The French celebrate their national pride on Bastille Day today. What a great opportunity to embrace the sweet, buttery, culinary skills of the French. Nicky Park finds five local French bakeries worth a visit.
1/7 Windsor St, Parnell
Recommended to us recently by New Zealand-born, French-based chef, Nick Honeyman, Vaniye is his go-to for croissants. Honeyman tells us the traditional, and probably most popular, pastry is hard to get right, but pastry chef Sonia is on the money. Aside from an alluring array of French treats on display, this Parnell patisserie serves Kokako organic coffee and Harney & Sons tea - consider sitting in if you have the time to enjoy this small, delightfully posh space.
2: La Voie Francaise
Shop 4, 875 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
The chef behind this authentic Dominion Rd patisserie is a young Japanese baker called Tetsuya Namekawa, whose credentials include a stint alongside legendary French pastry chef Pierre Herme. The delicious aromas of baked goods waft down the always-thriving Dominion Rd. Top tip: Get in early to secure your pick of the pastries - the baked croissants and buttery danishes sell-out fast.
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3: Ma Cherie
Shop 12, 282 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
This is the first cafe from pastry and macaron maestro Guillaume Nicoli. The charming Frenchman had focused on selling his goods wholesale, until opening up this Ponsonby outlet in May. He calls the cafe, "a little French nest in the middle of Ponsonby". Guillaume hails from Alsace - which is an area of northeast France famous for its pastry - and he began perfecting his skills at just 17. As well as the freshly baked French delights, Ma Cherie also serves the traditional French breakfast of baguettes and jam on weekends.
295 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn
A gorgeous little chocolate and French pastry boutique, Philippe's boasts hand-crafted chocolate truffles, tarts and other sweet things. It also offers a selection of breads and pastries, which differ depending on the day. On a Saturday morning you will find Philippe's set-up down at the inner-city Britomart markets - grab yourself an almond croissant, bursting with frangipane.
5: La Cigale Cafe
69 St George's Bay Rd, Parnell
You've probably heard of the popular La Cigale markets in Parnell, with an astounding array of cheese and produce that could see you spending a pretty penny. We suggest affording a brief break from the bustling crowds and absorbing the French flair nestled inside the La Cigale cafe - the croque monsieur is memorable with its rich white sauce, and the coffee is great. The cabinet treats are authentic - the pain au chocolat a stand-out for us. The gift shop is well worth a visit on the way out, with imported French wines you won't find anywhere else.