So you’re going to Paris. You’re on a pilgrimage to find the holy grail of croissants. You’re thinking, sure, there must be especially incredible bakeries but croissants should be pretty tasty everywhere in the city, right? That is not so, my friends. Not all croissants are made equal.
After my last trip to Paris, I was convinced that I could not eat another croissant outside of France again. It’s not so much the craftsmanship (because there are skilled bakers everywhere) but it’s the flour, yeast, and sweet sweet butter that cannot be substituted. I know certain bakeries in large cities import their butter and yeast from France and I commend them for it. (Eating local doesn’t really apply in this situation.) So on this trip, I was in search of not only an excellent croissant, but the best.
We did manage to check out other bakeries on Paris by Mouth‘s list of best butter croissants. We also happened to eat croissants everyday at breakfast during our stay. Sure, they’re all pretty good but once you go to Le Grenier à Pain, you can never go back. It’s like eating the perfect bowl of ramen in Japan. Once you’ve had the real deal, everything else will drastically pale in comparison. Consider yourself warned. (Personally, I cannot bring myself to eat another croissant until I come back here. Woe is me.)
We were jet-lagged and have been tossing restlessly in bed since 2am. By 5am, we pulled ourselves up and headed towards Sacre Coeur to catch the sunrise. We didn’t realize there were so many stairs leading up to the church. I was thrilled because it was the only exercise that I’d be getting that whole trip. The Mr., on the other hand, was not as enthused.
Nevertheless, we trekked onward, led by music drifting from afar. When we reached our destination, there was a live concert happening at the bottom of the church where a large crowd gathered. It was only 7am at that point so it was a curiously marvelous experience.
We toured the church (truly stunning) and admired the breathtaking view of the waking city.
We weren’t kidding ourselves though. It was croissant time. After a 10 minute walk, we reached our raison d’etre: Le Grenier à Pain. It’s a humble little bakery with pastries near the cash register and sandwiches, tarts, and cakes along the side. Their quiches looked appetizing for an early bite too but we have set our eyes on the prize.
We ordered 2 butter croissants for 1€ each (no kidding!), a chausson aux pommes, and a brioche chocolat.
We headed to a nearby bench and chowed down. The other pastries were good but I know you’re here to read about the croissant.
At first bite, the crisp outer flakes snowed all over my shirt and pants. It’s a sign of a well-crafted croissant. The interior was moist and airy but still had a bit of give. What set this croissant apart was how sweet the butter was. The luxurious butter coated my mouth and drew me back in for bite after bite. Before long, we devoured everything on hand.
We headed back to the bakery and the lady at the register asked if something was wrong. I replied, no, we just needed more croissants. We grabbed a few more for our friends, along with their painfully delicious pain au chocolat. (The quality of their chocolate was superb. I loved that the muted sweetness didn’t overshadow the butter).
So what more do you wanna know? If you have all the time in the world, go ahead and hit up one bakery after the next. But I assure you that if you make Le Grenier à Pain your first stop, all other croissants will appear mediocre in comparison.