On the flipside: The best crêperies in Paris
- By Kate Andrews
- 21st Feb 2012
The smell of melting butter, sugary crêpes and buckwheat galettes fill the streets of Paris. Now there's an excuse for a long weekend if ever we heard one.
Once known as the poor man’s dish from Brittany, traditionally served with cider, the humble crêpe has since risen to great heights. Served throughout the world with any number of fillings, you’re as likely to find pancakes on the menu in France as in the Ukraine. Nations all over Europe, and indeed the world, have adopted crêpes, pancakes, galettes – call them what you will – and assimilated them into their own traditions.
In England, Shrove Tuesday no longer carries the religious significance it once did. Gone is the symbolic pantry-clearing tradition of a Christian household, and in its place an excuse for gluttony. But let us not dwell on England’s failures, but instead look across the waters to our old enemy to see what has become of their traditional dish. In central Paris few corners are without crêperies, and few streets without the sweet smell of butter sizzling so what better place to begin the search for the most tempting pancake.
In an area fraught with tourist traps the Breizh Cafe on Paris’ Rue Vielle du Temple is a refreshing break from the norm. With a proudly simple menu and exceptional ingredients, founder Bertrand Larcher has made it his life’s work to create an atmosphere that creates a “new kind of crepe experience”. With restaurants in his home town of Cancale, two in Paris and one in Tokyo, the concept seems to be proving itself. Come here for the classics: a galette with ham and cheese cooked in front of your eyes on a billig, and if you’re feeling brave sample a lait ribot – a drink of lightly sparkling fermented milk.
90 Rue Vieille du Temple | Open Weds-Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: 12pm-10pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday
If you’re more comfortable eating your crêpes on the roadside, but want a reliable standard, opt for l’Avant-Comptoir on Carrefour de l’Odéon. With a crêperie in the front, and wine bar at the back, it’s a case of standing room only at this popular bistro. Open every day, and by far the most reasonably priced of our Parisian trio, the pancakes at this establishment will do exactly what you’d expect.
3 Carrefour de l’Odéon | Open every day
Compagnie de Bretagne
The Compagnie de Bretagne, just south of the Île de la Cité, boasts traditional Bréton ingredients and artisan ciders, bringing a little luxury to the genre. With fillings ranging from rhubard compote, and caramelised salt butter to galettes bursting with lobster, this crêperie is nothing if not creative. In chic monochromatic decor, you can enjoy an interesting take on the traditional.
9, rue de l’Ecole de Médecine | Open every day, noon-midnight
To find out more on train travel in France, check out the Loco2 Q&A.