Monthly Archives: January 2016

Sampling crêpes in le Marais

Sampling crêpes in le Marais

Not all Holidays are created equal. On February 2, France celebrates a Catholic holiday, la Chandeleur (Candlemas.) This is a favorite one. For most French people, here is an opportunity to sample savory or sweet versions of the famous crêpes, (a national treasure, hailing from the beautiful Brittany region, la Bretagne.) It is also time to indulge in fortune telling of sorts: In many families, whoever holds the crêpe pan will attempt flipping a crêpe in the air while holding a coin in their writing hand. If the crêpe successfully flips and makes it back into the pan – it can be harder to do than you think – then your family will enjoy a healthy, prosperous year.

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La Chandeleur in France, a.k.a. “Crêpe Day” (Sti, all rights reserved.)

Habitual visitors know the French enjoy crêpes year-round, thanks to ubiquitous crêpe street stands in most cities around the country, not to mention crêperies (crepe restaurants) for those who favor a sit-down meal. Contrary to popular belief, my countrymen are perfectly capable of eating on the go, and even enjoy the process. They call this manger sur le pouce (eating on the thumb.) The traditional jambon-beurre sandwich or a savory crêpe like la galette complète, (buckwheat crepe filled with ham, gruyère cheese, and an egg,) can be sampled quickly at a café terrace. Yet many busy citadins (city-dwellers) will choose to eat it sur le pouce at lunch time while indulging in a session of lèche-vitrine (window licking, i.e. window shopping.)

galette
Une complète, s’il vous plait !

Crêpes are, in fact, French fast-food; and they are so much more appealing to me that the almighty am-ba-gas favored by my 8-year old nephew, and served in ubiquitous fast-food chains (They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) around Paris and the rest of the country. I was reminded of that fact during my recent visit to Paris during the Holidays. I stayed for a few days in a small hotel in the heart of le Marais, and was by myself one evening. I had to prepare for an early business meeting the following day. It was already getting late, and after a busy day exploring Paris, there was no time to go and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant (trying to rush a French waiter outside lunch/business hours is une bataille perdue d’avance, a losing battle.) Oui, sur le pouce was the way to go.

crêpe
Perfect for dessert or as an afternoon snack, la Crêpe beurre-sucre

If you browse online travel platforms and look up “best crêperies in Paris,” chances are you will end up at the trendy (and packed) Breitz Café, where crêpes are good and big business, at Crêperie de Josselin, or at several other restaurants favored by Paris residents and visitors alike. When I lived in Paris, my friends and I would always head to the Montparnasse neighborhood for good crêpes, because everyone knew there was a large Breton colony there; and crêpes originated from Brittany after all! This was a long time ago. These days, one can find good crêpes all over Paris, and a few bad ones, too.

crêpe
Crêpe caramel-beurre salé, a FGIS favorite, sampled at la Cidrerie du Marais, 4 rue de Sévigné, Paris 4th arr.

My hotel was located a few minutes away from the heart of the Jewish neighborhood and its lifeline, increasingly gentrified but always lively rue des Rosiers. L’As du Falafel was tempting, but lines can be brutal there because *everyone* comes in search of the best falafel in Paris.

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L’As du Falafel on a Sunday afternoon? Fuggedaboutit!

I kept walking, the winter light dimming. Just as I was about to leave la rue des Rosiers, I spotted a pretty blue façade, and immediately smelled them. I thought: “Ah, Heaven: des crêpes bien sûr.” I had arrived.

crêpe
Don’t let the name fool you: This is not a small drugstore anymore!

There was a small line. This is Paris, after all, and just five weeks after the November terrorist attacks, the crowds were back in town. I took my place in line (twenty years in the US have done wonders for my queueing skills,) and people-watched as I waited. This was a decidedly international line, but there were a few French people too. I smiled listening to people’s excited chatter as they tried to make a selection. Ah, decisions!

Droguerie Price list
La carte des desserts (the dessert menu)

When it was my turn, I opted for the crêpe version of the popular Reine pizza, un repas complet (a full meal,) including gruyère cheese, ham, mushroom and even some olives. It was delicious, with generous (almost too generous) fillings. I realized there were a few seats lined up in front of a small counter inside the tiny restaurant, and returned the following afternoon to warm up with a dessert crêpe and a small glass of piping hot mint tea.

crêpe

I remembered the small restaurant from previous trips, but had forgotten about it. Some online research later revealed la Droguerie du Marais is a very popular crêpe street stand in Paris, deservedly so it would appear. The efficient and friendly crêpe makers (they rotate throughout the day,) work 10am-7pm daily. Are these the best crêpes in Paris? Probably not. Does it matter? Not a bit. This is the perfect address for busy visitors who want to do as Parisians do while visiting the French capital and the popular Marais neighborhood.

