Where to Find the Best Desserts in Paris
Visiting patisseries in Paris is my unrepentant pleasure. I take every opportunity to enjoy le gôuter (afternoon snack) with divine French desserts. I’m only guilty of a tiny stomach and lack of time.
Here’s 25 iconic Paris desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth (so you can choose wisely!) In this article, I also included where to find the best desserts in Paris, with a Google map link to the flagship location when there are multiple.
What I love about sweets in Paris is that they strike the perfect balance when you need a sugar rush. They are neither overly sweet like American cakes (I hate sugary icing!) nor too dull like Asian desserts. Yet, they are rich and decadent. The beautifully created desserts result from craftsmanship and high-quality ingredients, such as butter, chocolate and flour.
If you follow my Paris itinerary, you will be hitting 20,000+ steps a day. At the end of the day, all calories will be gone. That’s what I call Paris magic. So don’t worry about putting in extra weight. Indulge in the delectable French pastries in Paris!
Note: Some viennoiseries – Croissant, Pain au Chocolat, Croissant aux Amandes, Pain aux Raisin, Escargot à la Pistache, Chausson aux Pommes, etc. – are intentionally missed in this article. They are more a breakfast pastry than desserts, which calls for a separate post, don’t you think?
Table of Contents
Check out my other articles to plan your perfect trip to the City of Light!
- Start here >> Paris Itinerary for 4 days
- Then this >> Where to Stay in Paris First Time
- Should you buy Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass?
- Paris Neighborhood Guide: Hidden Gems in Montmartre
- 10 Trendy Travel Shoes for Paris
- 10 Best Small Museums in Paris Without the Crowds
- 7 Most Beautiful Covered Passages in Paris
- How to Survive Overcrowded Palace of Versailles in Summer
- Best Paris Day Trip for Spring & Summer: Giverny Monet’s Gardens
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Best Food Tours in Paris
>> Paris Original Food Tour: Go all out for a French gastronomic tour. Wine, champaign, cheese, beef bourguignon, crêpe, desserts, etc.
>> Saint-Germain Chocolate & Patisserie Tour: Indulge yourself with gourmet chocolates and pastries while discovering the historic Left Bank of Paris.
>> Le Marais Pastry & Chocolate Tour: Discover the culinary delicacies in the charming Le Marais.
>> Montmartre Wine, Cheese & Pastry Guided Walking Tour: I joined this small-group tour to follow the foodie trail. But this tour is more than just a food tour. You will discover many hidden gems of Montmartre.
Macarons are a delicate French pastry made of almond flour, egg whites and filling. The crispy and colorful shells sandwich a sweet and chewy filling. Popular flavors include chocolate, strawberry, lemon, salted caramel, pistachio, etc.; however, you can find many creative flavors in different patisseries.
In Paris, you will often find a macaron mountain on a window display in patisserie shops. They make a pretty decoration that catches the eyes of passers-by.
Some say that French macarons originally was introduced in France by the Italian chef of Queen Catherine de Medici. Others say that a pastry chef at Ladurée started with the idea of sandwiching two meringue-like cookies with a rich cream or ganache.
I highly recommend trying macarons in Paris – even if you are not a fan. It is tricky to make macarons well-balanced. All the macarons I had were either too sugary, too soggy, or just meh, UNTIL I tasted them in Paris! I still cannot say it’s my favorite dessert, but Paris certainly has the best ones.
So treat yourself to the delicate and colorful macarons in Paris! And bring some home as edible souvenirs, as they usually are packaged nicely in an adorable paper or tin box.
By the way, macaroons (with double o’s) are a completely different cookie. Do not get confused with macarons.
Éclairs are a long, cream-filled pastry often topped with glossy icing. The classic version is a chocolate icing with vanilla cream filling. But this soft choux pastry comes in various flavors, such as coffee, pistachio and caramel.
The éclairs are believed to originate from Lyon, France. It was called pain à la Duchesse or petite duchesse until the 1850s. The French word éclair (meaning flash of lightning) has been used since the 1860s because it was consumed quickly.
What a perfect name! I can scuff down 5 of them in one sitting.
Gâteau Saint-Honoré is a French pastry consisting of layers of bite-sized flaky puff pastry and vanilla custard. Auguste Jullien of the renowned patisserie Chiboust on the Rue Saint Honoré created the Saint-Honoré cake in 1847.
Also known as Honoratus, Saint-Honoré was named after the bishop of Amiens in Northern France. He is the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs because he protected wheat harvests from droughts in the 6th century.
