Éclairs in Paris

eclairs july 14 and pecan

I’m often asked about upcoming trends and each time it happens, I am sorely tempted to respond, “If I could see the future, I’d be buying lottery tickets.” I guess it makes good press – but the unfortunate thing about most trends is that they are often temporary. (In many cases, it’s a relief to see them go when their time is up.) Yet other times, a trend brings something to the foreground, allowing us take a fresh look at it.

eclairs

One trend that isn’t necessarily something new in Paris, is l’éclair, a torpedo-like pastry stuffed with a creamy filling then dipped or brushed with glaze. I’ve been eating them ever since I was a child, loving the tender, eggy pastry contrasting with the sugary icing striped down the top. Most bakeries in Paris have them and I pick one up every once in a while since they make a nice snack. They’re not overly rich, nor are they too-filling; they seem just enough to satisfy me without bogging me down. And they’re also easy to handle when navigating sidewalks riddled with walking people diagonally. (Although in spite of my holding on for dear life, I’ve almost lost a few in the fray.)

eclairs

Two places have opened up in Paris, featuring éclairs. And lots of ‘em. But you won’t find only plain old coffee or chocolate at either place. Instead, be prepared for cru (single-origin) chocolate fillings, fruity combinations like passion fruit-raspberry, and variations on the salted butter-caramel theme.

eclairs in paris

While preparing for the next update of my Paris Pastry Guide app, I did a tasting of the éclairs. And I have to say, I was pretty impressed. At L’Éclair de Génie, pastry chef Christophe Adam prepares slightly smaller sized pastries that you’ll find at the typical corner bakery, but the flavors are intense and the decoration that first put me off (I’m a classicist) won me over because – well, they just tasted so good.

There was an éclair decorated in preparation for Bastille Day, which is called le 14 juillet in France. I didn’t try it because in spite of my classicist roots, I really do draw the line at eating likenesses of historical figures. I was wowed by Fraisier, an éclair filled with Iranian pistachio cream, orange flower water, and decorated with brilliant-red Gariguette strawberries.

The éclairs also change seasonally, but I loved the Passion-framboise, filled with passion fruit, one of my favorite flavors that I can’t ever seem to get enough of. Another éclair I liked was one encrusted with caramelized pecans and filled with Madagascar vanilla cream. I’ll be back to this shop in the Marais for more.

eclair passion fruit - raspberry passion fruit - raspberry eclair

Over near Les Halles is L’Atelier d’Éclair, which is just as modern and streamlined as the other shop, with sparkling glass showcases featuring not just sweet éclairs, but a savory selection as well.

There are dainty, finger-sized éclairs, meant for giving people the finger. Just kidding – they’re intended for l’heure de l’apéro (cocktail hour.) Some come filled with foie gras and figs and ones that are a tasty little bite (or two) of spiced chorizo sausage with tomato. For bigger appetites, there are sandwiches (called “clubs”) stuffed with chicken curry, smoked salmon, and Comté cheese and ham.

strawberry eclairs green tea eclairs

We weren’t hungry for lunch quite yet (for those who want to settle in for a while, they are open for brunch on the weekend), so we went on to the sucré selection, stuffing ourselves with small “cocktail” éclairs with a piping of meringue over a pastry filled with tangy lemon cream. The green tea éclair had that pleasant seaweed taste of matcha that I like, and the chocolate one was just fine.

raspberry rose lemon eclair

Having reached our capacity, we had to pass on the other flavors. But for the next app update, as the seasons and selections change, we’ll be looking for other flavors to try – and return for a few favorites.

L’Éclair de Génie
14, rue Pavée (4th)
Tél: 01 42 77 85 11
M: St Paul
&
53, rue de Passy, 16th (kiosk in the shopping center)

L’Atelier de l’Éclair
16, rue Bachaumont (2nd)
Tél: 01 42 36 37 94
M: Sentier


82 comments

  • Thanks for this – I already had L’éclair de Génie on my list for this summer and wandered by the Atelier the other day and wondered about it. Your review will have me heading there sooner than I thought!

