So I recently returned from a vacation in Paris (yeah, I had to get that in somewhere, right?). One of my favorite things about Paris is its patisseries, or pastry shops. Although France does have grocery stores, where one can buy different meal items under one roof, the French have a tendency to buy their groceries at specialized markets. A charcuterie has meats, the boulangerie has breads and sandwiches and a patisserie has pastries and tarts.

Our hotel was about five blocks from the Notre Dame, and we seemed to take a similar route every day to get to a taxi stand, metro station or to begin our daily adventure by foot. This route took us by no fewer than four or five patisseries, taunting us with buttery croissants, crispy meringues and creamy tarts laden with glazed fruit. And my personal weakness, “le pain au chocolat.”

I’ve had a love affair with this chocolatey croissant for more than a decade, so I was more than thrilled years ago when Essencia Artisan Bakery opened on Third Street and began offering them.

Essencia’s version of this pastry is everything it ought to be: Buttery-crisp layers of croissant wrapped around two melty sticks of rich semi-sweet chocolate. Their version is slightly chewier than its Parisian counterpart (believe me, I’ve done my research), but it’s still delicious.

And it’s messy. Very messy. But that’s part of the fun. As they say in Paris ...

Bon appetit!