As holy as the name is, the crunchy caramelized choux balls wrapped in velvety vanilla custard are heavenly!
Paris-Brest is a choux pastry ring filled with a praline mousseline. The ring of pâte à choux (cream puff dough) resembles a bicycle wheel.
It was a creation by the patissier Louis Durand in 1910 to celebrate a bike race between Paris and the port city of Brest in northwest France. It was served after the bicycle race. Because it was so good, it became a popular dessert in France.
#5. Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc aux marrons (or simply Mont Blanc) is a pastry made from a mountain of creamy sweetened chestnut purée. The dessert is named after the famed Mont Blanc for its resemblance to the snow-capped peak.
The Parisian pasty shop Dessat is responsible for this delightful creation in 1847. At first, it was referred to as Chestnut vermicelli for the shape of puréed chestnuts. Under the chestnut vermicelli surface is mousse or pastry cream. The bottom is crunchy tart shells, pâte à choux and caramelized puff pastry to support the soft and fluffy top and give a contrasting texture.
Where to Find the Best Mont Blanc in Paris
Angelina Cafe: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
#6. Chocolat Chaud (Hot Chocolate)
Chocolat Chaud (Hot Chocolate) is a French hot drink made with real chocolate melt and milk. It is luxuriously thick, velvety smooth and richly creamy! Simply put it, chocolat chaud is the ultimate gourmet chocolate experience in Paris.
Nothing compares to French chocolate chaud when the chilly weather hits. It is a perfect afternoon picker-upper to enjoy at a terrace cafe! But it can also be a delicious dessert to finish your lunch or even breakfast. (Apparently, many French choose hot chocolate over coffee or tea at breakfast!)
Like macarons, it is one of the most iconic French sweets you must try in Paris. My favorite place is Angelina Cafe. How much the place gets touristy, their Chocolat Chaud is the richest and most intense ever. A little stream came down from the jar as I poured into the cup. Because it was so dense and thick, it turned into hard chocolate!
Insider Tip: I would not waste my money again to drink hot chocolate at Cafe de Flore (€9.90). Compared to Angelina Cafe or Carette, their hot chocolate was not as thick or smooth in consistency. I had to keep stirring to mix the sinking cocoa powder.
Mille-Feuille is a classic French pastry, meaning a thousand leaves. Commonly known as a Napoléon (from Napoli), it consists of thin, crackled layers of pastry with rich custard cream, topped with marbled black-and-white icing.
The Parisian patisseries have made their signature creations of this classic French dessert. For example, Yann Couvreur invented the deconstructed Vanilla Mille-Feuille when he accidentally dropped Kouign Amann (see #16) on the panini grill. A crispy thin layer filled with a light Madagascar vanilla cream became his signature pastry, winning the Dessert of the Year title in 2014. Only 50 are made each day.
So next time in Paris, savor the delicate textures and flavors of Mille-Feuille, whether it is a traditional version or new creation. You won’t regret it.
#8. Crème Brûlée
Crème brûlée is a creamy, pudding-liked vanilla custard with a caramelized sugar crust on top. You can crack the brittle layer of crunch sugar shell by gently tapping it with a spoon. Beneath the surface is rich, creamy, sweet custard.
This decadent French dessert is made of simple ingredients, such as egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and cream. While it is super easy to make at home, why not find small pleasures in life in Paris, like Amélie did? Who needs a boyfriend when you can just have a Crème brûlée?
#9. Opera Cake
Opera is a classic French cake with rich chocolate and coffee flavors. Typically, it consists of three layers of Joconde biscuit (i.e., almond sponge cake), two layers of coffee buttercream and crunchy chocolate ganache on top.
Two patisseries in Paris – Dalloyau and Lenôtre – claim the creation of this cake. Most often, Cyriaque Gavillon from Dalloyau is credited to invent it in 1955. His wife named it Opera Cake because the ganache on top resembled the parquet floor of the Opera House (Palais Garnier), which is across the street from the bakery.
J’adore coffee-flavored desserts! I love tasting rich chocolate and a bust of espresso in one bite of Opera Cake.
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#10. Cream Puffs
Choux à la Crème (cream puffs) was created in 1540 by Popelini. Choux pastry is made with flour, eggs and butter. And it is typically filled with creamy, flavored fillings like vanilla, chocolate or coffee.
