In gourmet-renowned countries, the morning ritual of a coffee and croissant has become an institution. Interesting, then, that this symbol of French gastronomic delights originates from Vienna, Austria. The croissant was invented in 1683 to celebrate the end of the Ottomans’ siege of the city. Legend has it that the city’s bakers moulded crescent-shaped pastries (the symbol on the Ottoman flag) after having alerted the Austrian army of the Turks’ plans to launch an attack on the city in the middle of the night.
In 1770, it was Queen Marie-Antoinette who introduced the croissant to the French court upon her arrival in Versailles. For a long time it was a luxury food reserved exclusively for the elite. In the 1920s, the pastry’s popularity increased as it became more and more available to the masses.
Made with the same dough used in bread-making, the croissant’s ingredients have been enriched over time, thanks to the addition of butter. Layers of dough made from flour, water, salt, baking powder and sugar – the quality of the ingredients directly determines the quality of the croissant. The most important step in creating the perfect croissant is the fermentation of the dough. And within every bakery lies the secret of a good baker who should know just how long it takes to make the perfect pastry.
Where to go for the best croissant? Here are the places that LUXOS recommends:
72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris. Tel. +33 (0)1 4354 4777
Many would argue that this world-class pastry chef’s croissant is the best in the city. He has even created a new version of his famous Ispahan: a croissant made of rose-flavoured almond paste bursting with raspberry and litchi compote. Divine.
226 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Tel. +33 (0)1 4260 8200
A stone’s throw from the Louvre, the Belle Époque interior of this famous French tea salon has been graced by the Paris high society since 1903. Opt for a typical French breakfast or the house speciality: a rich, traditional hot chocolate, which goes exquisitely with a croissant.
Du Pain et des Idées
34 rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris. Tel. +33 (0)1 4240 4452
Christophe Vasseur worked in the fashion world before upping sticks to become a baker at the age of 30. Located just off the Canal Saint-Martin, his period-style boutique was named the best bakery in Paris by the Gault Millau guide in 2008. His aromatic, fresh apple turnover is not to be missed.
22 rue Caulaincourt, 75008 Paris. Tel. +33 (0)1 4606 8266
Talented young chef Gontran Cherrier has just opened his own bakery in Montmartre at the bottom of the Abbesses. We dare you not to fall in love with his croissants which look too good to eat. Make sure you try the ‘kouign amann,’ a Breton speciality made with salted butter.
8 rue Monge, 75005 Paris. Tel. +33 (0)1 4407 0142
This master baker has taken his exceptional savoir-faire around the world and owns over 20 locations in Paris. His elaborate pastries made with natural sourdough are perfect for breakfast on the go.
Saint Germain des Prés
Paris City Guide