- After a stop at the famous Café de Flore in Saint Germain des Prés and a visit to the luxurious Café de la Paix, our happy team of hot chocolate tasters next stopped in at a local favorite – Pâtisserie Viennoise in the 6th arrondissement. Quite a different experience, Mary Ann Grisham shares some helpful tips and the hot chocolate review of Pâtisserie Viennoise in Paris.
The Great Hot Chocolate Challenge – Part 3: Pâtisserie Viennoise
Pâtisserie Viennoise is a small, unassuming patisserie and lunch spot tucked away on a tiny side street in the 6th arrondissement. This is not a tourist hang out … far from it. It’s a spot where locals crowd in on their lunch hour and students from the Sorbonne drop by for an inexpensive pastry or coffee. The brown wooden tables and booths appear unchanged since the 1950s … in other words … do not go here for the décor. The waitresses are busy and brusque, but not rude, and be aware at lunch time the tables are reserved for patrons ordering food, so you will need to order a meal with your chocolate if you come during the peak lunch rush.
We learned of Pâtisserie Viennoise from the charming and humorous review by former Chez Panisse pastry chef turned American ex-pat and dessert virtuoso David Lebovitz (see our recent interview with David here). In David’s book The Sweet Life in Paris, he describes his death-defying approach to the pâtisserie, with his back pressed firmly against the walls of the buildings as he sidles his way down the narrow alleyway to avoid being run over by the #86 bus.
Thanks to David’s thoughtful warnings, we wore our Spanx and skinny jeans that day, determined to squeeze down the narrow street and successfully make our way into the café. We survived the gauntlet, and after a short wait our group of six was seated at a booth for fourin the back. We wedged our way into the booth and ordered off the small blackboard menu at each table, pleased that we had Parisian friends, Michael and Marlys Schurmann, with us to help translate. Michael is the author of Paris Movie Walks: Ten Guided Tours Through the City of Lights! Camera! Action! and the popular blog Easy Hiker and Marlys is well-known on Twitter as @ParisBuff.
Our lunch was inexpensive and edible, but not remarkable. After the dishes were cleared, it was now time for the main attraction. No silver pitchers here … the dark hot chocolate was served in a simple cup, crowned by this luscious mountain of soft, velvety sweet cream, oozing over the top and cascading down sides of the cup.
Now David is a purist, a connoisseur with refined taste who orders his chocolat chaud straight up, without the snowy velvet mountain of cream, and prefers dark bitter chocolate over the sweet variety. We only wish we could be so sophisticated. Unrefined amateurs that we are, we lapped up the cream and had to mix in a spoon or two of sugar to cut the bite of the dark chocolate. We have to admit, the chocolate itself was warm, not hot, and noticeably thinner than what we sampled previously … and we were spoiled by the fancier presentations.
Pâtisserie Viennoise Scoring
All in all, it was definitely worth the stop just to experience the local lunch crowd, and if you like your chocolate towards the bitter side this may be the spot for you.
8 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris
+33 1 43 26 60 48
Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Bus: #87 from Rapp Bourdonnaise to Saint Germain Odeon stop
Metro: Lines 4,10; exit Odeon
In the neighborhood:
A 12 minute walk north and west brings you to Rue Jacob, which has important significance in U.S. history. Benjamin Franklin lived at 52 rue Jacob, and a commemorative plaque marks the spot at 56 Rue Jacob that the Treaty of Paris was signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and other signatories on September 3, 1783, in which England officially recognized the independence of the United States.