French

This Foot-Long French Pastry Is the Best Thing I Ate in Paris

And I ate a lot of things.

April 26, 2019
Photo by Ella Quittner

It's no secret that Du Pain et des Idées, a little corner bakery in Paris' Canal Saint Martin neighborhood, serves some of the best bread in town.

David Lebovitz has been espousing the superiority of its boules since 2008. Anthony Bourdain paid it a visit in an episode of The Layover, back in 2012. And its escargot au chocolat et pistache—a hypnotic swirl of laminated dough and bright green pistachio, flecked with chocolate—has become so internet-ubiquitous in recent years, it's inspired zillions of close-ups of the pastry seemingly levitating in front of the boulangerie:

So I was surprised when a list of Paris recommendations compiled by my little sister Clementine included an item from Du Pain I'd never come across: the sacristain.

Recommendations from Clementine do not come lightly. She's an astute critic with exacting standards, and she doesn't sugarcoat. I once saw her turn away an entire platter of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies because she suspected they were made with imitation vanilla rather than pure extract. (Another entry on her Paris list, for a secondhand shoe store, says simply, "Tiny shop with intimidating salesperson. The most beautiful shoes you’ve ever seen.")

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“As a reward for supporting our national team away, won't you share some of your Paris (and all things France) food-shopping secrets. I am sure sister Clem will approve. ;)”
— Jo A.
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Accordingly, when I entered Du Pain last week and locked eyes with a big plate of sacristains, I knew this wasn't the time to mess around.

I may or may not have a photo of this sacristain in a BFF locket, now. Photo by Ella Quittner

The sacristan is a long, twisted pastry that's like a croissant aux amandes if it grew eight inches, lost its potbelly, and took on the sort of ineffable intrigue that'd make you want to spend all night talking to it at a cocktail party. According to Petite Panière, it hearkens from the South of France, and the origins of its name are murky.

At Du Pain, they're €3.30 apiece, made of deeply golden, unthinkably buttery puff pastry dough (a páte à palmier) cradling delicate crème pátissièrie, and it's unlikely you'll make it to one of the wooden tables out front before you start peeling into one with the urgency of someone who believes all of life's secrets are tucked into its folds. Each is a foot long, or thereabout—who could think to measure at a moment like that?—but by the time you get to the end, you'll swear it was a miniature version and that you need to head back for a second.

Which you should, if you, too, are on Clem's Paris plan; the next section of her list involves quite a bit of walking—and she doesn't recommend stopping for a glass of wine until you've reached just the right spot.


What's your all-time favorite pastry? Let us know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is Writer at Food52.

12 Comments

AnnieN May 21, 2019
Pastries are so good and would like to try them when I go to Paris!
 
Allegra April 28, 2019
Going to Paris next week, can't wait to try!!
 
Elle C. April 28, 2019
Don’t miss the Niflettes at Du Pain et Des Idees!!

 
ellen April 28, 2019
I truly savored your description. I really could almost taste the urgency and the deliciousness. Thank you. I am not going to France soon but will put it on a list.
By the way I adore Clem’s discernment. Is her list published?
 
Caitlin G. April 27, 2019
i'll have to head over to the 10th to try this bc the sacristain WITH the pot belly- aka an almond croissant - is my current fav. merciiiii!
 
Jo A. April 26, 2019
We are headed to France for Women's World Cup Soccer in June to July. Catching games in Paris and and the semi's and final in Lyon. EPIC.
As a reward for supporting our national team away, won't you share some of your Paris (and all things France) food-shopping secrets. I am sure sister Clem will approve. ;)
 
Michelle B. April 26, 2019
Here I am looking for a recipe while others are adding it to their awesome travel list... ;)
 
Victoria April 26, 2019
Please share the rest of the list hers and yours, I am headed to Paris in a month and need to eat all. the. things!!
 
Mona P. April 26, 2019
Now I want to see the full list (including the shoe shop lol)
 
Kelley S. April 26, 2019
Waiting patiently for Clem’s guidebook to Paris, now... ; )
 
Mona P. April 26, 2019
we literally must be sharing brainwaves hahahaha
 
Kelley S. April 26, 2019
Right? Great minds... ha!