Fancy French pastry shops are sprouting all over Paris. In the last few months, top chefs including Jean-François Piège, Christophe Michalak, Cyril Lignac and Alain Ducasse have opened pastry shops, while La Pâtisserie des Rêves gained a new Paris location, ahead of the opening of a London outpost in early February. Meanwhile, Rue du Bac on the Left Bank has become Sweet Alley: two doors down from La Pâtisserie des Rêves is the new Des Gâteaux et du Pain, with its luxury black marble decor, sitting just across from a new Angelina boutique and a stone’s throw from La Grande Épicerie. Multiflavored macarons are clearly not the new game in town. Pastry chefs are coming up with creations that are sparking a following among foodies to rival the Stateside craze for Dominique Ansel’s cronut.
A case in point is Piège’s chou-chou. “It’s like Russian dolls: a puff inside a puff,” the chef said. Parisians are also lining up for Christophe Adam’s newfangled éclairs. On weekends, he sells 2,500 a day, and production is limited, so latecomers risk leaving empty-handed.
This story first appeared in the January 3, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“In times of crisis, people indulge with sweets,” offered Michalak. He joined forces with Adam eight years ago to create Les Sucrés, or “The Sweet Ones,” a conclave reuniting the crème de la crème of pastry chefs every quarter in different locations. “We’re just a bunch of friends gathering to make cakes and have fun,” Michalak said. Mostly in their 40s, the chefs grew up together professionally (Adam, Michalak and Des Gâteaux et du Pain’s Claire Damon worked at Fauchon, the fine-food retailer, as did their pal Ansel).
It doesn’t hurt that some of these purveyors of sweetness are easy on the eye themselves, drawing interest from television and fashion alike: Gontran Cherrier, the baker from Montmartre who is expanding rapidly in Asia, has signed up for the second season of his daily weekday show “La meilleure boulangerie de France,” or “France’s Best Bakery,” on French TV channel M6. Michalak also has a big slice of airtime on public channel France 2, with two programs — including “Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier?” or “Who Will Be the Next Top Pastry Chef?” — and was chosen by French label IKKS to front its winter campaign.
MICHALAK TAKEAWAY AND MASTERCLASS
The Hôtel Plaza Athénée may be closed for renovation, but Michalak is busy. When he is not on the air, writing books or posing for advertising campaigns, he is at his new pastry boutique and school, Michalak Takeaway and Masterclass. “I wanted to create my own style,” the chef said. The result is a nutty universe with his K7, chocolates in the shape of video or audio cassettes. “I was born in 1973, hence the audio and video cassette,” he said with a laugh. His boutique in the 10th arrondissement also offers a range of verrines, like a gluten-free chocolate mousse dubbed Kosmik.
Michalak Takeaway and Masterclass
60 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière
Last month, Piège opened his first pastry shop across from his Thoumieux restaurant on Rue Saint-Dominique. The place is designed by India Mahdavi. In addition to the chef’s chou-chou, there is a selection of traditional French pastries.
58 Rue Saint-Dominique
L’ÉCLAIR DE GÉNIE
Adam has given the traditional French éclair a makeover using flavors like salted caramel, yuzu and piña colada. Among his 84 creations: the Rouge Baiser, an éclair with a high-shine red glaze made of raspberries; the Xmas Mama, an éclair featuring a digital print of a pinup girl, and the Black Éclair, a tribute to the Little Black Dress, with dark chocolate and white truffle. Prices range from 5 to 8 euros, or $7 to $11 at current exchange. In addition to two Paris locations (in the chic 16th arrondissement and in the Marais), there are new locations on tap in Dubai and Japan. New York may follow, Adam says.
L’Éclair de Génie
14 Rue Pavée
HUGO ET VICTOR
Rumor has it Kanye West stopped by at Hugo et Victor’s most recent location at The Webster during Art Basel Miami Beach. He might have got the tip from Sofia Coppola or Catherine Deneuve, who have been to Hugues Pouget’s Paris store on Boulevard Raspail. There, they can get an assortment of chocolate spheres that comes in a writer’s notebook box, which has become the chicest gift to bring when invited to dinner in Paris. Earlier this year, Hugo et Victor made three creations for Chloé’s 60th anniversary, including a pineapple chou pastry inspired by the Ananas T-shirt that Stella McCartney designed for the label.
Hugo et Victor
40 Boulevard Raspail
LA PÂTISSERIE DES RÊVES
Philippe Conticini’s whimsical pastry shop is famous for its tarte tatin and Paris-Brest, another French staple, this one with praline-flavored cream. Since the fall, there is a new location in the Beaugrenelle shopping center. In the wake of its Asian expansion, La Pâtisserie des Rêves is slated to open in London in early February.
La Pâtisserie des Rêves Beaugrenelle shopping center
12 Rue Linois
LA PÂTISSERIE CYRIL LIGNAC
Parisian hipsters have a preference for the chef’s first boutique in the 11th arrondissement, with its simple, industrial look. But those who live in the west of Paris go to the new boutique, featuring molding and paintings. Fashion aficionados head there for a sweet fix after visiting the Azzedine Alaïa exhibit, on display at the neighboring Palais Galliera through Jan. 26.
La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac
2 Rue de Chaillot
DES GÂTEAUX ET DU PAIN
The boutique has black marble counters and perfect lighting. Tourists are fond of the Lipstick cake, with its high-shine coating that matches the luxury setting. Locals have a penchant for the numerous varieties of bread. On whether she adapts her offer to different cultural tastes, pastry chef Damon simply says, “A Kelly bag remains a Kelly bag.”
Des Gâteaux et du Pain
89 Rue du Bac