Jacques Genin

Paris-Brest from Jacques Genin

I first met Jacques Genin a number of years ago when he was (somewhat famously) working out of a battered storefront, on an uninteresting street deep in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

chocolates at Jacques Genin

I say “famously” because as he became quite a bit better known, many folks learning about him through Mort Rosenblum’s book, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Light and Dark. And subsequently, people started gathering outside his workshop door with the one-way mirror, which allowed him to decide whether he wanted to open the door or not. I think I was too timid to give it a try on my first go-around and after pacing at the end of the block for a while, I ended up leaving.

jacques genin lime tart filling

If nothing else, longevity has its rewards and eventually I made it past that mirrored door and into his workshop. It was rather tight in there, to say the least. In order for someone to walk past you, you had to back up and get out of the way while someone held a tray of just-dipped chocolates high in the air, sidestepping someone else walking the other way with a tray of hot nougat.

jacques genin pâte de fruit

It was all kind of a dance that somehow worked in a space no larger than an average American living room. One had a big table of it in the center, so larger that there was just about a foot of space between the perimeter and the wall, for people to pass, and work.

The place wasn’t a store nor was it open to the public; he was only making chocolates and caramels for the fine hotels and restaurants in Paris to serve after dinner. But as his reputation grew, it was hard to remain so elusive and he opened a large, elegant wedge-shaped boutique in the northern part of the Marais.

chocolate tartlets

Now anyone can go, and no one has to pass the scrutiny of anyone. Well, except me.

But I’ll get to that in a minute…

hazelnut choix pastry

The shop is huge, a vast open area with a seating area for people to sip his famous chocolat chaud and perhaps have a pastry. Along one wall is a showcase of all his chocolates, neatly lined up, and another small showcase with housemade tarts and cakes inside, each one so perfect that even the most persnickety fussbudget couldn’t find a single fault with it. There’s not a single crumb out of place, nor an errant drop of cream running off the side.

walnut caramel tarts

I don’t know if the word “frenemy” exists in French, but in spite of the fact that Jacques can be mercurial, I have a deep affection for him. And I think he kind of likes me, too: when he sees me biking past his place in the Marais, if I don’t brake for a chat, I know the next time I visit his place I’m going to get an earful about it.

(Actually, whether he sees me or not, I seem to be on the receiving end of quite a few earfuls whenever I stop by.)

Jacques is open and honest, not afraid to give his opinions, and is rightly proud of each and every chocolate, caramel, and pastry that comes out of his kitchen, located just up the winding starts from the boutique and tea salon.

jacques Genin kitchen

I spent a couple of days with him recently as he raced around the kitchen, giving someone a lecture for the infraction of setting down one of his luscious chocolate éclairs in the holder, just ever-so-slightly askew. No one else would have noticed it, including me, but he did, and made sure it was re-placed exactly, precisely right.

chocolate & caramel cream puffs

Another person was running a rasp-style grater over the tops of fragile tartlet pastries, ready to be filled with lime custard, so they wasn’t a single bump to detract from the singular perfection that he demands for each and every pastry and chocolate that comes out of his kitchen.

jacques genin pâte de fruits

Fresh basil used to infuse a ganache is scrupulously picked through, leaf-by-leaf, when it arrives in the morning produce delivery. I watched as I saw very few limes pass his muster, later to be squeezed and zested for those tartes au citron vert. Most got tossed back at the delivery fellow, who seemed to be used to it. And a flat of raspberries that looked absolutely pristine to me was quickly dispatched away with the driver who glumly agreed to return with some others to try.

Paris-Brest

But after rifling through the fruits, berries and herbs like an obsessed man on a mission, he’ll stop and break into a big, generous smile, and give a warm embrass to Sophie, a woman who runs the kitchen with him, who has been with him ever since I stood outside his shop with the mirrored door and finally worked up the nerve to knock and go inside over a decade ago.

fresh basil jacques genin

(I once saw her come to work in her everyday clothes and she looked like a million bucks. So anyone who thinks that being around chocolates and confections all day isn’t good for you needs to think about this confident, svelte woman churning out chocolates and caramels all day. And yes, I’ve seen her put a few in her mouth, too.)

jacques genin lime tartlets

One of the shortfalls in Paris is that there are few places to go and have dessert sur place. The salons de thé (tea salons) are the usual places to go, although they’re mostly in the upscale Left Bank neighborhoods. The desserts are usually fine, but often not extra-special. But here, the pastries are made continuously throughout the day: bittersweet chocolate ganache tarts, galettes puffed up high with baked apple slices, rich coffee cream puffs, and walnut tartlets bathed in warm, buttery caramel.

