Sain Boulangerie

I was expecting something a little different when I took a stroll over the Sain boulangerie, a bakery I’d heard about, which was on my list of bakeries in Paris to visit. My friend Romina of Les Madeleines bakery was is in town, and she’s always up to visit new places, or places new to us, so I arranged to meet her there. I figured we’d walk into a place with polished glass showcases, brass-tipped racks of breads, and a line-up of attractive pastries. Instead, we found an unassuming neighborhood spot, not a shop where the pastries were displayed like jewels, whose pastry counter was right on the sidewalk.

The sun was rather blinding the day we went, as we commandeered one of the squat stools on the sidewalk outside. I had trouble balancing on the tiny tabouret, so I multitasked by getting a little ab workout, keeping myself from tumbling over, while getting my fill of buttery pastries. It was a win/win situation. (Although the pastries seemed to get the upper hand by having the opposite effect on my midsection.)

Owner and baker Anthony Courteille worked at Le Grand Véfour, as well as in England and in Spain, is part of the younger generation of French bakers fighting against the industrialization of bread, and pastries. He is into long-fermentations of his doughs, which deepens and improves the flavors, and uses the skins from the apples that are packed into his Chausson aux pommes to make his natural yeast. We’d come for pastries, but you can watch the production of everything going on in the workshop, which is as wide open as the pastry counter on the sidewalk. Nothing is hidden.

While we were ordering some pastries, we both noticed the enticing smell of roasted hazelnuts coming from the kitchen and we simultaneously asked what it was. The Addict bars (above) certainly lived up to their name. The Tonka bean shortbreads I skipped since I don’t love tonka beans, even though an acquaintance of mine with a chocolate shop in Bordeaux, Saunion, assured me the reason I didn’t like them is because people put too much of them in things. He gave me one of his tonka bean-flavored chocolates, to prove it. I had to admit, he was right. But I’m still wary of it as I’ve had that waxy, furniture polish-taste of them linger in my mouth after trying pastries made with them.

The woman at the counter told us that we must order a Chausson aux pommes. I’ve learned that when in France, when someone tells you to eat something – even if they work at the place, and they might have other motives for getting you to buy something – in France, they are almost always right, and you should take their advice.

Although it didn’t look all that spectacular and didn’t have the fancy frilly edge of a traditional Chausson aux pommes, it was, indeed, excellent. Thankfully we’d taken her advice.

She told us that everyone in the neighborhood, when they stopped by, that’s what they got.

Truthfully, their looks belie how delicious they are (above). Biting through the crackly exterior, a flaky shell of buttery dough crusted with coarse sugar, inside we found layers of caramelized apples with a deep, almost toffee-like richness. Hoo-boy, were those good. So good, they nearly knocked me off my stool.

The ones that day were definitely on the rustic side, but when I’ve gone back to the bakery for more, they were more polished. Either way, they’re excellent and worth heading over there for in the morning. (I hear they run out of them as the day wears on.) But you’ll find baskets of other pastries worth trying and all of them got a big thumbs up from us.

Although Sain is well-known for their breads, I know, I know…I didn’t get any. I had two loaves of bread at home that we were working our way through. Plus, this was a pastry date, after all. And it’s impolite to cheat on a date, isn’t it? But they all look worth going back for.

Sain Boulangerie
15, rue Marie et Louise (10th)
Tél: 07 61 23 49 44
Métro: Belleville or Jacques Bonsergent

Sain Boulangerie

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  • Barb
    November 7, 2019 3:10pm

    Hard to believe that I may be the first to Comment but I absolutely love reading your blog! It’s really interesting and wonderful! Thank you so much!

  • Susan Riggs
    November 7, 2019 3:49pm

    These all look delicious, I am adding it to my list. Who knows, I may even gain some weight the next time I am in Paris!

  • sillygirl
    November 7, 2019 3:50pm

    Oh man! I shouldn’t have read this before breakfast! If the end of the world comes I’m just heading here.

  • Marguerite
    November 7, 2019 4:00pm

    I’m in Paris. You had me at “Chausson aux pommes.” I’ll find my way there.

  • November 7, 2019 4:17pm

    Oh my goodness these look good! When I first moved to Paris I was all over fancy colorful pastries. Now I’ve moved on and find viennoisserie so much more satisfying. Not sure why this is but they are homier, less pretentious. No delusions of grandeur but they are very grand indeed. Thanks I Can’t wait to try Sain.

  • Carol Sapienza
    November 7, 2019 4:37pm

    David, every time I time I read your blog I wonder why I still live in California.

  • Steve Willis
    November 7, 2019 4:46pm

    Always look forward to your postings and your love of food, especially sweets. We are in Paris every year in Jan-Feb, would love to see your reviews branch out to the 16th sometime.
    Thank you.

    • November 7, 2019 6:56pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t go to that neighborhood often but I highly recommend Cravan. (Great cocktails, too!) They’re listed on my Paris Restaurants page.

      • Steve
        November 7, 2019 7:00pm

        Thanks, will check it out.

  • Martin
    November 7, 2019 4:57pm

    our neighbourhood secret revealed! the croissants knock my socks off every time: “bonjour, would you like some dark, brooding pastry dough folded a million times around a stick of butter? you’re welcome!” i just ate and still i want one in my mouth. so bad!

