Adam Wayda is an American gourmand with “a bit” of a sweet tooth. Spending half of each year in Paris, he chronicles Parisian pastry and the great chefs behind it on his site, which poses the very real risk of making your computer’s monitor ooze with crème pâtissiere.
A trip to Paris without visiting a pastry shop – or 10 of them – is woefully incomplete. It’s not just the pastries that make the experience, it’s the shops themselves. From the romantic 19th century charms of Ladurée to the 23rd century design sensibilities of La Pâtisserie des Rêves , there’s never been a more varied and deliciously sucré landscape in the history of Paris. Although, if time is tight or if you’re attempting to not completely overindulge, arguably the shop not to skip is Hugo & Victor.
H&V for me, however, was the one major pâtisserie I almost missed on my last great pastry adventure. Months earlier, I’d landed at CDG with a detailed list of 20+ shops to which I’d make my rounds, bingeing daily on 3…4…5 (or more) of their goodies. As my extended vacation wound down and my pant size burgeoned 3 inches, a friend emailed me saying, “Have you checked out Hugo & Victor yet?”
Thinking I knew every pâtisserie of any significance, I barely took the time to Google them. The shocker was the photos that turned up, plus an address no more than 4 blocks from my apartment. It seems they had opened just shortly before my arrival in Paris. While I could be excused for nearly missing them, a visit was long overdue.
Walking through the sliding glass door of H&V, I felt like I’d stepped into a jewelry boutique. After all, half the pastries were individually top-lit and locked behind glass. I quickly struck up a conversation with the salesgirl and got the rundown on what makes H&V so special:
- They explicitly aim for using 1/3 the sugar other shops employ in their pastries.
- Every season features a range of new flavors – each done as a set: one classic pastry, one modern pastry interpretation, ganaches/chocolates made in-house, and get this . . . a bottle of wine selected by H&V’s sommelier to perfectly complement the pastries and chocolates.
- They have a small farm south of Paris, where they grow their own limes, verbena, and more.
- All pastries are created by co-owner, Hugues Pouget, 2003 French Champion du Dessert and former chef pâtissier of the Michelin 3-star Guy Savoy.
Impressed doesn’t begin to describe what I was feeling at that moment, and I hadn’t even taken a bite.
Within 5 days, I’d managed to eat all of H&V’s pastries. The pieces ranged from “delicious” to “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever had in my life.” Sugar, per the salesgirl’s explanation, was definitely used conservatively – the benefit being that the flavors of the fruits and crèmes were alive like you cannot imagine. There was one downside though. My expectations for other pâtisseries are so ridiculously high now that I worry nearly all future pastry experiences are doomed to fall short.
- David Lebovitz’ Sweet Life in Paris is out in Paperback. It is a sweet read indeed!
- Chocolate and Zucchini makes Fondant au Chocolat
- If you want to learn to make some delicous patisseries while in Paris, La Cuisine offers baking classes you can join.
Written by Adam Wayda for the HiP Paris Blog. Top image by Adam Wayda; other images courtesy of Hugo & Victor. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven In.