The French are passionate about many things – art, poetry, romance – but their love of dessert might surpass all of those. French bakeries serve up some of the most beautiful sweets in all the world, and they’re great places to sit and socialize with your favorite people. So stir the froth slowly in your café au lait, dig your fork through a caramelized crust, and chew some buttery bliss. These are the best French bakeries in Los Angeles.
On the outskirts of Brentwood, not quite Santa Monica, a few doors down from a Ralphs, this easy-to-miss café serves the most consistently delicious French pastries in L.A. From open to close, it’s packed with happy customers, because the staff gets their food bagged in a flash. If you’ve got time to stay – recommended, of course – they’ve got lots of comfortable tables in front and on the back patio. The coffee is excellent, and you never feel crowded or rushed. But the thrill here is the bakery display. Mountains of croissants, tartes, and other treats line their cases like a crispy canyon landscape. Lean in to discover what you might fancy, and the person next to you will inevitably pipe up to suggest their favorite choices. The chocolate almond croissants melt in your mouth, the quiches are divine, and biting into the animal-shaped zoo pastries will make you feel like a kid again. Perhaps the best sweet in the cafe is the kouign amann, or “butter cake,” a sugary puck-sized pastry that packs enormous flavor. One bite, and you’ll be thinking about ordering a second.
Chaumont Bakery & Café
Walk into this bakery located in Beverly Hills’ “golden triangle,” and you’ll feel like a million bucks. Located at the corner of Beverly and Wilshire, it’s a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth, then take a stroll around the posh Beverly Hills neighborhood. Chaumont’s pastries are to die for. Lined up like soldiers ready for battle in the beautiful display case, the eclairs – delights filled with cream and topped with fudge – are the perfect companions to go with a freshly pulled espresso. The croissants are so delectable, you’ll swear you’re dining across from L’Arc de Triomphe. The decor is simple and clean, and the service is surprisingly laid-back and without pretension – despite the fancy address. Sit back at a table by the window and enjoy the smell of the baked goods complemented by the view of shoppers meandering by. Make sure to grab a few tartes aux fraises to go for tomorrow’s breakfast.
A rare French bakery located in Mid-City just north of Baldwin Hills, this shop is a neighborhood stalwart for solid meals in the morning or afternoon. Gather some friends and get there early (before items sell out), grab a sidewalk table underneath the shade-providing awning, and enjoy the cool breeze as you indulge in some fantastic French fare. The macarons, especially, are not to be missed: Normandie makes them better than anyone in town. Try them in raspberry, pistachio, strawberry – or you can even buy them stacked in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. The bakery’s owner, chef Josette, occasionally stops by to say hello to her customers, tell a few stories, and inspire the waitstaff like a basketball coach. Her passion is the fuel that keeps the cafe’s engine going, and her attitude is as infectious as her confections are sweet.