Galette des Rois — Sweet + Delish Catholic Cultural Appropriation?
Who cares? Let’s Get Some of the Best Galette des Rois in Paris…
You’d think that after the whole Christmas-New Year eating marathon, January would be the time to finally lay off the ~literal~ sauce and I dunno, do intermittent fasting or something? Well, France, as always, likes to complicate things, this time by offering yet another delicacy right in the first week of January.
Almost always round, always sweet, and filled with a faint promise of long-term happiness (so it’s basically me after all that festive time, LOL pickme pickme pickme), its form and ingredients are variable. What they all share is a fève — a small porcelain figurine, sometimes representing none other than theO.Z.G (Original Zombie Gangsta) Himself,baby Jesus — and finding it promises year-long luck (unless you break a tooth on it, I guess).
And this being Paris, there’ll be Galettes des Rois aplenty, so to spare you from trying all of them around the city, we’ve rounded up some of our faves for you to indulge in. But first…
Work Off the Carbs with this History
La Galette des Rois (« Kings’ Tart ») is named after the biblical Magi and is traditionally eaten on the Epiphany (in 2023 this is Friday the 6th of January). The idea itself dates back to the freaky, polytheistic, Roman empire (as, like, every Catholic holiday ever), specifically, Saturnalia — an atypical day where the roles between masters and their servants were reversed. (NOTE: This is NOT a BDSM reference.)
Of course, the French wouldn’t be themselves if they didn’t associate that tradition with the (ugh!) monarchy. That’s why during the French revolution the galette was nearly banned. Successful rebranding was issued instead, with the new name being the “Equality Cake” and with the baby Jesus replaced with a Phrygian cap (yes, the very same one as the Paris 2024 mascot). So we were ‘𝓦𝓸𝓴𝓮’ even before the execrable Tucker Carlson pulled himself up by his unsullied bootstraps.
Nowadays, the tradition dictates to cut the cake into as many slices as there are guests (plus one because The Elf on the Shelf Jesus is Always Watching) and for the youngest person to pass under the table and blindly allocate every piece around. (Again — big sigh — 𝓦𝓸𝓴𝓮). The person finding the fève is given the paper crown and gets to be the King of the day (please, don’t behead anyone but please feel free to take like 200 concubines).
Okay, but what’s the fuss about, exactly?
The Galette des Rois, in the simplest version, is made out of a golden flaky pastry with frangipane filling (link to recipe below); but let’s face it: simplicity is overrated. Especially in Paris, where all the pastry chefs try to outdo themselves in order to please the angry mob hungry crowd.
Depending on the pâtissier, you may find it made with brioche instead of puff pastry, with chocolate, vanilla or pistachio filling, with fresh or dried fruits on top…You get it.
Basically any pâtisserie or boulangerie will make their own ~slightly special~ version, but if you want to check out our faves, without further ado, here’s the list:
Galette des Rois — 2023 Edition
Bo&Mie: An accessible trendslut
This creative bakery decided to make a puff pastry galette with peanut frangipane cream, a homemade peanut praline, and caramelized peanuts on top.
Photo: Boetmie on Instagram
Boulangerie Chambelland: A galette for all
Known as the first gluten-free bakery in Paris, it proposes a square version of cake with almond and a touch of rum. Alternatively, here you can try the Couronne des Reines (“Queens’ Crown”) that’s vegan and filled with candied orange, ginger, and cherries.
Photo: boulangeriechambellandparis on Instagram / chambelland.com
Land&Monkeys: From the south-side
THE vegan chain in Paris bases their galette on a version of it coming from Southern France — with brioche dough, orange flower blossom, rum, candied orange and lemon zest.
Photo: land_and_monkeys on Instagram
Anthony Courteille / Sain Boulangerie
Mr. Courteille does it again with a flaky and ‘healthy’ Galette des Rois. Well, I’ll take it.
Pierre Hermé: Tradition with a twist
One of the best-known French pastry chefs proposes a galette with puff pastry, pistachio almond cream and a pistachio praline top.
The French Bastards: Not your usual take on the galette
Known for their chocolate cruffins, the guys decided to create a “Cruffin des Rois”, a cocoa croissant dough with chocolate ganache, almond cream, and a chocolate frangipane filling. Like a Galette des Rois 2.0 — Don’t let your #LOL interfere with your #FOMO, here…
Photo: the_french_bastards on Instagram
Maison Landemaine: Last (minute) but not least
With more than a dozen locations across Paris, you won’t have any excuse to miss their reverse puff pastry cake with almond crème, pecan nuts and maple syrup.
If it’s your first time and you’re only dipping your toes in the water, we really do recommend the traditional one. Just don’t forget to wash it all down with a bottle (or two) of cider!
Small insider tip — if you go out to eat the cake in a café and do get the luck-bringing fève, you can go and claim a free piece. Bonne chance!
Creative writing major who came to Paris in order to write freely about what passionates her the most — culture, food, and quirky history. She moved here not so long ago, which gives her a unique perspective of a still-ongoing honeymoon phase. On the other hand, prior to coming to France, she lived in an apartment with four Parisian roommates (yes, at the same time), who not only taught her the know-how and the language itself, but also still frequently feed her with the inside info and serve as the primary audience of whatever she writes — just to assure all the readers that her content is Parisian approved.