Since I can remember, my favorite croissant is to be had from Patisserie Jean Millet, 103 rue St. Dominique, Paris 7. Denis Rufel, the “chef d’orchestre” at this diminutive little spot, was one of my teachers when I was a cooking student. Round, fast, and intense, he would come teach us in the evenings after a full day at the patisserie where he created gorgeous classics.
I would stop by his shop in the mornings on the way to work, sometimes just to gaze at his perfect creations. Most often, I also got a croissant, or amazing pain au chocolate which were among the first in Paris to have two bars of chocolate melted inside of them. As I walked down the street eating my pastry, I’d be covered in a shatter of crumbs. It was – and still is – a glorious experience!
I still believe Mr. Rufel’s croissants are the best in Paris. However, I’ve found a close rival at Pouchkine, the baroquely elegant spot on the ground floor of Printemps, at 64 Blvd. Haussman Paris 9. There, one is transported to Russia, where the original Pouchkin was established and thrives. Pouchkine Paris is a wonder. Its pastry case makes a jewelry store look boring; its coffee is rich and thick and I find myself there often, because it’s right near my train station. Even if it weren’t, though, I would be a regular because everything in it is so delicious, so alluring, so out of the ordinary.
The Pouchkine croissants are a case in point. Large, light, airy, they’re perfectly buttery and slightly sweet, from the tiniest bit of vanilla cream inside. Because I’m a purist, I normally wouldn’t accept this in a croissant. Because they’re so well made, so well baked, so delicious, so Pouchkinian, I not only accept them, I always have one when I’m there.
The next time you’re in Paris, make sure you visit both of these spots. Patisserie Jean Millet is nothing to look at from the outside. But once you’re inside the pastries will stop you dead in your tracks. Buy a croissant, eat it there or on the street. You’ll love your shower!
Then, slip onto a stool at Pouchkine and order a coffee and one of their croissants.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have tasted the best the city has to offer!