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Talk about an appreciative audience! French expats, embassy staff, francophiles like moi—and everybody else who loves croissants, gateau, baguettes, brioche, crepes, eclairs, and macarons—plan their runs to Paul with quiet regularity. I am not embarrassed to say that I have visited all four District shops of this French chain. I’m partial to this one because it is so large and has so many places to perch. There are hundreds of Pauls around the world, all descendants of the one that opened in 1889 in Croix, near the city of Lille in northern France. Besides bread and pastries, Paul sells soups, salads, and sandwiches. In the D.C. area you’ll find Pauls in Penn Quarter (801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; tel 202/524-4500), Georgetown (1078 Wisconsin Ave. NW; tel 202/524-4630), and in Midtown (1000 Connecticut Ave. NW; tel 202/524-4860).