Still the Best Crêpe in Paris?
Whenever in Paris, I love to visit Rue Cler – a quaint area of the city in the 7th arrondissement. Back in 1996, a little crêpe stand on Rue Cler was identified by culinary great Marion Cunningham as, “The Best Crêpe in Paris.” The restaurateur, originally from Greece, worked his crêpes stand almost every day for 19 years, serving visitors and locals alike with distinction. He was set! After all, he got to live in Paris – undoubtedly one of the greatest living cities of the world - and was designated as “Best” in that city! Now, his best friend and previous business partner, (also from Greece), runs the crêpe stand from his restaurant Ulysee en Gaule, also on Rue Cler, just a few steps away from the original site.
Paris is just one of those places that is truly very special. If it isn’t obvious, I am a Francophile, and love the city of Paris. This spectacular city was virtually leveled and rebuilt during the 19th century by Napoleon III, great nephew to the more famous Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon III had a purpose which was to re-make Paris as the most pleasurable and livable city in the world. (Napoleon III also convened the 1855 Paris World’s Fair which among many innovations also gave birth to the famous Bordeaux Wine Classification of 1855).
The design and master plan of Paris still produces fantastic results today. Paris gives everything one could want in a pleasurable urban walking, shopping, dining or simply good living lifestyle – whether you are visiting, live there and have a good job, have a successful local business, or you happen to be one of the .01% that can afford to live in the most exclusive neighborhoods or one of the a handful of the world’s finest 5 star hotels.
Speaking of best in Paris, I recently had the pleasure of re-visiting Paris and was royally entertained at Le Bristol Paris, a Parisian Palace Hotel in the 8th arrondissement – and now the city’s leading 5 star hotel!
For many years, the George Cinq, a Four Seasons hotel, enjoyed that distinction and is still an amazing hotel in its own right. More recently, though, Le Bristol Paris has claimed every title and accolade for 5-star hotels in Paris. The reason for this change is simpler than you might think in my view. The core leadership team which had delivered the very successful run at the George Cinq has reunited, and is now working for the Oetker family who has long owned Le Bristol Paris as its flagship to the Oetker Collection of Masterpiece Hotels. While always a leader in the coveted best in class category, together, the leadership team working with the passionately engaged owner have re-made and re-positioned Le Bristol Paris once again as “the” finest hotel in this magnificent city.
While most of the world’s leading hotels struggle to balance world class service and standards without unnecessary pretension, that is not so at the Bristol. The General Manager of the Bristol is Leah Marshall, one of the world’s most accomplished hoteliers. She and her staff have created a friendly, high service oriented atmosphere, without the need for any added pretention. Together, they have become the best in the city, and truly bring xenia, the art of hospitality, to all their guests and visitors.
The Bristol has two extraordinary restaurants and that have both earned coveted Michelin star ratings, a beautiful garden dining area called Le Jardin and one of the most happening bars in the city, The Bar at Le Bristol. They are all under the guidance of Michelin-three starred Executive Chef Eric Frechon. Along with the outdoor terrace, The Bar at Le Bristol artfully blends high tech innovation with classic French design. The mirror which is located behind the bar, even displays seemingly live shots of some of Paris’ most famous sites with some innovative technology. All of the members of the staff are extremely knowledgeable, and have won many awards – whether it is in mixology for the Chef Barman Maxime Hoerth, or the world renowned wine program led by Master Sommelier Marco Pelletier.
On our tour of the kitchens, Chef Frechon was ever present and charming. The Pastry Chef delighted us with a quick demonstration of a lemon sorbet by using a lemon shaped mold and dry ice. Not only was it delicious, it was beautiful to behold!
The Bristol is all fine a good, but what about the best crepes in Paris, you ask? Well, if you are lucky enough to find it – and you do have to look – the same crepes that Marion Cunningham dubbed as the “Best in Paris” still exist. Now, it is the original recognized crepe makers’ best friend who prides himself with making crepes from the exact same recipe, with just the right amount of fresh squeezed lemon juice subtly added, and using the same original crepe stand. I had more servings than I care to admit during my last visit to Paris, and yes, they are undeniably the Best Crepes in Paris!
ps My personal favorite is a savory galette (a crêpe made with buckwheat flour) with bananas, cinnamon and a just bit of sweet brown cane sugar. C’est magnifique!