After macarons, cupcakes, and cream puffs, the classic eclair is now enjoying a serious revival in Paris. Here to test the trend, Carin gathered a few knowledgeable sweet freaks to test the goods from Paris’ most notable new eclair shops, l’Eclair de Genie and l’Atelier de l’Eclair. -Geneviève
If you ask people about pastries that remind them of Paris, one that first comes to mind is the classic éclair. A pastry made with pâte à choux, a fluffy cream filling and mouth-watering icing on top — mmmm!
Many of us forgot about this delicious little pastry when adorable macarons and elaborate American cupcakes took the Parisian dessert spotlight over the past couple of years. Thanks to inventive pastry chefs (and probably a general fatigue with everything bite-size), two new Parisian pastry shops, L’Eclair de Genie, and the Atelier de l’Eclair have put the éclair back on the dessert tray.
I have to admit: I haven’t always been a huge fan of the éclair myself. It wasn’t until I stepped inside the newly opened L’Éclair de Génie in the Marais, that I realized I might need to revise my position: seeing miniature éclairs all lined up in different colors and variations made my heart skip a beat. After my first bite of a noisette/praliné éclair, I was sold. I’m now an unabashed éclair convert (under the right circumstances, of course). So when the HiP Paris blog asked me to spend an afternoon exploring new variations on this classic pastry, I jumped at the chance!
Many pâtisseries in Paris make delicious éclairs, but I was interested in finding out more about the places that are taking a different approach to this classic dessert, so L’Éclair de Génie and L’Atelier de l’Éclair were at the top of my list. Judging by the sizeable queue outside L’Atelier de l’Éclair 15 minutes before opening, where savory éclairs are also on offer for breakfast or lunch, you could say Parisians have been won over by the concept.
My goal was to decide which of these new shops warranted a detour if you only had a limited amount of time in Paris. To figure out the answer to this very hard (but extremely sweet) question I enlisted the help of a few people who love desserts just as much as I do. Milsters from Little Pieces of Light, Grace from Will She love Paris?, Diane from Diane, A Broad, Edna from Expat Edna, Melanie from Feed Your Awesome Machine and Sugared & Spiced were all kind enough to help me with this demanding task.
On a recent sunny Sunday morning, we gathered around the table in a cozy Parisian apartment in the Marais, prepared to devour numerous éclairs. I had done my shopping earlier that day and presented three different flavors from L’Atelier de l’Éclair (caramel au beurre salé, chocolat and pistache/abricot) and four different flavors from L’Éclair de Génie (caramel au beurre salé, chocolat/caramel, pistache/orange and framboise/rose). A bottle of champagne was popped and the smackdown began!
The pistachio number from L’Atelier de l’Éclair was received by some as soft and fluffy, while others found the flavor a bit too artificial. L’Éclair de Genié’s pistachio éclair, on the other hand, had “a much better texture and wasn’t as mushy as the one from L’Atelier de l’Éclair,” according to Milsters.
The frosting on the éclairs from L’Éclair de Génie led to a table-wide discussion; Edna, among others, liked that the frosting had a little chew to it, while Diane thought it stuck to her teeth too much. L’Éclair de Genie was the uncontested winner of the caramel au beurre salé round: we all agreed the cream was smoother, the texture more even and the salt ratio more satisfying.
When we tried the chocolate éclair from L’Atelier de l’Éclair the first words out of Edna’s mouth were “American chocolate pudding” and she got a couple of concurring head shakes from around the table. We were again a bit disappointed that the dough wasn’t crispier to offer more contrast to the very creamy filling.
After we all bit into the Chocolat-Caramel éclair from L’Éclair de Génie, the only thing you could hear around the table was a loud and very satisfied “Mmmmmm!” It was everything we wanted and more; crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, exquisite flavors of chocolate and caramel… Although, as Melanie pointed out, this was not a traditional éclair (it is literally dipped in chocolate and nuts), that did not keep it from being the crowd favorite.
