Welcome to my self-guided Chocolate and Pastry Tour in the royal town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. First I recommend you read my introduction to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Details of how to get there from Paris are below.
What is Saint-Germain-en-Laye Famous For?
Saint-Germain is perhaps most famous for its château (see my post on the castle roof visits). This symbolises its rich history of French Kings and Queens before Versailles was thought of. However, there is also a gourmet side to this wonderful market town near Paris.
As we have lived next door for the last 20 years, we’ve done our fair share of tasting our way around this gourmet town! There are about 400 shops in the royal historical town and, if you tend to look in the sweeter windows, then I have selected my particular favourites in the centre of town for your very own DIY tour, all within easy walk to and from the RER train station, opposite the castle.
As with all my online guides, please check opening times directly from the shops’ websites, as they’re subject to change.
They’re celebrating 200 years! Since 1822, Grandin’s patisserie has been an institution on Rue au Pain (Bread Street), the oldest medieval street of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. A pâtisserie, confiserie, glacier, chocolaterie – and traiteur – in one.
Taking over from Michel Pottier in 2019, pastry chef Michael Masset continues a traditional yet modern touch to French pastries from the Opéra cake to two types of legendary Baba au Rhum (with/without fruit). They also produce the most wonderful artisanal ice creams and sorbets (cassis, passion, antillaise-rum-raisin). After tasting these, it’s difficult to go back to regular store-bought ice cream! There appears to be a rum theme here that is all rather pleasant.
Looking for a posh picnic in the park of the château? Then, as a traiteur, they also prepare exquisite savoury quiches, soups and a bouchée de la reine, highly fitting for a royal town. What’s more, Grandin has FOUR house specialities.
Four Specialities of Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Le Debussy, created by Grandin in 1925, pays hommage to the composer – born in the house across the road on rue au Pain. It’s the smallest pastry but an oversized chocolate – with a hazelnut sponge, praline mousse and rum-soaked raisins, all coated in dark chocolate.
The Saint Germain Lait chocolates were created for the opening of the new railway line from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 14 August 1847. As the name implies, it’s milk chocolate with a rum ganache and also exists in dark chocolate with Cognac.
Hence the steam train design. More precisely, the train station terminus was in Le Pecq. Passengers would walk across the Seine bridge and take the lift up to Le Notre’s terrace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (sadly, this closed down so we have to walk up the steps!).
Le Pavé d’Or
These beautiful chocolate ganaches are embossed with the royal crib of Louis XIV in gold. Born here in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and christened in the chapel of the château in 1643, it was Louis’ mother, Anne of Austria (Anne d’Autriche, daughter of Louis Philippe II of Spain) who brought chocolate in the form of a drink to the French court of Louis XIII. See more in my introductory article to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Le Maurice Denis is Grandin’s latest speciality. Created in 2020 for the 150th anniversary of the local artist (1870-1943), where he lived all his life. Based on a shortbread style pastry (pâte sablée) with hazelnut, it’s filled with a hazelnut cream with caramelised hazelnuts, covered in raspberry jam and topped with the artist’s monogram, MAVD.
13 rue au Pain, 78100 Saint Germain en Laye
Tom Cannelle Boulangerie-Patisserie
Can you imagine having a name like Cannelle (meaning cinnamon) on Bread Street (rue au Pain)? He should be making cinnamon rolls and bread, in my humble opinion. It’s the only bakery where you can buy bread on Bread street and it’s also popular at lunchtimes for fresh baguette sandwiches.
Prizewinner for their excellent Gâteau Basque during the annual Fête Luziennes charity event in May. This is a delicious tart-like cake with a creamy filling which comes in two types. Either with vanilla or almond (with a double cross-hatch on the top pastry) or preserved cherries or cherry jam (with the Basque cross on top). Did you know there’s even a Gâteau Basque Museum?
77 rue au Pain, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Since 1978, the Hardy family have continued this bakery from father to son, previously owned by Monsieur Blanc, creator of the Gâteau de Saint-Germain. It’s a compact tart made with ground almonds and almond bits and topped with a rum glaze. As they don’t reveal the secrets to the recipe, after many tastings, I’ve developed as close as I can to the original with my recipe for the Gâteau de Saint-Germain.
Hardy have also been prizewinners for their Gâteau Basque.
42 rue des Louviers, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
L’Aigle d’Or Boulangerie
Popular with the loyal locals, as witnessed by the constant, patient queues for Laurent and Hanane’s breads and cakes. Particularly famous is one of their baguettes, known as la château (not le château, as that’s rather more expensive, jokes Laurent, the baker).
Only a few steps away from the château, it’s handy to grab a quick lunch to enjoy in the castle’s park. Their croissants are deliciously golden and buttery (one of the best croissants around – see top image) and their cramique brioche has deliciously much less sugar than those at les Merveilleux de Fred – but I’m here to talk about the cakes.
