This is a story of 4 Parisian crepes.
One devoured drunk, hungry and about to get even more drunk late night near metro Odeon. A super chic crepe for lunch in the 7th. A cute creperie in the neighborhood that wasn’t very good. And finally the real deal down home you could have been in Brittany crepe.
Some general observations first. Crepes in Paris fall in to several categories. The first one we think of is dessert, whether enjoyed on the street or in a restaurant. My kids adored these growing up. Favorite toppings always included Nutella, whipped cream, bananas and chocolate syrup. Now if you are traveling with your kids this is one of the great treats of Paris and a moment that they will remember. So give it to them. They are putting up with going to museums and a lot of things that they don’t understand. They deserve it.
There is much more to explore in this world. Crepes are a reliable lunch for many French workers, typically eaten with ham (jambon), gruyere and fried egg, sunny side served with a plain green salad of butter lettuce. With a cost of around 8 euro and covered by the lunch plans provided by employers (oh those socialists), they are common on many menus. Variants include mushrooms, a host different cheeses and hams. Sometimes the salad is in the crepe itself.
You can also order a savory crepe made with buckwheat (sarassin) flour called a gallette. The strong herbal flavor of the buckwheat creates great contrast to the filings and seems to cook differently.
One other note, crepes are often accompanied by apple cider owing to their Breton heritage. French ciders range from mildly alcoholic (doux 3%) to full-bodied brut which checks in closer to 5%. Served in bowls, they are dry, crisp and addicting.
On to the crepes we enjoyed.
We had been drinking and were planning to drink some more that evening when we realized that we had better eat something. It was a moment between televised US football games at the Moose and we were steering clear of their infamous poutine. We left the bar hoping against hope to maintain our seats on return and started to wander the streets near the Odeon metro. We were quickly reminded of how few restaurants were open late in Paris, a point I am painfully familiar with (see the earlier post on this sad state of affairs). Between already closed doors, turned out lights, questioning looks and shrugged shoulders our food options were running out in a hurry. We walked by a number of questionable fast food joints. Some soggy pizzas. Pale anemic sandwiches under infra-red lights. Even the Shwarma looked old. Finally, on our third pass we decided that a small sandwich shop/creperie was the best bet, especially with my traveling companion being a vegetarian. I think it was on Rue Mazarine just up from Blvd. Saint Germian.
We both ordered crepes, very curious as to what would transpire. Our chef put together a crepe that would rival a Northern California burrito in size and scope. Tuna. Mushrooms. Gruyerre. All stuffed into an enormous crepe which he slowly reheated on the griddle while adding ingredients carefully layer by layer. The result was filling and restorative. A much better result then my beloved 49’ers would suffer later that evening.
That streetwise crepe showed us that they had much more to offer than just sweets. Total cost? 4.50 euro. I would do it again in the same circumstance without hesitation.
Crepe number 2. The sophisticated lunch crepe in the 7th. How cute does this place look? Very cute.
Tucked into a side street off of Rue St. Dominque in the 7th, Crepuscule is a lunch time favorite for office workers in this neighborhood. And by the way, I tried to find it again on Google Maps without success. So if anyone knows it’s address, please comment so I can amend the blog. While it was empty when we got there by 12:15 is was completely full.
The lunch was solid.
Crepes the traditional way with salad, Gruyère and egg. 2 cups of dry cider and two Illy cappucinos that were really well made. Total cost 24 euro. Very good.
Crepe Number 3. The lousy neighborhood crepe.
This place had everything going for it. Bright blue marine colored entry with nautical decor. Two darling women running it and kids running around. Creperie Artisinale Bretonne on the door. This should have been a great lunch but it wasn’t. We had been meaning to check out La Blanche Hermine, around the corner from the Yellow Flat for years and it always seemed to be closed. On that Thursday afternoon it wasn’t, so we stopped by on the way to go to shopping. It was classic Breton in style and seemed so authentic. I ordered a standard, tuna and mushrooms with Gruyère while Florence stayed true to Jambon/fromage (cheese). Then I saw it. There just behind the counter was the culprit. A microwave. While La Blanche Hermine may prepare its crepes in an artisan manner, microwaving them is just a sin. It’s not they were bad. They just weren’t very good after being re-heated in the worst possible manner. Cost for lunch 2 crepes, 2 ciders, 16 euro. Worth it? I’d rather spend more for better.
Number 4. A truly authentic crepe.
Ty Breiz is located across the street from the Montparnasse train station on busy Rue Vaugirard. It had taken on mythic status with us due to my numerous failed attempts to eat there in the past. Somehow I always showed up when it was too late or on days when it was closed. Finally this time it was open and they had a table. The place was hopping, a good mix of locals and tourists and we took our seats in a small room between the main dining area and the kitchen.
I enjoyed a buckwheat gallette made with raclette cheese and ham which was delicious. The gallette was crispy but not dry, the very rich raclette cheese and ham melted in and covered as you can see with chopped chives. A simple butter lettuce salad accompanied and once again I forgot to ask them to go easy on the dressing. Then son, daughter and boyfriend suggested we have a dessert crepe. We got the works, made with Berthillon ice cream, whipped cream, nuts. Sort of banana split meets the crepe. The photo says more than I can.
Cost? With two bottles of brut cider 90 euros for 4. How can you do better? We stumbled out and gratefully walked home.
To reach Ty Breiz from the Yellow Flat take the from Metro La Motte Piquet about 4 stops to Gare Montparnasse. When you exit the metro look for a map and find Rue Vaugirard. It runs on the south side of the station. Ty Breiz is located across the street from the station near the corner of Blvd. Pasteur. Or you can walk 20 minutes from Metro La Motte Piquet Grenelle. Head north up Blvd. Grenelle, it turns in Blvd. Garibaldi at Metro Cambronne. Stay in the same direction. When you cross Rue De Sevres vere slightly to right on what is now Blvd. Pasteur. When you reach the train station turn right at Blvd Vaugirard and turn left to Number 52. You are there.
Crepuscule. Somehwere in the 7th near Rue St Dominique and Rue Malar.
La Blanche Hermine. 5 Rue De Poindicherey, 75015 0147343731
Ty Briez 52 Boulevard De Vaugirard 75015 0143208372 www.tybreizcreperieparis.fr