This post originally appeared in the March 18, 2023, edition of Eater Travel, a biweekly dispatch from Eater’s staff about navigating places where food is the main attraction. Subscribe now.
If you have ever, for even a moment, considered going to Paris, you know that bakeries are the thing. There are enough boulangeries and patisseries to really slow you down if you’re the kind of person who insists on peering into every prettily appointed bakery window (hello). Unfortunately, there is not enough time in a vacation for most of us to take full advantage of the abundance of baked goods available for purchase. But what you can do is this: Get yourself one tart per day.
It wasn’t until two or three days into my own vacation that I realized I had been sticking to a tart-a-day meal plan. But once I noticed that I had gotten into the habit of finishing my day with dessert, specifically a tartlet picked up earlier in the day at a bakery or pastry shop, I made it a mission, identifying a tart destination near whatever museum, restaurant, or other attraction I had planned to visit that day. I made good use of this patisserie map in the process.
In the past, I had overlooked the fussy, individual-sized tarts found at most Parisian bakeries in favor of more workaday viennoiserie — the croissants and chaussons I could buy and not feel too terrible about eating on the sidewalk just outside or at a nearby park bench. But in so doing, I missed out on some of the city’s pastry chefs’ best work. To me, tarts with artfully arranged slices of fruit or carefully piped creams seemed to call for pausing at a table with a utensil. But, I learned, taking that time is well worth it, whether it’s for Tapisserie’s famous maple tart, an apple tart at Claire Damon’s Des Gâteaux et du Pain, or whatever combination of pastry shell and toppings catches your eye at your local boulangerie.
You should of course still eat all of the viennoiserie you can muster. I’m also not encouraging anyone to skip dessert at a restaurant, but by prioritizing and saving room for an end-of-day tart there’s no way you’ll leave the city feeling like you only managed to window shop Parisian bakeries. And for what it’s worth, pastry shops are very good at packaging these things up so that they’ll still be intact when you get back to where you’re staying. While the photo may not be as good if your chosen dessert does happen to slide around a bit, the first bite (and those that follow) will be.