Paris-Brest Turns 100 (the pastry, not the bike race)

To say that there has been buzz about a certain Paris-Brest in France’s capital is an understatement.  You may already be seeing pink just at the mention of it – which can only mean one thing: You’re familiar with La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Philippe Conticini’s “pastry shop of dreams” that opened in September of 2009.  (Bravo to those of you who correctly identified it in the Paris sweets quiz!)  Ever since the opening, Parisians and visiting foodies have been flocking there to see (and taste) Conticini’s masterful reworking of France’s classic pastries, including the Tarte Tatin, Saint-Honoré, éclair au chocolat and au café… and the Paris-Brest.

La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, France

I am certainly not alone in thinking it could very well be the best Paris-Brest I’ve ever had. Which, by the way, is traditionally a baked almond-topped ring (or tire) of choux pastry, split and filled with praline-flavored buttercream, first created in honor of the famous bicycle race of the same name.  Barbra Austin is a fan, more of the divine, liquid hazelnut praline interior of the pastry than the Jetsons-like interior of the shop.  As is Rosa Jackson, whose recount of being courted by Conticini with Saint-Honoré and blocking rue du Bac to get a look inside his new boutique is a great read.  But what had me thinking about the Paris-Brest again was Figaroscope naming Conticini’s the very best in Paris.

La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, FranceLa Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, France

I love Figaro’s (French newspaper) palmarès gourmands, when they select a theme, be it tarte au citronpain au chocolatbaguette or millefeuille, and taste a dozen or more of that item from shops around Paris. They chose the Paris-Brest this time, 100 years after its creation. You can read the feature and watch a video from the tasting with Christophe Felder (ex-pastry chef of Hôtel du Crillon, whose books fill my shelves and whose column in Elle à Table I look forward to each month).  For the non Francophones, you can still enjoy this fantastic photo slideshow of Paris’ top Paris-Brest, perhaps not all resembling a bicycle tire, as the dessert was invented to do in 1910. And don’t miss Angelina’s Paris-New York, another original take by pastry chef Sébastien Bauer, who adds pecans. (Anyone ever try that?)

La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, FranceLa Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, FranceLa Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, FranceLa Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, FranceLa Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, FranceLa Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, France

But do keep one thing in mind… if you are able to visit Conticini’s shop, the Paris-Brest isn’t the only pastry you’ll want to taste.  On my last visit, I of course first pointed to the individual Paris-Brest sitting on display under a glass dome, and then did the same to the Tarte au Citron (I love when they’re topped with meringue!).  In line with the space-age feeling of the shop, a lady in a white dress (as Dorie Greenspan perfectly compared to Star Trek, minus the makeup), took my order on her electronic hand device.  I strolled around the center island and made sure not to miss what was on the walls, admiring the funky, spiral top Brioche Feuilletée and requesting a few petits Pains Gourmands for my train ride back to Zürich, one chocolate, one vanilla.

Into my Vélib’ basket they all went. Unfortunately, my box did not have the signature pink picks and foam board holding the cakes in place that Dorie had, and what resulted was a Paris-Brest dipped in meringue.  The desserts were not nearly as pretty and precious as they had been in their glass cases in the shop, but luckily that didn’t affect their taste.  Next time I’m back in Paris, you can be sure to find me on rue du Bac once again, heading for the Paris-Brest, but sans bicycle wheels of my own.

La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris, France

La Pâtisserie des Rêves
93 rue du Bac
75007 Paris
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 8:30pm, Sunday 8:30am to 2:00pm

PS – Here is a really fun short video (en français) from June 2009 of the ever gourmand Conticini showing, explaining (and tasting) his own pastries for L’Express, when he first announced the shop’s opening.  You get a behind-the-scenes look at each dessert, pretty cool.

21 Responses to “Paris-Brest Turns 100 (the pastry, not the bike race)”

  1. The Cooking Ninja says:

    mmm…yum yum. Noted down the address to check out when we are in Paris next time. Paris Brest is hub’s favourite dessert. 🙂

  2. Lani says:

    I just booked my tickets to Paris so that I can have this dessert!!! Oh my! I can taste the fabulous crunch, the sugar and the delight of the pastry! The photography is just fabulous….can we try scratch and sniff…or scratch and taste!!!

  3. Barbra says:

    I kind of ODed on this thing back in the fall, but after having another just last week I’m ready to fall off the wagon. I’m having dinner in 2 hours… it’s early enough that my appetite won’t be spoiled if I zip up the street quickly, right?

