Most Parisians have either a light breakfast of a croissant or tartine with butter and jam along with coffee or no breakfast at all. In fact, omelets are ordered at lunchtime or even for a light dinner. In recent years, a spate of new cafés in Paris, where we live, have opened serving American-style breakfast and weekend brunch catering to Parisian hipsters and Millennials. Here are some of our top picks.
Breakfast in America: When American expat Craig Carlson moved to Paris, one of the things he missed most about the U.S. was his American breakfast. Not able to survive on just croissants first thing in the morning, he decided the only way to fill his hearty breakfast craving was to open his own American-style diner in 2003.
Fast forward to 2017: Breakfast in America is a runaway success with three locations -- the Latin Quarter, the Marais and the Grand Boulevards area -- with waits of up to 45 minutes on the weekend. Pancakes with toppings of bacon, blueberries, chocolate chips and bananas, French toast, breakfast burrito, cheese, western, mushroom and Swiss omelets and New York City bagel and lox are just some of the enticing dishes. Besides serving breakfast all day, Breakfast in America also offers a full hamburger menu, including chicken, veggie and fish burgers, along with Bacon Cheese, Chili con Carne and classic beef burgers.
The interiors of the restaurants have the feel of American diners with red vinyl booths and bar stools, toasters on the tables and plastic ketchup and mustard dispensers.
Craig Carlson wrote a bestselling book in 2016, “Pancakes in Paris,” about the trials and tribulations he went through to open his first Breakfast in America, which can be found at 17 rue des Ecoles, 75005. B.I.A. 2 is at 4 rue Mahler, 75004, and B.I.A. 3 at 41 rue des Jeuneurs, 75002.
Holybelly: Opened in 2013 in the trendy Canal Saint Martin area, Holybelly has become a neighborhood institution in a short period of time. The owners of Holybelly, expats Sarah Mouchot and Nico Alary, have a simple philosophy about their café, which has paid off handsomely, judging by the crowds: Good food, good coffee and good service in a consistent fashion.
Known for their all day breakfast menu, the menu changes monthly, supporting seasonal availability of ingredients. On a recent visit there, some of the specialties included black rice porridge, pancakes topped with eggs served with homemade butter and maple syrup, and artisanal bread from the renowned boulangerie, Du Pain et Des Idées. Eggs any style are served with house made home fries, baked beans or sausage.
A cup of java - always fresh - is supreme at Holybelly and serious coffee aficionados can sip classic drip, espresso, latte and other varieties. They work with an array of different roasters, so on any given day, patrons can talk to their barista to find out what’s brewing.
Menus are in English and the staff also speaks English, a plus for visitors who don’t speak French. Holybelly recently relocated a few doors down to 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010.
Ladurée offers a more formal setting for breakfast and weekend brunches in Paris.
Ladurée: A more formal setting for breakfast is Ladurée, the famed macaron house at 18 Rue Royale, 75008. The original Ladurée bakery was opened in 1862 by Louis Ernest Ladurée. His wife came up with the idea of a daytime salon for women to meet freely, since women were not allowed to go out in public unescorted during the early 1900s. The first tearoom of Paris was born in 1930 with Italian-style hand-painted ceiling frescoes, plush carpeting and velvet chairs. Ladurée’s grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, invented a new style macaron, by taking two macaron shells and putting a ganache filling inside, thus inventing the super popular modern day delicacy.
Today the elegant tearoom serves a full breakfast, including eggs with caviar and soft-boiled eggs with Scottish smoked salmon, avocado and toast. On the weekends, Laduree offers a brunch of a breadbasket with homemade butter and jams, French toast, granola and yogurt, fried eggs, a selection of cheeses and fruit salad with two macarons.
Afternoon High Tea
Tea-loving Millennials who want to splurge a bit during an afternoon of shopping or sightseeing in Paris can drop by Le Meurice hotel between 3:30 and 6 p.m. That’s when high tea (50 euros or about $60 per person) is served at the hotel, which recently unveiled a redesign by Philippe Starck.
Alain Ducasse is the hotel’s current chef and his pastry chef Cédric Grolet has created an impressive array of pastry and savory bits at teatime. The menu reflects a traditional English high tea with scones, jam and clotted cream, small pastries and finger sandwiches (with fillings such as olives and artichokes, beets with goat cheese and beef gravlax). The presentation, however, is very French and the delicacies are served on an oblong cart with a chrome frame and black glass tiers. Besides traditional and exotic teas and coffee, hot chocolate from Ducasse’s bean to bar chocolate boutique is served.
Paris: Always in Fashion
One of the greatest couturiers and fashion designers of the 20th century, Christian Dior, is having a grand fete for the 70th anniversary of the eponymous fashion house. The massive show taking over the entire 30,000-square-foot exhibition space of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs is the first to show the entire 70-year history of the brand and all of the subsequent designers after Dior.
In 1947, Dior opened his own couture house in Paris and his first collection was coined “The New Look” by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, which expressed a whole new feminine look like none before, with cinched waists, soft shoulders and accentuated bust line. Dior became the toast of the town and raised Paris back to center of the fashion world.
After Dior passed away in 1957, the house ushered in a series of six designers: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and today’s director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. The exhibition traces the evolution of the brand with each impending designer giving their own signature to the house while retaining its roots. The lines can be long, so advise clients to purchase tickets online or otherwise in advance.
A massive show is celebrating 70 years of Christian Dior.
Paris Fashion Weeks: Shortly after the Dior exhibit wraps up on January 7, the 2018 series of fashion weeks gets under way:
- Paris Fashion Men’s, January 17-21 and June 20-24
- Paris Haute Couture, January 21-25 and July 1-5
- Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018, February 27-March 6
- Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019, September 25-October 3