And now [insert drum roll] is a good time to introduce the brand-new French Girl In Seattle YouTube channel It is work in progress, but here is a sample of the short videos you can already find there. You can almost smell the crêpes cooking on the hot plates! Notice the crêpe maker only speaks French. I watched him correct (ever so gently) a visitor who had just ordered “un crêpe” instead of “une crêpe.” With prices ranging from 2 Euros (for the simple, but delicious crêpe au sucre,) to 5.50 Euros (for more sophisticated and filling options,) you can’t beat la Droguerie du Marais for good value: You can eat crêpes and brush up on your French speaking skills at the same time.

So whether you are going to celebrate la Chandeleur like the French this week; or if you visit Paris soon and are looking for a tasty and affordable, sur le pouce lunch option, remember les crêpes. You will not regret it.

A bientôt.

Further reading to indulge your crêpe cravings: 

Article by le Figaro Magazine: Best crêperies in Paris. Ici.

Article about la Chandeleur, a French business based in Seattle, and a crêpe recipe. Ici.

Crêpe recipe by Clotilde Dusoulier, of Chocolate and Zucchini fame. Ici. 

 

29 Responses to Sampling crêpes in le Marais

  1. Those crepes look wonderful! I loved watching as he gently corrected the person speaking French. That has happened to me many times in our visits to Paris. Next time we go we will check this place out. And also your new YouTube channel. Merci bien French Girl.

  2. Merci biloute! I’ll try in April, when I finally visit Paris, from the wild north, Chez les Ch’tis, after over four and a half years in France. I love crepes, and j’énvie pour quelques maintenant. My revered agéd one is taking us to Paris for a few nights after our wedding on 9 April (j’ai réfusé la premier Avril!) at his expense. Bonne chance pour la chaine Youtube petale, et bon courage pour un autre semaine! I’ll never speak either language properly again, after living with the Chtimis, who are, as mad as us Northern Irish, with all the mixes of accents and dialects. Vive la difference! A bientot biloute! x

    • Cher biloute. Merci de votre visite. I do not get too many comments from the Northern Irish, especially one who lives chez les Ch’tis. You know, I lived in Lille (Lambersart, more precisely,) for 5 or 6 years during my elementary school years. I have fond memories of the Lille area and les Ch’tis. So do my parents. Thank you for subscribing to my new YouTube channel. I will try and update it soon. I have a few more video clips to share. Last but not least, I confess to being intrigued about “[your] revered agéd one.” I fear something got lost in translation. 😉 A bientôt. FGIS.

      • My mangled version of English, before I murder French even more petal! My father is the revered aged one. 80+ and still pulling the younger girls, without trying! Pmsl. Know the Ch’ti backline petal, as that was why started following you in first place couple of years ago. Shared the crepe video with my soul sis back in Norn Irn, who coming over with my dad, for her first ever flight, and first ever visit to La belle France. Coming for the wedding Chez les Ch’tis first – poor chile gonna have a severe culture shock!! Not really other than language, the northerners hers, not much different to us. After wedding, my da paying for few days à Paris! Gawd elp the poor Parisians with my terrible ungrammatical “French” dotted with totally ungrammatical dialect, and Chtimisms!! Have visited the beautiful Morbihan several times, and the poor Bretons at least ask ‘Vous est un nordist monseur?” “Ah bienvenue Monseiur le Ch’ti”! Pmsl/mdr. Revered aged one is my father who is 81 this year, and still young and spritely at heart, pulls more young women, and has more energy than me damnitt, but the French docs give me bucket loads more medications than the Brits/Irish ever did. If you up visiting your old pottes in the sch’norrd in April, and passing on 9 Avril, drop in and take embarassing photos of our wedding petale! I hope you enjoy the fun of English English, and American English, and the dialects, slang, etc, as much as me. Vive la difference. I never knew, or thought France had so many diverse dialects, til I arrived, or before visited the lovely crazy sis in the Morbihan. My nefs et nieces me fait apprendre un peu de Breton. The poor Bretons actually think I’m a Chtimi! Nordist deux fois – Née en Irlande du Nord, et adoptée par the chti. I dinnae ken whit language til talk hie bay! Bon fin de weekend petale. Bon courage pour une autre semaine. A bientot biloute. xoxox

  3. OOO and crepe day is the 2nd! perfect timing!

    what did he sprinkle over the nutella on the crepe? Cinammon?

    Thanks for the yummy video!