As soon as they’re done, the individual tartlets and cakes are taken down the stairs six or so at a time, many eaten with a cup of Jacques’ richest-of-rich hot chocolate which he always insists on pouring for me when I come to visit. He once told me that it was impossible for him to start each morning unless he has one himself, first thing after he arrives at work.

baker and eclairs at Jacques geninmango passion caramels
apple tartesjacques genin pâte de fruit-raspberry

Of all the desserts and pastries in Paris, there isn’t one better than Jacques’ Paris-Brest. And believe me, I’ve tried a lot of them. Named for a bicycle race between Paris and Brest, a city far off to the west of France, the round shape is meant to mimic a bicycle tire. The traditional pastry is pâte à choux (cream puff dough) split horizontally, then filled with rich hazelnut praline cream.

There are a lot of versions in France – almost every bakery makes one – but not one comes even close to the version that Jacques makes. Many can be cloyingly sweet, or soggy. But this one has chunks of toasty hazelnuts embedded in the pastry and the filling is absolutely perfect. It’s just on this side of being too-rich, and although he would cringe if I made this comparison (he likes to give me a hard time about anything, which many of my tour guests have learned when he’s put his hands around my neck and given me a good shake!) the comparison of M & M’s comes to mind, where there’s something about them that just makes you keep reaching back into that bag for more. And more and more.

I never think I can eat a whole Paris-Brest from Jacques, so I get one to share with someone else. Then, after that first forkful, I realize what a mistake I’ve made and wish I had the whole thing to myself because I keep digging my fork in. (They are also served at the nearby Cuisine de Bar, as well as at Les Fines Gueules, while available.)

Jacques Geninmilk chocolates
Jacques Genin'a chocolat chaudchocolat chaud

In fact, once I had a tiff with Monsieur Genin (perhaps a normal reaction when someone’s tried to strangle you) and I was dining at one of those places a few days later and had the Paris-Brest, eating it by each better-than-the-previous-one forkful, and as each bite slid down my throat, it melted away any animosity I’d had about walking around Paris with the impression ten fingers of a French chocolatier embedded my neck.

And no one can leave his shop, or Paris, without trying what are probably the best caramels in the world. Each individually wrapped softie is a buttery bomb, some flavored with pecans and others with spices. I do prefer nature (plain), but when I want to treat myself, I’ll try one of the mango-passion fruit caramels, each one having the tangy taste of tropical fruits melded together with caramelized butter twisted up in a sweet seal by the master himself.

jacques genin caramels

Jacques Genin
133, rue de Turenne (3rd)
Tél: 01 45 77 29 01
Métro: Filles du Calvaire

UPDATE: As for January 2013, Jacques has suspended making pastries in the shop to concentrate on chocolates and caramels. No word on when he will return to offering pastries. Will update when there is more news.



Related Links and Posts

My Paris Pastry App and eBook

Paris Chocolate & Pastry Shops (Archives)

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

97 comments

  • Oh man I was hoping so much that the recipe was for the Paris-Brest was coming at the end of this post. Alas… no such luck.

  • Have Mondays ever had a better start than with tales of passion and chocolate? Thanks to Jacques Genin and you for letting us peek into the life and work of a great artisan, I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the pictures and read about this passionate artist!

  • What an interesting name for a dessert! My father-in-law, who used to be an avid cyclist, rode Paris-Brest-Paris in the 80’s when he was an airline pilot and was traveling regularly to France. I should make this for him sometime. Is there a recipe or did I miss it?

  • Julia/Sarah: This is a post about the baker & chocolatier, and the pastries and confections available in the shop. You can likely find a recipe for Paris-Brest online or in a book of French pastries.

  • mamma mia I will gloups all the day along. you solved one more enigme about french pastry chef. cheers xxxx

  • Une raison de plus d’y faire un tour, j’avais prévu d’y aller justement pour essayer le flan, mais ce ne sera pas mon seul achat.

