A Piece of Paris in Midtown

The French bakery down the street from SLU that we never knew we needed but now we can’t get enough.

On a Thursday afternoon, I sat in a cozy corner of Like Home Comme A La Maison, chatting with owner Clémence Pereur while her mother stepped in on occasion to get the seal of approval on the batter she was mixing. Located across the street from Rally’s on Vandeventer, the quaint French bakery transports you back to Paris as soon as you walk in the door. Twenty-seven-year-old Clémence will be the first to greet you with a warm smile and a thick french accent. Recently awarded with Editor’s Choice of “Best New Bakery” by St. Louis Magazine, the newfound regulars come spilling in the door at all hours of the day to pick up their baguettes and macarons.

Pereur worked hard to break into the culinary industry of Paris, starting culinary school at 14 and spending seven years perfecting her craft. She attended culinary school for pastry, chocolate and cook school. Her usual day ran from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., working 85 hours per week and being compensated for only 45. Because she attended such a prestigious culinary school, she could get a job anywhere she wanted, but the competitive, chauvinistic environment of most French kitchens made it difficult to become established.

“I became a guy. I had to walk like a guy, talk like a guy. When you’re the only girl in the kitchen, you need to show yourself,” Pereur said. After spending a year working in one of Paris’s most famous bakeries, she decided she wanted to have a life and a family in the future and began looking for opportunities in America. Pereur moved to St. Louis in 2014 after she spotted an ad for a pastry assistant for the St. Louis Club and worked there for a year and a half. After renewing her visa, she moved to Maplewood with her mother, Catherine, who went back to pastry school herself.

“When I checked St. Louis, I found just two french bakeries, and I said I think I can do something nice,”said Pereur.  

Pereur always knew she wanted to own her own bakery. Although she loves Paris, it is difficult to open a new and unique shop because of its rich traditions and unwavering ties to the time-honored bakeries and cafes that still exist on every corner. She will drive an hour just to visit her favorite cafe, Pierre Balmain, and order her passion fruit eclair. Her own shop on the corner of Vandeventer and Lindell truly brings French pastries to St. Louis.

“We are the only ones who have flour, butter, everything from France”, said Peurer.

On a typical day, she arrives at 6:30 in the morning. She begins setting up the shop, starting with the cash register, the coffee machine, and preparing the kitchen while her mother gets started on the croissants and brioche. As the day goes on, she bakes the baguettes and bread and takes inventory at close.

When asked what she cooks for herself after a long day, she replied with “a pasta with a white wine cream sauce and scallops.” She justifies her indulgent taste by stating her one rule about cooking: “never spend more than thirty minutes in the kitchen, and you can make something nice”.

She also fills her days off with food, enjoying the eccentric neighborhoods of St. Louis and trying other local restaurants.

Peurer has big plans for the future, with hopes to open a second restaurant with more of an elaborate dining/drinks menu. She would offer four appetizers, entrees, and deserts, and her menu would change weekly as her access to seasonal vegetables from local farmers evolves. Her commitment to the art of local businesses serves as an example for every St. Louis native to do the same. Her prices are equivalent to Starbucks and the experience she delivers will take you back to the most romantic city on Earth.