Paris Home Sightseeing
Where to Stay Transportation

Paris > Food > Boulangerie au Grand Richelieu

Boulangerie Patisserie Au Grand Richelieu

From: Meet the Parisians at Work

Archived Article


ABOVE: Claude Esnault holds an unbaked baguette from a loaf-forming machine in his boulangerie-patisserie, which has produced bread since the time of Napoleon. INSET BELOW: Mimi, the bakery cat. See more photos.

  • January, 2013 update: After more than 200 years, Boulangerie Patisserie Au Grand Richelieu has been forced to close because of a rent increase.


Claude Esnault, the good-natured proprietor of the Boulangerie Patisserie Au Grand Richelieu in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, wasn't born into baking: He was a farmer's son in Normandy before moving to Paris in 1963 and learning the art of the boulanger. He acquired his current bakery and pastry shop six years later, turning the compact storefront on the Rue de Richelieu into an operation that--at its peak--produced some 4,000 baguettes per day.

Today, the bakery's daily output is a more manageable 400 baguettes, along with some 200 croissants, 150 pains au chocolat, and a large variety of delectable gateaux and pastries. Customers include residents and restaurants in the neighborhood and the adjacent 9th arrondissement.

M. Esnault's research indicates that Au Grand Richelieu is the oldest bakery in Paris--dating back to 1810, when "Napoleon could have come here," as the jovial baker reminds visitors with an expression that's more amused than deadpan. M. Esnault is assisted by his wife, this daughter, another baker, and a pastry cook; the store is open seven days a week, with the staff working both upstairs (where bread is mixed, risen, and baked) and down in the basement (where croissants and other pastries are made, and which is reached via a steep ship's ladder).

We visited M. Esnault's bakery-patisserie during a Saturday-morning tour. The bilingual tour, which cost only five euros, included hands-on practice in slashing baguette dough and rolling mini-croissants, plus the chance to sample ingredients from the pastry chef's Easter chocolates.


  • You'll find the Boulangerie Patisserie Au Grand Richelieu at 51, rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris near the Pyramide Métro stops (lines 7 and 14).

  • When you visit Au Grand Richelieu, don't miss the traditional Opéra cake, the tarte tatin from M. Esnault's native Normandy, or the twisted Danish-style puff pastries known as "sacristains." (You'll find plenty of other breads and pastries to tempt you; these were the items that we couldn't resist.)

  • Be sure to see our captioned photos on the next page and the related articles and Web links below.

Next page: More photos

Related articles at Paris for Visitors:
Meet the Parisians at Work
La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc
Meeting the French - Dinner in Parisian Homes
Meeting the French - Patisserie Tour

Related Web site:
Meeting the French

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

For more information, see About our site, press clippings, and reader testimonials.