  • This single post has me on the verge of buying a train ticket to Paris. I want to visit that shop! Thank you for highlighting yet another amazing individual. I am inspired! X

  • Mouthwatering as usual! Love the look of the hot chocolate too but it’s a tad too warm at the moment to have that.

  • I just visited Genin this past July and also loved the fact that it is somewhere you can eat a dessert “sur place” – so civilised. And exquisite. I had the Ephémère – what a treat is was for both the eyes and the tastebuds! And the caramels….. Sigh. So good. What an intresting character Genin seems too – I guess all that passion for pastry and chocolate manifests in a somewhat ecclectic personality! Great read David – a nice way to start my Monday!

  • This has gone straight on my list for our next trip in a couple of weeks!

    I was wondering if anyone could recommend a museum of food/cooking in Paris? Is there such a thing? I haven’t heard of one, but my partner is very keen to find one if such a thing exists!

  • Wow,how everything in that place looks just so amazingly tempting!

  • A good morning read – I feel like I don’t need breakfast now. I have been thinking of trying your recipe for caramels again. My last attempt became sauce instead, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the neighbors and my beau and I, I just want that chew. The temperature really matters, eh?

  • WOW! That’s all so beautiful! I don’t even know what to say! Great pictures too! And… I am hungry now! :) Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for posting this. I love reading about his kitchen & about the man himself. I visited Monsieur Genin’s shop last December & I will never forget it. Perfection is the only word to describe it. As a pastry professional, I fantasize about moving to Paris & having the honor of working in his kitchen. Honestly, most of that dream is me eating caramels & eclairs all day.:) Do you happen to know if he ever plans on shipping to the US? Thank you again, David. I love your blog!

  • Ah, Monsieur Genin! Thank you, David, for making his kitchen the first stop on our tour. We didn’t try the Paris-Brest that day, but what a delight to drink chocolat chaud alongside him as he had that mandatory cup in the morning, then to sample copious amounts of chocolate and those caramels! The fresh mille-feuille was a fine alternative to the Paris-Brest. Hopefully I’ll be back to see him and you soon!

  • P.S. I love the shot with Mort peeking over JG’s shoulder! I’m guessing there was a tonka bean discussion soon after.

  • We went to Jacques Genin on August 31 looking for the famous pastries. There was no sign to say closed for the holidays, but it was closed and two young women were on the countertops cleaning the shelves and windows. So disappointed!! Next time we will plan better………

  • Thank you, I will be stopping by his shop on my next trip to Paris to propose marriage.

  • The city of Paris should compensate you for the throngs of tourists you bring to the city as a result of posts like these. Dying to get another box of Génin chocolates – Ms. Zimbeck gave me my first for my birthday a couple of months ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since!

    Brilliant photos, love the story here.

  • You mentioned nougat…..,I remember as a teenager visiting the south…, and eating slabs of nougat, (slightly warmed?…or was it a feint mismemory?) from open market places…, bought volumes to bring back as gifts to the US and ate it all myself….
    Anyway, have always searched for a good soft nougat recipe??? you have such a thing?, who else to turn to but you…?
    love your blog.

  • Omg.. My mouth is watering. ..I know I can’t possibly eat anything to compare.

  • Quelle coïncidence! Laura Florand just read from her new book, The Chocolate Thief, last week here in Durham, NC and she referenced M. Genin. He let her into his shop for research for her book! That is my kind of research. I wish I had found him when I was in Paris in July with my girlfriends. We were staying in an apartment near by. Oh well. La prochaine fois…

  • David!!!! What are you doing to us??????? I am lucky, I’ll be in Paris shortly, otherwise I’d be going out of my mind here!!! LOL

  • David, your photography in this post is extra fabulous. Thank you.

  • Marion: Almost every chocolate shop in Paris closes (except for a few on the Left Bank) in August for the annual vacation, plus it can get very hot in Paris during that time, which isn’t condusive to folks carrying around chocolate. Am not sure why they don’t put their vacation schedules on their websites, though.

    sally: The nougat I learned when I was at school here in France can’t be replicated in a home kitchen due to the techniques used.

    Lindsey: Wouldn’t that be nice? Or at least a little they could…um…well, never mind…

    Ursula: Yes, the first day of the tour is always – BANG – lots of chocolate with Jacques. Since we used to go when the shop was closed with my group, there were no pastries (ie: Paris-Brest) those days. But I don’t think anyone left without getting their fill of chocolate. And caramels. And pâte de fruits – !

