Proving yet again that Lisbon’s charm is irresistible, Matthieu Croiger and João Rodrigues left the hustle and bustle of Paris behind and traded it for Lisbon’s calm and coolness, as they decided to open one of the best French pastry shops in town. Simply called L’Éclair, the name really does let you know what you’re in for; delicious, mouth-watering éclairs.
Matthieu and João have known each other for over ten years, and have always had the dream of opening a business in Portugal together. Matthieu says he fell in love with the quality of life in Lisbon; the calmness, the slower pace and the relative stress-free living, especially when compared to Paris, was perfect for him. João’s connection to the country (his parents are Portuguese), certainly did not hurt as well. As such, they decided to bring a Parisian staple to Lisbon, a city decidedly lacking in traditional French patisseries.
After almost two years of meticulously researching and sourcing each ingredient, from the vanilla from Madagascar, the chocolate by Valrhona, or the pistachios from Iran, nothing was left to chance. A big concern was also to have everything they could organic, fresh and of the highest quality, to ensure the perfect Éclair.
Every day, Chef João creates a handful of different flavoured éclairs to satisfy his clients’ sugary whims – they change most of them daily but Matthieu says, for the time being, some flavours are safe; 70% Valrhona Guanaja Dark Chocolate with gold leaf, Lemon (a reinterpretation of the traditional lemon cake), Paris Brest (Almond and Hazelnut Praliné, with 40% Valrhona Givara chocolate) and Caramel with Guérande fleur de sel, are just some of the flavours… We’re drooling just thinking about them! But Matthieu promises new flavours are always being thought of – a challenge has just been launched to the kitchen team to reinterpret the forêt-noire, and a milk chocolate éclair is also in the works. The point is, you absolutely have to try every single one of the amazing combinations.
However, being a French patisserie, it couldn’t be only éclairs, so some other traditional French sweets are also present, such as the (incredibly delicious) macarons, croissants and pain au chocolat. Another great surprise is that they make not only sweet, but savoury éclairs – with a special, slightly more salty dough, these can be accompanied with a salad to make for a terrific light lunch. To top this all off, L’Éclair sells their Éclairs by the metre (!). Plans are also under way to have a traditional French cake each week – think tarte tatin, mil feuilles and the likes.
The shop itself is beautifully decorated, and transports you directly to Paris as soon as you walk in, with an impressive display of all the different flavours the Chef has cooked up that day in a long, white counter that stretches almost the length of the space. Quaint wooden chairs and tables, all in line with the clean décor, complete the design. A delightful outside terrace is also available for customers, which seems just perfect for a breakfast basking in Lisbon’s early sunlight or a quick lunch in the sun, especially in the summer months. Behind the counter, someone is always ready to serve you your next temptation with a big smile, like they’re secretly having some éclairs in the back as well.
They certainly do put a smile on your face.