Choose from seasonal fruit tarts, flan Parisien (I explain what this is my recipe post and video on crème caramel) and the celebrity of the town, le Saint-Germain. Unlike the other versions of this cake in town, theirs is not covered in glaze or presented as a tart. Instead it’s the lightest and moist French gluten free almond cake.
Boulangerie l’Aigle d’Or
4 rue de l’Aigle d’Or, 78110 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie & Patisserie
Since 2013, Gontran Cherrier has transformed this spot as an ex-garage into a popular quick coffee address just about 40 baguettes’ length from the bustling market place.
After the Ferrandi school, Gontran Cherrier trained with Alain Passard at l’Arpège and Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton. He’s still surprising us locals – as well as in Paris – with a range of exciting breads, viennoiseries plus patisserie.
Try his buttery croissants with the most exquisite lamenation, Kouign Amman (butter cakes from Brittany), matcha and white chocolate scones and local canelés (even if they’re specialities from Bordeaux), éclairs and seasonal fruit tarts to his Yuzu Cheesecakes.
His artisanal breads are legendary: from a tradition to squid ink baguettes and sandwich-filled giant buns, to curry baguettes. Be warned, however, taking a squid ink sandwich for lunch – check your teeth in the mirror before an important meeting!
Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie & Patisserie
rue de la Grande Fontaine
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
Probably the sweetest bakery around Paris with the biggest chandelier! Read all about his meringue cakes and sticky cramiques brioches in my more in-depth Guide to Aux Merveilleux de Fred.
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
3 rue du Vieux Marché
La Fabbrica de Luca
With queues in summer outside this glacier ice cream parlour, I managed to get this photo in the pouring rain! I adore their strawberry sorbet with pistachio ice cream. The latter is just the right colour (like Grandin does too) and not synthetically coloured like many ice cream carts that, alas, we often find in Paris. The ultimate luxury? Top it with a macaron glacé!
La Fabbrica de Luca
18, rue de la Salle, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Opened in August 2022, (Eric Kayser’s previous location) la Maison Derrouaz doesn’t quite slip off the tongue to pronounce. However, their breads and pastries certainly do so deliciously. Try their huge slices of quiches and tarts which change daily.
I love how they promote the local honey from nearby towns of Mesnil-le-Roi, Feucherolles, Marly-le-Roi and from the gardens of the Château de Malmaison (Napoleon and Josephine’s mansion outside Paris). Great variety of breads and seasonal pastries – plus all-timers with vanilla (le Camélia), chocolate (Le Royal) and hazelnut praline (Petit Antoine).
8 rue Pologne, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Chocolate Shops (Chocolateries)
As it’s the Saint-Germain-en-Laye Chocolate Pastry Tour, let’s turn to the chocolate shops. As you can see, we’re rather spoiled.
Pascal le Gac Chocolatier
This gem of an address is classed as one of the top 7 chocolatiers in France.
After working at La Maison du Chocolat for 24 years and reaching the accolade of Creative Director, Pascal le Gac set up his own boutique in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 2008. Lucky for us!
He favours “excellence over appearance, simplicity and lasting tradition over passing trends”. A peek in the window reveals glistening classic chocolate pastries such as éclairs, moelleux au chocolat, truffles, opéras and the best macarons in town (see my article on the top 20 best macarons in Paris).
Each chocolate deserves its own post but a special mention goes to the mango and sage chocolate. Sounds mad? It’s a must! Buy 4 tablettes au chocolat and the 5th is free. What’s not to love?
Queues outside the door are the norm, as the locals – known as Saint-Germanois – choose their favourite chocolates particularly over Easter and Christmas.
Step inside and smell that chocolate. Ganaches from miel (honey), spices, to even Mango & Sage – where dark chocolate and mango play together – but a subtle herby sage says a cheeky bonjour in the aftertaste.
Chocolate Bars (tablettes)
The chocolate bars are all particularly accessible. I say that since sometimes chocolate makers can make chocolate dry, earthy and complex (much like certain wines), that it can be difficult to appreciate. Here I thoroughly recommend a bar of Equator 68% which is delightfully fruity, and the more intense Venezuela 81%. Pascal le Gac also does a 100% cacao chocolate bar but personally, I go for the extra gourmet bars with candied orange peel or with torrified almonds or hazelnuts. What we love is that for every 4 bars (tablettes) bought, the 5th is free!
Before you go, taste at least a couple of macarons. Our personal favourites? Salted caramel, passion-chocolate and plain chocolate.
Pascal le Gac Chocolatier
61, rue de Pologne, 78100 Saint Germain-en-Laye
Nicolsen’s thin chocolate discs or palets continue a whole history of chocolate in Paris. They remind us of Sulpice Debauve who was pharmacist to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and lived in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Of Debauve & Gallais fame, the oldest chocolate shop in Paris in rue de Saint-Pères, chocolate discs were considered as medicine for the royal household. Flavoured with orange blossom, ginger or coffee for example, they would each cure some royal ailment. That included avoiding paying taxes on such a luxury as chocolate. Ohlàlalala.