    • Bonjour Nicole. Yes, Crepe Day and la Chandeleur are the same holiday and happen on February 2. As I recall, the friendly crepe guy sprinkled coconut on the Nutella crêpe. You can hear the young lady order “une crêpe Nutella – Coco (noix de coco,)” or something along those lines. A bientôt.

  4. I returned back to the U.S. after five weeks in Bretagne, visiting a French friend who lives in a small town there. (I was actually in France during the Paris attacks…). Of,course, crepes are a staple in Bretagne and, even having to be gluten-free, I could enjoy les crêpes de blé noir, made solely from buckwheat, which is not wheat at all. Delicious! One day my friend and I stumbled upon a crepe- making demonstration and the guy let me try it. I did a terrible job, but he informed me that it’s really an art, to smooth the batter just so. I bought the wooden tools to spread the batter and flip the crepe, then got some buckwheat flour and one of these days I’ll see if it can be done in a cast iron skillet.

    I miss France so much! Your post was pure nostalgia for me!

    • Bonjour Lynn. Merci de votre visite. How wonderful to spend five weeks in la belle Bretagne. I am glad you got a private crepe-making lesson. Be warned buckwheat crepes are notoriously harder to make. It can be challenging to get the batter consistency just right. I have fond memories of a weekend spent in a very old home in Brittany owned by a friend and co-worker who was 100% Breton and loved to cook. One Saturday afternoon, we walked around the village and got each ingredient we needed to make les galettes (buckwheat crepes) from small shop keepers in the area. Lait, beurre, oeufs, and of course, la farine de sarrasin. It was carefully wrapped in thick paper and my friend brought it home as if he were carrying a trophy. I watched him prepare the batter. He cooked the crepes in an old pan in the giant fireplace and they came out just right. I have never sampled – or watched – anything that special in a kitchen since. A bientôt.

  5. Lynn the crepes Bretonne are very different, and more for a meal type filling – love em too. My sis in law to be (enfin le date de mariage est 9 Avril! yeeeehaaaaaaa!) in the Morbihan, Valérie, put us on to them, and are available in most supermarkets, prepared thankfully, for us maladroit. The finished products, not always, but the raw materials and preparations are very reminiscent of my natal Northern Ireland. Good quality contents, and nitty picky preparation (and if not perfect scrapped, and reused, or chucked out – usually to the dogs, cats, or birdies, circling yer feet!. That is another reason, when you come to France you are gobsmacked with the numbers, sizes, and types of pans (poeles) in use in Frebch kitchens – one for nearly every different dish. Sometimes French cuisine is like a martial art – if you don’t have the right weapons, you will never win the battle. Bon fin du weekend biloutes, at bon courage pour la semaine d’arrive.

  6. De bonnes adresses à noter pour les crêpes, merci!! Vous étiez à quel hôtel dans le Marais? Et merci pour la vidéo que je partagerai avec mes élèves~

  7. Comme toutes les photos gourmandes sont tentantes ! On ne demande qu’à déguster .

    Vous sauvez nos traditions ,une seule consigne ” que les crêpes sautent pour la Chandeleur ” 🙂

  8. V MY MOUTH IS WATERING …watching the crepe man in action is truly like poetry the flip the turn the press down OH LA LA-looks so good BRAVO on the youtube channel I am so excited another “I knew her when” moment – congrats onward and upward-best of everything to you and as ALWAYS here is to your goals and dreams coming true-

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ça va, Paris?

ça va, Paris?

“ça va Paris?” How are you Paris? — How I had longed to ask that question, when I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport on December 20. Ever since the November 13 terror attacks, I had worried about my family, my friends, Paris and her people. It did not help that French and international media relayed alarming news incessantly in the…

45 Responses to ça va, Paris?

  1. Thank you for this positive and beautiful commentary on our beloved Paris. I always enjoy your postings. Greetings from not too far away Mt. Shasta. Geri Metz, pronouncingfrench.com

  2. I love your write-up, so sensitive and personal. I LOVE how the Parisians – and you – gathered in sidewalk cafes as a form of La Resistance! Vive La France!!

    The recovery of Paris post terrorist attack means so much to me – and boy did Paris meet the match and overcome!

    Paris proved her “force de vie” in the extraordinary achievement of the COP21 talks, not 3 weeks after the attacks. The whole planet breathed a sigh of relief that Paris allowed these talks, with thousands of dignitaries, delegates, advocates and activists arriving under heavy security, and that the talks yielded a 190-nation legally binding agreement!!!

    Frankly the land of Jean D’Arc feels preternaturally equal to this extraordinary moment in history, for the planet. From the caves of Lascaux to the deft and hardballl tongue of Laurent Fabius – a new day for the planet was saved. It was a matter of intention that this happened, following the strong direction of President Holland – and the role of France is forever part of the world’ potential success.

