The Best Apple Tart in Paris

I take a tough line at calling something “the best.” As anyone who’s tried to get the best chocolate shop, the best bakery, the best bistro, etc., out of me knows I’m always coy with an answer. (Someone, however, once got so upset about it that they went on an online tear about me on one of those bulletin boards. Ouch.) Lest you think I’m not happy to point you in the right direction, I have pages on the blog where some of my favorite bakeries and restaurants in Paris can be found.

To be honest, the best doesn’t really exist, at least not always. The baker might be having a bad day, or a bakery changes hands entirely. A favorite bistro may have served wonderful classic French food ten (or so) years ago, but has taken a turn toward the dark side. I hate when that happens too, but you take the good, you take the bad, because those are the facts of life.


Even more fraught is writing a blog post about something that’s “the best.” I know, because back in 2007, over a decade ago, I wrote about what I thought was the best croissant in Paris. A few folks ran with that, did comparisons, and went back to the bakery over the years as it eventually changed hands. Struggling to keep up, I tried to keep the post updated with news about the bakery, and as I write this, I just updated it again, with more information. (Spoiler: A very good bakery is now in its place, that makes very good croissants. So I hope that’s the end of it)

While I do my best to go back and make any updates to posts, with 1402 posts on the blog, updating that one post from 2007 set off a chain reaction of me making a few revisions to that post, then all the others linked to it. And as much as I like you all, I’ve got episodes of Lost in Space to watch.


I’m also concerned that when people hear “the best,” they’re expecting a fancy pastry shop with cut glass showcases, pretty mirrors on the walls, chic shopkeepers, and a lavish display of expensive pastries.

One of the original intents of my blog was to show some places in Paris that were off the radar. Yes, there are lots of glossy Instagram photos and blog posts of five-star hotel rooms, inside of châteaus, hands cupping macarons, upscale bakeries…yup, I’ve got those too. But I want the blog to be a mix of places, keeping the focus on places you’d want to go, and so would I, if I was visiting Paris.

So when I was going to an appointment the other morning over in the 5th, while Romain fed one of the hungry parking meters of Paris, I cooled my heels in the drizzle. As I paced the sidewalk, I noticed a rather nondescript little bakery that had laurels on their window, noting they won the first prize for the best apple tart in Paris in 2017.


Being skeptical of “the best,” I poked my head in, and indeed, my skepticism vanished when I had to admit that the apple tarts looked pretty good. The closest Normandes to the door were baked in a slab and cut into individual-sized rectangles. Scrounging change from the pocket, I bought one, which we shared when Romain finished wrestling with the bourne (meter), that somehow didn’t want to let him buy more than ten minutes of time.

We had no trouble finishing the tart. Wanting more, I bought a small one to bring home when we circled back later. I also read up on the contest in Le Parisien newspaper, that it beat 72 entries with 80 people on the jury. Clearly more people wanted to eat apple tart than to bake them. If you, however, want to try your hand at Tarte Normande, I linked to a few recipes below. And if you do try the actual tart and don’t agree, you’ve got 80 people who think otherwise. Actually, make that 81, including me.

Many places in Paris, and in France, do a simple tarte aux pommes, a disc of pastry with very thin-sliced apples on top, then glazed. Tarte Normande is baked in a pâte brisée or sablée base, then lined with apples with a mix of cream, eggs, and Calvados poured over it, and baked. Some have almond flour added, others have a touch of cinnamon. The owner is understandably tight-lipped about this one, but it’s said to be made with melted butter, eggs, and Grand Marnier. Whatever it was, and however he made it, I had to say, it ranked up there with some of the best apple tarts I’ve had. My only hope is that they don’t change it, or change hands. If they do, can someone let me know?

Philippe Teillet
66, rue Monge (5th)
Tél: 01 43 31 00 18
(Closed Tuesday)


Related Recipes

German Apple-Almond Cake

French Apple Cake

French Apple Pie

Tarte Normande recipes: Amour de Cuisine, Aubrey Jubault, and La Popotte de Manue (in French)

 

 

Looking for a great Apple Tart in Paris? This one won the award for the Best in the City!