This delightful pastry is puffy in texture and melts in your mouth. It is so heavenly that stopping at one tiny bite-size puff will be hard. You’ve been warned.
Chouquettes are little choux puffs baked from choux pastry (Pâte à Choux) and sprinkled with Swedish pearl sugar. These French sugar puffs are subtly sweet and incredibly light.
The choux pastry dough is the same kind used to make eclairs and profiteroles, so you can expect a similar texture. And they are airy and fluffy inside without any fillings. Due to its light texture, some French eat them as breakfast.
Sometimes, you can find sugar puffs filled with cream. They have another name for it. See #12.
Where to Find the Best Chouquettes in Paris
Pain Pain: [Open Google Map]
What do you get when you combine one good with another good? Brilliantly created and named, Choupette is a chouquette filled with chantilly cream. Choupette means sweetie in French. (Also, it is the name of Karl Lagerfeld’s Birman cat.)
Choupette is a newly created dessert by a bakery called Les Choupettes de ChouChou. I’m realizing this new dessert à la mode has not yet been recognized as an official name. But it deserves a separate category as it differs from #10 Choux à la Crème and #11 Chouquettes.
#13. Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue pie is a crunchy pastry crust filled with lemon curd and topped with meringue.
Note that lemon tart and lemon meringue pie are two different desserts. Lemon tart consists of pie crust and lemon curd, with more tangy and robust citrusy flavors. While the recipe is more or less the same, lemon meringue pie is covered in a slope of fluffy meringue cream, hence much sweeter to balance out the lemon’s tart.
Le Loir dans la Théière in the heart of Le Marais has a phenomenal lemon meringue pie towering with a perfectly whipped and caramel brown meringue. It definitely is one of the must-try desserts in Paris.
Where to Find the Best Lemon Meringue Pie in Paris
Le Loir dans la Théière: [Open Google Map]
Merveilleux is an airy, fluffy meringue cake covered with whipped cream and dusted with chocolate shavings. This marvelous (literal translation in English) dessert is a specialty from Northern France.
The melting-in-the-mouth meringue cake is traditionally chocolate based. But it can be made in various flavors, from citrus, sea salt caramel, strawberry, etc.
Where to Find the Best Merveilleux in Paris
Aux Merveilleux de Fred: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
#15. Salted Butter Caramel Candy
Brittany in the northwest of France is a region known for salted butter. Naturally, the region has developed artisanal desserts with high-quality salted butter, including gâteau Breton, galette, sablé and Kouign-Amann (see #16). But the finest Breton specialty is salted butter caramels.
In 1343, King Philip VI of Valois (before the unification of France) established a salt tax, which made salt a luxury good, except in the exempt counties (Brittany was one of them). Since then, the rest of France started using unsalted butter, while the tradition of using salted butter continued in Brittany.
Henri Le Roux from Brittany created a salted butter caramel candy in 1977. He became the best chocolatier and caramel maker when his salted butter caramel was voted the best candy in France in 1980.
This delicate confectionery is rich and super buttery while flaunting well-balanced sweet and savory notes. Also, this caramel does not stick to your teeth, thanks to its high butter content.
Where to Find the Best Salted Butter Caramels in Paris
Maison Le Roux: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
If you like French butter, Kouign-Amann is another buttery delicacy you will love. Kouign-Amann (pronounced as “queen ahmahn”) is literally “butter cake” in the dialect of Brittany, where the pastry originated.
The croissant-like dough is folded many times into a round cake. The sugar on top gets caramelized in baking into a crispy crust. Again, as the name suggests, it contains tons of butter. For me, the first bite was the best. It was so rich that after finishing one, I was done.
#17. Flan à la Noisette
Flan à la Noisette is a delicious creamy flan made of baked hazelnut custard cream on a sweet crust sprinkled with caramelized hazelnuts. (There are other flans made with the same technique but different flavors. e.g., Flan à la Vanille)
The crispy crust will crackle as you bite, and creamy hazelnut custard cream will ooze out. If you like nutty sweets like me, a bite of Flan à la Noisette can take you to heaven instantly.
Where to Find the Best Kouign-Amann in Paris
Cédric Grolet: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
Insider Tip: Head out to the bakery early in the morning. Try to get one fresh out of the oven. It tastes 1,000 times better when it is still warm.
#18. Fondant au Chocolat
Fondant au chocolat, or a petite gâteau, is a small chocolaty, fudgy cake. At cafes or restaurants, it is served warm, often accompanied by vanilla ice cream.
