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Du Pain et des Idées

Looking for the best croissant in Paris?  Your search is over.  This isn't a top 10 list, because after eating dozens of croissants, there's only one like this.  And the other pastries?  You'll forget croissants even exist.

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The Gist

Hidden away in a neighborhood you're unlikely to come across in your guidebooks and monument strolls, this boulangerie is the best of the best - and it has the line to prove it.  A short walk from our apartment in the Marais, Kiel kept asking me if I was sure I wasn't lost.  To say the least, this gem was a bit off the beaten path.  But even from a few blocks away, we could smell the freshly baked pastries, and see the line of locals out the door.  We had found it: fresh pastry paradise.

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The Specialities

If France is anything, it's a mecca of speciality shops.  Do one thing, and do it well.  Therefore, Du Pain et des Idées is the center of all things perfect and pastry.  It makes it difficult for the indecisive, like me, to make a decision.  My method?  Pick the prettiest item on display and ask for recommendations for everything else.  If I had the stomach (let's face it, I mean the budget) to try everything, I would.  

That being said, we tried three things: a pistachio & chocolate croissant twirl, a bacon, cheese & fig croissant, and a butter croissant.

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Oh. My. Gawwwwd.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is the best pastry I've ever tasted.  I would fly back to Paris and go straight to this out-of-the-way back alley boulangerie just for this.  The crispy, golden exterior, swirled with pistachio and warm chocolate, with a buttery flakey interior.  This was carb heaven.  I was half angry, half happy I only discovered this place on the last day, because I would have been there every single morning.  I don't know exactly what the pistachio glaze was, but it was the perfect balance between buttery and sweet, with some melted chocolate in between. It doesn't get better than this!

After this piece of Parisian gold, we tried the bacon, fig and cheese croissant.

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Don't get me wrong, it was delicious.  Savory pieces of bacon, mixed with the sweet figs, mustard, and cheese, in a doughy pastry.  It was amazing and a much needed savory intermission.  But I would have rather eaten ten pistachio croissants.  Enough said.

And finally, the whole reason for this visit: the butter croissant.

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The best in Paris, by far.  The crispy, golden exterior perfectly flaked away to a fluffy, buttery interior.

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Ninety-nine percent of croissants in Paris are delicious and fresh, but this was something special.  We poured the flakey crumbs into our mouths and made sure to account for every bite.  We had not only found the perfect croissant, but, as always in Paris, so much more than we expected.

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Tips & Tricks

Wait in line!  It's worth it, I promise.  This is the only boulangerie we walked by with a line, so it's easy to move on a couple blocks and find another one.  I promise it won't be as good.  And the line moves quickly.

Try to look at everything while you're waiting in line.  You have that grace period to decide on what you want and try to figure out how to pronounce the names.  There's no shame in pointing, just don't be indecisive when it's your turn.  This is a busy place catering mostly to locals, so be quick!

Don't forget an espresso or americano.  The coffee is organic and delicious.  Finally, try to snag a spot at one of the tables outside.  They're open to all and don't have service.  You'll probably have to share, but you'll be scarfing down your pastries so quickly you won't even have time to say "excusez-moi."

Location

Just north of Place de la République, Du Pain e des Idées was less than a mile walk from our apartment in the Marais, but an easy metro ride from almost anywhere in Paris.  You'll have to take some side streets and wander a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of République, but it's so worth it.  If you add this stop to your must-see Paris list, you won't regret it!

 
 Savory croissants - too many varieties to count.

Savory croissants - too many varieties to count.

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