The Rue du Bac is one of the loveliest streets in Paris — and thanks to a recent avalanche of renowned pâtisseries and chocolatiers (including Jacques Genin, Philippe Conticini, and Patrice Chapon) — it’s also one of the sweetest.
Today pastry expert and author Jill Colonna — whose charming new cookbook, Teatime in Paris, cracks the code on making Parisian pâtisserie at home with fast, easy recipes for teacakes, eclairs, cream puffs, macarons, tartlets and more — rounds up six of her favorite treats. (And if you’re interested in my Rue du Bac picks, I wrote about them in this article.)
“This is Paris’s equivalent of London’s Harrods,” says Jill. “I love popping into their buzzing food hall with tempting stands of the best of world cuisine and French local specialities.” She raves about their “classic opéra, decadent but light” — a cake featuring layers of coffee-syrup-soaked almond sponge, chocolate ganache, and a chocolate glaze. Also, “their tarte au citron (lemon tart) is so beautifully decorated with meringue resembling a snow-capped forest that’s great inspiration to try the look at home with a piping bag.”
(38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, tel: 01 44 39 81 00)
“I particularly love this store in rue du Bac — even if it doesn’t have a tearoom — since it’s much less crowded than the one in rue de Rivoli,” says Jill. “They’re perhaps famous for their classic Mont-Blanc” — a dessert featuring chestnut purée, whipped cream, and meringue — “and hot chocolate but I particularly love their Saint-Honoré, with its traditional caramelised vanilla-cream filled choux buns nestling on top of a puff pastry base, and finished off with a swirl of Chantilly cream and glistening with gold leaf.”
(108 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, tel: 01 42 22 63 08)
“This is the original boutique where pastry chef Philippe Conticini started the Rue du Bac pâtisserie shop mania,” says Jill. “It is a perfectly pink pastry shop of dreams with its oversized upturned glass bells presenting the most pristine creations, many of which are there to evoke sweet childhood memories. My favourite pastry remains the Paris-Brest, with its more designer bicycle wheel shape to resemble that of its creation in Maisons-Laffitte for the Paris-Brest cycle race in 1910. Cut into the praline and choux and you’re in for a memorable tasting surprise.”
(93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, tel: 01 42 84 00 82)
“This is a brand new store opened after the popularity of his tea salon in rue de Turenne. It’s a patisserie that resembles more of a museum,” says Jill. “I could simply lunch on his rhubarb jellies alone — they are so addictive and bursting with fruit! His vegetable jellies are worth trying too. My favourite is a cucumber jelly, even if it’s coated with sugar, you can imagine just how refreshing it is during a heatwave in Paris. I recently was completely foxed by his dark chocolates with capers. You heard me right. Capers! But do you know? It totally works and it sums up Monsieur Genin’s cheeky spirit!” Jill also recommends the mango and passion fruit caramels.
(27 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, tel: 01 53 71 72 21)
Patrice Chapon is one of the rare French chocolatiers to roast his own cocoa beans. “He goes out to the cacao plantations himself, he is passionate about making his chocolate from bean to bar, so we can appreciate not only the end results but the origins of the chocolate,” says Jill. His Rue du Bac boutique features “an impressive line-up” of single-source chocolate mousses.”It’s difficult to decide which one to take away. The Peru Mousse, for example, is made from the Trinitario bean, with notes of dried fruits, caramel and a hint of apricot and rounded finish…”
(69 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, 01 42 22 95 98)
“It’s a little bit off the “beaten Bac track” since the boutique is at completely the other end of the street, nearer the Seine,” says Jill. “I love what pastry chef Jonathan Blot does. I would thoroughly recommend tasting his macarons, which are all given names such as Edouard (pistachio & orange blossom) and Jean-Paul (salted butter caramel), which are my favorites. My daughter, Julie, has always been tickled pink that she has her own bubble-gum macaron! Chef Blot doesn’t just make macarons; his pâtisserie is worth the detour too. One of his latest creations is a yuzu tartlet with a strawberry and rose confit finished off with a lemon thyme cream and decorated with strawberries.”
(10 Rue du Bac, 75007, Paris, tel: 01 42 61 60 61)
Of course — if a trip to Paris isn’t in your immediate future, you can mix and match the recipes in Jill’s new book to crate a tartlet base filled with rose pastry cream, finished off with a mascarpone cream, and decorated with a sprig of lemon thyme and fresh strawberries. (Buy a copy here :)
For more Paris pastry tips, recipes, and beautiful photos, visit Jill’s website.