Pastel de nata, Parisian flan, custard tart, Brazilian pudim de leite condensado: flan in all its forms – plain, milky, vanilla – is a great classic in bakeries and pastries. Halfway between a cake and a tart, this dessert consists of a tart base and a thick layer of pastry cream, all browned in the oven. But watch out for counterfeits! There are countless more or less recommendable industrial versions, produced on an assembly line, often served in French school canteens.

The origin of the recipe remains unclear. For some, it comes from Great Britain, notably thanks to Henry IV of England who put it on the menu of his sacrament banquet. For others he would come from Hauts de France. No certainty, therefore. Especially since there are variations all over the world.

To stick to Le Marais, the Marais Mood team sourced from the best sources in a neighborhood full of cutting-edge artisans. Then, launched into a “blind test” with 5 shares placed on the table. First observation: nothing is more different from a flan than another flan. Then: it’s not easy to establish a ranking. Each flan has arguments to make. Here they are.

Good time
The top of the range

Flan from the Bontemps pastry shop, ©Bontemps

Very thick, golden on the edges and tender at the heart, Bontemps flan is the haute couture version of a popular dish. No need to try to buy it separately, it is only sold in a 4 or 6 person version. With its sweet name of “un amour de flan”, it is the “sweetest”, with its Madagascar vanilla marked on the palate. The flan according to Bontemps is creamy without being greasy, not very sweet and its shortbread dough remains crunchy, delighting us. A high-flying flan.

4 people: 18€
6 people: 36€

Bontemps La Pâtisserie
57 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 14 p.m., then from 14:30 p.m. to 19 p.m.
Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 19 p.m.
Sunday from 10:30 p.m. to 18 p.m.
Closed on monday and tuesday
Tel: 01 42 74 10 68

Healthy Bakery
The generous

Flan from the Sain bakery, ©Sain

It’s flan in all its generosity. The cream overflowed a little, with a deliciously caramelized edge. And he's very plump. This flan is distinguished by its whiteness and smoothness. It's the creamiest of all.

Its vanilla is discreet and gives way to a well-marked milky flavor, not very sweet. Its shortbread dough is also well buttered, quite tender with notes of cereals typical of “old” flours. This is not surprising because one of Sain's trademarks is the careful sourcing of its raw materials, bringing the flours of yesteryear up to date.

Healthy Bakery
23 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris
Tuesday to Saturday 7AM - 30PM
Sunday from 8 p.m. to 15 p.m.
Tel: 06 50 36 78 17

Maison Plume

Flan from Maison Plume pastry, ©Maison Plume

A sugar-free, gluten-free flan with a GI (glycemic index) at its lowest, did you think it was mission impossible? Well yes! Maison Plume rose to the challenge with flying colors. It's not the flan from our childhood, but a revisited version. Without added sugar, it is the least sweet of the panel. However, no bitterness despite the use of stevia. Not too oily in the mouth either. We don't smell so much milk, but rather cocoa and cereal notes. This flan holds together well and its crust is golden. On the dough side, it is characteristic of gluten-free preparations: quite thick and crumbly.

Resolutely healthy.

6€20 per portion. 

Maison Plume
61 rue Charlot, 75003 Paris
Tuesday from 14 p.m. to 19 p.m.
Wednesday to Saturday from 11 p.m. to 19 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. to 18:30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
Tel: 01 71 39 35 02

Notre Dame / The Stroll
The neo-Classical
The flan of Notre Dame / La Flânerie, ©Notre Dame / La Flânerie

Halfway between the firm flan of our childhood and the new generation flan with its modern, even designer look. No flashy yellow, but a pretty cream color and a nicely dark paste. The taste immediately shows the use of vanilla aroma. It holds up well, and in the mouth, the egg stands out. With its boutique right next to Notre Dame Cathedral, it's the ideal spot to share a slice with a passing foreign friend.

The Notre-Dame Stroll
4 Rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame, 75004 Paris
Every day from 8h to 21h

Pain de sucre
The square

Flan from the Pain de Sucre pastry, ©Pain de Sucre

If Pain de Sucre remains an undisputed reference in the field of creative and fruity pastries, it has never stood out for its flans. However, the house on rue Rambuteau offers a version executed according to the rules of the art, with a few details: it is rectangular and its shortcrust pastry is almond. We find a flan with good hold, with a hint of vanilla.

5€ per share.

Pain de sucre
14 Rue Rambuteau, 75003 Paris
Monday then Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 20 p.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Tel: 01 45 74 68 92

The traditional

Poilâne pastry flan, ©Poilâne

This is flan in its most traditional version, that of the neighborhood baker. Very yellow, with a dark rind – thanks to cooking over a wood fire – and its elastic texture, it immediately propels us into the sensations of our childhood. It stands out from the others by its absence of vanilla. Made with whole milk, cornstarch but no eggs, it is also the only one to be held on puff pastry – and not shortbread. It is the friend of regressive snacks and the cheapest of all.

2€90 per portion.

38 Rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris
Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 14 p.m., then from 15 p.m. to 19 p.m.
Tel: 01 44 61 83 39

Text: Tiana Salles



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