The best baguette in Paris
Baker Ridha Khadher
Best Baguette (Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris) 1st place in 2013*
Au Paradis du Gourmand
Address: 156 Rue Raymond Losserand, 75014
Telephone: 01 45 43 90 24
There is something seductive about anything that is said to be the best so this afternoon, when I found myself near Au Paradis du Gourmand, winner of the 2013 Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris, I decided to take a little detour. The shop is off the beaten track and not at all flashy, even a bit generic decorwise, still there was a line out the door. I parked myself at the end of the line and almost immediately Ridha Khadher* himself was taking my order. He had come come out to the sidewalk as there were two small steps between me and my heart’s desire. Moments later, he handed me my demi baguette, apologized for the shops inaccessibility, and wished me a good afternoon. Were the shop closer to my apartment, just his smile would be reason enough to return.
About the bread (as written on the packaging)
The scar (I’m sure there’s a more elegant name for the ridge running the length of the loaf), is a defining characteristic of a La Banette (shops are individually owned and operated) baguette. Furthermore, this distinctive crust is achieved without the use of a blade. This natural scar is called “la gringe”. There’s also something about a particularly long fermentation process being an important part of the distinctive, old fashioned flavor.
Plain, I found the bread a bit dry. With butter and later with mustard and salami I found it quite tasty, though no tastier than the baguettes in any of my three neighborhood boulangeries. I did like the little curly cues on each end of my mini loaf. When ordering a demi baguette, I usually prefer half of a full size baguette to the ready baked small baguettes but in this case I quite enjoyed breaking off and eating the little tails. I wont’t be going out of my way to return but it was a fine detour and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.
It must be both gratifying and damning to earn the title of Best Baguette in Paris as it’s impossible to live up to. One man’s Best is another woman’s just fine. There’s no accounting for taste. My favorite baguettes are made by a baker named Bruno in a shop with no name on rue Saint-Jacques.
*Along with the title comes the honor of being the official baguette baker to the president.
**Later, as I was munching one of my baguette tails, monsieur Khadher came out to stack up the chairs in front of the shop. It was at this point I asked if he’d mind if I took his picture. This was clearly a frequent request as, without skipping a beat, he said of course and strategically positioned himself beside the words “1st Prize” stenciled on the front window. Posturing aside, if first impressions count for anything, M Khadher seemed like a pretty nice guy.