Top 10 Best Desserts in Paris
So many Paris desserts, so little time! With an abundance of pâtisseries (pastry shops) and boulangeries (bakeries) in the City of Lights, you can never try every dessert in Paris, especially if you are on vacation or holiday. Luckily, we did the hard part for you. My husband, Mike, and I literally ate hundreds of Parisian pastries, ice creams, custards, sweets, and soufflés, over many years, to come up with this list of top ten best desserts in Paris.
One thing I’ve found with all that sampling—Parisian desserts usually taste as good as they look! So if you see something that strikes your fancy, take a chance! If you’re not one for gambles, I’ve provided at least one recommendation for an outstanding version of each Paris dessert.
Top 10 Best Desserts in Paris
As with our favorite Paris foods list, I chose to recommend many traditional French desserts that to me are the essence of the city. We definitely saw evidence of globalization in the food of France in general, but at the core are the traditions. That doesn’t mean boring. It means authenticity and celebration of the French food culture that is part of the reason we foodies travel to Paris!
1. Gran Marnier Soufflé
Light and airy, the perfect Gran Marnier soufflé tickles your taste tastebuds with the orange-flavored liqueur and melts in your mouth. Besides the awesome taste, the fact that you can eat a soufflé after almost any meal without getting sickening full, makes it one of the best desserts in Paris!
Unfortunately, for such a famous Paris dessert, they are a little harder to find than the others on this list. You will not find soufflés in Parisian pastry shops or any other kind of to-go snack shack. Rather, you’ll most likely encounter this dessert at Parisian restaurants.
There seems to be a secret contest among French chefs to see whose extends highest. In my experience, Les Canailles takes the crown, and my husband dubbed it “best soufflé ever.”
Les Canailles: 25 Rue la Bruyère, 75009
2. Flan Vanille or Creme Brûlée
If you’re any type of foodie, you’ve probably had more than a few creme brûlées. Silky custard topped with a hard layer of caramelized sugar. What’s not to love?
But what is flan vanille? Think creme brûlée without the brûlée in a sweet pastry crust. You will see these Parisian pasties sold in pie-like slices and whole. Like creme brûlée it can be enjoyed at any temperature, and for me, at any time of day. This quickly became our favorite Parisian dessert for dinner! Hey, it looks like a French quiche, so that makes it OK.
At one of our favorite boulangeries in Paris, Le Pain Retrouvé, these whole flan pâtisseries kept catching my eye. Finally I broke down and bought one (only 8 euros). Carrying it home while feeling the warmth, and inhaling the intoxicating smell of vanilla, I could think of nothing else but eating it. And so we consumed half of it for dinner, and the other half for breakfast the next day! No regrets!
Le Pain Retrouvé: 18 Rue des Martyrs, 75009
3. Paris Brest
The signature dessert of Paris, aptly named Paris Brest, sandwiches hazelnut praline cream between two layers of wheel shaped puff pastry dough. The praline cream is more like a paste than a whipped cream and a beautiful thick layer is prettily piped high.
This Paris pastry looks and tastes like a dream, and Sebastien Gaudard’s fits that bill. They sell single serving sizes and larger cake-like versions because you won’t want to share. Caramel lovers may want to grab a bag of these Parisian sweets, they also make great gifts!
Sébastien Gaudard: Pâtisserie des Martyrs: 22 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 and Salon de thé - Pâtisserie des Tuileries: 3 Rue des Pyramides, 75001 Paris
4. Parisian Tartes
Popular Parisian Pastries include 4 famous French tarts: Tarte Tatin (caramelized apple), Tarte Pomme (apple), Tarte Framboise (raspberry), and Tarte Citron (lemon).
Tarts are the French version of pie. The crust on the side is usually shorter and more like shortbread than an American pie.
Do you really need to try 2 kinds of apple tarts? If I had to pick one, I’d choose the caramelized apples of Tarte Tatin. And the best way to enjoy it is warmed with ice cream. But fortunately, pâtisseries often offer the best Paris pastries in single servings so you can easily try one of each!
Additionally, you will find Tarte Citron with or without meringuée (meringue). Personally, I’m all about the lemon curd, but sometimes the meringue is just too pretty to pass up.
