Lemon Pies or Lemon Tarts à la Française!
Lemon pie was a magical part of my childhood. My mother made the most incredible meringue-topped frilly tarts you could hope for as a kid. She learned to bake from my grandmother, her mother-in-law, who’s own lemon pie was legendary. Meyers lemons grown in her own back yard, with the tangy tartness that made your tongue smart and eyes sting, followed by the creamy smoothness of the home made curd and the fluff of the barely-baked meringue. Perfection.
So, the search for a replacement tart has been going on for a while far away from family, in my adopted city of Paris. I want something that will make me close my eyes and send me back to my Californian childhood summers. Turns out, everyone in Paris offers lemon tarts known to American’s as pies, but not all lemon pies are created equal.
Here are my top five lemon tarts/pies found in Paris.
5. Béchu. They offer a simple lemon pie, sans meringue, that I tested. I am more of a fan of lemon curd than the meringue so I often chose the plain pie over the pie with a pile of pretty fluff if there is an option (which quite often there is a choice). What I liked about Béchu’s lemon tart was the creaminess of the curd, although once I cut into the tart I felt the crust was taking up a larger ratio of the pie than it should. The little flecks of candied lemon peel added an extra punch of flavor though and were enough to get it to my top five list.
- 118 avenue de Victor Hugo, Paris 75116
4. Gerard Mulot. As pretty as a ballerina tutu, this perfectly executed lemon tart was as fun to photograph in the macro setting, as it was to eat it ! The expertly drizzled sugar pearls on top of the exquisite meringue are a dainty touch to this delicious tart. But I put it in fourth place only because, according to my standards, there just wasn’t enough lemon curd. But flavor and presentation were gorgeous.
- 76 rue de Seine, Paris 75006
3. Le Meurice. The tarte citron at Le Meurice was my number one lemon pie reference for quite some time and enjoyed a long stay at the top of my list. It has been pushed to third place though, mostly because of it’s small size and high price tag. But he flavor is absolutely incredible. This pie is made with what foodies call « lemon caviar » or also known as microcitrus australasica. It comes from a thorny bush plant in Australia, in a pod, that when opened reveals hundreds of little juicy pearls. Each pearl gives a burst of citrus flavor when bitten into. This is the exclusive lemon flavor in the tart at Le Meurice, no actual lemons were harmed for the making of their lemon pie. And it has just about the best lemon tang that I have ever tasted. Plus it’s a pretty beautiful lemon pie, but then who could ask for less of the Meurice !
- 228 rue de Rivoli, Paris 75001
2. Le Grand Hotel du Palais Royal, the lemon pie at Le Meurice was dethroned from the top of my list when I tested the citrus merveille at le Grand Hotel du Palais Royal. As beautiful as it is tasty this is a tart of luxury indeed. Garnished with gold, lemon sugar lace and basil leaves it is a true work of art. The meringue is as delicate as cotton candy and melts in your mouth like a stray summer cloud in a blue sky. This is pobably the prettiest lemon tart I have ever met. Yet…it didn’t make number one on my list ! Why ? Because of La Fille du Boulanger.
- 4 rue de Valois, Paris 75001
1. La Fille du Boulanger. This is the pie that brings me back to my childhood. A lemon tart mounded so high with creamy curd, that my mouth tingles when I look at it ! I prefer their tart sans meringue, because it is so abundant with lemony goodness, no meringue is required for my enjoyment. It’s not sweetened too much and thus has the perfect level of tang. I love to slice it with a fork and see how tall the mound of lemon stands when the tart is split in two. From a charming little bakery in the Batignolles neighborhood, this tart is as French and affordable as it is simple. And for all of the frill that I enjoy in my little Parisian existence, sometimes the best things in life are the simple ones.
- 38 rue des Batignolles, Paris 75017
Tasting Tarts in Paris is a tough job but somebody has go to do it. This post was written by, Melissa Ladd, who is a lover of lemon tarts & lemon pies and she is also the founder & creator of Prête-Moi Paris.