France has one of the most pervasive food cultures in the world. So it goes without saying that it's one of the best places to find great food, especially in Paris. But it's not always so easy to find places that are truly the "best of the best." For example, in Paris there are often two or three boulangeries in the same small neighborhood. How, you wonder, do they all stay in business?
Well, quite often they specialize in different things. One may be the best at baking bread, another croissants, and finally one who specialized in elegant pastries. Although there are always exceptions. From time to time I enter a boulangerie in a neighborhood I don't know and nothing looks appetizing. The best thing to do in this case is leave. In France, if food doesn't look good, it rarely is.
To figure out the speciality of the boulangerie in your neighborhood, there's a simple trick. You can usually tell who's who based on what time of day the lines form outside their shop. For example, if you are passing a boulangerie at the end of the day, say Six o'clock, and see a line out the door then it's likely they make the best bread in the neighborhood. Mornings, especially weekends, then that's the place for croissants. Desserts, well the ones that look the most carefully made, are usually the best . After all, Paris is a place where looks do matter.
Parisians hate waiting in line, but they seem to be quite content to wait politely for good bread. Something they would never do at the Post Office. There you'll encounter an unruly group of people waiting who are ready to do anything to cut ahead of you in line. Well, I'll stop there since that's probably best left as the subject of another post.