Exterior of Pignol Patisserie in Leon, France - home of France's best croissant

The Ultimate Almond Croissant

And here I thought Plain was my favorite

My favorite breakfast of all is a fresh and buttery croissant and a small cup of rich hot chocolate. Not surprisingly then, on every trip to France, we begin each morning with a visit to a patisserie. It’s a constant search for the perfect croissant: crisp and flaky on the outside, soft and puffy on the inside. There are just so many places to try that we rarely visit any single location more than once.

Researching things to do during our upcoming trip to Lyon, I found the article “The Perfect Day in Lyon” on Anthony Bordain’s website Parts Unknown. The author, Alexia Luquet, offered suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Lyon, as well as for snacks and cocktails. She started her day with the Pignol croissant. So, we followed her advice and headed over to 17 rue Emile Zola, just around the corner from Place Bellecour.

Pignol Pâtisserie Emile Zola opened in 1954 and is a classic in Lyon. It’s a good thing we knew what we would be ordering before we got there, because I’m not sure I could have ever come to a decision otherwise. Standing in front of the enormous display case, eyeing the vast array of cookies, cakes and pastries, one thing was more beautiful than the next. The detail and precision, astounding.

On this trip we had three days in Lyon: three opportunities to try a new patisserie. Yet every day we happily and expectantly returned to Patisserie Pignol.

We tried all three croissant varieties: plain, chocolate and almond. They were all amazing, but the almond croissant was the standout. It looks very much like a plain croissant, but with a drizzle of honey on top and a thin layer of almond paste inside. With the first bite and each subsequent bite the crust crackled. Every mouthful finished with me saying, “Oh my god. That is so amazing.”

The next time we return to Lyon, you will find us sitting in the tea room in the back. We’ll each have an almond croissant, a cup of hot chocolate, a huge smile on our face, and a lap full of croissant crumbs.

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