As my first semester in Paris comes to a close, I feel as if I am beginning to understand life here. I am comfortable using the metro, going grocery shopping and ordering from a boulangerie. In order to celebrate surviving the semester, and to say goodbye to a few close friends, we went to dinner at what is quickly becoming my favorite crêperie in Paris: Crêperie Bretonne.
The art of dining out in Paris is one I am still trying to master. There are certain key differences that must be understood when going out to eat, most involving time. Going out to dinner in Paris is more than just dinner – it is the night’s entertainment. Grabbing a quick dinner is just not something you do. Once you get to your table, you best get comfortable, because you’re not getting up anytime soon.
As it is not uncommon to spend all night in the same restaurant: once tables are filled – that’s it. Therefore, reservations are a must, even if made only one day or a few hours in advance. At first, this was extremely intimidating – I had to speak, over the phone, in French, to someone I didn’t know? Never! But, sick of being turned away at our chosen restaurant of the night, I have faced my fears, and succumbed to the reservation rule.
If you do manage to get a table, don’t expect to rush. The wait staff will not come over to your table right away. Once you put your order in, it will take at least ten minutes to come to your table. The wait staff will not appear to ask how everything is, or to refill your water (assuming they gave you water at all). And they will never, ever, bring you your bill. Instead, you must ask for all these things, attracting the servers’ attention with a slight nod of the head, lift of the finger, or, if all else fails, a sly “excusez-moi”.
But Crêperie Bretonne, referring to the Bretonne region of France, is one of those restaurants where you feel right at home. The same wait staff every night, the chef making crêpes in plain view, the cozy nautical theme are all part of what makes this restaurant un petit bijou de Paris. The crêpes will suit all tastes and any budget. It is expected that you get two crêpes – a savory and a dessert – ensuring that no one will leave here hungry. Think warm crêpes filled with goat cheese, eggs, sausage, and bacon. Sweet crêpes with bananas, vanilla bean ice-cream, and warm apple compote. The cider is sweet, cold and a perfect complement to the salty, buttery crêpes. Throughout dinner, you can enjoy watching the local crowd that still comes in, from groups of university students to Parisian couples young and old. If you happen to be in Paris, Crêperie Bretonne is a restaurant not to miss – but make sure you have a reservation!
Alexis ZK studies French and Food Studies at New York University. She loves travel, dinner parties, digging in the dirt, ballroom dancing, foodie adventures and creating tasting menus in the shower. She recently ran away to Paris on a mission to discover France through food.