When we first moved to Paris I was in awe of every boulangerie and patisserie.
On Rue Saint-Dominque, a block from where we lived, there were two bakeries within 100 meters of each other, another a block away on Rue de Grenelle, another famed bakery another 200 meters away on Avenue Bosquet, and then yet another three bakeries within 100 meters of each on Rue Saint-Dominique and Rue Jean-Nicot. In short, there were well over 10 bakeries to choose from within a ten minute walk of our apartment.
So how to choose? I had my Labrador, Truman, help me. Truman had cancer and would not eat dog food, but learned quickly to love croissants, baguette, poulet rôti (roasted chicken) and fresh pork chops (cooked by yours truly, of course, for dinner). So every day for breakfast Truman and I would go on our morning walk, and I would buy three croissants — two for him and one for me. This gave me the opportunity to try different places, and Truman too took a liking to trying different croissants.
It turns out that Truman and I both had our favorites. One place on Avenue Rapp had giant-sized croissants, and Truman loved these more than anywhere else. Truman would drag me to that boulangerie, and if I tried to walk a different direction he would tug on his leash and lead me the way to his favorite place for croissants. I continued to search for nirvana, however, and another shop slightly closer had an owner that loved Truman and welcomed him inside, even though she had a sign on her window that had a picture indicating “no dogs allowed.” Her croissants were always warm, buttery and soft, and her welcoming smile was always a pleasant way to start the day. Still not satisfied, however, I traversed to another shop on Rue Saint Dominique, but the owners greeted me with a frown each day, even when Truman’s tail would waggle at the sight of me buying their croissants for him.
Great discoveries are by accident. One morning I went slightly off path, and found this cute boutique store, with a pink exterior shade, and colorful baroque style lampshades, that curiously displayed fresh apples in one window and pastry and fresh bread in another window. For the morning, I needed to go to the “bakery” side of the business, and bought the best croissants I had ever had in Paris, or elsewhere (until my more recent discovery of Gerard Mulot, thanks to my Parisian friend Sylvie). These croissants, just out of the oven, were almost too hot to touch, and when pulled apart fresh steam bursted out, and the croissant nearly melted in my mouth. Called Secco, the place also had wonderful breads, including a fantastic assortment of small dinner rolls that are perfect for a dinner party (sesame, olive, nut, cereal, nature were the various flavors sold). Next door, they sold wonderful fruit tarts, one of the best millefeuille in Paris, and tarte citron meringue, eclair and other delights. They also make terrific quiche and savory tarts, as well as salads and sandwiches for lunch.
Despite Secco’s beautiful setting and superb pastries and desserts, it is a sad little place, as the staff tend to be in a sour mood, putting a damper on these otherwise cheerful little desserts that should be enjoyed — so just don’t be disappointed if they don’t greet it with a smile when buying some of the best pastries and bread in Paris.
20 Rue Jean Nicot, 75007 Paris, France – 01 43 17 35 20