French Tarts and Sweet Desserts: The Illustrated Guide

French bakers have perfected the art of baking the humble tart, creating delicious and refined treats for the taste buds. From sweet old classics like the tarte au chocolat and tarte tatin, to regional favourites like the tarte Tropézienne, and even the seasonal tarte aux mirabelles, here are some of the most mouth-watering French tarts you might find in France!

Prefer chocolate croissants, opèra cake and millefeuille? Check out my ultimate French cake and pastry guide here!

Tarte aux fruits

With a brightly coloured array of glazed fruits on top, a delicious layer of crème pâtissière, and a base of sweet pastry shell, the tarte aux fruits is one of the most attractive options in the boulangerie window.

The fruits come in different combinations depending on the baker. Common fruits are strawberries, peach, kiwi, blueberries and blackberries.

Fruit tart French bakery dessert with kiwi strawberry blueberry peach

Tarte aux myrtilles

Traditionally a seasonal pie from the Alps region, the French blueberry pie can be found in patisseries all over the country. Cream, sugar and eggs are poured over the blueberries, and baked.

Tarte aux fraises

Some of the most brightly coloured tartes on the shelf are the fantastic tarte aux fraises, the strawberry tarts. A crumbly shortcrust pastry is filled with a generous layer of crème pâtissière, piled high with strawberries, and glazed. Simple, yet delicious (and requires concentration to eat)!

Tarte Framboise

Similar to the tarte aux fraises, the tarte framboise (raspberry) is dusted with powdered sugar.

Tarte Normande

France’s popular version of the apple pie is this tart from the Atlantic region of Normandy. The shortcrust pastry is topped with apples, chopped almonds and egg custard, and baked until set. The top caramelises, and the inside is a nice mix of apple and egg which isn’t too sweet.

Tarte Tatin

The tarte tatin is a form of upside down cake made with apples. Sliced apples are caramelised in butter and sugar until soft, baked with shortcrust pastry, and served upside-down so the apples are on top.

The story goes that in the 1880s, the chef from the Hôtel Tatin, Stéphanie Tatin, accidentally neglected an apple pie that overcooked in butter and sugar. In order to salvage it, she put a crust over the top, baked it, and turned the result upside down. The result was a hit, and the tarte Tatin was born!

Tarte au chocolat

If fruits aren’t for you, chocolate is well represented in the classic chocolate tart. The chocolate tart has a chocolate, cream and egg filling that is baked and sets within a shortcrust pastry.

Tarte au citron

For lemon lovers, the tarte au citron is a sweet shortcrust base filled with a mixture of lemon, sugar, eggs and cornflour, then baked and left to set. Delicious!

Tarte meringue

The tarte meringue is a tarte au citron topped with its signature feature – a golden-brown, baked tuft of meringue.

Tarte des Alpes

The tarte des Alpes originates from the Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-des-Hauts-Provence. It is also known as a valley tart (tartede lavallée), or queyrassine tart. It’s a sweet shortcrust pastry with a lattice pastry topping, and a jam filling. There are many flavours which are commonly used, including strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, apricot, cherry, forest fruits and lemon.

Tarte Tropézienne

The tarte Tropézienne, also known as a tarte de Saint-Tropez, was invented on 1955 on the French Riviera. Baker Alexandre Micka created this sweet treat, a brioche filled with vanilla cream, and sprinkled with pearl sugar. The name was decided by one of Micka’s customers, Bridget Bardot, who was in town filming the movie And God Created Woman.

Drawing of a French dessert cream filled tart brioche

Tarte Crème Brûlée

Normally, a crème brûlée isn’t considered a tart, and is usually served in a round pastry dish. But variants do include a pastry base, so for the sake of honouring great desserts, let’s include this variation as a tart in its own right!

The crème brûlée is a beloved French classic. Also known as a creme Catalans, or Trinity cream, the creme brulee is a tart of baked custard, with a sugary coating that turns into a crispy golden brown shell when blowtorched. Who can forget Amélie Poulain’s love for the simple joy of cracking one open with a spoon!

Tarte aux Mirabelles

A Mirabelle is a small, sweet plum the size of a cherry tomato, from the Alsace-Lorraine region of north eastern France. They have a protected origin, and can’t be imported, so lovers of plum tarts need to visit France to get their hands on one!

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These are some of France’s most beloved, tasty and traditional tarts! I hope you enjoyed reading about them. But which ones did I overlook? Is there a classic French tart that deserves to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!


9 thoughts on “French Tarts and Sweet Desserts: The Illustrated Guide

  1. They all look delicious, baked goods are one of the reasons why we find ourselves returning back to France! I’m amazed by your ability to draw such amazing pictures 😍 thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

  2. I have recently found your blog and love all your drawings. I really like how you use them to look at different parts of a country. I’m currently living in France and this post has made me realise there are still more desserts I haven’t tried yet🙂

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog! Sketching is a great way to look deeper into the cultural tidbits of other countries. I’ve got a post coming up soon about unusual things to see in Paris, make sure you come check it out 🙂

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