As the saying goes, “Paris is a moveable feast”, and that is certainly the case when it comes to desserts. And all over France for that matter. There are so many wonderful French desserts, that it is impossible to catalog them all.
But there are certain desserts that are “tried and true classics” in brasseries all across France. We try to cover them all (without putting on an extra 5kg!)
Table of Contents
1. Baba au rhum
The Baba au Rhum is said to be invented by the same guy who invented French onion soup. Ex-Polish King Stanislas (whose daughter Marie happened to be married to French King Louis XV) was in exile in the Alsace-Lorraine region, when he decided to take their traditional gugelhupf cake and douse it in liquor.
With a dash of cream, fresh berries and rhum, this dessert is one for the ages.
A Paris-Brest is a donut-shaped pastry filled with praline cream. It isn’t the lightest dessert on the list, but it is definitely one to try (and share with a friend).
The dessert was created in 1891 to commemorate the creation of a long distance bicycle race (the predecessor of the Tour de France.) Brest is a city on the coast of Bretagne (Brittany), and the bicycle race went from Paris to Brest and back.
The Paris-Brest bicycle race ended in 1951, but its namesake dessert lives on.
If you have never had a crêpe before, you definitely have to plan to have one in Paris. Made from buckwheat flour, it is the French version of the pancake. Topped with strawberry syrup, nutella, ice cream, the choices are aplenty.
You can even take it up a notch with a crepe flambée au calvados, which is a crêpe doused in the calvados liquer and set ablaze.
Macarons might be as ubiquitous in North America today as the cookie is in France, but there’s still something to be said to having one freshly prepared at one of Paris’s finest patisseries.
5. Bertillon’s ice cream
Ice cream may sound a little boring, but this little family ice cream shop in the heart of Paris, has a passionate following. They have over 90 flavors of ice creams and sorbets, although only 30-40 are on the menu at any one time.
You can go directly to the glacier (ice cream shop) on Ile Saint Louis, or look out for the small brasseries and restaurants in the nearby Marais who a smaller selection.
Address: 29-31 rue saint louis en l’ile, Paris 75004
The traditional sweet from Aix-en-Provence is not really a dessert, but I had to include it on this list, since it is unlike anything I have tasted before. It is more of a confiserie (candy) made from melon and almond paste and is very sweet.
You won’t find it on the menu of a Parisian restaurant, but rather in patisseries across France. They are catching on in popularity like the macaron however, so perhaps soon to come to a grocery store near you?
7. French Flan
Flan might be a french word, but the flan you are thinking of is actually a crème caramel. A French flan has a crust and is usually served as a pie slice. (Not that a crème caramel is not great, but if that is what you are looking for, don’t be disappointed if you accidentally receive a flan instead!)
The french flan is not very sweet itself but is sometimes served with caramel or chantilly cream on top.
Get the French flan recipe here.
The fiadone is a corsican tarte made normally with brousse or ricotta cheese, grated coconut, a hint of lemon and vanilla. It is normally very light and fluffy and goes down well on a hot summer’s day, which is why you find it typically in the South of France.
9. Café Gourmand
Now, this is the French dessert you pick if you can’t decide which dessert to get. The café gourmand is a small cup of coffee served with 3 small-size desserts. You don’t get to pick the dessert, that will be the “surprise du chef” as we say in French, but the choices are usually pretty good.
The picture above is a panna cotta, crème brulée and a small piece of chocolate cake.
Note: The coffee that you will be served with a café gourmand is, by default, an espresso. For a larger cup of coffee or decaf, you can follow my article on ordering coffee in France (hint: there are a lot of possibilities!)
So many desserts, so little time! And don’t forget to try a digestif with your dessert.
Happy eating and à bientôt!
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