Becoming Madame: Sunday brunches
Brunch connoisseur and American expat Becoming Madame lists the best brunches in Paris she's had the pleasure the try.
For the first few years I lived in Paris I went out to brunch on Sunday mornings religiously (no pun intended).
Brunch, being a typically American phenomenon, has taken the French by storm. Over the last 10 years, one of the most common new food establishments in Paris has been cafés specialising in Sunday brunch. Other noticeable new trends, by the way, include Subway, Starbucks, and martini bars. I can't say I'm quite as enthusiastic about seeing a Starbucks on so many Parisian corners, the very spot where traditional brasseries used to reign supreme. But then again Parisians love New York City and all things American almost as much as Americans love Paris. So I suppose it's only fair.
For the sake of the French tourist industry and all us Francophiles around the world, I hope someone clues in rather quickly to the fact that tourists come to Paris to delve into an aura of French-ness, to soak up la vie en rose, to transport ourselves into another life, a Parisian life. Not to eat a foot-long or sip a latte.
But enough of the rant, what about those brunches.
Brunch in Paris is a little different from brunch anywhere else in the world, at least where I've had the pleasure of exploring. You can count on tea or coffee, orange or grapefruit juice, croissants, baguette with butter and preserves, yogurt, eggs, smoked salmon, a green salad as well as fruit and a selection of desserts, and quite often les crêpes. Sometimes you can even get a bagel and the French equivalent of cream cheese; yet a word to the wise, the French are fabulous bakers but bagels are not their strong point! Of course, brunch is served in courses, as are all French meals, even the ones they borrow from us Americans (unless you opt for a buffet). If served to the table, it can take a couple of hours to meander through a typical Parisian brunch.
You generally have two types of brunch: the buffet or service to the table (servi à table). I have a slight preference to be served, and yet you can always eat more at a buffet.
Over the years, I've had the sheer pleasure of sampling quite a few of the great brunch establishments Paris has to offer. Of course, as I mentioned, there is an ever-growing list. I propose, however, my top 11 (so far). I hope that if you are in town over a weekend, you are able to take advantage of their hospitality.
Top 10+1 brunch establishments in Paris, in no particular order (they all have their unique charm):
1. Le Kong, servi à table, EUR 20–40/person, with an exceptional view over the Seine. 1 rue du Pont-Neuf, Paris 1er.
2. La Gare, buffet, EUR 30/person, in an old converted train station at la Muette with a large terrace great for spring and summer. 19 Chaussée de la Muette, Paris 16ème.
3. Sir Winston, servi à table, EUR 25/person, an old English pub atmosphere close to the Arch de Triomphe. 5 rue Presbourg, Paris 8ème.
4. Les Editeurs, servi à table, EUR 25/person, a typical French-brasserie feel in the heart of Saint Germain. 4 carrefour de l'Odéon, Paris 6ème.
5. Le Ritz, buffet, EUR 120/person. If you are looking for panache or a large elegant location to hold a business brunch, this is your ticket. (By the way, most of the large hotels have a brunch on Sunday.) If you're a couple looking for a romantic spot to eat on Sunday afternoon, I suggest choosing another on this list – if you still want to see the Ritz, you can always head to the bar for a cocktail around 7pm instead. 15 place Vendôme, Paris 1er.
6. Bo Zinc, servi à table, EUR 18/person. This restaurant is very close to our home, so we are there quite often. It boasts a young, hip atmosphere and is rather reasonably priced. It's ysually very busy and they don't take reservations, so be sure to arrive a little before noon. 59, avenue Mozart, Paris 16ème.
7. Boulangerie Heurtier, servi à table, EUR 22/person, a great bakery in le Marais, the first floor is the shop which bakes fresh loaves for the brunch upstairs. This was one of the very first brunches I experienced in Paris. 2 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 4ème.
8. Le Fumoir, servi à table, EUR 22/person. Fabulously situated next to le Louvre, the Fumoir offers a sophisticated twist to brunch. You can find Anglo-Saxon favourites like egg benedict or specialties such as truffle pancakes. 6 rue de l'amiral Coligny, Paris 1er.
9. Breakfast In America, servi à table, EUR 16. If you are in the mood for an all American greasy-spoon brunch that will transport you back home, this is the place. Specialising in burgers and fries and founded and run by a good ol' American boy, BIA offers a very American alternative to brunch in Paris. Two locations: 4, rue Malher, Paris 4ème and 17, and rue des Ecoles, Paris 5ème.
10. Café du musée Jacquemart-André, servi à table, EUR 26, this restaurant offers a gilded touch to brunch in one of the most beautiful hôtel particulier in Paris, plus a great terrace to boot and a gorgeous museum. 158, bd Haussmann, Paris 8ème.
11. Catz Café, all you can eat buffet, two sittings 11am or 2pm, EUR 25. Reservations are recommended. Catz can also do a 'to-go' menu if you are in the mood for a picnic. 57 rue Rodier, Paris 9ème.
Et voilà, wishing you a fabulous Sunday et bien sûr Bon Appétit!
Born south of the Mason Dixon line, Becoming Madame is a North American attorney, writer and professor living in Paris with her French husband. Since moving to France six years ago, she has learnt fluent French and now teaches law at the Université de Paris to French students. She writes and runs the blog Becoming Madame, which provides an inside peek into real life in the French capital – les marchés, Soldes, boulangeries, cafés, French cooking, traditions and living as an expat.
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