Tout sweet: sampling Paris’ finest pastry at Jacques Genin
You know those “Three days in Paris” articles? Let’s take that a step further. If you only had 15 minutes in Paris, there’s only one thing you should do: eat pastry. Grab a pain au chocolat at the airport, filch a croissant from a hotel, steal a roll from a pigeon if you have to. Even if you’re can’t go to the finest pastry shop, it’s bound to be pretty freakin’ good in Paris.
But if you have more than 15 minutes, do yourself a favor: eat pastry at Jacques Genin.
I first heard about Jacques Genin while researching Paris-Brest pastry. (Why yes, I research pastry shops before a trip. Who doesn’t?) The Paris-Brest, a tire-shaped pastry filled with hazelnut praline cream and dusted with powdered sugar, was created by a baker to commemorate a 750-mile bicycle race from, you guessed it, Paris to Brest. We commemorated this history by walking a whole mile (!) to Jacques Genin, one of one of the best places to try the classic pastry.
As I opened the door, Muz stopped me. “This is a jewelry store,” he said, and I had to correct him. Those gleaming babies in the window were caramels, not jewels.
We walked into a huge, flashy area that seemed more like a showroom than a pastry shop. I was a little nervous, wondering if a place this fancy was more focused on decor than food. Thankfully, we ordered anyway. Muz got the Paris Brest, and I ordered the choux vanille. Muz decided to go one step further and order the hot chocolate, too.
After one bite, I felt like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix:
The Paris-Brest was amazing. Not too chocolate-y, with the perfect amount of praline and hazelnut in the cream. And my vanilla dessert? AAAAh-mazing, with a generous amount of Tahitian vanilla speckling the cream.
We realized that there was lots more to try, and no more room in our stomachs. So we bought some caramels to go, with the stern warning from the shopkeeper that they would only be good for a day or two. Not to worry: at 110 euros per kilo, we were only buying a few of them. We savored the last caramel on our last day and realized it was just like our Paris trip: short-lived, sweet, and worth every calorie. So if you only have an hour in Paris, check out Jacques Genin. You may have to run for three hours to work it off, but it’s worth it.