers.
89 Rue du Bac, Paris
Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki is the best possible combination of Japanese flavours and traditions and French confectionery. Grab some matcha tea croissants and macarons – they’ll come in handy after that Eiffel Tower climb or as a snack at the foot of the tower.
35 Rue de Vaugirard, Paris