    There is so much work to do, state by state, region by region, industry by industry, to get the carbon emissions down, as needed by physics, to sustain the bountiful life of this planet.

    I cannot say strongly enough how symbolic and felicitous it was that COP21 was settled in PARIS just after the City of Lights was attacked. To me it symbolizes humanity’s chance to rise from the knife edge and prevail. As with France – so with the whole world!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Anne. I was personally amazed Paris did not cancel the COP21 talks, and so impressed city and government officials pulled through, with very positive results I must say. Let’s hope for the best now. As you pointed out, there is still much work to do if we want to treat our planet better than we have in the past. Bonne journée et à bientôt !

  3. I make an application in order to get your approval for sending some
    – i.e. 4/5 – of your beautiful pictures of Paris to my niece, in Grenoble .

    Would it be possible ?

    Rémy Clauvel

  4. Beautiful posting. Thank you for photos during your visit and thank you for reliable coverage of Paris during the terrorist’s attack.
    XO

  5. Thank you for this beautiful post, your photos are superb, as always. Paris is a survivor and you capture that perfectly in this post. I am so looking forward to returning.

  6. FRENCH GIRL….I ADORE EVERY SINGLE WORD AND THOUGHT AND PICTURE IN THIS POST!!!! without exception- once again you have captured the heart and soul of a city which has faced a lot-and ALWAYS returns more spectacular than before! I loved the daily updates via your facebook page but somehow this post just conveys it all! I hope you and jr have the most wonderful new year ever and here is to DREAMS COMING TRUE IN 2016! How is your beautiful addition- settling in fine I hope…..

    • Merci, as always, faithful g. 🙂 I wish you a Happy New Year! The new addition – aka Mademoiselle Coco – is settling in just fine and has me wrapped around her cute little paw already. She is a great companion (and one who does not snore at night. ;-)) As for dreams coming true in 2016, I have been holding on to one for a few years now, and hope I will be able to realize it, sooner rather than later. Bonne fin de weekend!

  7. This makes me so excited for my trip to Paris in March! I have been in love with Paris for so long, and am looking forward to introducing her to my sister. I’ll have to research your blog posts for some cafe recommendations while we are there.

    • Merci de votre visite, Diane. Paris will feel somewhat different from Toulouse, my hometown, but you already knew that 😉 I don’t have particular cafés I visit, as the fun part for me is to walk; and walk; and walk some more, then sit down at a random -but appealing- café terrace when I get tired. The more space for people watching, the better. Enjoy the beautiful French capital. May she meet all your sister’s expectations, and yours. Bon voyage! Say “Bonjour” to Toulouse, the friendly Southern Belle, for me.

  8. Love seeing your photos and reading your account of the visit. Can hardly wait to get back; this time we’re going in July, but I really do want to schedule a December visit one of these years. Yes, to cafe gourmand, one of my favorite things about Paris, especially enjoyed en terrasse.

  9. Just returned from a week- being there in January was wonderful! I had concerns about the weather but they were unfounded, the temperatures were not bad at all and there was just a bit of rain. No queues at the museums- we managed to see 10 exhibits! Great article????

      • We were actually in the cab en route to the airport on the evening of November 13th. Our trip was cancelled but we were determined to return as soon as able. We were able to use all of the exhibition (4) tickets we had purchased in advance, the only monies we lost involved a jazz show. I was so happy to see that many of the holiday decorations were still up, they were just beautiful to see – as I knew they would be. We found the 6 remaining exhibits that we saw just by walking around the city and seeing the advertisements on walls and kiosks. Tried three new restaurants, two of which were wonderful! I am still floating on air!

  10. Very nice read. Sounds like a wonderful trip and the photos to boot! Yes I’m jealous of you having French food again. Funny how it can be a hit or miss even when it comes to French food. I had a miss in Nice for. Niçoise salad. I know! And I not going to even tell you where I had an amazing chèvre wrap. Lol Happy Parisians are on point.:) xo

  11. I just finished booking our flight for this coming summer and the news broke out in November.
    For a moment I thought of cancelling our trip but my husband said No. It will be fine by the time you go, Paris is going to be safer than ever.
    I’m glad I did not cancel, and the planning has been exciting.
    I can’t wait.
    Reading your blog just made me more excited.
    We are going to the French Riviera as well, and I’m wishing we are staying longer than a month. So much to see.

  12. Please allow me to compliment you on your very fine photography.
    This is my first visit to your site from a link in an article on “The Local” Internet magazine website.
    I will be looking in here again in the future.Cordialiment,
    Allan

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