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47 comments

  • May 3, 2018 4:17pm

    This was fun to read! And the tarts look really good. Maybe one day I can try one for myself :) Reply

  • Linda
    May 3, 2018 4:20pm

    Great story David. I have used Julia Child’s excellent recipe for Tarte Normande since I was in University and it always receives great reviews! Reply

    • Linn
      May 4, 2018 6:34am

      I looked up Julia’s Tarte Normande recipe and it has some of the same ingredients David said were rumored to be in the bakery tarte — eggs, butter, calvados — must try this…. Reply

    • Alexandra
      May 7, 2018 7:42pm

      Merci, Linda! I am going to pull out my Julia books tonight and look for this beauty! It looks divine! Reply

  • May 3, 2018 4:37pm

    When I saw the photo I was drawn in–I prefer tartes with pâte brisée rather than pâte feuilleté, and I’d also rather forgo the sticky glaze. This one looks and sounds delicious.
    Paris seems like such a timeless place that some people forget that it’s a dynamic, evolving city. There are forever new discoveries to be made. Reply

  • Jayne Niemi
    May 3, 2018 5:13pm

    So thrilled to see this, and if I even get my oven working again (!!!) I may try my hand at one. In the meantime, I will add this to my walking route while we’re in Paris in July. Merci bien. Reply

  • John Cifrese
    May 3, 2018 5:14pm

    Hey have you ever done Sicily. I am heading there next week. Any suggestions in Palermo? Reply

    • Cherstinne
      May 3, 2018 5:37pm

      When in Palermo look for the marvellously elegant edible objects made of marzipan and of course the famous cannoli, found at every pasticceria. Note that ice cream is often served inside a bun like a hamburger. Reply

    • May 3, 2018 5:55pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I’ve been to Sicily. To read those posts, type “Sicily” in the search engine in the upper right corner of this page and they should come up. Reply

  • Britta
    May 3, 2018 5:37pm

    Facts of life – ahhhhhhahahaha, I love you, david. I’ll be singing that jingle all afternoon!!!  Reply

    • Aimee
      May 4, 2018 6:24pm

      I’ve got it stuck in my head, too!! Reply

  • Annette
    May 3, 2018 6:10pm

    Thank you David! How did I not know about this?! Boulangerie Teillet is just down the street from our place and I pass by it many times a week when we’re in Paris…which has been only once since this contest, but still, I should know these things LOL Thanks to you, now I do! Will be stopping by assez tôt. Reply

  • Mark
    May 3, 2018 6:25pm

    Ouch. Was in Paris last year and missed this… AHHHHH… Now have to go back. What trouble you cause… Reply

  • Carol J. Butterfield
    May 3, 2018 7:04pm

    David, despite all the signals from popular American culture, I am in vigorous agreement that cooking is not a competition. However, you’re the best :) Reply

  • Kathryn
    May 3, 2018 7:07pm

    Loved your comment about Lost in Space….made me laugh out loud- Reply

  • Ella
    May 3, 2018 7:28pm

    One more reason to love you, David…now when you say something is the best, we’ll know you really mean it!! Reply

  • Any Funt
    May 3, 2018 7:31pm

    David, I got hooked on your genius back in September 2000, with your galette piece in Fine Cooking. Read your apple tart story with great interest, and want to share a tip that evolved from baking DL galettes on a Friday frighteningly regular basis: because apple can quickly dry out in the oven, I first simmer sliced apple in rum for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, I drain the rum and lay the slices on the frangipane-coated galette, fold in the edges and sprinkle with sugar. The finished pastry is deliciously crisp and moist at the same time.

    P.S. You signed my copy of “My Paris Kitchen” at that chocolate store in the Mission a few years ago. I was that red-headed dummy who could not get my new phone to snap a photo of us. Sorry to have missed the “L’Appart” signing op in SF. Reply

  • FREMAJANE WOLFSON
    May 3, 2018 7:33pm

    What does a person have to do to get to meet you???? I’m going to be in Paris for 10 days. Eating most of the time! Let’s go have something yummy together. My treat! It will be like having your Aunt come to visit –
    Your favorite Aunt, I might add!
    Fjw
    Ps. I love The Mouffetard – do you?.. Reply

  • Paul Winters
    May 3, 2018 8:13pm

    The best apple tart with burned edges? I don’t think so. If you produce burned pastries you don’t know how to control your oven of did not take care of the bakingtime. Eating burned food is not good for your health und should not be sold. Reply

