9 Unique Pastries in Paris You Just Can’t Miss

Photo credit: Fringe Coffee Paris Facebook page. (image has been cropped)

As emblematic as the Eiffel Tower, Parisian pastries are a must-try for anyone who finds themselves in the French capital. From rich chocolate flavors to fruity notes, there is something for all taste buds and budgets. Here are nine pastries that stand out, each made with a particular attention to detail that have dessert lovers going back for more. 

1. Tarte au citron — Karamel

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It’s pretty easy to find tartes au citron, or lemon tarts, anywhere in Paris, but Karamel’s rendition of the classic treat stands out with the subtle sophistication of the flavors, thanks to the addition of a decadent and smooth hazelnut caramel. The toasted flavors of the hazelnut pair beautifully with the tartness of the lemon, and the entire dessert is topped with a luxurious meringue, light and creamy with the slightest bit of crisp on the outside. — 67 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 

2. Équinoxe — Cyril Lignac

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Michelin-starred chef Cyril Lignac owns several eponymous boutiques around Paris. One of his specialties is known as the Équinoxe, a cake consisting of a Speculoos sponge topped with a vanilla mousse and a caramel filling. It’s a unique combination of floral and cinnamon notes, tempered by the slight smokiness of the caramel, and creamy and crumbly textures. The gray and red coloring completes the Insta-worthy package. — 133 rue de Sèvres, 75006 ; 24 rue Paul Bert, 75011; 55 boulevard Pasteur, 75015; 2 rue de Chaillot, 75016; 9 rue Bayen, 75017

3. Boule cake — Gâteaux d’Émotions

Philippe Conticini is mostly known for his chocolate hazelnut tart, but no pastry lover entering his boutique should overlook the simple yet finely crafted spherical confection that Conticini calls the boule cake. Available in several flavors, including orange, lemon and chestnut, the cake is minimally garnished (only the chestnut cake is topped with a touch of chestnut cream and a candied chestnut), allowing the textures and flavors to shine through. These are a great option for when the usual cream-laden pastries seem too heavy. — 37 Rue de Varenne, 75007; also available at the Petite Manufacture de Michel Cluizel: 201 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001; 3 Rue Tronchet, 75008; 2 Rue des Rosiers, 75004; 43 Rue des Belles Feuilles, 75116

4. Sablés — Bontemps Pâtisserie

The secret to a great tart is in the pâte sablée: it must be sturdy enough to hold the filling but also delicate enough to crumble in the mouth. Bontemps has perfected the tender but solid crumb, pairing it with a variety of flavors and fillings that change every few weeks. Besides large tarts meant for sharing, this Instagrammable shop is known for its miniature sablé desserts, which consist of two small sablé discs sandwiched around (and topped with) a cream filling. The flavors, made with the finest ingredients, change frequently with the seasons.  — 57 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris

5. Nids — Maison Aleph

Photo credit: Allison Yu

Combining French and Middle Eastern flavors and techniques into bite-sized “nests,” Maison Aleph has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best pastry shops in the city. Made with kadaïf, a type of Turkish noodle that is formed in a mold and deep-fried until crispy, the nids are filled and topped with a cream or a flavored paste that results in a mélange of rough and crunchy and smooth and creamy textures. The bite-sized treats come in a variety of flavors, from chocolate pomegranate to coffee cardamom, that pay homage to the owner’s Middle Eastern roots. — 20 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris

6. Tarte au caramel beurre salé — La boutique Dassaï Joel Robuchon

The legendary Joel Robuchon may no longer be with us, but his spirit lives on, not only the numerous restaurants around the world that bear his name, but also in a tea salon, created through a collaboration with the Japanese sake brand Dassaï. Of all the decadent desserts on display, the tarte au caramel beurre salé stands out with its balance of sweetness and smoky caramel flavor, with just enough salt to brighten up the pastry and prevent it from being too heavy. While there are several pâtisseries that have their own renditions of a tarte au caramel beurre salé, Robuchon’s version is superior thanks to its the caramel filling that hits all the right notes. — 184 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris

7. Opéra — Dalloyau

One of the most iconic French pastries is the Opéra, a coffee-flavored joconde cake layered with coffee cream and a dark chocolate ganache. Legend has it that Dalloyau invented this pastry, which was revolutionary for breaking away from the conventional circular layered cakes typical of the time. The classic combination of coffee and chocolate never disappoints, and the Opéra at Dalloyau has perfected it with just the right amount of bitter coffee to balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. The thin layer of chocolate on top shatters in the mouth before melting, adding another dimension to the experience. —  101 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008; 63 rue de Grenelle, 75007; 35 boulevard Haussmann, 75009

8. Cookies — Mokonuts

Cookies, an American staple, have made their way slowly but surely across the Atlantic and can now be found in most bakeries and cafés in Paris. Without a doubt, the best are found at Mokonuts in the 11th arrondissement: not only do they have the perfect chewy and crumbly texture, but the flavors are as creative as they are delicious, ranging from black olive confit white chocolate to miso sesame. With the warm hospitality of the owners, Moko and Omar, these cookies combined with a smooth cappuccino or cup of tea make for a perfect afternoon goûter. — 5 Rue Saint-Bernard, 75011 

9. Cardamom bun — Fringe

Photo credit: Allison Yu

The cardamom bun a Fringe is like cinnamon bun’s more sophisticated cousin: it has the same fluffy interior and slightly crunchy exterior, but the cardamom gives a smokier and slightly more bitter taste that its cinnamon counterpart. While there is always the option of ordering a classic cinnamon bun at Fringe, the cardamom is a unique variation that cannot be found anywhere else in the city. Order a cappuccino to go with it and take your breakfast to the nearby Place des Vosges for a morning treat.  — 106 Rue de Turenne, 75003