Updated: Sep 29, 2022
When I moved to Paris from the U.S., I was overwhelmed by all the elaborate, decadent patisserie treats beckoning to me from every other store window. There are a million different pastries you can find here, and each one has a different story, and possibly a goofy name. In my quest to try them all, I awakened my desire for simpler sweets, like donuts. Not beignets, donuts. Great donuts are hard to come by in Paris (cinnamon rolls too, but that’s another quest). Every once in a while, I want a donut. A simple glazed donut is my favorite.
These are the donut shops I’ve discovered in Paris.
This is quite possibly the cutest donut shop I’ve ever seen, with flowers on the façade outside, a pale pink interior, a replica British phone booth (to call your bestie), and a neon sign informing you that all you need are donuts and your best friend. Words to live by.
I found Besties serendipitously, while I was actually heading to another donut spot in the same area, but they happened to be exceptionally closed that day. The flowers and the cute signage drew me in, and the appetizing array of baked goods had me mesmerized. Their salted caramel donut (Caramel au beurre salé) was my first selection, because I’m a fiend for caramel. The donut was nicely glazed with caramel and topped with two cute pieces of popcorn. It was delightful. The other flavors I got were Pistachio, Citron meringué, vanilla glaze, and Oreo. They were all amazing, with the Pistachio being my second fave, followed by the Citron meringué. My daughter was a big fan of the Oreo. Great day in donut history! (11 rue Auber, 75009; 10 rue des Bernardins, 75005)
Boneshaker is clearly going for top billing in the decadent dessert game. They have a big store with a hipster vibe and a spin-off brownie bar down the street. Good variety of flavors, with hilarious names, huge donuts and cinnamon rolls (bonus!). My daughter and I got a couple cinnamon rolls, vanilla glaze, OG (original glazed), Baby Got Back (chocolate and peanut butter), and something called No Sleep Till Brooklyn.
The cinnamon rolls were soft and lovely, but the glaze was almost too sweet for me. I found myself knocking off some of the icing to enjoy the roll itself. This was also true of the vanilla- the thickness of the sugary glaze got in the way of the donut. Brooklyn was a lemon curd with coconut concoction that was my favorite. The tartness of the lemon curd played well with the pastry, and there was less icing on top.
The OG was exactly what I was looking for- a big soft, airy donut with a thin, crackling glaze.. Boneshaker clearly has a good recipe for the dough, but if my candy-crazed daughter thinks something is too sweet, it might be. I’d go back for the Brooklyn, the OG and I’d give the cinnamon roll another try because…cinnamon. (86 rue d’Aboukir, 75002)
This tiny spot has only enough space to come in, place your order and get out. But what they lack in space, they make up for in mouth-watering variety. The menu changes monthly, but the classic glazed is always there.
The donuts are bigger than most, and denser, with a buttermilk taste. They’re not quite cake donuts, but they’re not quite airy either. If you cut one in half, you won’t smash it to do so. I’ve tried the glazed, the powdered sugar, a carrot cake, and a caramel beurre salé. The French Donuts has my favorite glazed donut thus far. It’s lightly sweet, still giving you the crackled sugar on your fingertips, but the pastry was the star. Every mouthful was a delight. The carrot cake donut had a buttercream frosting in little peaks, with crumbles of carrot cake on top, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Perfectly balanced. I look forward to having a reason to go all the way to Pigalle again to treat myself. (56 rue la Bruyère, 75009)
This place is even smaller than The French Donut.
It is merely a walk-up counter right across from Jardin du Luxembourg. I think they make the donuts on site, but it’s so tiny it’s likely they are baked elsewhere. Strolling past one evening, I noticed they had a donut called the Beyonce. How could I resist?
I think Beyonce had raspberries, and I devoured it on the way to the train. Late afternoon is not the best time to visit this place, because the donuts were scarce. I cannot render a full verdict, because there was nothing else I wanted to try. But Bey did not disappoint. (Multiple Locations; I visited 1 rue Gay-Lussac, 75005)
Donuts, to me, are comfort food. When I crave one, I don’t need it to be overly fussy, or shockingly sweet. I’ve seen a few places that deck out their donuts with candy bars and such. That just means they're hiding a bland ring of pastry underneath. I’m not trick or treating, just treating myself. Is there any better city to treat yourself?
Blog Readers: Where do you go when you have a donut craving? Now that autumn is here, are there any apple cider donut fans in the house? Is there a spot I missed? Please share in the comments.
About the Author:
Rachelle Chapman is the mom of Camille (11) and Message Paris Blog Manager. Originally a Chicago native, she has been living in Paris since 2014.
All photos in this article taken by Rachelle Chapman.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Message.