    • Valentin
      May 4, 2018 6:29pm

      The pie is not burnt but cooked to bring out all the aromas of the cooked apple. Reply

  • A
    May 3, 2018 8:34pm

    Poilâne’s bakers never seem to have a bad day At least when I am in Paris. Reply

  • LarryNolin
    May 3, 2018 9:01pm

    Interesting and entertaining comments but I’m new at this blogging so kindly provide this dinosaur with the recipe….Larry Reply

  • LarryNolin
    May 3, 2018 9:05pm

    Interesting and entertaining comments but I’m new at this blogging so kindly send the recipe to this dynosaur….Larry Reply

  • Linda
    May 3, 2018 9:29pm

    Speaking of “best of’s”, has anyone here tried the croissants at Arsicault Bakery in San Francisco? As with David, I hesitate to label anything the best,but, but in my book these croissants are the best in the world(!). And, I’ve done more than my share of sampling, all over Europe and the US Reply

    • Joe
      May 5, 2018 6:29am

      Yes, I’ve tried them. They are about a 5 minute walk from us. The lines, when first announced as best croissant, have diminished and the restrictions on the number allowed to purchase have also gone. I’d not rate this the best I’ve ever tasted. I don’t think it would be in my top 10. Reply

    • Clare
      May 14, 2018 7:47pm

      I live in Oakland but work in SF and went to Arsicault Bakery for the first time last month after a co-worker couldn’t stop talking about it. Boy, after trying one of the croissants I understood what all the raving was about. I will be back to get more croissants often. Reply

  • Rita
    May 3, 2018 11:12pm

    About 30 years ago I was invited to a French home My friend made a tart that reminded me of this beautiful tart. She made a pastry in about 5 minutes pressed it out,put apples and a bit sugar and creme fraiche on top It was perfect. I have tried to replicate it many times. Never as good I don’t have the right touch. Have you ever heard of this simple recipe? Reply

    • Linn
      May 4, 2018 12:15pm

      There’s also an apple tart (tarte aux pommes) recipe on page 636 of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French cooking that sounds similar — it is sliced apples with sugar on pastry with creme fraiche on top. She also adds apricot preserves and calvados, rum or brandy. Reply

  • Gavrielle
    May 4, 2018 1:24am

    Merci for the recipe links as you’ve definitely sold me on Tarte Normande! (PS I guffawed at your Facts Of Life joke, but now I have a terrible earworm:).) Reply

  • Dean Kwarta
    May 4, 2018 1:59am

    David,
    Saw you on “………..What Phil’s Having ” and I got to see you in your element. The Paris tourist bureau should put you on retainer. Keep up the good work.
    It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

    Dean Reply

  • Christina
    May 4, 2018 2:34am

    Two of the recipes call for poudre d’amande — would that be ground almonds or almond flour?
    My mother is from Rouen, I should make her one for Mother’s Day, non? Reply

  • Becky
    May 4, 2018 3:47am

    Love your blog, David. I read your posts bc I enjoy your take on life and food. So as far as I am concerned, you can just say you think something is the best in your opinion and never concern yourself with qualifying it further. :) Anyone who hassels you can start their own blog and get a life! Love and peace from Oklahoma! Reply

  • May 4, 2018 4:55am

    Interesting..I’ve always been crazy for Secco’s tarte au pomme, which has much more apples, less crust, and very crispy too, but I’ll go try this tomorrow. One must keep up. Thanks for letting us know. Reply

  • Kristen
    May 4, 2018 5:47am

    Thanks for the charming post. Reply

  • May 4, 2018 8:01am

    The tart looks wonderful. I do like them to be well cooked, i.e. blackened bits. Also, in the UK, there seems to be a trend of not glazing buns and cakes, which I think makes them less attractive. I have been making a tart like this since I bought a small book of Jane Grigson’s Normandy recipes from a supermarket back in the 1980s. Reply

  • May 4, 2018 8:07am
    David Lebovitz

    A: Yes, the apple tart at Poilâne is excellent. It’s quite different but I love those as well.

    Dean: That was fun shooting with Phil. I didn’t know him before the shoot, but now I do and he’s a great guy – we need to do something else together again!