    Teresa: It’s impossible to ship the pastries overseas (or anywhere) due to the fact that Jacques only makes them somewhat to order. The cost of shipping chocolates and anything else, which require overnight shipping, is prohibitive. And there are always problems in France shipping things, so it’s best to come and enjoy them at the shop in Paris.

  • Oh my gosh…I wish you’d written this before we went to Paris in June. Now I guess we need to come back sooner than I’d planned.

  • David, I’ll be spending a day with you next month and I’m hoping you’ll take us here! Looking forward to meeting you.

    • Since it’s just one-day, we won’t have time to head to Jacques – and he’s kind of hard to pin down (but we have some other amazing stuff planned!) – so plan some free time to get over there on your own.

  • I love good pastries, but I long for “jellies” or true fruit pectin candies. Are those them?

  • A basil-infused ganache – dear Lord, how fast can I drop everything and get a plane ticket to Paris? What are the round pastries with nuts in the picture between the chocolate and walnut tarts? At first glance, they reminded me of bagels, but somehow I feel confident they don’t taste bready or plain:)

  • So beautiful. So perfect. I’m so hungry!

  • I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but it all looks simply heavenly. You’ve convinced me to stop by next time I’m in town.

  • oh my,this is on my next time list..along with the fabric store you mentioned so long ago.
    i can’t wait for chocolat chaud to go with an “all for me” pastry. i will not make the mistake of sharing! mon dieu

  • Oh, that looks gorgeous…

    I’ve been to Paris a few months ago, but I didn’t know your blog at that time — now I must visit these places you write about, they make me drool and have the head boiling with such cultural-gourmet intro. I’ll be there, someday…

    Thanks.

  • I went to Paris last year. Now I have a reason to go back – asap!! Thanks for sharing!

  • David,

    Why do you torture us so cruelly? It is going to be at least a year before I can come back to Paris. The least you could do is provide a “Scratch and Sniff” to the pictures on this post!

    By the way, can you tell me what are those chocolate squares in several of your pictures? Did I miss it in your post?

    Dorothy

    • I’m pretty sure they are roches, which are hazelnut praline and crunchy hazelnuts, but I’m not entirely certain since he has so many chocolates in the shop – I can’t keep track!

  • I want to make a special trip to Paris just to eat one thing from this place…every day.

  • This is going to the top of my list for our next visit. Next month we are going on our first trip to Spain. I know we will have a lovely time but I will miss Paris.

  • I am wondering if le chocolat chaud is the same thing I had at the chocolate museum in Barcelona recently (it was wonderful :) It was very thick melted chocolate served in a little demitasse cup. Would love to find the recipe….

  • Your pictures are divine and the pastries look heavenly.
    My all time favorite pastry is the Paris-Brest. I make it for special dinner parties.
    Thank you for the information and your beautiful pictures…. wish I had some of those delicious pâtes de fruits ….

  • David, I put together a chocolate present for my twin, including your book of course. At last report she was at home in Palo Alto, eating French chocolates from our Noe Valley chocolatier, reading your recipes, and contemplating making one for me. haha That will never happen but thank you for motivating her thoughts, if not her actions.

  • Thank you for sharing. The pictures were wonderful and made me wish I could jump on a plane to Paris. I love pear pates de fruits. Seeing those pictures I can almost smell the chocolate and raspberries and pears. Wonderful. Enough to keep me going until I can find a way to make it to Paris.

  • Oh my God David! That first picture near killed me. Such posts should come with strong warnings about explicit (food porn) content.

  • Years ago we stayed at one of those hotels that provide M. Genin’s mango-passionfruit caramels on the pillow at night. We used to hoard them and resisted tempation when we saw a pile on the chambermaid’s cart. We asked where we could get some. Once they sold us a box (a kilo!!) which we dole out to friends and relatives. You could tell what your standing was with us but the number of caramels you got!

    The next time we inquired we were given an address and we trotted off. “An uninteresting street deep in the 15th arrondissement of Paris” is where we were and when we reached the number we didn’t see his name on any of the bells. We obviously didn’t notice the workshop so we pressed the bell which had no name tag. Someone let us in and we went up the stairs to an open door and found ourselves in M. Genin’s kitchen (his personal kitchen!) with himself and his daughter. Luckily his daughter spoke excellent English and we were able to purchase another kilo of the precious caramels.

