La boulangerie des carmes

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Customers wait in near-religious silence for their turn to approach the ovens at this tiny bakery (its total surface area amounts to a mere 47 m2!). Behind the stylish, retro institution with a wine-red façade, exposed bricks and wicker baskets, Richard Ruan (who earned the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France title) has his hands in the dough, crafting small treasures that are presented on the blackboard menu. What distinguishes this place from other bakeries? There are no vendors in the traditional sense to speak of here, or even a cash register; the bakers themselves serve customers, make change in their heads and ring you up. The morning we went for breakfast, we took all of the following home with us: beautifully puffy chocolate croissants, made with good butter from the Laiterie de Pamplie, wholegrain sourdough baguettes, lovely chouquette pastries or their famous croquants, which are small, ultra-thin rounds of bread covered in sugar. FYI: Boulangerie Corneilles serves all the same gems in the city center. // John Mason

Hidden gem: Their sublime, signature pain des Carmes bread, made with dough that’s rested for 72 hours (€1.30).

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