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I'm lured into L'Atelier de l'Éclair in Paris' 2e arrondissement by the comforting smell of freshly baked puff pastry. I step inside and spy rows of colourful éclairs, as contemporary as the space itself. Housed in a former textile showroom, the space does double duty as an art-gallery-cum-lounge that's meant for lingering. And at the heart of it all sits a glass-panelled kitchen where the pastry chef and his team prepare creative riffs on a national favourite. I join the other onlookers and watch the team pipe cream into the bottoms of their latest batch. This isn't your grand-mère's pastry shop, I think to myself. But if the éclair is firmly anchored in the collective consciousness, why hasn't it inspired the imaginations of other chefs before?

Atelier de l'eclair ParisPhoto by Caroline Andréoni

"Many chefs overlook the éclair because they perceive its form to be too simple and, therefore, the options to be too limited. Then there's this fear of tainting something tha's already so revered," explains Guillaume Simonnet, the Atelier's 25-year-old co-founder. As I bite into one of the shop's perfectly tart lemon-meringue versions, it becomes all too clear they were wise to experiment.

atelier de l'eclair ParisL'Atelier de l'Éclair (Photo by Caroline Andréoni)

The creative possibilities of éclairs are limitless, Simonnet says. To create their modern menu – think rhubarb and spiced strawberries and apricot-pistachio as well as savoury offerings like foie gras-figue or salmon-dill – Simonnet and his partners enlisted the culinary talents of award-winning pastry chef Loïc Bret. It's proven to be a winning partnership; devotees regularly queue up to taste one of the Atelier's bite-size or sandwich-style (nine-inch-long) inventions – and never leave empty-handed.

The crowds of curious gourmands are equally impressive at Christophe Adam's éclair-focused concept store in the Marais. During his tenure as chef pâtissier at Fauchon, Adam created over 75 contemporary éclair recipes and is credited with elevating the age-old classic to an epoch-defining work of art. At L'Éclair de Génie, his solo venture, inventive interpretations thrive in what is likely the quartier's most stylish sweet spot.

éclair de Genie in ParisL'Éclair de Génie

"Éclairs may be old, but I'm looking at them as an entirely new concept," says Adam as I scan the boutique's 30 varieties, which range from éclairs speckled with fresh fruit and nuts to those sporting printed motifs or finished with a glossy coating (metallic is in this season). They're displayed like jewels in a long, yellow case alongside his equally beautiful second offering: chocolate truffles.

L'Éclair de GénieL'Éclair de Génie

Using only the finest ingredients from around the world – pistachios from Iran, vanilla from Madagascar, hazelnuts from Cancún – Adam experiments with flavours much like chef Bret at L'Atelier de l'Éclair. (I spot lemon-yuzu, salted caramel-mascarpone and popcorn-Carambar.) "We shouldn't call this a trend," insists Adam when I question the staying power of the "new" éclair. “That implies finite popularity. I intend to make sure that the éclair is here to stay."

 

L'Atelier de l'Éclair
16 rue Bachaumont, 75002
+33(0)1 42 36 40 54
Open daily, 11am-8pm

L'Éclair de Génie
14 rue Pavée, 75004
+33(0)1 42 77 85 11
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-7:30pm

Passy Plaza
53 rue de Passy, 75016
+33(0)9 72 30 59 72

Tags

DESSERT     FOOD & DRINK     FOOD TRENDS     ONAIR     PARIS     WEB EXCLUSIVES    

Getting There

Air Canada offers daily nonstop flights from Montreal and Toronto to Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Comments… or add another

Sheila Miller

Monday, November 4th 2013 18:46
This makes me want to go to Paris NOW!

Joy @themamaminute

Friday, November 8th 2013 17:16
Wooowww... I'd hope on an Air Canada flight in a heartbeat if it meant I'd get eat up one of these! They look amazing! I wonder if they'll ship to Sydney, Australia...
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