You will find excellent tastes at any of the pâtisseries on this list, as well as at Eric Kayser with multiple locations across the city.
5. Cheese (Fromage)
It may surprise some of you that one of the most popular Paris desserts is cheese! And as a cheese lover, this is fine by me!
Restaurants in Paris serve everything from an “assiette de fromage” meaning cheese plate, to a single selection of cheese. This can be a good way to explore a few types of cheeses you may not be familiar with.
Another way is to visit a local cheese shop. The huge variety of cheeses can easily overwhelm you. Let the vendor or cheese monger know what types of cheese you enjoy and they usually are happy to make recommendations.
Every neighborhood has a local cheese shop so you don’t have to carry it from one end of Paris to the other, or stroll down the best food street in Paris, Rue de Martyr in the 9th, and try one of these:
Fromagerie Beillevaire at 48
La Souris Gourmande 5
Fromagerie Quatrehomme Martyrs 26
Fromager Chataigner 3
6. Ice Cream (Glace)
The French obsession with cream doesn’t end with cheese, and nor does mine. When we lived in Paris for three months years ago, our French friends regaled Berthillon as the “best ice cream in Paris.” Over 2 decades later, that tune has not changed.
A family-run business since 1954, Berthillon has become so well known many other glaciers (ice cream shops) and cafes advertise the fact that they carry the brand.
But if you want the greatest variety, head to the original Berthillon on Ilse de Saint Louis. They produce about 60 flavors between ice cream and sorbets per year. And remember, this is Paris, no free samples!
Berthillon: 31 rue saint louis en l'ile, 75004
7. Cream Puffs or Profiteroles
The same light eggy dough is used for cream puffs (choux a la creme) and profiteroles. In fact, some use the term interchangeably. Both are classic French desserts. Cream puffs are usually filled with the sweetened whipped cream called Chantilly cream. Profiteroles are usually filled with ice cream.
Both can be topped with drizzled chocolate, caramel, sugar, or left plain. And both are delicious. Being the ice cream fan that I am, I prefer profiteroles, but there are many more places to grab a cream puff while out touring like:
Eclairs share the same dough as cream puffs and profiteroles, but the oblong shaped pastries are traditionally filled with vanilla custard and topped with chocolate icing.
These days eclairs seems to be where pastry chefs exert their creativity and flavors such as caramel and coffee can be found around the city.
For even more inventive flavors such as passion fruit and some of the best eclairs in Paris, visit Christophe Adams’s L’Eclair de Genie
L’Eclair de Genie: at 14 Rue Pavée, 75004
9. Chocolate & Sweets
As you may have guessed by now, I am not a chocoholic. It must be a recessive gene because my mom is definitely one and requires at least a little piece every day. That being said, I have craved Angelia’s hot chocolate many times and it’s always one of my first stops when I visit Paris. I will go out on a limb and call it the best hot chocolate in Paris, if not the world! Angelina Paris: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001
As for the more traditional chocolates, Chocolatiers in Paris transform their products into works of art. And like artwork, it can be expensive. For those of you looking for the best chocolates and Paris sweets, here are some of the best Chocolatiers:
No list of best desserts in Paris would be complete without Macarons. They are wildly popular and one of the most iconic desserts Paris has to offer. That is why they are on this list.
Personally, I hate to admit it, but they are not my absolute favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike them. I just would prefer every other one of the Parisian sweets on this list.
The most famous macarons are at Pierre Hermé with several locations including one in Galleries Lafayette. However, every artisan pâtisserie on this list will also have this most popular pastry in Paris.
Planning Your Personal Parisian Dessert Tour
Is it too crazy to plan your stay around the best desserts in Paris? Absolutely not! On our last visit, we got a great deal on a one bedroom apartment one street over from Rue de Martyr in the Pigalle (9th arrondissement). We ate our way up and down this fabulous foodie street many times. And some of our favorite pâtisseries and boulangeries have shops on this famous street. Search for a Paris apartment here.
Or, if you prefer to stay in hotels, search here. Either way, make sure you’re in a neighbor with good food and delicious desserts! Bon appétit!