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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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.
You’re welcome Diana. Thank you for stopping by.
Merci beaucoup for another great idea for spending time and eating well in Paris!
Pas de problème Chérie. I aim to please, as you know. 🙂
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
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.
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.
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.
Love your observations about French cooking pans, Paul. 🙂 Read my reply to Lynn, above. You should enjoy it 🙂 A bientôt, biloute.
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~
Je vais préparer un petit article sur l’hôtel Nathalie. Plusieurs personnes m’ont demandé des infos, y compris pendant le séjour. Encore un peu de patience! Merci 🙂
pas de problème!!! Merci 🙂
Merci, French Girl, pour ces belles photos et les bons souvenirs de la France.
Il n’y a pas de quoi, Geri. A bientôt.
Merci Daria! Have Chef Jasmine make you some crêpes on Feb. 2!
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 ” 🙂
Absolument Mutti. Et que l’année soit prospère !
Loved watching the crepes being made! MMMM!
Me too (especially when I watched the Live version! 😉 )
cet article donne vraiment faim
En effet !
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-
Merci g. 🙂 Onwards, yes. Upwards, we shall see. Baby steps. Thank you for the support, as always.