When one visits Paris, there are a few things that just can’t be missed. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and Pont Neuf are just some of the landmarks everyone should visit at least once.

Apart from just the sights and sounds, one should truly experience Paris through its culinary culture as France is known to have some of the finest food in Europe. Every corner you take in Paris sees another bakery, patisserie and confectionary, cafe or restaurant.

The glass counters filled to the brim with sweet pastries, cakes, and macarons awake the kid in all of us. But amidst all the new entrants into the Paris patisserie scene, we take a look at some of the oldest in Paris.

The origins of French patisserie and boulangerie

The French, like many of their European counterparts, have always regarded bread as the staple source for carbohydrates. Some of the earliest archaeological proof of bread making dates back to the Gauls, a group of people who settled in modern-day France from about 5 B.C to 5 A.D.

Bread making was largely a domestic activity, whereby the women of the household would bake bread once or twice a week to feed everyone for the whole week. It was only during the Middle Ages, in about 500 A.D. that bakers began selling bread in shops and marketplaces.

bread shop in Paris
Image credit: Unsplash

In France, the term for bread bakeries is Boulangerie ( pronounced boo-long-jair-ree), and until today almost all neighbourhoods in France will have at least one.

Bakeries selling pastries and sweet desserts like cakes and macarons are better known as Patisseries ( pronounced Pah-teeh-say-ree). They have popped up separately from Boulangeries, although there are many shops that overlap both. But hey, we’re not complaining since we get the best of both worlds!

French bakery in Paris
Image credit: Mae Mu | Unsplash

Originally, most French loaves came in rounded shapes known as Boules. However, in 1920, bakeries were forbidden from working before 4am. This meant that Boules could not be made in time for breakfast as they took a long time to bake. The long type of bread, known as the Baguette, became popular as they were thinner and could be baked in a short time.

It’s pretty common to see a French person munching on an entire Baguette with coffee for breakfast nowadays.

The Oldest Bakeries in Paris

1. Stohrer

Stohrer is the oldest bakery in Paris that has been serving the French since 1730. The original pastry recipe by Nicolas Stohrer, pastry chef to King Louis XV of France, has been passed down over many generations. This is pastries fit for a King.

Image credit: Stohrer | Facebook

When you visit, you need to try their almond croissant and pain au chocolat. Each piece of pastry here ranges from about 2€ to 5€ on average, which isn’t expensive for how prestigious Stohrer is.

  • Address: 51, rue Montorgueil (2nd)
  • Getting here: Get off at Metro Sentier or Etienne Marcel
  • Opening hours: Daily, 7,30am -8.30pm
  • Website

2.  Poilâne

Pierre Poilâne started the first Poilâne bakery in 1932, but it wasn’t until his son, Lionel Poilâne, took over that truly brought the brand to worldwide fame. Bread is baked in the most traditional way here. Using stone-ground flour, natural pain Poilâne is a 2kg loaf of sourdough bread made from grey flour and spelt, an ancestor of wheat. Each pain Poilâne will set you back at 35€.

french croissant
Image credit: clairebbyy

3. Au Petit Versailles Du Marais

The building that houses Au Petit Versailles Du Marais dates back to the 1850s, although the bakery only opened its doors recently. Apart from enjoying the baked goods, you’ll also be able to appreciate the historical architecture and significance of this landmark. Visitors have said that the pain au chocolat ( 1.50€) and macaron petit Versailles (4.90€).

Au petit versailles du marais bakery, paris
Image credit: Au Petit Versailles FB
  • Address: 27 Rue François Miron, Paris, France
  • Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 7am-8pm. Closed on Sundays
  • Website

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