Did you know that Mr. Debauve was the great grandson of David Chaillou? He was the first to set up a chocolate drinking house in rue de l’Arbre Sec, near the Tuileries Palace in 1660 under Louis XIV.
Nicolsen, based in Chavanay, are easy to spot in summer as their ice cream cart is popular outside the shop, selling the famous Paisian glaces, Berthillon.
19 rue au Pain, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Patrick Roger is no stranger to the Paris Chocolate scene. He’s the chocolate sculptor who thinks well outside the chocolate box. For years he has delighted us with giant sculptures of grizzly bears, pumpkins, pencils for returning back to school. However, these days you’ll find more contemporary works in chocolate. Titled Meilleur Ouvrier de France for his house speciality: Amazone, a bright green dome of chocolate lime caramel which takes 24 steps to obtain this look without using any colorants.
If you’re looking for a taste sensation, try the Delphi for a blind tasting and let me know what you think is in it. I personally love to stock up on Beijing, his large chocolate covered candied gingers. As with top quality chocolate, this is more on the priciest side of chocolateries around Paris but worth indulging for a special occasion.
A much wider range of his chocolate sculptures which he creates from his laboratory in Asnières are on show at his boutique in Place de la Madeleine in Paris.
Patrick Roger, Chocolatier
2 rue de Paris, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
La Fève d’Eden
Relatively new to the town is La Fève d’Eden. Artisanal chocolatier, Laetitia Citas creates her chocolates from her laboratory in the nearby Val d’Oise. With her new pink boutique, cosy chairs are installed for stopping off to taste some chocolat chaud in the cooler months.
Curious to try as many of her creations as possible over the last few weeks, it has turned out an expensive hobby – but our family favourites have been voted unanimously. The CroqTélé are dangerously bite-sized delicious: toasted almond nougat encased in dark chocolate. Try the fruit jellies (pâtes de fruits) such as passion fruit or cassis; cherries marinated in Alsace Kirsch, each delicately coated in dark chocolate. Plus these powdered sugar-coated bonbons of dark chocolate ganache with a touch of peach. In honour of Laetitia’s father, who worked orchards of pêches des vignes, these are something you won’t find in any other chocolate shop.
La Fève d’Eden
7 rue de la Salle, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
À La Mère de Famille
The original storefront of this chocolate shop has been copied over for the other 13 boutiques around Paris. The one in rue du Faubourg Montmartre is where they get their inspiration, dating back to 1761 and has been a historical monument since 1984.
Their specialities cover chocolate and confectionary (confiserie): orangettes (candied orange sticks), mendiants (chocolate disks covered in nuts and dried fruits), florentines, praline sticks, and our personal favourites, Grignotines – roasted almond and candied orange covered in dark or milk chocolate. Of course that’s not all. There are chocolate sorbets, ice creams, jams, spreads, and – like most French chocolateries – show off beautiful seasonal chocolate sculptures (more on my post of Easter chocolate in Paris). Lately the shop merged with the oldest pâtisserie in Paris, Stohrer, who created the famous Baba au Rhum. Now they have jarred a long-life rum baba to take home. Makes great gourmet presents with a bit of history.
À La Mère de Famille
15 rue du Vieux Marché, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
L’Idéal des Gourmands
Relatively new to the town since 2021 is the new gourmet concept restaurant, take-away and grocery store, l’Idéal des Gourmands. From freshly made pizza, poke bowls and salads, wines and chocolate (including Chapon and Cluizel) there’s also a bakery attached where bread, viennoiseries (croissants etc.) and pâtisserie are prepared on the premises, including these macarons (particularly liked their pistachio and chocolate flavours).
l’Idéal des Gourmands
Passage Saint-Germain, 10ter Rue de la Salle, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
How to Get to Saint-Germain-en-Laye From Paris
Have I at least whet your appetite to jump on that train from Paris? Or stay here to visit Paris.
It only takes 20 minutes on the RER A line from Charles de Gaulle Etoile station (Arc de Triomphe). I didn’t have room to discuss them all but come and discover even more chocolate shops (such as Yves Thuriès, Jeff de Bruges, deNeuville), many more boulangerie/pâtisseries (Lemaire, Cédric Hombecq, Goulay, Pains et Merveilles, Maison Gauthier), biscuit shops (La Cure Gourmande), plus an American-style cupcake shop, Daisy Cake. I’ll leave that to you to try them all!
TOP TRAVEL TIP: For the best experience and to find the above shops open, please avoid Sunday afternoons and all day Mondays.
Please note that none of the establishments mentioned have sponsored this post.
This post was originally published 20 October 2016 but is now updated to reflect a selection of latest patisseries and chocolate shops in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.