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By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—
Whether it’s a trendy rosewater macaron or a classic chocolate éclair, Paris is a pastry-lover’s destination. Knowing where to go and what to get, however, can be daunting with so many tempting options in front of you. Sometimes it’s best to turn to the professionals for a little bit of advice before blowing euros on less-than-exceptional desserts.
So I did. Pastry chef, blogger, and author David Lebovitz just launched a new iPhone application last week called “Paris Pastry Shops” that includes 300 of his hand-picked favorite places in Paris to indulge in sweets.
Lebovitz, a favorite resource among expats, tourists and locals, took a few minutes to discuss how to find the right pastries at the right price in the City of Light.
If you found a €2 coin and had a sweet craving, where would you go?
I would probably go to a really good bakery and get a croissant such as the ones listed in the app, like Blé Sucré (Square Trousseau 7, rue Antoine Vollon). Generally you can get one for €1.05, and that’s a really good deal.
What’s the worst way to waste money on pastries or chocolate?
I think people shouldn’t necessarily assume price goes with quality. There are a lot of neighborhood bakeries that make very good pastries but that are not famous and are not Ladurée or Pierre Hermé (which are good, but you can do very well in neighborhood bakeries spending a fraction of the money for exceptional quality).
In the app we tried to include things that were not necessarily well known but were places for people who are a little more adventurous and looking for bargains.
Why an app for the iPhone?
I started a guidebook several years ago and I spoke with several of my publishers who said guidebooks are going out of favor. I figured a lot of people come to France for pastries and chocolates and ice cream, so this was a natural fit.
When smart phones became more prolific, it seemed like the perfect format for this sort of application. It can be updated and readers can add their own favorites and share things. The price of the app is also lower. Plus you can include hundreds and hundreds of photos, so even if you’re not going to Paris you can still enjoy the pastries.
Are there any sweets you don’t like?
I don’t like desserts that are heavily sweetened. I like caramel that’s slightly burnt, lemony things, bitter chocolates. I search for things that are more balanced, things that have a sweet edge.
What’s your favorite splurge?
I would go to Fouquet and get a big box of the chocolate covered spice wafers called “croquantes.” They are addictive and exceptional. I’d get a big tin of those and eat them all by myself.
Favorite neighborhood for sweets?
There’s a high concentration of very good places in the 6th because there are lots of tourists and lots of money there. But I think if you explore the 11th there are lots of good places, like Blé Sucré. I think that this part of Paris is a lot more interesting.
Farthest you’ll travel for a sweet?
I won’t take three Metro lines. Generally two is my maximum. If I have to change more than two Metros I won’t bother.
Do you ever get sick of pastries or chocolate?
Not really. I actually like to taste a lot of things. It’s hard for me to eat a whole pastry. It’s more interesting to try bites of different things. I like bite-sized pastries. I kind of graze, so I’ll sit around and eat little bits and bites of things, instead of an entire cake, which is good for my waistline.
For more information on his new app, check out David’s blog at www.davidlebovitz.com