  • Savoury eclairs sound perfect and I might have to do the Eurostar for that Frasiet. Looks divine!

  • This is usually the only thing I will buy when I am at a bakery. Well this and frangipane,

  • Crazy for L’Elaire de Genie’s passion-framboise eclair too and I love especially their smaller size..just 11-12 cm of perfection.
    I must try the strawberry- pistache!

  • whoa, some creativity is good for the eclairs – though you`re right – nothing beats the classic eclair :)

  • Those are almost too pretty to eat! I like the one at the top with the woman waving the flag (I’m sure that’s something iconic in France.) :)

  • @Lynn : Actually that’s a painting by Delacroix. So it is iconic, not just in France.

    @David : Does an éclair with a bigger “glazing” than its “stuffing” still qualify as an éclair ? ;) (no I’m not a purist…)

  • Well, I know where I’ll be heading first when I’m in Paris next week!!

  • Wow – haven’t seen anything like it. I’m glad to hear you actually liked them because at first look, I wouldn’t think they’d be good. (I had a good chuckle about “giving people the finger”…haha)

  • I love those seasonal éclairs from L’Éclair de Génie! A bunch of friends and I did a taste test between those two shops as well, and we found the texture of the pastries from L’Éclair de Génie to be far superior. Now that I know that have a strawberry-pistachio flavor, I’m going to need to go back immediately!

  • Eclair subs? Brilliant!

  • It never occurred to me that eclairs could be savory! Or come in so many flavors.

  • David, Do you no what process they used to do the image on the Delacroix Liberty eclair? It looks like a photographic transfer on icing?

  • Diane + ParisBreakfasts: I liked them both but I think the ones from L’Éclair de Génie really hit it. A few folks have complained about the price, and/or, the size of éclairs from these places. But a lot of work goes into these and I think it’s merited.

    Sissy: I think it’s cocoa butter and some photographic process they use to transfer the image to it. But I’m not 100% sure.

    T. Tilash: Am not sure what the “official” definition of an éclair is, but it’s almost certain that it needs to be made with pâte à choux (cream puff dough), and filled. But interesting to see the variations, the results of a few folks pushing the boundries.

  • Eclairs de Génie recently opened an outpost in the lower level of Passy Plaza. The eclairs looked so over the top that I haven’t had the courage to try any, but I’ll have to overcome my purist leanings when I go back. Aarrggh! The nearby Pierre Hermé branch has already been disastrous on my waistline…

  • Surely a gougere is just a savory eclair,so the eclairs with savoury fillings are just a new way to present an old idea? Back in the 80’s I worked for a caterer in Toronto who served eclairs with a curried apricot chicken filling; they sound pretty retro now, but they were delicious, and incredibly popular with the clients.
    Visiting Paris this week, and had the vanilla eclair at Cafe Pouchine. May be the prettiest eclair I’ve ever eaten, with it’s dusting of silver dust,(certainly the most expensive!), but the filling to crust ratio was perfection, and no soggy bottom. I hate soggy-bottoms!
    Now I just need to figure out if the walk from rue Graviellers to rue Pavee and back is enough to work off a fistful of those strawberry-pistachio numbers.
    Cheers from Karen

  • Dear David,
    I’ve been following your blog since I was in Lyon and Paris last summer and just love it! Spending a moment on it provides a brief respite from all the craziness of my work day. I’m particularly impressed by your photography as I, too, enjoy taking photos. I’m curious what camera you use and what tips you might have, if any, that you could share. Your work is just consistently so good!

    Thank you for adding a little spice to my day!

    Cathy

  • How interesting! Most of them look to be filled traditionally, but are some split like a book with fillings piled on? Pâte à choux is easy to make, so I’d like to try making them. I’m especially intrigued by the “cocktail” éclairs — perfect with an apéritif.

