Sneak Preview of PAUL

Photo courtesy of
‘PAUL Bakery’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Ask a Washingtonian if there’s a good place to get bread in the city and you’ll get an earful. I’m not about to debate our city’s carbohydrate merits. Rather, I want to talk about the opening of PAUL, a new bread shop and bakery that might be the one to raise the bar for bread in DC.

PAUL already has more than 450 bakeries elsewhere in the world (mostly in Europe), and so at first I was a little nervous about a “chain” bakery opening their first U.S. store in DC. What I found though was a bakery with a rich history, dedicated people behind it and quite frankly, fantastic bread.

Photo courtesy of
‘PAUL Bread’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Last week, I had the opportunity to go to the bakery for a sneak preview of the shop and a bread baking class. Having never baked bread before, I stepped into a world where I immediately learned the cardinal rule: “Respect the dough.”

The people behind PAUL who I met are so very passionate about bread that their excitement is contagious. For two hours I watched Chief Baker & Pastry Chef, David Dequeker, explain different types of flours, how they score the bread, how they make their own yeast for the bread and how there is so much detail and thought behind the seemingly simple process of mixing bread flour, yeast and salt together. The end result is a perfectly golden brown, crunchy crust around soft, warm French bread. Commence drooling.

Photo courtesy of
‘PAUL Bread baking class’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

President & CEO of Groupe PAUL, Maxime Holder, explained how their process for baking bread has been handed down from generation to generation in his family over the course of 120 years. Maxime said that just by cutting open a loaf of bread at any PAUL store and examining the structure of little dips and craters in the bread, he could tell if someone had in fact “respected the dough” and had taken the time and care to follow his family’s process for making fresh bread.

Photo courtesy of
‘Maxime Holder of PAUL’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

In addition to bread, the shop will offer a variety of pastries, soups, quiches, French macarons, sandwiches and salads. My suggestion is when jazz in the sculpture garden starts up, grab yourself some nice sandwiches on fresh baguettes, head down to the garden for music and sangria and marvel at the fact that good bread is here to stay in DC.

PAUL officially opens May 2nd and is located at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. They’ll be open 7 days per week from 7 AM to 7 PM.

Photo courtesy of
‘PAUL, bread flour’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at)

6 thoughts on “Sneak Preview of PAUL

  1. Correction: This isn’t their first US store. It’s their flagship US store, but they’ve had a few franchises in Florida for a few years.

  2. The Paul Bakery stores in Florida (Palm Beach and Miami) opened in 2006, but closed in 2010, according to Wikipedia. So DC is a fresh start in the US for the chain.

  3. Thanks for the write up Marissa.

    My comments come with a warning. I’m a baguette snob. Lived in Tunisia for two years where the baguettes were divine.

    Came back here to DC in 1995, and went on the search. Baguettes should be flaky when you break them, but none of the ones I have tried are made that way.

    I look forward to trying this new place.

  4. The Miami store was at least open at the end of February, when I ate there. Good bread, amaaazing apricot jam.

  5. Pingback: This Week in Food » We Love DC

  6. Lisa Amore, PAUL’s local PR rep, told me that the FL locations are franchises, and this incarnation is actually part the PAUL parent group.