It was a close call, but all things considered we decided a second visit to L’Éclair de Génie was in order. We were won over by the amazing texture, the smooth cream filling, the numerous different variations, and carefully thought-out decoration on each of the pastries. Don’t get me wrong, the éclairs from L’Atelier de l’Éclair were good too, and I would probably not say no to a follow-up taste test…
L’Éclair de Génie
14 Rue Pavée, 75004
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 77 85 11
Métro: St Paul
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 7:30pm
L’Atelier de l’Éclair
16 Rue Bachaumont, 75002
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 36 37 94
Open: Every day, 11am – 8pm
- Paris Daily Photo takes a closer look at L’Atlelier de l’Éclair
- The 5 best places for éclairs in Paris? Le Figaro shares their suggestions with us
- I Prefer Paris pays a visit to L’Éclair de Génie
Written by Carin Olsson for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Carin Olsson. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in.
24 comments on “Paris Pastry Smackdown: Eclair de Genie vs. Atelier de L’Eclair”
Based on this article I had to try both.
Atelier IMHO was the better of the two, but not by much.
Atelier has two sizes – Genie only one (midsize between Atelier’s small and large)
I tried the Raspberry and Melon at L’Atelier and was amazed by the freshness and lightness of both.
At Genie I had the Banana – WOW! and the Mango excellent.
Genie has no real seating area and no tea or coffee, while Atelier does.
My two cents…
Is it just me or is “American chocolate pudding” supposed to be negative. Chocolate crème patissiere can be quite challenging – the chocolate has to find its way to your palate via an eggy mixture and some corn flour making one wonder why they blend the molten chocolate into the custard in the first place. I have tried Christophe Adam’s eclairs at the local Fauchon here in Dubai (I assume many of the creations are remnants from his time there) and the salted caramel ones always comes out on top.
The eclair has always been one of my favourites! I just read this article on other French sweets…simply delicious!
Will have to go and try some too!
Yes! I’m (sadly) not a huge pastry person but my go-tos are definitely éclairs. Thanks for the rec!
This sounds like my kind of research!!…My favourite is the classic with chocolate on top…delicious!…xv
Excellent post and wonderful photographs! I am still dreaming of the framboise number from L’Éclair de Genié. Thank you so much for inviting me to this dreamy event. It truly was a pleasure xxx
Can I have your job?? Do you get paid to do this research? Ahhem! Lucky lady, I love eclairs and when I am in Paris in a few months I am willing to put this to the test!! Love and eclair envy, Corrina Tough
Wow, what a fun challenge! These all look so delicious; you definitely convinced me to check out L’Éclair de Génie next time I’m in Paris.
Carin, your photos are amazing!
A big thank you for inviting me to help you with the very difficult task of trying them all!
For some strange reason, the one that sticks in my mind is the framboise/rose one from Eclair de Genie (even though I must admit I couldn’t really detect any rose flavour!). And I tell myself that there’s some antioxidants from the berries making it that tiny bit healthier! 😉
Wonderful write-up and great photos, as always! Thanks so much for letting us be part of this amazing research project (all for the good of mankind, of course!). Even though it failed the classic éclair criteria, I am still rooting for that amazing Chocolat-Caramel number from L’Eclair de Génie! Yummmmm….
L’Atelier de l’Éclair popped up with treats of eclairs at the Diner en Blanc last year winning many of us over on the spot…..simply scrumptious!
Thanks! Loved this post! Will be sure to try and stop by one of these shops during my next Paris trip!
More than happy to help with the taste test, Carin! 🙂 The eclairs from Eclair de Genie held up much better as well, the dough didn’t lose its form or texture even after sitting out for a couple hours — good for anyone who isn’t planning on eating their eclairs straight away!
My goodness, this is perfect timing! I recently developed a complete obsession for the eclair and I think I’ve sampled far too many here in Lyon in search of the ‘best’ and we’re off to Paris in a couple weeks… thankfully someone has done the legwork and I can go straight to the best.