Citron et sucre crêpe at Breizh Café. Photo: Doni Belau
In France, February 2 is La Chandeleur, a pre-Lenten fête that’s all about crêpes. In Paris, La Chandeleur has gone the way of the galette des rois. In other words, just as the galette des rois is “officially” eaten 12 days after Christmas (but actually enjoyed all the way into February), La Chandeleur means this whole month is devoted to crêpes.
Finding “the best crêpe in Paris” has always been serious work. But, as with boulangeries, the question is never settled. Moreover, since crêpes originated in Brittany, anyone with ties there can always claim special knowledge.
Still, a crêpe complète—a buckwheat galette with cheese, a slice of ham and an egg—can provide an utterly sublime one-piece meal. Students and budget-conscious travelers have long appreciated that. Plus, because crêpes are (in French terms) fast food, there’s rarely any need for reservations. Nevertheless, with countless crêperies in Paris, it can be hard to avoid the greasy, the grim or the bland.
Make a start with one of these:
109, rue Vieille du Temple, in the 3rd Arrondissement.
01 42 72 13 77. Wed–Sat, noon–11 p.m. Sun, noon–10 p.m.
Already praised by GG2P foodie in residence Barbra Austin, Breizh Café has become the ultimate bobo crêperie. For La Chandeleur 2011, it was Le Figaro‘s winning choice.
City Crêpes Café. Photo: Jean Pierre Poulet
City Crêpes Café
73, rue de Seine, in the 6th.
In the heart of St.-Germain, City is filled with photos of New York and crêpes with names like “Sinatra.” Why? Parisians love New York! It also has two cozy floors, lilac banquettes and a full bar. The house complète is almost perfect: crisp and tasty and priced from 8 euros. Here, the great galettes and crêpes with minimal trimmings are liked by locals as well as visitors.
Les Embruns. Photo: Steve Sampson
8, rue de Lyon, in the 12th. 01 43 46 88 62.
Since it’s my personal favorite, I hate to divulge this one. It opened a year ago, with rather modern decor for its scruffy location (it’s near the Gare de Lyon). Twelve months on, Les Embruns retains the air of a shared secret. Great staff and extremely affordable fare: 6.80 euros buys an excellent complète—or there’s the formule of galette, crêpe and cidre for 15.80 euros. Our favorite Saturday lunch costs less than 24 euros, including a pichet of cidre and coffees.
La Crêperie des Canettes. Photo: Steve Sampson
La Crêperie des Canettes
10, rue Canettes, in the 6th. 01 43 26 27 65.
For hungry students, this is a celebrated hangout. So expect to be packed in (tight) alongside the students. Well publicized in guides, French as well as Anglophone.
L’Avant Comptoir. Photo: Steve Sampson
9, carrefour de l’Odéon, in the 6th Arrondissement.
No reservations. Open daily.
This small wine bar/takeout spot is right next to owner Yves Camdeborde’s ultrachic Comptoir du Relais. Crêpes to go here were always reliably great. Then… something happened. Since last summer, however, things have reverted to normal. Price and position are perfect, steps from the Odéon metro and near three cinemas. Always a queue; crêpe complete, 5 euros.
Photo: Courtesy bumrab.com
Crêperie de Josselin
67, rue du Montparnasse, in the 14th. 01 43 20 93 50. Closed Mon.
The area near the Gare Montparnasse has a special crêpe history: Breton visitors have always come and gone from that station. Thus there are streets near the gare completely stuffed with crêperies. Among them all, Josselin remains a legend. Since it’s always totally rammed, however, is it worth the wait? In the words of local Simon Marchetto (who will travel there from anywhere): “Yes, and for more than one reason! It’s managed by a real Breton and the galettes are properly large and really croustillante. They’re absolutely the best ones I’ve ever eaten. Also, people sit next to each other, so it’s very convivial. You can really enjoy yourself for only 15 euros.” As Marchetto also notes, if the place is just too full, there’s always Le Petit Josselin (which serves as a kind of annex):
Le Petit Josselin
59, rue du Montparnasse, in the 14th.
01 43 20 93 50.
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