    Rita: I haven’t but there are a lot of very simple apple tarts they do in France that are usually just pastry with apples on top. I’ve not used crème fraîche on top of one but perhaps you can find one on a French website. (Unfortunately most of the search results for recipes nowadays turn up results from big, corporate websites that either aggregate recipes or use them from elsewhere without attribution, so you don’t know if they are good or not. But you might be able to find something if you dig a bit. I often look on Pinterest as well.)

    Larry: They didn’t give out the recipe but people say there is a very good one in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (pg 637), if you want to give it a go. Reply

  • BelleD
    May 4, 2018 7:55pm

    @David, is there a particular recipe for Tarte Normande that you like? I looked at a number of recipes and they can be so different from one another. I’m not sure which to make. Reply

  • Alliya
    May 4, 2018 8:48pm

    You know….you are so right and people can sometimes be way too demanding. Also I believe that best is also subjective your best may not be mine who’s to say who is right. Unless something is downright awful well… Meanwhile please keep your opinions coming I for one am really happy. Reply

  • John
    May 4, 2018 9:41pm

    David – there are two words missing from the end of this post – “the recipe”.

    That is a serious point, all to many secrets go to the grave with the originator. I can understand while they’re alive and active, but if not handed over, it’s a great loss. In my day job, I have all to many “black arts” that even I don’t know what it exactly is, and it’s now lost. Reply

  • John
    May 4, 2018 9:43pm

    Second sentence, for “to” read “too” apols for clumsy typing. Reply

  • Bebe
    May 4, 2018 10:28pm

    My goodness! Such heat over an apple tart! Some don’t seem to know that when one bakes items with fruit and sugar, they often are the best when they end up showing a little color. Carmelized. That tart is not burnt!

    As for the recipes, there are some related recipes below the article and a row of three links to recipes for Tarte Normande. In French!

    You rascal, David… Readers should know that bakeries and restaurants don’t usually share their prized recipes..

    Thank you for the fun… Reply

  • sharon
    May 5, 2018 8:48am

    After reading your article I went to the bakery and asked for their winning apple tarte. I didn’t have the picture you posted on line in my mind and was directed to rectangular pieces of tart. Bought 4 pieces to serve for dinner with guests. Perhaps it wasn’t the actual tarte you ate because it wasn’t special. One person complained that the bottom of the pastry was too hard to cut into with the side of a fork. I wanted a higher apple to pastry ratio and more flavour. All I could taste was apple and butter in the filling and it just wasn’t interesting. I’ll go back and get the round one, which you pictured, in case it’s substantially different.

    The densely packed apple cake laced with lemon zest at Murciano (I think) on rue des rosiers in the Marais, with its tasty pastry is far more impressive as an apple dessert. Reply

  • Juliánna
    May 6, 2018 3:11pm

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your writing, David! Having read L’appart makes me wish you were my neighbour.

    I kept reading passages from it to my husband out loud. Your sense of humor – right up my alley. (Now I just have to figure out how to marry your cooking/baking with the clean eating I started a week ago.) Reply

  • May 7, 2018 5:19pm
    David Lebovitz

    Bebe: Yes, if you look at older French cookbooks, things are often cooked to the point of appearing (or being) burnt. I’m pretty sensitive to that taste and the two tarts I had didn’t taste burnt to me at all.

    Julianna: Thanks, and glad you enjoyed the book so much!

    sharon: I had both a rectangle of tart, which they sell individually, as well as the tart shown in the post, and both tasted great to me. I didn’t find the pastry tough at all, and the filling (I think) is mostly apples and butter, so that would explain the taste. I don’t know the tart you’re talking up but will try it next time I’m in that area. Thanks!

    BelleD: I’d try the Julia Child one mentioned in the comment just above yours. Her recipes are usually spot-on. If you do try it, let us know how it turns out. Reply

  • Brian MacFarland
    May 8, 2018 9:30pm

    David, I’m a fan for many years and enjoy reading your posts every week. I, too, live in Paris and find the long- stored apples available this time of year really inferior. I’m a regional/seasonal kinda guy so I am wondering if you think that ideally one should wait until the late summer or fall to make things like this with apples? Or does the process of making something like this render the ultimate quality unimportant? Reply

  • Christina
    May 11, 2018 12:09am

    J’ai besoin de la recette! Reply

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