Poilâne bakery in the 6th arr. on 8 rue Cherche-Midi is one of, if not the most famous bakery in Paris. Still standing in its original location since it opened its doors in 1932, it is adored and frequented by both locals and tourists alike. Fortunately, the bakery is still in the trusted hands of the Poilâne family, and the tradition of baking their breads with stone ground flour and Guérande sea salt in wood fired ovens carries on to this day.
The moment I stepped inside the charming bright space, I was greeted with the comforting buttery aroma of freshly baked warm bread. Although they don’t have a large selection of breads and pastries, I can tell that each piece is made with great care and finesse. Their croissants and rustic apple tarts were flaky, rich and delicious.
Poilâne’s signature bread is the large 2 kg round sourdough loaf with the big ‘P’ inscription. They can be ordered with custom made designs and messages, which make for wonderful gifts.
The tiny and quaint Poilâne store also sells ‘Punitions’ (small butter cookies), ceramic bowls, linen bags, bread and butter knives, wicker baskets, jams and the famous Poilâne cook book. The whole experience will make you hungry, and fortunately you can go right next door to La Cuisine de Bar for breakfast or lunch.
Cuisine de Bar is a small casual minimalist café that serves a variety of savory tartines (open-faced sandwiches) on the famous sourdough Poilâne miche. Although you can order individual tartines, the best deal is the Formule for 14 Euros: salade de saison, tartine au choix, boisson au choix and café.
The ‘seasonal salad’ was a plain iceberg lettuce salad with lentils and a tangy mustard grain vinaigrette that was a bit too strong for my liking. I chose a glass of Chardonnay for my drink of choice, which was lovely with my sardine sandwich. The tartine sardines: toasted bread, sardines, butter, aged wine vinegar and chives. Pleasantly tart, nicely salted and simply delicious.
The tartine crottin: toasted bread, provençale tomato purée, goat cheese and coppa ham. A classic, unpretentious and delectable combination.
The tartine for’bon: toasted bread, whole ripe Saint-Marcellin cheese, Bayonne ham, marjoram and olive oil, perfectly grilled under the broiler (extra 3 Euro charge). This was my favorite tartine, a refined take on the classic grilled ham and cheese with the best ingredients.
Other tartines that sounded delicious: tomato and mozzarella, shrimp and avocado, chicken club with garlic aioli and capers, and foie gras. Sel gris, herbes de provence and caraway seeds were set on each table for sprinkling on the tartines, but there really was no need for them. We had a nice tangy tarte citron; they also had apple and chocolate tarts that day. The coffee came with a very cute Poilâne butter cookie spoon that they sell in the bakery. A nice after-meal experience of sipping, dipping and eating.
The next time you are in Paris, visit Poilâne and Cuisine de Bar; make sure you get to the café before 3pm. Afterwards, take a nice stroll to the Bon Marché and La Grande Epicerie just around the corner for the ultimate shopping experience. The moment I set foot inside La Grand Epicerie, I almost fainted with excitement. I was in awe…and then I was in love. There are endless aisles of select gourmet olive oils, sea salts, foie gras, charcuterie and truffles, and almost too many display cases of fresh fish, meats and prepared foods that can either be eaten in the store or taken home. It’s the type of place I imagine my version of heaven to be like. I bought cepes mushroom sea salt, white truffle sea salt, raz el hanout, vanilla powder and a beautiful bottle of wild carrot olive oil that I am very excited to use.
Rue du Cherche-Midi
75006 Paris, France
01 45 48 42 59
38 Rue de Sèvres
75007 Paris, France
01 44 39 80 00
Random trivia: Ounce for ounce, sardines provide more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas, more iron than cooked spinach, and have the highest amount of EPA of any fish.