La Châtaigne: French bakery in Lafayette

La Châtaigne is a French bakery located in Lafayette, California (about 22 miles/34 km east of San Francisco).

Located in La Fiesta Square, the patisserie overlooks the parking lot, so there isn’t much of a view, but it’s perfect so you could enjoy your pastries and conversations.

My family and I got to La Châtaigne around 12:30 on a Sunday. Maybe we should have arrived earlier because their display case was half-empty (or half-full for those of you who are optimists!) The cashier was quick to acknowledge the slim pickings, but apologized, and pointed out what was left: madeleines, a couple of leaf-shaped breads (fougasse), about a dozen croissants, several slices of Opera cake, and one slice of quiche.

no brewed coffee, only espresso drinks here!
the bakery also sold jam, caramels, and candies from France

In a few ways, it was like being temporarily transported to a Parisian bistro. For example, there were small tables with wicker chairs. There were dogs tied to table legs by their leashes. There were a couple of well-dressed ladies clutching their designer handbags. You could hear the Madeleine Peyroux version of “J’ai deux amours” emanating softly from inside the bakery.

I’d be reminded I was in California, though, when I’d see the occasional cyclist or 20-something in yoga pants come through. Also notably absent were ashtrays on the tables and cigarette smoke. Unlike Paris, smoking is banned in many public places in California.

Overall, I liked this little bakery. I like how it has the grab and go feel of a donut shop, but with the sit-down experience of having your food brought to your table on actual plates and cups. The pain au chocolat was fresh baked, buttery, and flaky. The Americano was delicious, as well. I’d like to come back to try their other pastries.

For more information:

  • Madeleine Peyroux performing the Josephine Baker song, “J’ai deux amours” (YouTube link)

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