Note that Fondant au Chocolat is slightly different from chocolate lava cake in the sense that it does not have melted chocolate oozing out. If that’s what you want, choose chocolate soufflé (#19) instead.
Nevertheless, you will enjoy rich chocolate flavors. Fondant means melting in French; indeed, this thick chocolate cake will melt in your mouth.
Where to Find the Best Fondant au Chocolat in Paris
Laurent Dûchene: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
The Soufflé is a light, puffy sponge cake that can be made sweet or savory. The most popular flavor for soufflé are vanilla and chocolate, but seasonal fruit flavors are also offered. (Chocolate soufflé is my favorite!)
As soufflé takes at least 20 minutes to prepare, you must order with your meal to avoid waiting a long time. Also, because of that, it is hard to find a patisserie serving a soufflé. You will most likely have to visit a soufflé specialty shop or order it as a dessert at a restaurant.
Where to Find the Best Soufflé in Paris
Le Soufflé: [Open Google Map]
#20. Baba au Rhum
Baba au Rhum is a syrup-soaked, boozy dessert. It is a small mushroom-shaped yeast cake soaked in rum to make it soft and juicy, then topped with whipped cream.
It was invented by Nicolas Stohrer. Stohrer is a Polish pastry chef who moved to France with a Polish princess when she married King Louis XV in 1725. He later opened his independent shop “Stohrer” on Rue Montorgueil, the oldest patisserie in Paris.
Honestly, it is not my type of sweets. I bought one at Stohrer and walked 20 minutes back to the hotel. Double-wrapped with foil in a plastic container, gooey syrups soaked through the box. It was quite a mess. It tastes bitter-sweet, boozy and super sticky. Maybe one of those acquired tastes? I don’t know. Nevertheless, trying at least once is worthwhile as it is one of the most classic French desserts.
Where to Find the Best Baba au Rhum in Paris
Stohrer: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
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#21. Tarte Tatin
Tarte Tatin is another classic French dessert that cannot be missed. It is a caramelized upside-down apple tart with a buttery crust, served with a dollop of cream.
It was named after the Tatin sisters from Loire Valley. Like many other French desserts, Tarte Tatin was created in the 1880s by mistake when the sisters baked an apple pie and accidentally flipped pastry-side up. It became an instant hit among the guests at the Hotel Tatin, then spread throughout the country.
#22. Artisan Chocolates
Paris is known for many gourmet desserts, but you cannot skip artisanal chocolate. The French have been perfecting recipes with cocoa beans for four centuries and transforming them into divine chocolates. It is not a coincidence that the French capital is dotted with exquisite chocolatier boutiques.
Savor decadent, delicate French chocolates in diverse forms and flavors, from bar to praline, ganache to truffle.
Where to Find the Best Chocolates in Paris
À La Mère de Famille: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
Jacques Genin: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
La Maison du Chocolat: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
Jean-Paul Hévin: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
Sébastien Guadard: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse: multiple locations [Open Google Map]
Roulé (meaning rolled in French) is a rolled, flaky pastry that looks like a cinnamon roll. It should be distinguished from Swiss roll cakes (Gâteau Roulé).
It can be made in various flavors; however, chocolate, pistachio and hazelnut are the most common. Although technically categorized as a viennoiserie (typically eatean as breakfast), its sweet profile makes it more appropriate for an afternoon snack or dessert.
Madeleine is a classic French pastry with a light, airy sponge cake. Its shape resembles a shell. Madeleines make an excellent breakfast pastry, snack, or dessert to be paired with tea or coffee.
If you ever missed the opportunity to try Madeleine in Paris, you can buy them at the airport duty-free shop. Unlike other desserts, Madeleine can be easily packed in a carry-on bag. (I was able to extend a few more days of Paris experience at home!)
#25. Café Gourmand
Cafe Gourmand is not a specific dessert. It is rather a plate of bite-size assorted desserts served with coffee. It is often ordered as a dessert after the meal or by itself as le gôuter in the afternoon at a cafe.
The great benefit is that you can sample diverse desserts over coffee. The dessert tray can consist of macarons, financiers, mini cakes, canelé, or whatever signature desserts the cafe/restaurant offers.
Next time you see this in the menu, try it out for fun!
These desserts offer a taste of French pastry excellence and will surely satisfy your cravings for sweets while exploring the charming streets of Paris. Indulge yourself a little bit with these delectable desserts in Paris.
Leave a comment: What is your favorite French dessert? Where have you had it?
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