Cédric Grolet is one of my favorite pâtissiers in Paris. His cakes are, quite literally, a slice of heaven.
Specializing in trompe-l’œil (optical illusion) techniques, Cédric Grolet creates beautiful cakes and pastries that play on your senses by resembling their ingredients. These range from coffee and vanilla beans, fruit (such green and red apples, raspberries, yellow and green lemons, oranges, and passion fruit), nuts like pecans, and of course, his original flowers in different variations: red roses infused with vanilla and dark chocolate, pink cherry blossoms with pamplemousse extract, and daisies with white petals infused with clementine.
Who is Cédric Grolet?
Cédric Grolet is a world-renowned pastry chef and one of France’s most distinguished pâtissiers. Since 2012, he has been the executive pastry chef at the Le Meurice hotel in Paris, part of the Dorchester Collection chain of luxury hotels and restaurants. (I previously wrote about my amazing dining experience at Le Meurice! You can find the article here.)
Tourists and locals alike go absolutely gaga over Cédric Grolet’s creations, and with good reason: not only are these cakes masterfully designed and crafted, but the taste, texture and consistency of each creation is just divine.
Where can I go to try Cédric Grolet’s pastries?
Cédric Grolet owns two well-located bakeries in Paris. The first is La Pâtisserie du Meurice par Cédric Grolet at Le Meurice hotel, on the rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement. The Le Meurice boutique is a click-and-collect, allowing you to select your desired cake online, pay online, and pick up the item from the boutique within 48 to 72 hours (click here for the website).
The second is Cédric Grolet Opéra, located steps away from the famed Palais Garnier opéra house in the 9th arrondissement. The Opéra boutique is a click-and-collect plus sit-in tea room or salon de thé, with the collection area on the ground floor and the tea room on the top floor. To sit down and eat cake in the tea room, one needs to reserve on the website, here. The store takes table reservations for 9:30am to 5:30pm, from Wednesday to Sunday. A friend and I reserved a table for Saturday afternoon.
(Cédric Grolet also gives monthly private baking classes in a magnificent apartment in the heart of Paris, where he teaches students to recreate his famous pastries on their own. These lessons are highly sought after, and can be booked here.)
The Cédric Grolet Opéra experience
Entering the shop, I could already notice the long line of eager customers waiting to place or pick up orders, as well as the cheerful, bustling staff behind the baking station or behind the counter, entertaining clients’ inquiries or directing guests to the tea room. My companion and I were led by one of the gracious staff to the tea room, located above the bakery and atop a white and brightly-lit staircase.
Inside the beautiful Cédric Grolet Opéra bakery. Left photo: one of the bakers putting together miniature sponge cakes. Right photo: tasteful wall decorations, seen from the staircase leading to the tea room.
The Cédric Grolet Opéra tea room is brightly lit, chic and elegantly decorated. With around 50 seats, the space is enough to receive a good number of customers while still maintaining a calm, sophisticated atmosphere for guests to enjoy their tea and cakes over some week-end afternoon chit-chat.
Left photo: the Cédric Grolet logo, unassumingly yet elegantly posed on one of the shop’s walls. Right photo: The white walls and simplistic yet modern decor of the tea room lend the space a laid-back and sophisticated atmosphere for guests to feel right at home.
The famous trompe-l’œil cakes are found on the tea time pâtisserie menu (here). Among the selection of delectable cakes available are pistachio flower, Paris Brest flower (a take on the classic Paris Brest cake recipe), mango vanilla flower, chocolate flower, Mont Blanc flower, and vanilla bean. Each flower cake goes for 16€, while the vanilla bean cake goes for 18€.
Of course, the experience wouldn’t be complete without pairing one’s cake with tea! The menu offers a wide range of tea options to go with your cake: green tea (with either jasmine, mint or vanilla & red berries), black tea (Ceylan, Marco Polo or Covent Garden) or infusion (velvety tisane or lemon verbena). A pot of tea sells for 8€. If you’d rather opt for another beverage, the menu has several other hot and cold beverage options to suit your taste: chai latte, macha latte, hot chocolate, coffee (espresso, cappuccino and so forth), lemonade, fresh daily fruit juice, or even cider or champagne for a truly French touch!
I ordered the Mont Blanc flower, while my friend ordered the vanilla bean. We also ordered a pot of Marco Polo black tea. Our server was attentive and gracious, and was happy to answer our questions about the menu and give us cake and tea recommendations.
What made the experience extra enjoyable was that we got to watch a pâtissier prepare our cakes. A few moments after we placed our orders, we were called by our server to a prepping station in the middle of the room. There, we were greeted by the friendly pâtissier, who assembled my Mont Blanc flower layer by layer: starting with the crispy shortcrust pastry, then adding on chestnut cream, followed by blackcurrant confit and hazelnut praline, then adding a biscuit, and finally topping it all off with the signature white “flower petals” made of vanilla whipped cream. Once the Mont Blanc flower was done, the pâtissier then moved on to slice the vanilla bean (which had already been pre-prepared).
Our pastries were crafted and prepared skillfully in real time.
The finished products taste just as good as they look:
The pastries taste just as good as they look! Left photo: Mont Blanc flower. Right photo: vanilla bean.
The Mont Blanc flower was exquisite, with the various nuances of chestnut, hazelnut, blackcurrant and vanilla blending together like a symphony to create perfectly creamy and delectably sweet pleasure in every bite. The flower petals, made of vanilla cream, had a perfect consistency, each bite smooth and delicate. The pastry crust was baked just right, crispy and classic in its appeal.
The vanilla bean, meanwhile, was a scrumptious blend of vanilla Tahiti ganache, Madagascar vanilla and vanilla praline, all coated in a thin crunchy dark chocolate shell. What’s more, the way the pastry is made to look like an actual vanilla bean simply showcases pure art and skill. The various ingredients are skillfully mixed and expertly put together to create the trompe-l’œil.
Overall, the flavors, textures, and aromas all came together for a one-of-a-kind pastry experience. Our dishes, paired with warm tea and elegantly presented on black plates, taken in a bright, sophisticated tea room setting, certainly made for a Parisian afternoon to remember. It’s easy to see why Cédric Grolet is one of France’s most famous pastry chefs, as every one of his creations boasts of passion, skill and attention to detail.
I highly recommend bringing your friends and family to Cédric Grolet for tea time, or even breakfast or lunch, and letting them experience the French joie de vivre pâtisserie style!
A French pastry experience to remember!
What do you think? Did I inspire you to give Cédric Grolet pastries a try? Have you or your friends and family tried Cédric Grolet’s creations, and what are your favorites?
I’d love to hear about your gastronomic experience! xx
Cédric Grolet Opéra
35 Avenue de l’Opéra
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