  4. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I have never sampled, if you can believe, the Paris-Brest. I have ogled it many a times, but tasted it, never. What a fantastic description of the store. I do remember these pictures from your quiz – and I was stumped on this one – and love the other photographs that you have shared. So modern. So very modern! Not what I would expect. Does that mean I stereotype Paris bakeries? I would be very happy to have a package of goodies from this lovely spot, in my possession, even if they did merge into each other after a vigorous bike ride.

  5. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says:

    I’ve never tasted a Paris-Brest either. This bakery looks so beautiful, I wish I could take a trip to Paris!

  6. jen laceda says:

    I can’t wait to go to Paris again and try all these yummy treats! Oh when, oh when can I go again. Yummmm…Paris Brest. Never tried it before, so I am salivating here. We really need a Food-Ex service!!!!

  7. uberVU - social comments says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ShortTermRental: Paris-Brest Turns 100 (the pastry, not the bike race)

  8. Tweets that mention Paris-Brest Turns 100 (the pastry, not the bike race) | MyKugelhopf -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Debra Fioritto, Travel News, Kerrin Rousset, Kerrin Rousset, Kerrin Rousset and others. Kerrin Rousset said: [new blog post] Paris-Brest Turns 100 (the pastry, not the bike race) […]

  9. jkiel says:

    beautiful pastries, beautiful photos! mmmm…

  10. Mowie @ says:

    I’m adding this to the now long list of places to visit next time I’m in Paris!

  11. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    What a gorgeous shop and yes very Jetsons like! And what’s not to love about a newspaper that chooses one item and samples 10 of the best throughout a city! 🙂

  12. Meeta says:

    i have not been to paris for years tsk tsk on me. but if i ever do visit this locale – i hope you’ll be joining me! it looks totally awesome and your comparison to the jetsons is so spot on!!

  13. Sweets at Vicky's says:

    Oh I just love your blog. And kugelhopfs! I used to think it was the cutest name.

  14. Kerrin says:

    The Cooking Ninja, so the Paris-Brest is your husband’s favorite dessert… have you ever made it for him ?

    Lani, scratch n sniff is a great idea – and as you said, scratch n taste is even better !!

    Barbra, glad I could help you fall off that wagon ! 😉 I hope you did in fact run up the street for a little pre-dinner snack. Nothing like a sweet apero !

    Julia, please definitely do not stereotype all Parisian bakeries – no one quite does things like Conticini. I love the boulangeries and patisseries that are old school, wood and traditional layouts and displays, and you feel like you’re stepping back in time when you enter.. I don’t have such modern tastes myself. But it doesn’t stop me from enjoying this pastry shop – and other modern ones like it.

    jen, Food-ex service ! YES ! Then I can taste some of those amazing foods you share with us from Toronto too !

    Lorraine, absolutely – sometimes they taste up to 20 of the same dessert even. What I’d give to be on that panel !! 🙂

    Meeta, you’ve got a date ! Oh to roam the streets of Paris with you, tasting our way around town — and you shopping up a storm too, I bet ! 😉

    Sweets at Vicky’s, thanks ! I still do think kugelhopf is the cutest name ! ha ha !

  15. Sarka says:

    Yummy, Paris-Brest looks delicious. As I’ve never been to Paris yet and never tasted Paris-Brest I guess I have a wonderful motivation to go! 🙂 Hope I will do both soon!

  16. Steve says:

    Man, does this look delish! And sounds even better. I really love how you take us along, tasting as we go, and then show us what we’re tasting with super photos. So cool. And i love their packaging too. But am i the only one who never heard of Paris Brest? Thanks.

  17. Lizounette says:

    Quelle delice pour les yeux!

  18. The Cooking Ninja says:

    He has been asking me to make this for him for ages but I haven’t found the courage to make one. Now that I have been baking for a few years, perhaps it’s not as daunting as it seems. I’m going to try to make one for him soon. So do watch out on my blog. 🙂

  19. Jamie says:

    What a gorgeous shop! I just don’t get to Paris enough since I don’t know this shop! But boy is it now on my list for my next visit! And Happy Birthday Paris-Brest!

  20. Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home says:

    Oh this post brings back such memories of my time in culinary school…learning about the origin of the Paris-Brest and then making it (and then eating the entire thing by myself!)

    Your photos are beautiful!

  21. valentina says:

    I walked into his shop when I was last in paris. Myself and my friend felt like children. I can’t wait to go back there this weekend, on my way to Bon Marché. I have never had a Paris-Brest. Another item on my list. Kerrin, you are not helping my effort to lose weight. I’m going to walk all weekend .over and over again. mustn’t forget the comfy shoes.

Leave a Reply

* Required (email address will not be published)