As I turn the antique cast iron handle on the blue door that leads into Maison Christian Faure in historic Old Montreal, I feel a flutter of nostalgia, though I’ve never been here.
I step inside and a wave of sweet, heavenly smells washes over me. This entire building, one of the oldest on Place Royale where the city was founded, is dedicated to the traditional art of pastry making. It is a pastry shop, café and school all in one.
Ask anyone in Montreal where to find the best pastries and you’ll get an enormous range of answers, which often end in “and Maison Christian Faure, of course.” Here is a list, including the aforementioned Maison Christian Faure, of the best pastry shops in Montreal.
Maison Christian Faure
355 Place Royale
Located in the heart of Old Montreal, Maison Christian Faure is where traditional pastry making meets gallery-worthy artistry. Arrive early to grab one of Faure’s renowned treats fresh from the oven. The hazelnut éclair is one of his most popular, but you’ll find it hard not to order one of everything.
Brioche À Tête
(search “Brioche À Tête on Facebook.com)
107 Avenue Fairmount Ouest
This tiny hole-in-the-wall bakery is a hidden gem in Mile End. Perfectly proportioned baked goods come fresh from the oven all day, and their namesake brioche is pleasingly light and delicately sweet. France-born owner Joe Rahmani landed in Montreal via Australia and says the city feels like home. He pours his passion into a curated collection of baked goods that are consistently on point.
Clémentine Café Bistro Boulangerie
1490 Rue Sherbrooke O
This unassuming bakery is easy to miss. It’s located down a flight of stairs from the street in a cosy space hugged by brick and stone walls. It’s a relative newcomer to the bakery scene, but it’s already turning out some of the best soft, buttery croissants in the city. Rumour has it the Sunday brunch is worth returning for, too.
4524 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
Hof Kelsten is part of a nouveau wave of Montreal bakeries that are proving you don’t have to be French to make great pastries. This bare bones spot sports an unfinished look with a quirky neon sign and communal bar-height table. The flakey croissants point slightly more to the savoury side with an extra sprinkle of salt, a welcome change from sugar-heavy pastries. The panettone at Christmas time has to be preordered and sells out fast.
2360 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Located in the heart of one of Montreal’s most rapidly evolving neighbourhoods, renowned pastry chef Patrice proves that there is still room for creativity and innovation in pastry and desserts. His love of crisp fruit flavours features best in one of his most popular must-try desserts, simply called “Vert.”
Rustique Pie Kitchen
4615 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
With a glut of bakeries and pastry shops to contend with in the city, Rustique decided to get creative with their approach by specializing in pies. Their pièces de resistance are little bite-sized pies with inventive fillings like pistachio cheesecake. The country-classic décor makes this homey spot a welcoming place to hole up on a cold day.
Where to learn the art of pastry making in Montreal
Maison Christian Faure offers introductory classes for a range of pastry types (croissants, viennoiserie, brioche, bread, ice cream, eclairs, etc.) in a fun and relaxed environment above the pastry shop. Saturdays from 9:30 a.m., 6 hours, $250 per class.
Patrice Patissier hosts demonstrative lectures on a range of pastry types in a sectioned-off area of the dining space complete with Patrice’s own book collection. Wednesdays and Fridays from 6:30 p.m., 3 hours, $100 per lecture.