    Now we trek to the Marias and buy our caramels like the rest of the world. I will warn people that the shop is closed on Monday which was the last day of our last trip to Paris and I was crying on the sidewalk at my stupidity!!

    • That’s a great story and so funny that you went to his place and bought caramels. But they really are worth persevering for!

      Back then, you had to buy things “by the kilo” – when I brought groups to his place, when it was just a workshop, my guests would pool their resources and buy “by the kilo” and split things up in their hotel. Now anyone can buy his chocolates & caramels, but it’s funny to remember how you used to have to buy them. And the “wholesale” prices back, too!

  • I agree with Zoe – is there a recipe out there for le chocolat chaud?

  • David, I apologize for this non-topic related question, and will understand if you cannot answer in this forum. I recently bought a Wusthoff Silverpoint “Brunch” knife that I want to keep in good shape. What sort of cutting board do you recommend? Wood? That new plastic that’s flexible? Hard silicone? I appreciate your time.

    Thanks,
    Claire

    By the way, I believe I’ve ruined my keyboard drooling over the pictures in this blog post!

  • Paris Breeeeeeeeest! It is by far the best thing I have ever eaten in my life. I had my first one at Bistro Paul Bert and I will never forget that wonderful day. I will be checking out Monsieur Genin very soon. Thank you David!

    p.s. I have been making (and eating) your tzatziki at least once a week since your post :)

  • Hi David-We deeply regret not eating a Paris Brest this summer on the tour. But all the whiskey he gave us certainly made up for it!!

  • Thank you so much for the that chocolate chaud shot! I had always wondered about the texture/consistency of French style. Swiss Miss blows.

  • the mango-passion fruit caramels
    omg
    the hot chocolate
    omg
    but why have I not tasted hit tarte citron??
    omg what a mistake

  • Beautiful photos of some truly stunning creations!

  • Yer killin’ me here with these photos!!! I’m supposed to be on a diet. I posted to FB and had the same response.

    Ai ya yai!!

  • In Paris for the week to celebrate my sister’s 40th and I cannot wait to make our way to Jacques Genin! Thank goodness she loves chocolate and pastries as much as I do. Your pictures are amazing, David! I’m so happy to have read your book and signed up for your updates. What a timely one for you to post. Lucky me!

  • David,
    Thank you for bringing back the wonderful memories of joining you on your tour several years back, with the outstanding first morning at Jacques Genin. I have never stopped talking about all the amazing items from his-then-itty-bitty place. And, I do believe, a very old bottle of cognac was involved eventually.
    ~~~Lynn

  • I feel tortured reading the article because i can’t put my hands on those pastries! … the cream puffs, tarts, Paris-Brest :-(((
    Thanks David for making me hungry (the photos are delicious)

  • You took me right back to Paris with this piece, David. Is there anywhere else in the world where so much exactitude, so much passion, can come out of a space no bigger than a closet? It’s inspiration for us space hogs in Australia.

  • Every photo is so beautiful and luscious. They nearly bring me to tears.

  • Lynn + Alison: Glad you have good memories of the visit to his workshop…in spite of all the Cognac and/or whisky.. : )

    Parisbreakfast: His lime tart was rated #2 in Paris by a local newspaper, and Jacques told me that the only reason it wasn’t #1 was because of the price!

    Claire: I use wood or plastic cutting boards. I like the plastic ones because I can put them in the dishwasher. Am not sure if either is better, or worse, for knives.

    Stephanie: I like the Paris-Brest at Bistro Paul Bert as well, but it’s huge and I can never finish one. Whereas with Jacques, I can usually manage the whole thing..

  • thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures.

  • Reading your blog makes me realize how little of the city I’ve seen despite having lived here for six months now. I can’t believe I haven’t made the trek to M. Genin’s shop!

  • Hi David. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, but this is my first time commenting. I always look forward to your posts and after reading this one I just want to weep because I am so far away. Hopefully, my dream of living in France happens sooner rather than later, fingers crossed :) Thank you for such amazing stories and pictures. X

  • Dorie Greenspan has a recipe for Paris Brest in her Around My French Table cookbook

  • the photos look absolutely gorgeous!!

    i am wondering… do you know where i can get the moulds for the tartlets? i think these ones look so much better than the fluted ones! david, please let me know if you know where to get them!!!

