The Best Baguette in Paris

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The traditional baguette, once outnumbered in Paris by second-rate bread, is experiencing a comeback.
Marie Hennechart
Since 1993, the city has been celebrating artisanal baguettes with an annual competition to name la meilleure baguette de Paris (the best baguette in Paris).
Marie Hennechart
In 2010, the competition awarded its top prize to Djibril Bodian from Le Grenier à Pain bakery in Montmartre.
Marie Hennechart
Bodian's winning baguette has a deep-golden, crispy crust with hints of roasted hazelnut.
Meg Zimbeck
In contrast to the fluffy industrial baguette (at left), Bodian's artisanal version has a chewy interior texture with irregular holes that are a sign of long and traditional fermentation.
Meg Zimbeck
There are also sweeter offerings at Le Grenier à Pain, like the glazed breads stuffed with dried fruit and candied nuts (bottom of photo).
Marie Hennechart
Second place in 2010 went to La Parisienne, which is also known for its unusual selection of croissants with flavors like noix de coco (coconut) and chocolat lait noisette (milk chocolate and hazelnut).
Marie Hennechart
Tasty desserts, like these tartes and mille-feuilles (napoleons), can be found alongside bread and pastries at most Paris bakeries (shown here: La Parisienne).
Marie Hennechart
Arnaud Delmontel won the Grand Prix competition in 2007 and has regularly placed among its top 10 Paris bakers.
Marie Hennechart
The carmelized lemon meringue tarts at Arnaud Delmontel's bakery are fantastic.
Marie Hennechart
At the Gosselin bakery, Pascal (pictured here) and Philippe Gosselin are continuing a family baking tradition that dates back 100 years.
Marie Hennechart
A traditional French baguette is prepared by hand (as shown here at Gosselin) and contains only four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast.
Marie Hennechart
Because the traditional baguette has a life span of only four hours, Paris bakers (like Eric from Gosselin) produce fresh bread throughout the day.
Marie Hennechart
Sufficient demand makes continuous baking a necessity in France. Among the more than 90 percent of French people who eat bread every day, roughly four out of five will choose a baguette, like this man leaving Arnaud Delmontel.
Marie Hennechart
Of course, baguettes aren't the only game in town. Artisanal loaves like these, stuffed with walnuts and figs, are delicious on their own or paired with cheese (shown here: La Boulang'Eury).
Marie Hennechart
The whole-wheat loaf (pain complet) from Le Grenier à Pain's Djibril Bodian is a worthy alternative to his Grand Prix–winning baguette.
Marie Hennechart

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