  • Gorgeous photos. It makes me want to try several of these. When in Paris, my weakness has been for the more pedestrian almond croissant. Thank you for making me rethink my penchant!

  • Things have changed in Paris! It used to be you never saw anyone French eating on the streets.

  • What a visual feast let alone how it must all taste! I love the sweet variations better than the savoury. Feeling inspired to try making the one with meringue topping. How clever!

  • Fauchon has some pretty lovely éclairs as well. Their chocolate one has golden pop rocks sprinkled on top and the raspberry-champagne is also very tasty.

  • this is so exciting as just like you, eclairs have been my favorite pastry since childhood. that pistachio one looks exquisite.

  • Did any of these amazing bakeries provide a great recipe for making eclairs (for those of us who aren’t in Paris)?

  • Stefanie: Christophe Adam of L’Éclair de Génie was the pastry chef at Fauchon, which explains some of the similarities. And it’s fun to look at all of them!

    Natalie: Christophe Adam wrote a book on éclairs recently, called Éclairs if you want to take a try at reproducing his recipes. (I haven’t looked through the book but I’m sure it’s in French.)

    Marguerite: Most have the fillings piped in with a pastry bag, but the savory ones with things like chorizo and so forth, are split lengthwise, so the ingredients can be added that way.

    Cathy K: Glad you like the shots! Check out my post on My Food Photography Gear – I used the 50mm 1.4 lens when taking these pictures in the shops.

  • I’ll second Natalie’s request: What’s your favorite eclair recipe and any suggestions on how to approximate that pistachio cream or the passion/framboise at home?
    Thanks!

  • It is a tradition in Europe having patisseries specially created to honour historic events.
    The 14th of July éclair is really cute, flaunting a detail from that huge painting by Delacroix known as “Liberty Leading the People”commemorating mind you and however the July Revolution of 26-29 July in 1830.
    On the other hand the Liberty lady better known as Marianne, is the symbol of France.She wears the Phrygian cap worn during the French Revolution of July 14 in 1789.
    Get it?

  • Oh My!!

    This is like heaven for me!!! My biggest gripe here is that since Dumas, a french patisserie, closed in NYC years ago i have been hard pressed to find Coffee Éclairs- my favorite!!

    So I took to making them. They are not hard to make…. just hard to hang onto! I am not the master of piping the pâte a choux into the long shape, a bit mutant looking, but a small group of us devoured a tray of 50 little ones.

    Can’t wait till my trip in just 2 months!!!

  • We used your Pastry App while in Paris in mid-June this year – quite enjoyed it and appreciated your hard work. Our only problem was walking in circles for almost an hour trying to find an outlet of Fouquet that had apparently closed up shop completely. Around and around we went, but no, that address now houses a different business. So, the next day we went to their other shop – it was there, but closed. Third day – third address. Finally found one that was both in existance AND open! Yummy, and now that my feet no longer hurt, a funny memory.

    All the best to you!

    • Yes, Fouquet closed their outlet near the rue Saint Honoré. We are updating the app this week and next, and are going to be revising that information. We do have someone call shops and check to confirm the hours are still the same, but places in Paris have a way of closing on days with no notice unfortunately. (We’ve been trying to go to one place that is perpetually closed with no sign or hours posted, and we can never figure out when it’s open!)

  • Oh my goodness…you’ve got my taste buds all in a tither now. Those eclairs sound divine–I would especially like to try the foie gras and fig. I laughed at your “sidewalks riddle with walking people diagonally” comment–a big pet peeve of mine!! Thanks for your always-enticing blog!

  • Eclairs are made with same dough as cream puffs of course, and I may just start serving crabmeat éclairs instead of puffs at parties — so thanks for the suggestion!

    By the way, the word is “fraisier”, it comes from “fraise” (strawberry).

