The Best Crêpes in Paris

Crêperie Josselin, Paris | Crumbs de Vie

Crêperie Josselin in Paris

Le crêpe: One of the great French creations. These thin, crispy-edged, buttery pancakes are filled with everything from ham and eggs to caramel and apples, and can be bought from both colorful street stands and snug sit-down cafés. You can order a galette, (a savory crêpe made with buckwheat flour) or a crêpe, (a sweet crêpe made with wheat flour). They might be flambéed, à la glace, doubled layered, single layered, folded in squares, or folded in triangles, but they are always delicious. And of the crêpes I’ve had in Paris, two stand out as my favorites:

Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie
67, rue de Charonne

Galette at Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie, Paris | Crumbs de Vie

A galette at Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie

The full name of this café is La Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie de l’épouse du Marin, which translates as “flower-filled Breton crêperie run by a sailor’s wife,” so it certainly wins as the best-named crêperie. Leaving the noisy Place de la Bastille behind, you head down the narrow rue de Charonne until you reach the bright blue storefront and worn wooden booths of Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie. While you wait for your order, you can pass the time by photographing the white and red porcelain coffee cups on the table, because then you’ll have your camera ready for when these crêpes arrive. Folded in squares, these photogenic crêpes have a little opening in the center from which the inner ingredients peek out. I ordered a ham and egg galette and a caramel beurre salé crêpe and all was right in the world.

Crêperie de Josselin
67, rue du Montparnasse

Galette at Crêperie Josselin, Paris | Crumbs de Vie

A galette at Crêperie de Josselin

This café is tucked away on rue du Montparnasse, a narrow street crowded on each side with bustling crêperies. Small café tables line the sidewalk and brightly colored napkins flutter in the wind as you make your way through the wafting scent of butter to Crêperie de Josselin. You must complete a feat of gymnastics to squeeze into your seat, but as your crêpe is placed on the table in front of you, all is forgotten. Crêperie de Josselin is famous for its crispy, double layered pancakes, which make the galette just a bit thicker than the competition. I ordered a ham, egg, cheese, and onion galette as well as a homemade toffee-filled crêpe with vanilla ice cream. Très bien!


Oven-less Thanksgiving

Oven-less Thanksgiving, Paris | Crumbs de Vie

An oven-less Thanksgiving dinner

When I first moved into my lovely and very typical Parisian apartment, my first worry wasn’t that there was no bed, or that there were no shower doors, or that the television seemed to be in black and white. My first worry was, “how on Earth are we going to make Thanksgiving dinner without an oven?” You see, upon hearing that I would be in Paris for the holidays, two of my dear friends eagerly agreed to come celebrate Thanksgiving in the City of Light. Facing dire adversity and several naysayers, we boldly stepped forth, determined to conquer a traditional American dinner in a country with no turkeys, a metric system, curious can openers, and oven-less apartments. Here, my friends, is the perfect oven-less Thanksgiving menu:

  • Mashed potatoes with salted butter and cream
  • Whipped sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar crumbles
  • Sautéed garlic green beans and broccoli florets
  • Roasted sweet corn with salted butter
  • Whole cranberry sauce
  • Stuffing with sliced green beans, onions, and carrots
  • Baguettes & French wine (our Parisian twist)
  • A combination no-bake pecan and pumpkin pie

November turkeys are nearly impossible to find in Paris, as they are all being saved for French Christmas dinners. So forgoing a main course, we had a Thanksgiving dinner of side dishes. My friends smuggled in cranberry sauce and and stuffing from the United States and made a quick visit to Thanksgiving, an expat store that carries a variety of American grocery store staples. We even managed to make a no-bake pecan pie and pumpkin pie. You simply can’t have Thanksgiving without pie. As it turns out, you can end Thanksgiving dinner just as stuffed and sleepy and happy in France as you can in the United States. A very belated happy Thanksgiving to all!

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel at dusk

Mont Saint-Michel at dusk

I recently spent a weekend with friends exploring the French region of Brittany, home to the ancient castle of Mont Saint-Michel. After a leisurely drive through rolling French countryside dotted with sheep and stone farmhouses, the castle loomed abruptly on the horizon, as if dropped out of a fairytale. Dating back to the sixth century, this ancient abbey and fortress is perched atop an island and accessible only by a single road, which winds towards the fortress walls through shifting sandbanks and chilly tide pools.

Town around Mont Saint-Michel at dusk

The winding streets inside the walls of Mont Saint-Michel

You enter through a drawbridge and weave through the narrow streets and steps of the castle’s village. The houses are crooked from having stood so long and every turn offers a damp view of a cobbled alley, tiny window, or thatched roof. Having passed the busy shops and attractions, you climb the last flights of steps to the nave of the castle’s church, where softly tinted windows lend the space a pale glow. You step out onto the abbey’s balcony and are whipped by the strong winds of the Atlantic ocean. Looking out at the awe-inspiring views, you understand why this was once known as the end of the world.

The end of the world: view from Month Saint-Michel

What was once known as the end of the world

As we left, we stopped at the Biscuiterie de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel to pick up several packets of the cookies for which the region is known. These cookies are crumbly bits of heaven and made from the region’s specialty: salted butter. Because of Normandy and Brittany’s proximity to the sea, the regional cows and sheep graze on salted grass. And unlike many regions in France, these farmers transform this salted milk into butter rather than cheese. A glorious occurrence for all.

La Chapelle-Saint-Aubert, Mont-St-Michel

La Chapelle-Saint-Aubert at Mont Saint-Michel