  • Berti Helmick
    November 7, 2019 5:56pm

    David, your book L’Apart was fabulous. Any chance you could post any before and after photos?

    Also we are here today in Paris. Any suggestions for dining in the 6th?

  • November 7, 2019 6:30pm

    Definitely on my list for next year’s visit with my guests. I love the owner’s story, as well as his pastries. Thanks for sharing.

  • Linda
    November 7, 2019 7:29pm

    I LOVED this post David. I am salivating over your pictures of those fantastic looking baked goodies. Thank you for sharing.
    I also loved your book L’Apart and would love to see before and after photos if you are comfortable sharing any… especially the kitchen and those windows!!! Talk about the remodel from HELL!!! xo

  • Kathi K
    November 7, 2019 8:42pm

    I totally agree with your comment about heeding culinary advice–especially when it comes from a native French person. While in Lyon in August, I was torn between a croissant & a pain aux raisins. The owner told me that I must try the croissant because it was one of the best in the city –and that’s saying a lot in this culinary capital. Boy, was she right! It was buttery, flavorful & flaky–just the way I like them.

    I love & learn so much from your posts. Merci!!

    • Toni McCormick
      November 8, 2019 3:12pm

      Kathi K, can you remember the place in Lyon? We have friends there and visit from time to time! I love Lyon!

      • Kathi K
        November 10, 2019 2:16am

        Yes, Toni. The place is Pain Des Celestins.

  • November 7, 2019 9:06pm

    Wow! I just discovered that this is a three-minute walk from where I will be staying in February.

    Thanks David!

  • Noel Blair
    November 7, 2019 10:40pm

    Another happy day reading your blog and dreaming. I can taste those pastries in my imagination yet maintain my 30 lb weight loss until the day I finally get to Paris. Thanks David.

  • Barbara
    November 8, 2019 12:40am

    Oh, David. Eating delicious bread is not work.

    • TARA
      November 23, 2019 8:39pm

      Nearly thirty years ago I spent 18 months in France and Belgium as a missionary. It seems that in each new city I ended up with a new favorite pastry. Chausson aux Pommes brings up very happy memories of Calais for me. This looks like a lovely version and I can’t wait to try it on my next visit to Paris. Thank you!

  • Mary Beyda
    November 8, 2019 1:03am

    Why can’t we have bakeries such as this in the United States? Specifically Washington, DC.

  • dotti
    November 8, 2019 2:34am

    if i lived there i would be 200 pounds..everything looks so great!!

  • Anne
    November 8, 2019 2:52am

    These all look so wonderful (especially the spirals!). I am drawn toward pastries that are a little more rustic looking too. And I’m thrilled to see Les Madeleines mentioned. Like just about everyone I know in town, I’m a Les Madeleines evangelist!

  • Peter Longenecker
    November 9, 2019 4:16pm

    I’m in another part of the 10th for a month and a half. After reading the Sain Boulangerie post, I had to trek on over there yesterday. Bought a croissant, and as I ate it on my way to have a coffee, I was floored. Goes right up there with the best ones I’ve ever had; it might be number one. Ok, so I had to go right back and buy a Chausson aux Pommes. Oh, boy. At this point I couldn’t decide which I preferred.

    Only one thing to do: go back this morning and buy them again. Just as good as yesterday. This could be dangerous.

  • November 13, 2019 5:10pm

    There is an interesting video in You Tube about ants and cinnamon. It suggests that the cinnamon plant evolved bark that turns away the army ant leaf cutters. It caused us to wonder if some people are affected too.

  • Paula
    November 14, 2019 12:19pm

    Thanks, David for this post. We were in Paris the past two weeks and visited Sain (conveniently located between Du Pain et des Idees and The French Bastards – another great recommendation) The Chausson au Pommes was the best we’ve had.
    Also went to a new 4th wave coffee place that is worth checking out – Substance Cafe, 30 Rue Dessoubs in the 2nd. Top graded coffees prepared with the utmost attention to detail.

  • Emma
    November 15, 2019 5:25pm

    Their big bread is soo good, with a little chestnut four, really a must try. And conveniently located near Le Cambodge !

  • November 22, 2019 7:51am

    Oh god! This is so lovely and so depressing in one fell swoop. So lovely to see such delights of pastry, but a harsh reminder that I live in Las Vegas where the chance of a decent pastry is zero. I am forced to drive to Los Angeles for all my bread and pastries which I dash back (4 hours) and freeze for the next 2 months. Oh to live in Paris!

  • Cara
    December 1, 2019 5:34pm

    Thank you for your wonderful cookbooks and blogs that keep us all (well, me anyway) interested in creating and sharing (and reading about) amazing food! I have a question (and forgive my ignorance) about the Chausson aux pommes…The dough does not look like the typical puff/laminated dough I always see, but bumpy (almost more like a scone dough). Was the dough different from the usual puff-type dough? Do you recommend a recipe that might be similar (since I’m in the (currently rainy) CA bay area, and not off to Paris anytime soon)…I may need a pastry fix to get through all this rain!

    • December 2, 2019 3:01pm
      David Lebovitz

      When we were there (in the photos) in seems like the dough was a cross between pâte brisée and puff pastry, covered with lots of sanding sugar. (Coarse sugar.) In subsequent photos I’ve seen online, it looks like they used puff pastry, so I’m not sure what they do.