    “Fraisier” refers to a French cake that is made with fresh strawberries (fraises) and cream, then unmolded. Thanks for the correction of the typo. -dl

  • As if I am not so envy of you and your life already! Jesus, that looks soooo good. Can’t wait to go to Paris!

  • This trend is so much better than cupcake mania.

  • I am a classicist as well – in part because the eclair au chocolat was my patisserie of choice throughout my childhood (and I have never ever had a single even decent one in the US. CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM folks – why is that so hard to understand?) My favorite (giant) ones are from Gargantua on the Rue St. Honore in the 1st. I may be swayed by Iranian pistachios, though – that picture took me to Paris – I could almost taste the strawberries …

  • Well, this is a Parisian trend that I can get excited about! At least it’s a trend of something they know how to do and do it extremely well. Unlike the bagel trend, the muffin trend, the cupcake trend, and all the other terrible trends in Paris.

    • Yes, some of the trends have either gotten silly, or they just don’t do it right. (And in some ways, why bother? Do something you’re good at!) So it’s great that they are doing something fun, and interesting with a classic and turning it around a bit, but letting it still remain resolutely “French.” Bravo!

      (Although a friend who has a bakery in the US was in Paris recently and told me she had a “tuna éclair” at a bakery that was sweet. When I asked if she was sure if it was tuna, maybe she got the translation wrong, she said it was definitely tuna fish in the éclair – along with lemon glaze – which she said was awful. So I hope this trend doesn’t spawn these kinds of flavor combos.)

  • You missed the very best – Carl Maretti’s Salt Caramel Eclair. To die for.

  • Sounds great as usual! I have several of my adult French for Travelers’ students going to Paris this summer and fall, so I am happy to pass on the addresses of these wonderful eclair shops! And of course Joyeux Fete de la Bastille!
    C. Scafani

  • I am a professional pastry chef. I have never seen eclairs so perfectly shaped unless made by a machine.

    Are the eclairs in the pictures produced by a depositor?

    • I didn’t see where they producer the éclairs so can’t really say. L’Atelier isn’t that large so perhaps they do theirs by hand, whereas L’Éclair de Génie has a lot more éclairs on display, so they may use a depositor.

  • Eclairs! Easily, one of my favourite things in life – and I mean generally, not just pastry :)

  • L’eclair de Genie is just a few doors down from our apartment. I tried it today for the first time and it was delicious! I brought a babysitter from the USA this trip (her first to Paris), she had never had an eclair and was amazed how delicious it was. We tried a traditional type chocolate one and another that may have been praline or hazelnut? (I’m not sure since I ordered chocolate, but it was good and had pretty gold flecks on it).
    I stopped today rather early as I noticed there was no line (there has been quite a long line each day). Definitely worth a stop in this great little neighborhood!

  • It’s 7:20 am here in Australia and I am wishing I had an eclair for breakfast! Can’t wait for September, when we will next be in Paris. Wonderful post, as always David. We had a hire car break down last year in a tiny town near Arras. The plain old coffee eclairs that we ate whilst waiting for the tow truck were magnificent. Now when we talk about that trip, one of us will always mention those wonderful eclairs. Managed to turn what could have been a trip lowlight into a highlight!

  • A few questions:

    1) Do you think an eclair craze will migrate to the US like the macaron craze did, giving the cupcake craze a run for its money? Or are these upper-echelon eclairs too labor-and-skill intensive for most bakeries?

    2)When you’re evaluating the quality of an eclair, what criteria do you use for judging the shell? Where on the continuum moelleux/croustillant do you come down? And what color? Blond or darker brown? How dried out should they be?

    3) Do you have any comments on Christophe Adam’s basic choux recipe? It deviates from standard recipes in several ways. Compared to Pierre Herme’s, it has less butter and fewer eggs. He calls for drying out the water-milk powder-flour panade only 30 seconds (vs. the usual 3 minutes) before adding the eggs. And his baking method is idiosyncratic, putting them into a 480 degree oven, which you immediately turn off for 10 minutes, then turn on to 360 degrees to finish the baking. Then he recommends leaving them out overnight at room temperature to dry out further before filling.