  • His lime tart rated #2 in Le Figaro magazine. #1 was Carl Marletti’s. His shop is near the base of the Rue Mouffetard. The lemon tart there was really tasty, and slightly cheaper at just under E4. I tried the top three tarts on that list last April. Tough job! They were all extremely good, but Genin’s is not a lemon tart; it was lime infused with fresh basil.

    What strikes me with Genin is his perfectionism. As David said, everything that comes out of his labo is perfect.

  • vulgar m&m’s certainly don’t “keep (me) reaching back into that bag for more.” and to even mention them in an (otherwise tasty and interesting) article about the ingenious jaques génin (with an acute accent, please) is almost blasphemy!

  • oliver, switzerland: Jacques is quite open about trying new things, even American candy. I’ve brought him chocolates from America for him to try, and he’s been quite interested in trying them. As for the accent as the “e” – on the Jacques Genin website, there isn’t an accent, so I don’t use it either – it may be his preference.

    (French publications, like Le Figaro and Elle à table don’t use it either.)

  • You had me at hello…. (groan) the first photo alone!

  • Zoe and Rick, I can vouch for David’s Parisian hot chocolate. I made it for a chef friend of mine (someone who has worked in a number of four star restaurants) and he raved about it for weeks and weeks.

    As far as the pastries go, I’m not ashamed to admit that as much as I love the art, cuisine, culture, history and joie de vivre of Paris my number one priority when I get there is enjoying as many pastries as I possibly can.

  • Oh man. This makes me miss Paris so much!

  • Saw this post yesterday, posted the link on a friend’s facebook page, and we immediately arranged to meet there today. It was wonderful! I could not eat the Paris-Brest as I am allergic to hazelnuts, but my friend adored it and the tarte au citron, a favorite of mine, was the best I’ve ever had. We picked up a few caramels on the way out as well– the ginger was wonderful, and I’ve managed to resist eating the other two I have just yet, but I am sure they will be delicious as well. Thank you for the recommendation!

  • I went there in March 2011. I think it was mentioned on your blog. Outstanding. I can’t wait to go back. Hopefully next spring!

  • oh my gosh…all looks so delicious…and that hot chocolate… xv

  • We’re returning to Paris in a few weeks, and I must stop by for Paris-Brest and caramels. I’ve marked it as a favorite in my Paris Pastry App on my iPhone.

    Loved this post!
    Freda

  • by the way: readers might be interested in jaques génin’s (or jacques genin’s) two excellent and very didactic step-by-step books “le meilleur du tarte citron” and “le meilleur du chocolat”. easy to follow recipes and highly recommended! order through amazon.fr!

  • I just admire people like this. And his creations… ummm

  • David-I wish I could hop on a plane right now to go back to this wonderful place. My husband and I spent 3 weeks in Paris this past April, and just had to visit. We shared a chocolat chaud and each had a eclair. Right when we found the shop, it began pouring outside, and I have such fond memories of the beautiful surroundings and amazing pastries and chocolates. And of course I had to purchase a bag of the caramels and a tin of the fruit pâtés. Thank you for your recommendations and for this article today which is allowing me to relive some of my wonderful memories of Paris.

  • The chocolate and candy, all well and good, but who is that hunk manning the oven??

  • Everything looks so perfect! My boyfriend is madly passionate about chocolate, so when we will be visiting Paris, I’m sure we will pay a visit. But for now, I can’t seem to stop looking at these beautiful pictures…

  • Oh David, this looks and sounds fantastic. I was in Paris on the 7th and, as ever, checked your blog beforehand. If only you’d blogged this 3 days earlier! Well at least I got to Pierre Herme for my little Plenitude. Now I’ve just got to get to Paris again tout de suite to sample a little something from Jacques Genin. Thanks for the tip off.

  • I saw this post on Monday, but didn’t get a chance to read it until a few days later. But when I saw the picture of the Paris Brest pastry I knew I had to read it as it is one of my favorite pastries, but it’s so hard to find a good one in the states. You’re a lucky dog!

  • The picture of that beautiful boy carrying the tray of coffee eclairs might be the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. Sigh.

  • You said it, Liz!

