The 10 Best French Bakeries In America

What makes a French bakery unique? Is it the quality of its baguettes, the flakiness of its croissants, the Parisian-ness of its décor? It's some combination of all three — and so much more. Here are America's 10 best French bakeries.

#10 Bakery Nouveau, Seattle

At Seattle's Bakery Nouveau, you'll find yourself tempted by the smell of irresistible offerings ranging from flavorful croissants to lemon meringue tarts to handmade chocolates. The award-winning Phoenix Cake, a triple-layer mousse cake with a delicate balance of pear mousse, 70 percent chocolate mousse, caramel mousse, pecan dacquoise, and chocolate sponge cake, is an absolute must. Don't forget to check out some of the unexpected items like their jams and their ready-to-go pizzas, as well.

#9 Bien Cuit, Brooklyn

Bien Cuit offers breads that are made with local flours and a small-batch mixing method, making it easier for bakers to control the fermentation process and bring customers great quality products. Their breads show the nuanced flavors that emerge due to the bakery's use of the slow fermentation process, which takes 16 to 68 hours. Their pastry selection has a blend of French and American choices, from the chocolate almond croissant (baked twice with brandy) to salted chocolate buckwheat cookies to a blueberry and lemon meringue tart with a basil infusion.

#8 Café Besalu, Seattle

Customers line up around the block at Café Besalu, owned by James and Kaire Miller, but the croissants, ginger biscuits, and quiche at this small bakery are worth the wait, and the cozy atmosphere and mouthwatering pastry aromas inspire future visits. Café Besalu has grown by word of mouth, and the Millers believe this is a true testament to the quality product they purvey.

#7 Balthazar Bakery, New York City

Balthazar Bakery, attached to the Balthazar bistro–brasserie on Soho's Spring Street, is small but packed with breads and pastries. Many times, people waiting for a table at the eponymous brasserie next door stave off hunger by nibbling on their baguettes, pain au levain, cranberry raisin pecan breads, croissants, and more. Their cakes, like the seven-layer pistachio opera cake with chocolate-enrobed ganache and pistachio buttercream, are things to marvel at.

#6 Bouchon Bakery, Various Locations

Chef and owner Thomas Keller, inspired by Parisian boulangeries, decided to open Bouchon Bakery next to Yountville, California's Bouchon Bistro — much to our pleasure. Now, there are also locations in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, and New York City, where you'll find the works: macarons in vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, caramel, and seasonal flavors; breads; cookies; and other seasonal sweets. A bite into their chocolate chip cookie will reshape how you think of chocolate chip cookies.

#5 Poupart’s Bakery, Lafayette, La.

Poupart's Bakery blends French pastry tradition with southern Louisiana Cajun style. Since 1965, Poupart's has been creating fresh breads that play to every bread lover's interests, from po'boy loaves to aromatic basil bread. The bakery also makes Mardi Gras king cake, made from brioche dough shaped into a ring and filled with cream cheese, fruits, and nuts. 

#4 Amélie’s French Bakery and Café, Charlotte and other locations, N.C.

Amélie's French Bakery and Café, owned by Bruce Willette, Brenda Ische, and Bill Lamb, serves French pastries in a "whimsical" setting in several locations in North Carolina. With a wide selection from the dry case (turnovers, flavored croissants) and the cold case (mousse cups, bread puddings), this is a pastry lover's paradise. They also happen to serve a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, each of which features some of their fresh baked goods!

#3 François Payard Bakery, New York City

With three François Payard Bakery locations around New York City, New Yorkers know this is the place to go when they're craving a delicate and perfected French macaron in all its colorful glory. Patrons can also enjoy goods from a robust selection of organic artisanal breads that range from pretzel morissette to chocolate bread.

#2 CH Patisserie, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Top Chef Just Desserts winner Chris Hanmer's European pastry shop CH Patisserie overflows with delicious options that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Each day, this must-try pastry shop delights customers with daily specials for their French macarons, tarts, and cookies, which come in a wide range of seasonal flavors. Chocolate bonbons are even making an appearance soon, adding only to the already impressive pastry menu.

#1 Maison Kayser, New York City

French chef Eric Kayser opened Maison Kayser in Paris in 1996, and he now has more than 100 bakeries in 13 countries around the world, with all the U.S. locations currently located in New York City. Try their pain au chocolat, or even better, their plié au chocolat, which has a filling of pastry cream and many tiny chocolate chips that make the strip of chocolate in pains au chocolat seem stingy. And then there are the pistachio financiers, cake-like cookies, nutty multigrain baguettes, olive bread with shiny chunks of real green and Kalamata olives, and other delicacies that will transport you to Paris in a single bite.