As a crepe maker by profession, I am frequently asked by people traveling to Paris if I have a favorite crêperie. My current answer would have to be “Yes, yes, yes, and yes. And they are all four quite delicious.”
You see, it all depends on your craving, what arrondissement you’re staying in or exploring, and on what you, the eater, are searching for in your perfect crêperie. There is no “best” place but there are four quite excellent ones. While visiting there last week, I did a little more culinary “research”. Below are the results.
And let it be noted that while many will tell you that it isn’t in Paris that you should be searching for crêpes – but instead in Brittany, the region where they actually originated many centuries ago, the equivalent in the United States might be hunting for Rhode Island Johnny Cakes in New York City – you can still find an outrageously yummy “galette” (traditional buckwheat batter) or a “froment” (sweet white batter) in the City of Light.
I have chosen four wonderful crêperies in Paris to tell you about and divided them by “category” and location so that you know which one is right for your palate, for your sensibility, and for your location.
Hip, Cool, Haute Cuisine, “Tres Le Fooding” in the 3rd Arrondissemnt:
1)Breizh Cafe (109 Rue Vielle du Temple, 75003 Paris, Metro: St. Sebastien Froissard). This is the most sophisticated of good Paris crêperies: the fillings and flavors here are fresh, beautiful, artistically presented, and are truly haute cuisine. But perhaps best of all, their actual crêpes are technically perfect. Perhaps you would like to try “La Cancalaise” the galette I had (and loved) on my most recent visit there that was filled with smoked herring fillet, crème fraîche (from the artisinal “Bordier” Farm), and garnished with herring eggs in “le façon caviar” (11.80 Euros). Or maybe you would be tempted by “Le Maraichere” as I was, a galette filled with vegetables fresh from market, a perfectly fried egg (un oeuf mirroir) and Emmental cheese. You can’t go wrong with anything you chose here, as everything practically floats off the plate. The sweet crepes are transluscent and enticing topped with a salty caramel drizzle or browned bananas and vanilla ice cream, among many others. The name “Breizh”- not seemingly very French- actually means “Brittany” in the ancient language of that region. There are both well groomed regulars and tourists here, the staff works together like clockwork, although they can be un peu “snooty” if pressed.
Reservations are highly recommended or you will have to wait at both lunchtime and dinnertime. Believe me.
Traditional, Bustling, Down Home Style, Old French Feeling in the 14th Arrondissement:
2)Le Crêperie de Josselin (67 Rue due Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, Metro: Edgar Quintet). With lace draped over its light fixtures and dark wood paneling adding to its old Breton-style atmosphere (and I speak from experience having studied my trade in Brittany and also once having spent a very fun overnight there with my children at a crêperie dating back to the 15th century), the crêpes here are authentic, hearty and delicious. You won’t find fancy, modern, interpretive fillings here but what you will find is delectable crêpes done in a very traditonal way. The crêpes are served in “couples” which means that the batter is poured and topped with fillings and then another already made crêpe is layered on top before folding it into a neat package and delivering it hot to your table. When I asked the waitress why this is done, she answered simply “C’est mieux.” I later learned that this is traditonal in one certain area of Brittany. But back to the crêpes: my lovely lunchtime comibination was filled with an eggplant puree and topped with a fried egg and strips of bacon. Dessert was a white crêpe “couple” filled with syrupy housemade strawberry preserves. Incroyable – and affordable. If you’re wondering why this creperie is so far out (in the 14th) it’s because it is close to Montparnasse train station, which is where the trains from Brittany arrive and decades ago brought waves of immigrants from that region who then started crêperies upon their arrival in Paris.
Tres Lowkey Vibe, Interesting Building, Groovy Tunes, Perfectly Crisp Galettes in the 11th Arrondissement:
West Country Girl (6 Passage Saint Ambroise Paris 75011, Metro: Oberkampf). Look for the red neon arrow as you round the corner onto Passage Saint Ambroise in search of this little gem of a crêperie. You might think you are mistaken in your search because this is such an unassuming, residential neighborhood but keep calm and carry on. This eatery sports a simple but chic decor with hip light fixtures, white walls, and cement floors that all come together to create a very pleasing, artsy atmosphere. But once again, it is the crêpes that make this a destination. Mine was sublime, a crispy galette that held within its expert folds a delicious combination of fresh goat cheese (origin St. Maure), nutmeg and cream-infused spinach, with a just-so scattering of golden raisins. I truly could have eaten ten of these. There are many other enticing combinations on the menu such as mushrooms, goat cheese and chives or brie, bacon and nuts. Desserts were simple and thin with offerings of caramel, butter, and vanilla. It doesn’t get better than this. These are some of the thinnest, most artisinal galettes in Paris and they harken from the region known as Finistère which marks the very western point of France. If you are in this somewhat eastern part of Paris, make a trip here. Just look for the red arrow.
For a Marine Motif, A Casual Atmosphere, and a Lovely Neighborhood Environment in the 5th Arrondissement:
Le Pot o Lait (41 Rue Censier, Paris 75005, Metro: Censier-Daubenton).This crêperie, more than any of the others, gives off a seashore vibe with it’s blue-themed decor that encourages diners to think of the northern French shores where crêpes were born. So it is this little piece of the beach with a view of a medieval church in the midst of a bustling 5eme that sets the stage for your crêpe. “La Fermiere”, my choice, is served with roasted red peppers and cheese folded inside the crêpe and then topped with a mixed green salad and herbs. For those who have never enjoyed lettuce on top of a crêpe, try this. A thin,warm buckwheat pancake truly compliments and cradles crisp, fresh greens. This is clearly another favorite local eatery that’s humming with children early in the evening. If pressed, I would say that their crêpes are maybe not technically perfect (perhaps not enough salt in the batter or a tad too much oil brushed on the griddle?) but that is more than made up for by the restaurant’s lovely spot, fun menu, jovial atmosphere and excellent service.