  • Hi David!
    J’adore your blog. It’s a big part of why I came to Paris. I’m on the tail end of a week long trip. I leave on Tuesday, which is just as well; any longer and there is a good chance I will be too fat to fit on the plane.

    I went to Jacques’ shop today. When I sat down, and the nice lady who seated me was still standing there,I was somewhat embarrassed to open my iPad…to this article. So much for my (totally fake) Parisiene cool! (Although, let’s be honest, the electric yellow cardigan wasn’t doing me any favors either.)

    I tried to quickly close the article, but the nice lady asked to see it. I showed her; she said she hadn’t yet seen it, then asked if I’d like to show Jacques. Um, ok. So me and my yellow cardigan, black cross body bag, and *no French* headed up to the kitchen (as a tiny saving grace, I was not wearing my usual white sneakers). I was totally starstruck to meet the famous Jacques! He seemed to find me completely tedious, and hadn’t yet seen the article. He liked the iPad tho (and, apparently, the spunky red case)! Another man in the kitchen and the nice lady, who was actually Jacques’ wife, really liked the article, and said you were a friend. So, thanks so much for spurring one of the coolest, funniest, most memorable moments ofmy trip!

    Sam

    Ps: I just started reading your book, and read about your love of French linens. Any chance you have a suggestion of where to buy some (for the kitchen or bedroom)? They are somewhat hard to find in the States.

  • I remember Jacque’s shop when we visited in May 2006, and indeed it was tiny. I loved the way he kept thrusting one of his delights at us over and over and asking “What is the flavor?” No one was accurate because we were too busy enjoying the mouthful of heaven.

  • Two years ago I visited Paris with my husband and 2 young adult children. Before I left Australia, I organised a food walking tour with a resident French woman. I had no idea what to expect, but the day was filled with many suprises. She took us to this shop and I had the last remaining Paris Brest. It was my highlight of Paris. I bought salted caramels etc to take home for presents. Thankyou for featuring this very clever gentleman who doesn’t seem to rate much of a mention in other publications etc. It would certainly be high on my list if I ever I get to return to Paris. Many thanks.

  • This is the most ridiculously delicious collection of food I’ve seen all year. Thanks for nothing; I don’t live in Paris!!! hahaha :D jk Absolutely beautiful!

  • Two years ago in Paris I discovered the Paris-Brest for the first time and decided it was by far my favorite pastry, period. So it’s been interesting to come back and read different website postings about “the best” Paris-Brest.

    I just tasted your favorite at Jaques Genin today, and it sure was rich. I think the filling tasted more eggy than most, which is great if you’re into the custard thing, and the vanilla is an interesting choice. This one isn’t my favorite — I still have to find that — because I prefer the hazelnut flavor to be the star of the show, but that said, Genin’s sure was good!

    Have you tried the Paris-Brest from La Patisserie des Reves? It’s got coffee in it.

  • … and you’re right about another thing: I’ll admit, I cut my pastry in half and put one piece in the fridge for another night. Out it came, only a few minutes later. And I may have licked out the box.

  • beautiful reportage! can I come with you next time?

  • I’m visiting my sister in Paris this week, and I went to JG and bought us some Paris-Brest because of your recommendation. Wow! Thanks for the tip! They did NOT disappoint! Deliciously rich and surprisingly vanilla-y.

  • I dunno, I mean a caramel is a caramel surely?

  • I live at the other end of the street from Jaques Genin, and love to sit, alone or with my husband, for hot chocolate and a pastry. I love the way they don’t rush you – you can sit as long as you like once you’ve finished. Yesterday while we were waiting for a table my husband pointed out the old French couple on the back sofa – the man was fast asleep and snoring! We got the sofa next to them and he occasionally spluttered awake, but pretty much slept the whole time we were there :-)

    And the caramel eclair was amazing as was the cheesecake – although the cheesecake was way too big for one person. A good excuse to steal bites!

  • I CAN’T wait to visit this place. I’m in utter dessert pain just having read your post. I am not a sweet dessert person but love all the pastries in France because they are more about the total flavor and not just about making it sweet…the cups of hot chocolate make me want to visit sooooon. Thanks for all the great tips on what to eat. Think I’ll have to spend days there, next to the snoring elderly gentlemen, napping in ‘n out of a sugar coma. Gracias!