    4)Is it a sign of the decadence of our western civilization that we are concerned about such trivial matters?

    http://www.cestmafournee.com/2013/05/leclair-au-cafe-de-christophe-adamwhat.html

  • In general, French pastries reign because they are not sickening sweet like American confections, and the ingredient list boasts wholesome, quality ingredients. I am continually amazed at Americans who can eat so-called “croissants” in the so-called “bakery” section of Acme. Are their taste buds so destroyed by MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and ultra processed corn oil that they do not detect the chemical aftertaste or the digestive side effects?

    Yes, I adore authentic French pastries, but I have to confess the éclair is one pastry that the Italian-American bakeries have perfected for me. (I live in the Philadelphia area.) Give me an éclair with a light choux pastry stuffed to bursting with not-too-sweet, thick, eggy custard, finished with a chocolate buttercream ribbon drawn across its length. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, no matter what season I am in.

  • What beautiful pastries! Have a Happy 4th even if you are “across the pond”.

  • The eclairs at Genie sure looked overkilled :-) … but i think i would love to try the passion framboise also because i love both fruits … savory eclairs sound interesting :-)

  • Alright, David! Now you’re just making us jealous!!

  • Everybody knows savoury stuffed little choux (puffs) stuffed with mushrooms, creamed cheese and other cold or hot fillings. Savoury eclairs are just the “torpedo-like” version.

  • The passion fruit-raspberries eclairs look amazing! I am a bit disappointed that the rest of the world has not caught onto passion fruit like the French have.

  • Just returned from France last week. We were mainly in Antony (near Orly airport), which is my husband’s hometown. Our local patisserie had the different kinds of eclairs and and they were wonderful. We especially loved the lemon meringue one! Salted caramel was great too. Glad to see this is the new trend cause like you I loooooooove eclairs!

  • We obviously need these in Canada. It’s a little tricky these days trying to find a classic eclair much less a Napoleon, which used to be found in the bakery department of popular supermarkets. Now it’s all about the timbits (Canadians only seem to know what these are but for the uninitiated they are donuts holes sold by the box and named after a hockey player). Now I have a sudden urge to find myself an eclair….

  • I’m always amazed by how beautiful some of these eclairs are – like mini works of art!

  • Thanks David,
    I was making Savory Eclairs forty years ago in Argentina. The casings are perfect for many things. I made them smallish for cocktails.

    Love your articles, wish I could get over there to try this new location.

  • very interesting..thanks..

  • David,
    Heading to the Marais this weekend. I think I need a taste of Lady Liberty. Sounds so scandalous, but somehow, so deliciously right! I’ll take one for the team of classist and revert back to my SW Louisiana roots and indulge, Bacchus style~

    Thanks for the post.

    Best,
    Judy

  • Love your blog, thrilled by your pastry app! Is there any chance you will release on android as well…??

  • You’re making me very hungry! Unfortunately, I haven’t found the likes of these down here in France Profonde, but I shall continue searching :-)

  • Stayed for two weeks in Paris recently only two doors away from L’atelier and looked in their window every day without ever trying their wares. Tant pis!! Was too busy eating my way through Stohrer’s delights.

  • Gosh! Savory éclairs! Another one of those why didn’t I think of that moments. The foie gras filled ones sound great. Now, my mind is racing in all directions imagining all sorts of possibilities. Among many, being the 4th of July, cheesy choux pastry might make a great hot dog bun.

  • Look at all the variety, flavors and prettiness! French definitely take their eclairs very seriously :D

  • My mother made these for us when I was a kid in a small town in (of all places) Minnesota. I was always so impressed that my mother knew how to make the choux pastry so beautifully. She would have gotten a big kick out of seeing rows of them in a display case online!
    The best part of making them at home? “These don’t last very well overnight, kids, so you may divide them all up to eat today!”

