From there, it’s a steep climb up and around the Montmartre hill to visit Gontran Cherrier, who’s as close to a celebrity baker as you’ll get in France. In his mid-thirties, with floppy hair and a kind smile, he is as comfortable on television as he is in his flour-dusted chef whites. At his bright and welcoming bakery on rue Caulaincourt, a wooden counter runs the length of the windows, and there I can sit and taste the superlative croissant he makes. Because he likes to work with a very cold dough, the multiple layers of the puff pastry fan out beautifully in the oven, creating perfect pleats that collapse in the mouth in a million sweet crumbs.
Cherrier is a judge on La Meilleure Boulangerie de France, a television show that takes viewers around France in search of the best bakeries, and he says the croissant is an excellent product to judge an artisan by, as it’s all skill and no flurries.