Un café au lait et un croissant aux amandes s’il vous plait…
A French almond croissant from my favourite Parisian bakery is parfait. I love the contrast of textures between fresh pastry and creamy almond centres.…yum. (I am that person who makes mmm noises when I eat.) But when I eat an almond croissant at a French bakery in Toronto, I experience fleeting nostalgia; it’s just not the same.
Why is an almond croissant in Paris so much better than anywhere else?
Taste has something to do with it, but there’s something else too.
Paris is special.
A sunny day in Paris has a certain charm – anything is possible. The city parks come alive with impromptu picnics, small groups of people with an array of finger foods, cheese of course, a bottle of wine and joie de vivre.
Being in Paris is like stepping into a storybook—the historic buildings house secrets, the cobblestone streets seem to have no end, the river Seine carries my dreams in its rapids, and I can’t stop imagining what my story will be.
When I’m in Paris, the city-of-lights, I indulge daily.
No, I’m not kidding! And let me tell you, I’m picky about which almond croissant I’ll eat (even in Paris).
Just like any other place in the world, you and I both know, some shops are just for tourists—locals won’t set foot in them. From baguettes to pastries, a boulangerie is an essential part of the Parisian lifestyle. To get in with a local, you need to be where the locals are. A bakery or cafe is a good place to start.
Here’s my first little secret, shhh don’t tell anyone. I spent 8-weeks in Paris this year and never visited a single museum. Instead, I mastered how to find the best local bakeries in Paris. And I spent many an afternoon and night in long conversation over a spread of French deliciousness and the occasional glass of wine.
I wouldn’t change a thing; and that’s why I love Paris!
Here are my secrets on how to find the best boulangerie:
- Long lines don’t say anything about the quality of the pastry.
- Notice if there are Parisians in line, or tourists. Parisians always know the best places to go. How do you distinguish a Parisian from a tourist, you ask? The classic Parisian wears clothes that look effortless, a trench if cold, minimal makeup, hair tousled naturally and moves with an air of assurance in her walk.
- Check the time. The best bakeries sell-out by mid-afternoon. They are busiest in the morning and early afternoon, and then quiet, with vacant shelves by late afternoon.
- What kind of pastry is on display? The mom-and-pop local bakeries will only make pastries with seasonal fruits. If a bakery has an array of fruit pastries and only apples are in season, the bakery isn’t up to par. (You must eat a strawberry tart in June to July!)
- A pastry should look like a work of art and always be baked fresh daily. A fresh French baguette tastes different and everything else, everywhere else, is just bread.
- Be choosy! Remember, your holiday will come to an end and you deserve the best even in Paris.
One last note, on your first trip to France, don’t judge French food based on past experiences.
Taste it all.
Lola is a dietitian who doesn’t believe in dieting. Her favourite food motto is Everything in Moderation. Needless to say, Lola loves food, (to cook and eat it) and is lucky to have a job that involves food. Lola’s second passion in life is dance and she spends most nights dancing Kizomba, which originates in Angola. Lola Teelucksingh is currently a Registered Dietitian, at the Centre for Addiction Mental Health (CAMH), in Toronto, Canada.