These Puits d'amours from Stohrer translate to "wells of love," and I can't think of a better name. Chubby puff pastry rounds are filled with a cool and satisfyingly rich vanilla bean cream. A pour of caramel over the top for a bit of sweet crunch proves that simple is indeed best.
Stohrer: 51 Rue Montorgueil, 2nd Arr. (map); 01 42 33 38 20
Macarons are the draw—buy them by the dozen and save for an afternoon snack. But while you're at Ladurée, indulge in the housemade ice creams topped with a single macaron shell. I'm partial to the silky salted caramel with a bits of caramel shards folded into the center.
Ladurée: 21 Rue Bonaparte, 6th Arr. (map); 01 44 07 64 87
Come early in the morning for a still-warm tarte aux pommes, a glorious affair of juicy apple slices tucked into a golden puff pastry shell. Don't forget to pick up a few crunchy punitions (single-bite crunchy and buttery sable cookies) on your way out.
Poilâne: 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th Arr. (map); 01 45 48 42 59
Rule of thumb at Pierre Hermé: try all you can. I've yet to have anything less than wonderful, and on this holiday it was the lush pistachio creme-filled Montebello that stole my heart. The pistachio creme is paired with a sugar-dusted almond and pistachio cake base and a tower of tiny sweet strawberries.
Pierre Hermé: 72 Rue Bonaparte, 6th Arr. (map); 01 43 54 47 77
Mille-Feuille comes "a la minute!" at the gorgeous Jacques Genin in the 3rd Arr. Alternating layers of a ridiculously fresh, crisp puff pastry meets pipes of smoky caramel cream. Mark this down as the best mille-feuille I've had in Paris, and don't dare leave without a handful of silky soft and buttery housemade caramels.
Jacques Genin: 133 Rue de Turenne, 3rd Arr. (map); 01 45 77 29 01
The scoops are small at Berthillon, so there's no excuse for not trying at least three flavors in a sitting. Consider a scoop each of summer sweet rhubarb (pictured), a full-bodied and creamy dark chocolate, and puckery-sweet lime sorbet.
Berthillon: 29-31 rue saint Louis en L'ile, 4th Arr. (map); 01 43 54 31 61
Sadaharu Aoki's "Zen" features a black sesame pâte sucrée base and layers on white sesame cream, and a matcha macaron shell sandwiched with cognac-spiked white chocolate cream. The intense flavors come together in remarkable harmony.
Sadaharu Aoki: 35 Rue de Vaugirard, 6th Arr. (map); 01 45 44 48 90
Pain de Sucre
Pain de Sucre serves some of the most delicious (and gorgeous!) marshmallows in all of Paris, but their other sweets deserve euqal attention. Consider the pistachio cake appropriately named "tea time," nutty and dense in texture and studded with fresh raspberries.
Pain de Sucre: 14 Rue Rambuteau, 3rd Arr. (map); 01 45 74 68 92
Financiers at this homey boulangerie in the 2nd Arrondissement are round, rich, and slightly domed. Choose between caramel, currant, or my favorite, a dark chocolate with a center of cherry preserves. Almond-rich, dense and butter-moist.
Au Panetier: 10 Place des Petits Pères, 2nd Arr. (map); 01 42 60 90 23
Despite the parade of pastries Fauchon has to offer, I'm constantly drawn back to the classic madeleines in a rainbow of flavors. The pure vanilla version is great, but so is the honey one and others with strawberries and blueberries (pictured).
Fauchon: 26 Place de la Madeleine, 8th Arr. (map); 01 70 39 38 00