Paris may be most famous for its patisserie, but the modern city has changed with the times (and the weather), so that it is now also an ice cream lover’s dream. Here are 10 of the best destinations for an unforgettable gelato experience in the city of light.
Every summer in Paris, it’s not uncommon to see long queues of locals and tourists impatiently waiting to get their hands on a cone of refreshing ice cream. Fresh gelato, fait maison, is the ideal indulgence for any flâneur strolling along the boulevards, window-shopping in the Marais, tackling the stairs in Montmartre or exploring the banks of the Seine – made up in July and August to resemble a beach resort; the famous ‘Paris Plage’.
In the French capital, the provenance of the ice cream you’re enjoying can seem less important than where you are eating it and with whom. (Ice cream + Paris is always going to sound like a good equation, right?) Even so, there are a handful of gelato makers here who elevate each scoop into a refined art, or even a love affair. Here is a selection of the ice cream parlors using natural, organic ingredients and artisanal techniques to create surprising new taste sensations.
Une glace à Paris
They named it ‘An ice-cream in Paris’, but it’s not just any ice-cream. Emmanuel Ryon and Olivier Menard took out the prizes of Meilleur Ouvrier de France and French Ice Cream Artisan of the Year title. In their rich and fragrant creations even the classics have a twist: Walnut oil, Wild Colombian pollen, Pumpkin, Mount Gay rum, and the seemingly dangerous Smoky chocolate Inaya 66%. They also make beautifully presented chilled patisseries, like their rubarb and orange blossom ice cream tartlett. Mull all these flavors over while people-watching on the terrace at Place des Abbesses in Montmartre.
15 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 / 16 Pl. des Abbesses, 75018
La Tropicale Glacier
Just a few steps from the vibrant Marché d’Aligre lies a haven for those who like to indulge in ‘weird’ flavors, where exotic is the norm. Ooh and aah at melon with chilli flakes; gin, seaweed, cucumber and bell peppers; basil and yoghurt or even forget-me-not flowers. Behind the bright blue shopfront and small salon de thé is a laboratory where the flavors are all concocted in situ from fresh, imaginative ingredients. And so it has been for 40 years, across two generations of ice cream adventurers. Each scoop is a bargain, so grab a cone and enjoy it along the nearby Coulée Verte walkway.
7 Rue Prague 75012
Reÿs – glaces éternelles
Jean-Pierre mastered the art of gelato making in Tuscany as a means of teasing out memories of childhood and travels in the form of delicious, delicious ice cream. He is to gelato what Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is to perfume. With seven poetic and fanciful flavors of ice cream and seven sorbets to choose from, try the surprising Cretan tzatziki (Greek yoghurt, lemon, olive oil, cucumber and mint), Balade à Bangkok (Thai rice, coconut milk and citronella), or the Kiss of the Dragon (pitaya, Lapsang Suchong tea, Sichuan pepper). Your tastebuds will travel to exotic destinations without ever leaving the charming Place du Bourg-Tibourg in the Marais.
4 Rue du Bourg Tibourg, 75004
Founded in Marseille, Emkipop makes ice cream really, really fun, for kids and adults alike. Choose a bâtonnet (paddle pop) made with 100% natural ingredients, from whimsical flavors like black sesame, vegan coconut, or limited-edition collabs like shiso leaves and bergamot; dip it in one four chocolate coatings, and then dip that in a crunchy topping. Countless combinations of colors and textures emerge from this process. In winter, they’ll melt your ice cream into a velvety, hot drink. Enjoy it all in the quaint park of the Square Trousseau.
13 Rue Antoine Vollon, 75012
The chicest ice cream in Paris since the 1950s, handmade on the Île Saint-Louis, Berthillon is the quintessential accompaniment to any sun-dappled stroll along the banks of the Seine. It all started when Raymond Berthillon, owner of the hotel and café Le Bourgogne, dusted off an ice cream machine and started producing his own batches. Today, Maison Berthillon offers 70 light, subtle flavors that are served in practically all the restaurants on the Île Saint-Louis. Stand-outs are pine-nut praline, chestnuts with a splash of rum, caramel and ginger, delicate yoghurt and yuzu, the bolder chocolate whisky, fruity greengage, and the perennial favorite: strawberry. Look out for the iconic Berthillon mark on the shop awnings, and if you don’t want to wait too long, get away from stores on Saint-Louis’ quays: somewhere on the island, there’s bound to be a queueless stand.
Il Gelato del Marchese
Born in Rome, Marco, the founder of this elegant, nostalgic boutique in Saint Germain-des-Prés, was awarded the no.3 spot in a list of the 100 best Italian ice cream makers in 2015. His confections are made onsite daily with all-natural ingredients, right down to the cones (it’s said Marco hand-picks the Sicilian pistachios that go into the classic signature flavor of Il Gelato del Marchese). The ice creams have little added sugar, to allow the flavors to reveal themselves. The ingredients are seasonal, like ricotta with white Alba truffles.
3 Rue des Quatre Vents, 75006
Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and… ice cream? The spread at Glazed certainly has the sexiest ice creams Paris has to offer, with flavors inspired by cocktails and names inspired by rock songs. Sourcing local fruits and ingredients, Henri Guittet has been serving up scoop after scoop of seduction since 2014. So head to the rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire for an addictive cone of Highway to Ale (organic beer-flavored ice cream), Black Sugar Sex Magic (dark chocolate, wasabi and ginger), Cococaine (coconut sorbet with hyuganatsu citrus), and many more.
For the celebrity chef and chocolatier Alain Ducasse, ice cream making, too, is a mix of science and alchemy. His small but carefully curated range, developed by gelato maker Matteo Casone, is all about robust classics with subtle twists and aftertastes: praline hazelnut with hibiscus, olive oil or fermented yoghurt, all with delightfully velvety texture. This is hands down the priciest ice cream in Paris, but one dreamy mouthful is enough to confirm the quality of the ingredients and their composition.
38 Rue de la Roquette 75011 / 11 rue des Petits Champs 75001
It’s called Maison 1891 because that’s the year that the owner, Stéphane Raymond-Bernardé’s ancestor began working as a pastry chef at the Ritz. A family-run establishment followed for the next hundred years. Stephane isn’t afraid to innovate, mind you, as evidenced in the eye-opening sorbets with pineapple and jalapeño or lemon and sancho peppercorns. All the classics are there too: Iranian pistachio, salted caramel and creamy Piedmont hazelnut. 14 flavors tantalize tastebuds at this unassuming café in the trendy Faubourg Poissonière neighborhood. Maison 1891 also makes elaborate ice cream cakes, other desserts and healthy savory dishes.
59 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière 9è
Film buffs with a sweet tooth can rejoice at this improbable scoop: the iconic Spaghetti Western actor Terence Hill has opened an ice cream parlor and café in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Along with his son Jess, the Italian film star pays tribute to the artisanal savoir-faire of gelato makers in Amelia, Umbria, where his great uncle ran a gelateria. There’s no gunslinging necessary to get your hands around a cone of red bean and maple syrup or baba rum-flavored gelato, though, all with natural ingredients, without gluten or preservatives. Buona degustazione!
120 Boulevard Raspail 75006