An aroma fills the street, exiting from shops with windows fogged by conversation. If you peer inside, you might get a glance of a fresh crêpe with sliced ham and a robust regional cheese. If you take a step in, you might get a whiff of the house chocolate being melted in the kitchen. The atmosphere is inviting, artistic and oh so Parisian. Quick snacks can turn into full meals.
Near Gare Montparnasse, lies a battery of crêperies, where anything crêpe-related is possible. Ranging from sweet crêpes oozing with the darkest chocolates, vibrant fruits, and crushed almonds to savory crêpes with salmon, cream cheese, and whipped eggs—there is one to whet any traveler’s appetite. And you may ask why they are all in close proximity—wouldn’t competition be bad for business? Well, read on to find out the history of Rue du Montparnasse and the three best crêperies there.
The history behind Rue du Montparnasse
The railways of Gare Montparnasse, and the trains riding along those railways lead to the Northeast of France, or Brittany, where the crêpe originated. As “Bretons” (people from this region) converged on the capitol, mostly immigrating to work in the industrialized city, they gravitated towards this road, and opened the crêperies we see today. So, the area Montparnasse, is the neighborhood of the Bretons of Paris. It’s a home away from home (except for us foreigners), and one of the only places in the world that kept their traditions untouched.
The savoury (the galette)
Sliced tomatoes, leaves of basil, and slightly melted mozzarella that strings in a circus act as it reaches your mouth - a well-made galette (savoury crêpe) dissolves. The flavor profiles are balanced, saliva-inducing, and unique to one’s preference. Ham based crêpes are normally lightened with a bouquet of veggies, while salty salmon is blanketed with something cooling such as creme fraiche. You have the choice of ordering a simple buttered savory crêpes 3.5 EUR (4 USD), or ordering something much more exciting like the house specialty (in this case a thick slice of Salmon, Spinach, Creme Fraiche, and Lemon) 10.5 EUR (12 USD). Not too pricey, delicious, and surprisingly filling.
Made with buckwheat flour, savoury crêpes, also known as the galette differ in consistency from the more common, sweet crêpes—and they are also gluten free!
Picture a crêpe with flambéed banana, gooey and soft, and a rich house chocolate on the inside and drizzled over the top. A dessert crêpe is served like a well-thrown cocktail party, beautiful to view at the beginning, and a complete mess towards the end. Some people think crêpes should be reserved for the sweeter things in life, and they don’t make a bad case. The dulcified strawberries and raspberries, with powdered sugar dusting the top go so well with the thin, delicate treat. Plus they are a bit cheaper than their more filling cousins, normally ranging from 4.5 EUR (5 USD) to 8 EUR (9 USD).
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Along with the plethora of crêpes available, there is a unique experience of trying authentic cider, in French “cidre”, from Brittany. Normally, la bolee d’Armorique, their house cider, will be served in big jugs to accompany your meal. Fizzy, crisp and with just a small amount of alcohol, it really relaxes the table and brings a nice pace to your dining experience.
"Which crêperie should I go to?"
So, here is a shortlist of crêperies, for all of those asking–which place serves the best?
La Crêperie de Josselin: Written about by David Lebovitz, and making many shortlists of the best crêperies in Paris, de Josselin, named after a small town in Breton, is not one to miss.
Crêperies Pont Aven: A quieter crêperie with friendly staff and delicious specialties, this crêperie is perfect for a couple or a small group wanting to divulge in conversation and indulge in crêpes.
Crêperie de Quiberon: A top notch place for galettes and crêpes alike. The restaurant isn’t too pretentious, and is a great backup or feature for your meal.
The easiest route to Rue du Montparnasse is from the metro station of Gare Montparnasse, a busy hub with several lines passing through (4, 6, 12, and 13). It is a lovely area, with flea markets set up during the day, and pub noise spilling onto streets at night. So if you happen to be enticed by the allures of North Eastern France, dedicate a meal to the 1001 crêpes of Rue du Montparnasse.
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