My life in Lyon was punctuated by visits to the city’s many boulangeries. Had a terrible time battling the infamous Administration? Or a bad day at the office? Need a bite to eat for that interminably long bus journey? Boulangeries are, in my experience, the answer to many of life’s problems. There is, quite simply, nothing a pain au raisin/ chausson aux pommes/ torsade au chocolat (delete as applicable) can’t fix, or at least remedy somewhat. The boulangeries have gone head to head in the Battle of the Boulangeries, and the results (following months of dedicated sampling) are in. (Disclaimer: 80% of these are located in the 6th arrondissement, as that’s where I lived. If you’d like a broader range of top-notch bakeries, check out this post by CatherineRose.)
You’d think that finding a decent baguette in France would be a doddle, since most towns and cities have a boulangerie on every street corner. While any baguette is guaranteed to be better than those in the likes of Carrefour and Intermarché, that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t a few which fail to hit the spot (e.g. Boulangerie L&G). No pain, no gain, as the saying goes – so after tasting my fair share of so-so baguettes and crusty delights, I’ve whittled the longlist down to the best trio of boulangeries for all your baguette needs.
Gold | Boulangerie des Cinq Sens
Churning out crusty, golden baguettes with tapered ends by the dozen, this was my boulangerie of choice when the baguette cravings struck. (Which, let’s face it, was more days than not.) You can’t go wrong with their baguette à l’ancienne – and if they’re out of that one, the next best choice is their baguette tradition. Open Monday to Friday, 07:00-19:30, 128 Cours Lafayette.
Silver | Chez Jules
There’s nothing wrong with a deliciously starchy white baguette, but every now and then a girl needs something a little different. Enter, Chez Jules. They have a vast range of baguettes, but my favourites (in order of preference) are their baguette cinq graines, baguette aux céréales and baguette au maïs. I also have a penchant for their pain au chocolat blanc – admittedly a sweeter alternative to its dark chocolate cousin, but delicious nonetheless. Open daily, 07:00-19:30, 42 Boulevard des Brotteaux. (Additional branches can be found at 4 Rue Joseph Serlin, 7 Rue Octavio Mey and 39 Rue Victor Hugo.)
Bronze | L’Équilibre des Saveurs
While the range of baked goodies isn’t as extensive here, what it does is done well. Their baguette tradition is made from locally milled flour, has a goodly number of air pockets and an almost sourdough-y taste to it. (Yum.) Their slices of tarte sucrée are also worthy of a mention – in particular, the variety covered in chocolate drops. Open daily, 07:00-19:00, 114 Rue de Sèze.
Viennoiseries are a baker’s staples – that’s croissants, pains au chocolat and other flaky pastries to you and me. These delicious little morsels of buttery puff pastry are an ideal alternative to muesli for breakfast, the perfect pick-me-up after a long day at work and my chosen companion on a trip to the park. Make no mistake about it, I am all about the pastries. (All the pastries. Except for canelés, which I detest.) Whether you’re looking for a light breakfast bite or a mid-afternoon munch, one of these is sure to please.
Gold | Le Fournil de l’Artisan
This was my ultimate go-to boulangerie, as everything they sold was heaven in a mouthful (and their pain au raisin was one of the best I’ve ever had). Besides the basics, they also offer a range of praline-themed viennoiseries, including a roulé au pralines (think pain au raisin, with praline instead of raisins) and a brioche aux pralines. (For the uninitiated, pralines are a Lyonnais speciality, and although their lurid reddish colour is a wee bit off-putting, it’s worth trying something praline-based while you’re in Lyon.) Le Fournil de l’Artisan is also home to an expansive range of reasonably priced tarts – their tartelette chocolat-banane was a firm favourite of mine, their tartelette aux framboises a close second. Open Monday to Friday, 06:00-20:00, and Saturday, 06:00-14:00, 152 Cours Lafayette. (An additional branch can be found at 185 Cours Lafayette.)
Silver | Pâtisserie Tixier
This makes the list for its selection of fruity chaussons (turnovers): pomme-framboise, poire-chocolat, chocolat-banane and citron. They’re huge and a little pricier than your standard chausson aux pommes, but worth every cent. For the Nutella fans amongst you, their chocolatine noisette, dusted in icing sugar and topped with flaked almonds, won’t disappoint. Open Monday to Friday, 06:00-19:30, and Saturday, 06:00-19:00, 25Bis Cours Vitton.
Bronze | Eric Kayser
Conveniently located a stone’s throw from the entrance to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, I made many a trip to this boulangerie ahead of an afternoon spent lazing in the park with a book. When it comes to pure butter viennoiseries, there’s little scope for things to go wrong – but I’d recommend their pain au chocolat, which is glazed to perfection, and their brioche au chocolat noir, which is packed with chocolate drops. Open Monday to Saturday, 07:00-20:00, 27 Rue Ney. (Additional branches can be found at 15 Place Louis Pradel, 6 Rue de la Barre and 1 Avenue Adolphe Max.)
Although my loyalties lie primarily with the boulangeries and their viennoiseries, my sweet tooth inevitably draws me towards the pâtisseries from time to time. Who could resist the siren calls of colourful macarons, picture-perfect fruity tartlets and decadent éclairs? (Not me, that’s for sure.) Here’s my pick of the pâtisseries – hopefully one will tickle your (fondant) fancy.
Gold | Trop Chou
Trop Chou is, well, trop chou (too cute). I discovered this little gem courtesy of Collector, a free brochure bursting with bonnes adresses across Lyon’s various arrondissements. Trop Chou’s speciality, as its name suggests, is adorable little choux buns, in both sweet and savoury flavour combinations. I couldn’t face limiting myself to just one delicious chou, so I chose three: mangue-passion, caramel au beurre salé and chocolat noir. If you opt for a selection, they’re a meal in themselves; otherwise, one on its own is a perfect bite-sized snack. I’m feeling peckish just writing about these choux buns. Open Tuesday to Thursday, 10:00-19:00, Friday and Saturday, 10:00-19:30, and Sunday 09:00-13:00, 3 Rue de Sèze.
Silver | Pâtisserie Taffin
I have always been, and probably will always be, an éclair and profiterole fiend. Over the years, I’ve tried a spectrum of éclairs: from dry, distinctly average-tasting ones to scrumptious oblongs of choux pastry perfection. Éclairs from Pâtisserie Taffin fall into the latter category: light, airy choux pastry, generously filled with smooth crème pâtissière and topped with a chocolate rectangle. (If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s always the option of an éclair chocolat-pistache.) Prior to discovering this pâtisserie, lemon tarts were never on my radar, but after trying their version of a lemon tart – an oblong of crusty pastry, frangipane filling and lemon custard, topped with meringue – I’ve been converted. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 07:00-19:15, and Sunday, 07:30-13:00, 128 Rue Bugeaud.
Bronze | Max Poilâne
This little boulangerie-pâtisserie on the leafy Avenue Maréchal de Saxe is home to a wealth of artisan loaves and sweet pastries – but it was their éclair speculoos that I sought them out for. I purchased a selection of their petits pavés to munch at the airport waiting for my flight home, and they were delicious. My only regret is not venturing over here sooner, to give me more time to work my way through their range of goodies. Open Monday to Friday, 07:00-20:00, Saturday, 07:30-19:30, and Sunday, 07:30-19:00, 17 Avenue Maréchal de Saxe. (Additional branches can be found at 18 Rue Casimir Périer and 76 Avenue des Frères Lumières.)
Opening days and times are subject to change; in the case of chains, opening hours may vary from one branch to another. Happy munching!