La Chandeleur: It’s crêpe day !
My Concierge Told Me
Where to eat the best crêpes in Paris
It’s cold outside, pretty freezing at minus 7°C, 19° F, but sunny and shiny though. In other words: a perfect crêpe day for the Parisians! A crêpe day, you might ask? Yes, indeed. Today, 2nd February, the French celebrate la Chandeleur, Candlemas. That’s why poll favourite François Hollande got flour-bombed yesterday.
Just kidding, of course. La fête de la lumière is a Catholic celebration. But there is no party in France without a sweet treat. It all started with the commemoration of the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the baby Jesus.
By why do they eat crêpes that day, in France, those delicious, tiny wheat flour pancakes? Some say the round and golden crêpe looks like the sun and therefore represents the light. Truth is, that Pope Saint Gelasisus I suppressed the ancient Roman festival of the Lupercalia at the end of the 5th century. And apparently he welcomed pilgrims arriving in Rome with a nice crêpe.
Now you might say: forget about history, tell us where you get the best crêpes in Paris. Here we go.
If you are Rive-Gauche, on the left bank side of the Seine, try L’Avant Comptoir. It’s tiny, you won’t find even stools, you’ll stand there with all the other aficionados holding their delicious prey in their hands. Imagine L’avant Comptoir like a small shack, a little offshoot of the famous Comptoir de l’Odéon, run by a French food fool called Yves Camdeborde. He mainly does the crispy galettes, the savoury version of the crêpe made from buckwheat flour.
Not far from this is another famous place, La Compagnie de Bretagne. Here it’s more chic, fancy, a lot of Brittany folklore. If you’re looking for a French version of the Hamptons, this is your place. François Simon, the witty French restaurant critic, got it right saying that “the crêpes here are as perfectly folded as the pleated skirts of Diane von Furstemberg”.
If you pass your day rive droite, try my favourite crêperie called Breizh Café, where the crepes are so delicious that the place is packed from the morning until late at night.
In case you prepare your crêpe at home, don’t forget to hold a coin in your hand when flipping the crêpe into the air. The French say, that if you manage to catch it in the pan, you will be prosperous for the rest of the year.
3, Carrefour de l’Odéon
No reservations. Open daily.
La Compagnie de Bretagne
9, rue de l’Ecole de Médecine
109, rue Vielle du Temple
- 00 33 (0)1 42 72 13 77
Some other places to recomand
24, rue des Francs-Bourgeois
+33 (0)1 42 72 46 10
25, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
+0033 (0)1 48 07 14 59
Photo: © AFP, Fred Defour
Jean-Paul Belmondo flipping a crêpe: so cool! photo: AFP