The past weekend in Bordeaux was the appointment of the Grand Crus. Leaving Paris for the castles of Médoc, we arrived at the Pauillac...
Let the foodies rejoice, Liberté, a patisserie-bakery unlike any other, has been established in Rue des Vinaigriers for a few years. Here, the emphasis is on transparency with a spirit half-way between an artist’s studio and a laboratory… for patisserie, obviously! Pastries, cream tarts, cheesecakes and other little gems packed with flavours are freshly prepared each morning by Maxime Papin and his right-hand-man, Julien Ferré, before our very eyes. The Liberté patisserie-bakery is also a quirky world imagined by Mickaël Benichou and located far from the fashionable sweet shop aesthetic that we have become used to. The walls are bare and a monumental piece of cut marble serves as a counter. A truly minimalist space where the products take pride of place and where a tour is a must. The most difficult part is choosing between a melting lemon tart or the pop-art colours of a rum baba, not forgetting the bread that’s perfectly crisp and as delicious as you’d expect it to be!
Liberté : 39 rue des Vinaigriers – 75010 Paris.
Mickaël, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I studied for five years in Milan, Italy (Università Bocconi) where I dreamed of becoming an art dealer. I then had the opportunity to work in finance in London, Singapore and New York. The energy and dynamism of the financial industry helped to shape my entrepreneurial spirit: so I founded my first company, a French biscuit brand. Afterwards, I felt the need to return to Paris in 2011 where, after a “stopover” at L’Oréal, I had the opportunity to create Liberté in 2013.
How is the Liberté bakery different?
Liberté is a new pâtisserie and bakery: I wanted to offer high-quality pastries and baked goods in pleasant, contemporary surroundings, whilst respecting the traditions of this age-old profession. With passion, transparency and a sense of conviviality.
How did you come up with the idea for this bakery?
I tried to break with the profession’s aesthetic and retail rules and sought inspiration from my travels and years of living abroad. I wanted to apply the new rules of the food service industry to this pâtisserie and bakery.
What’s the history of this place and how have you transformed it?
39 rue des Vinaigriers has always been a bakery, since the building was first built at the end of the 19th century. During building work, realised by the agency Mur Mur, we found a painted ceiling which must have been part of the first tea room in the neighbourhood. We stripped back the space to re-write the story of this place, focusing on monumental marble which links the laboratory – which is in full view – and the store, whilst retaining and protecting original materials like the ceiling, a few areas of wallpaper and the cement floor tiles which we laid in the entrance. It’s all about architectural continuity which is a brilliant balance between a brutal style with a touch of punk and traditional materials found on the property.
Tell us more about your products and recipes: how do you choose your raw materials?
Our products are created using traditional pâtisserie and bakery recipes. We use the best seasonal ingredients available, combined with our unique know-how and production. Our creativity, particularly when it comes to our Pastry Chef Maxime Papin and his assistant, can be seen in our seasonal products (like our rhubarb baba, available at the moment) and the classics (we’re working on our Yule log for 2017, for example, with a Japanese twist). We start with a blank page every time and we all share in the creativity: a baker can have an idea about a pastry and vice versa. We never stop discussing things and I always want to prioritise and promote this creative freedom.
What are your customers’ favourite treats?
You have to try the lemon tart. And the tarte tatin, too (only available in season). The Liberté loaf and our chocolate loaf are also in the top 10.
Why did you choose the name Liberté?
I wanted a strong name, something to express an iconoclastic desire to innovate and reinvent this traditional profession, whilst respecting its cultural founding principles. “Everything has to change for nothing to change” – that phrase, from The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa and heard on screen thanks to Visconti, sums up this vision quite well. What could be more beautiful than liberty?
Lots! We’re opening our first flagship store in Tokyo, Japan, in the first quarter of 2018. An incredible adventure, with an area of more than 300m2, including a store/laboratory, of course, but also a restaurant for more than 60 people and with other points of sale to follow, including in Kyoto.
Crédits : Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily