Chez Marianne: Taste of Paris Pletzl

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Reviewed on 03/18/2011 | 1 Review

The Marais is no longer the Pletzl of Paris. But places like “Chez Marianne” still give you an idea about how the Jewish neighbourhood of Paris might have been, how it looked, how it felt and how it tasted.

“Chez Marianne” is what you can call an institution, it’s the mainstay of the Jewish quarter somehow. But here you get the Sephardic alternative to the Ashkenazi fare served in spots all around.

Strangely, its name is not Jewish at all but very Republican. Marianne is, as you might know, the national emblem of France, an allegory for liberty and reason. The restaurant is just coined after her. Don’t ask me why. An idealist must have done it, a long time ago. You still see portraits of her all over. There is one painting showing Marianne together with former president Jacques Chirac. Also represented on the painting is the World Cup, which the “Bleue” won in 1998. It was a key moment in French History when the Republic with a capital “r” still was a promise to all French immigrants.

Not eating animals? It’s your place

So, obviously, “Chez Marianne” is a great spot but watch out: the day you come and eat here is the day you don’t care about kilos and diets. You don’t want to eat animals anymore? Welcome, here is one of the rare eateries in France where you can make this choice without a problem. It’s all about the Middle Eastern cuisine “Chez Marianne” – and ingredients are absolutely fresh and of good quality.

Nothing is actually more exciting than the self-service platter. It’s a science, I agree. The other day, we had to explain to our neighbours how the system works.

Pick-as-you-please

The system? Well, the waiter won’t explain it to you, I’m afraid. But it’s not complicated. You choose from a great assortment of dips and salads like delicious eggplant caviar, tarama, sesame cream, hummus, chopped liver, artichoke salad, not to forget the lovely falafel. Platters can contain from four (€ 12) to 10 (€ 26) different meze depending on your appetite or purse. Most of them are absolutely soul warming. Enjoy them with a glass of red wine and the day will be yours.

It’s a lovely place too, somehow nostalgic. During lunch hour and peak time dining it can be difficult to get a table. You’re even more unlikely to get one on the lovely terrace on a nice summer evening, so try to reserve beforehand. Otherwise just go for the takeaway falafel in pita sold for € 4,50. You certainly won’t be hungry after that.

Chez Marianne
2, rue de Hospitaliers
75004 Paris
Tél. +33(0)1 42 72 78 86
Open every day from 12am-12pm
Metro: Saint-Paul  
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Chez Marianne: Taste of Paris Pletzl, 3.1 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

User reviews

  1. Terrance Gelenter 18 March 2011 Reply

    André Jorno’s Tunisian mother opened the first Sephardic grocery on this rue de Rosiers location in the early 50’s when the Marais was still the predominantly Ashkenazi Jewish neighborhood it had been since the Middle Ages.

    Falafel lovers will argue vociferously as to who makes the best on the rue des Rosiers but I like my falafel with ambience: Orthodox Jews in black hats and coats, young Sephardim in the contemporary togs of youth with yarmulkes bobby-pinned to their heads, pretty young girls with long blonde hair from Australia, America and Scandinavia, and from the gay community just across the rue Vielle de Temple-same sex couples of every description–a perfect place to enjoy a leisurely lunch of hummous, tahine, falafel, grilled eggplant, poivrons, pita, and a chilled rosé finished off with baklava and mint tea for less than 20 euros.

    In summer tables practically spill out onto the street and around the corner onto a small plaza adjacent to the Elementary School for Jewish Boys that André attended, as did 165 who were shipped off to the death camps during the war. The plaque on the outside wall is a perpetual reminder.

    The streets teem with shoppers and tourists–many stepping up to the take-out window for a giant falafel as sauce dripping down their fingers they window-shop up and down the narrow, ancient streets.
    As the unofficial Mayor of the Marais André can often be found, cigar in hand, schmoozing with pals and customers on the rear terrace.

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