When strolling along famous Paris streets like the Champs-Elysées and Rue Royale, your nose will be assaulted by delicious odors wafting from some of the greatest bakers, confectioners and chocolatiers in France.
Don’t be tempted by imitators – when in Paris, go for the original and best creators of world-famous sweet treats. See the top five places to satisfy your sweet tooth and your sense of occasion below…
1) for bonbons: l’Etoile d’Or
Denise Acabo’s knowledge of chocolate is the stuff of local legend and though the French may passionately debate about which type is their favourite, everyone agrees that the perfect delivery system for her chocolate masterpieces are her heavenly bonbons.
Although retired now, Denise’s enthusiasm for making the most delicious sweet treats in Paris still rules her shop, and those seeking the ultimate chocolate experience continue to make a beeline to her door despite all the competition this epicurean city has to offer. Many chocoholics confess that l’Etoile d’Or is their first stop when they get to Paris to get their bonbon fix and last stop before they leave Paris so they can stock up!
Where: 30 Rue Pierre Fontaine
2) for hot chocolate: Angelina Cafe
Even though it’s known as a tea salon, that is not what put the quaint little Angelina’s Cafe near the Jardin de Tuileries on the list of “must taste” treats in Paris – it is, undoubtedly, the hot chocolate.
You may wonder what is so special about this hot chocolate, but when it arrives at your marble top table on a gleaming silver tray with a separate cream decanter sporting a silver spoon, you’ll start get the picture. Chocolat L’Africain (African chocolate) is what made Angelina’s Café famous, which is why the recipe is still a closely guarded secret that you have to come all the way to Paris to try for yourself.
Even though the cafe offers delicious pastries to nibble as well as breakfast and lunch delights, true aficionados want nothing to interfere with the experience of savouring what many consider the most satisfying hot chocolate in the world.
Where: 226 Rue de Rivoli
3) for a glazed croissant: Pierre Hermé
Often compared to a religious experience, the glazed croissants made by Pierre Hermé are described in decidedly ecstatic terms by visitors who have tasted the perfect blend of flaky pastry wrapped around a pate of rose essence covered with a delicate confectioner’s sugar glaze.
Almost too pretty to eat, the infamous glazed rose croissant with its crowning touch of candied rose petals is such a work of art that it is often photographed thoroughly by delighted visitors before it is cheerfully devoured.
But it gets even better, there are lots variations with subtle hints of almonds, raspberries and, of course, chocolate – giving the rose croissant experience the potential to take your taste buds to you to the realm of the profound.
Where: 185 Rue de Vaugirard and 72 Rue Bonaparte
4) for ice cream: Berthillon
If you’re wrestling with the concept of “healthy ice cream”, head for the little island in the middle of the Seine where the Berthillon (don’t pronounce the “h”) Ice Cream Shop can be found and you will understand it makes perfect sense.
Known as the luxury ice cream of Paris, this sweet treat is not mass produced but only made locally for patrons who walk in the door. Using top-quality organic milk, eggs and cream is just the first step, adding in the right blend of unexpected fresh fruits like apples, oranges, pears and even grapes is their secret to concocting what are unanimously considered the most delicious ice creams and sorbets in all Paris – and that’s saying something.
Even if your taste is more to the plain vanilla variety, you’ll find your dream ice cream waiting in this deceptively ordinary atmosphere. The selection of rich flavours, creamy textures and delicious ice cream dishes have a magical quality that is so spellbinding it keeps you coming back for more, but to avoid disappointment don’t show up on Monday or Tuesday when the shop is closed – even ice cream wizards have to rest!
Where: 29-31 Île Saint-Louis
5) for macaroons: Ladurée
The epitome of the restaurant for ladies who lunch, the famous Ladurée macaroons are what sets this little café chain apart from all the others.
Described by some as what happens when Willy Wonka meets Marie-Antoinette, this delicious decadence is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palette. Presented in a rainbow of colours that coordinate with the filling’s taste, these one-of-a-kind macaroons are crisp on the outside, smooth on the inside and bursting with flavour.
Ladurée macaroons are not, however, served fresh from the oven but sit patiently for two days so the creamy ganache filling sandwiched between two crispy cakes can achieve the optimum blend of texture and flavour – they’ve obviously got this down to an art.
Sweet-tooths beware, they have positioned their shops within walking distance of each other in the heart of Paris because they know once you’ve tried their macaroons, you’ll be drawn back for more like a moth to a flame.
Where: 75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 13 Rue Lincoln, 6 Rue Royale and 64 Boulevard Haussmann
About the Author: Lela Lake writes for AnyTrip.com, the Paris budget travel specialists. Check out AnyTrip’s collection of cheap Paris hotels, or check out their Love Paris competition for the chance to win one of four trips to Paris (until 30/09/11).