When we alighted from the train in Avignon in the Provence region of southern France, I felt like I had stepped back in time a few hundred years. The steeples of gothic cathedrals peeked elegantly from amidst ivy clad houses, and the city walls crumbled as if suddenly tired of guarding the place from years of possible ransack. But while the history of Avignon is truly intriguing, I had something else on my mind. Éclairs.
I’ve always been fond of the chocolate covered, cream filled pastries, but it wasn’t until I actually ate them in France that my burgeoning love truly blossomed. The fiancé and I were planning to be in Avignon for six days—our last in France— and after deciding to chuck my calorie counting out the prettily shutter clad window, I decided to try an éclair a day for six days in my search for Avignon’s very best.
Here are the candidates:
La Pause Gourmande
Verdict: Too dry
La Mie Caline
Verdict: Too average
Patisseries Le Delice Des Papes
Verdict: Very good…second place!
Histoire de Pains
Verdict: Too much filling
Unknown origin! Steve picked it up and I forgot to get the name.
Verdict: The icing on top was too hard
Verdict: Just right!
Describing six slightly different version of the same thing is tedious for you and for me, so let’s just skip to the highlights.
All the éclairs were delicious, because let’s face it—this is France, people, and they know how to do pastries right. But the undeniable winner of the week was Mallard. For 2.50 euros, I received éclair perfection. While some of the others were too dry or disproportionately overfilled with custard, the Mallard version was just right.
The slightly soft and chewy pastry was perfectly filled with a not-too-sweet chocolate custard, and the chocolate fondant icing was the ideal consistency—not too hard or too chewy. Bonus? The éclairs here are topped with a decorative piece of chocolate candy in addition to the chocolate icing.