  • Can’t wait to try the eclairs the next time I’m in Paris. In the meantime, I’ll have to be content with the Eric Kayser coffee eclairs in NY–they are excellent!

  • I am not a fan of eclairs but these all look delicious.

  • David, I’m enjoying imagining myself walking down a Paris street munching on an eclair! My English grandmother was both a topnotch baker and a Francophile so eclairs were a fixture of my early childhood.

  • Oh this makes me so happy !

    L’Éclair de Génie might be just the thing to pull me out of my prolonged post-Jacques Genin depression. While they’re not exactly his tarte citron (avec basilic), the Madagascar vanilla cream éclairs sound equally obsession worthy.

    Speaking of M. Genin … any news of when we’ll get to enjoy his talents again ?

  • In the long ago time, I worked as a baker. We used to make eclairs. The shells are really easy to make and well worth the effort. The filling was a pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. These were then dipped in a lovely chocolate ganache. Some people came by when the eclairs were freshly done. We also made a lightened chocolate mousse for the filling. This one was popular with the chocoholics in the area.

    The hubby asked me not to make any baked goods for a week. I made a nectarine galette based on the recipe from Ready for Dessert. Used a vegan crust, and it came out really well. Delicious for breakfast! Oh what to make next . . . have the baking bug.

  • Oh man those eclairs look devine! One good reason to leave for Paris!

  • Oh lordy! Those eclairs look stunning, and their tasty to boot? My mouth waters for the pistachio one… I can see this being the next craze in the States.

  • Wow, those are gorgeous, and that filling…yum. I bet every single one of them is super delicious. Cream of the crop!

  • I’ve never liked eclairs precisely because of the egginess of the pastry and the slightly leathery texture. But as a holder for savoury goodness? That might be an eclair of a different color. And little ones would be cute for parties…

  • Your blog is food porn at its finest.

  • For some reason, I never quite got into the pate a choux train.
    But yesterday, I saw an italian chef on a local TV show (here in buenos aires), make profiteroles, fill them with gianduja, coating them completely in dark chocolate ganache and finally in powdered sugar (while the chocolate is still warm). The first recipe in years that makes me want to go into the kitchen and make them! Though I think that a citrus/raspberry/passion fruit filling would be way better to counteract the chocolate and sugar.
    I wonder if they make such a thing in Paris. Apparently in Italy they´re well known, but I didn´t get the name.

  • I’m so craving the salmon and dill ones. I remember éclairs as a little girl; haven’t eaten them in decades.

    Though my current food porn is “Cradle of Flavor”, by James Oseland, about the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore… How I love sambals.

  • I’ve been following your blog for years and was tempted to try my very first homemade ice cream using your recipe! I love eclairs…thanks for opening up the world of possibilities with eclairs…going to try them soon….

  • Will be back in Paris end of Sept. beginning of Oct. Cannot wait to do a personal walking tour to every patisseries selling these glorious eclairs. Also when it is time for Les Peches de Vigne in Aug. Save me a pit please!

  • Wow, they all look so beautiful. I wish I had the imagination to come up with so many different flavors. We have some nice pastry shops around here but nothing like that. Enjoy.

  • Wow! I had been wondering how come there were no pastry shop specializing in every-flavor eclair but there actually is! Thanks for the info. I have got to try them out. The passion fruit/raspberry sounds (and looks) absolutely delicious. I’m drooling just looking at the pics.

    Now the biggest question : would a box of eclair survive a trip in the metro in this heat? Well, if it looks too risky, I might just have to eat them all before they melt.

  • Fancy a classic éclair now although pistachio cream does sound amazing

  • This is probably a dumb question but it’s about your madeleine recipe. If I use a non stick pan, do I still butter and flour the pan? thanks!

    Yes, you do. -dl