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Crepes, the Favorite Street Food of Paris

Crepes are THE ubiquitous street food of Paris. The word "crepes" refers to both the final dressed product and the thin pancake itself. Unfortunately, no one knows the Origin of Crepes. 

There are literally hundreds of Dinner Crepes Recipes and Dessert Crepes.  Crepes can be filled with a veritable cornucopia of ingredients, in whatever combination the heart desires. On the streets of Paris, I am as likely to see a grown woman with warmed Nutella smeared on her face as I am a four year-old, both happily partaking in the wonders of the crepes. But crepes can go wrong. Fillings can be lacking in freshness and quality, ingredients can be too sparingly used and worst of all, the crepes can be soggy and limp.

I pride myself on having spent an unreasonable amount of time surveying different crepes-making techniques, ingredients, prices, crepes and recipes and have created a Fail-Proof How-To guide for crepe purchasing in Paris. While I do not propose memorizing these suggestions, they might be worth a second glance before leaving for a pilgrimage to the crepes-making capital of the world:

  1. First and foremost, the best crepes are made from traditional French Crepe Recipes from take-away stands that fold a circular crepes in half, and then again into thirds forming a conical shape. Traditional Breton square crepes or crepes that require silverware are a waste of space in the digestive tract. Crepes of this variety are often overpriced and disappointing in both quality and quantity;
  2. Lines are telling. Paris is rife with crepes stands, but everyone has their favorite. A line might be an indication that locals have a particular affinity for that stand. It is our job as newbies to wait in line and observe the workmanship to establish whether the line is arbitrary or merited;
  3. Find a stand that makes fresh crepes. Many of the stands in Paris have piles of pre-made crepes that they reheat on the stove as needed. This is entirely unacceptable for sweet crepes.

    The BASIC Crepes Recipe batter should be poured upon ordering and the crepes should be crispy and warm on the periphery, soft and moist in the interior. Savory crepes often require time to melt cheese or cook eggs. Therefore, using pre-made crepes is understandable, but not necessarily a positive. To note: when crepes makers reheat crepes that were pre-made, watch for added butter used to avoid burning the crepes. This is an unnecessary additive and can make the crepes soggy;
  4. Survey the ingredients. Have the mushrooms resided in a can for several years? Is the cheese stored in a huge industrial-sized plastic bag? Has the sugar formed clumps? Have the ingredients been sitting out in the sun? All of these features should be noted prior to ordering. Subpar products will ruin a crepes experience.
  5. Ratios! The Best Crepe Recipe is when my crepes are oozing. When I order a banana and Nutella crepe, I want Nutella to be all over my face and hands. However, this decadence is not for everyone. Pay attention to the amount of toppings, be willing to stay "ça suffit!" or in my case, "J´aimerais bien plus de Nutella s´il vous plâit!" Look for crepes makers who work with your ratios. Generally I have found that cheese and sugar are used very generously, while Nutella, jam and meats are not.
  6. Look for crepes makers that take pride in their work. This sounds silly because "a crepes is a crepes." NOT TRUE! In France, pride is a major player in how food is prepared and street food is no exception. crepes makers that honestly think their product is superior to their neighbors´ will try to convince each and every client that their crepe recipies are the best;
  7. Prices for crepes vary, but as a rule of thumb, sweet Dessert crepes with two ingredients should be less than 3.50 euros. A single ingredient crepe should be less than 3 euros. For savory crepes, such as Canneloni Crepes, depending on quantity and variety of ingredients, prices will range from 3-5 euros. Anything over 5 euros should be mind-blowing or lit on fire to be worth the price;
  8. Do not be thrown off by semantics such as galette, sarrasin, savory and sweet. Savory crepes are those with salty fillings such as cheese, egg, tuna, ham or vegetables. Galettes are a type of crepe whose crepe recipe is made with sarrasin (buckwheat). They do not have a particularly different taste once everything is added in; the identifiable difference is that they have a whole-wheat color. Sweet crepes are also called sucre;
  9. Presentation is crucial. Many crepes stands make crepes with ideal ratios and fresh ingredients, but they drop the ball when it comes to delivery. Crepes should be folded evenly with equal distribution and ratios throughout. There should be no gaps in the crepes from which the ingredients can fall out or leak. Some crepes makers use rectangular crepes stoves that result in short, scrolled crepes that I refer to as Torah crepes. I find that these crepes are too thick and the presentation is not visually appealing;
  10. Improve your chances of having a good crepes by going to Paris´ crepes meccas. I recommend the Rue Mouffetard, St. Michel area, Montmartre and Montparnasse.

Where to Find Crepes

Point Chaud Express
49 Boulevard St-Germain (5th)
M: Maubert-Mutulite

From the mint tea that owner Christophe Kokkinos serves while clients wait for their crepes to the lollipops he distributes to children passing by, many are besotted with this man. For my preferred chicken and cheese crepes, he melts the shredded cheese on the crepes, then adds chicken and carefully distributes tomatoes, lettuce, sauteed onions, olives and salt and pepper. He folds the crepes evenly and crisps both sides, a testament to the pride and joy he takes in his work. He also puts cheese around the edges to burn ever-so-slightly, a small yet notable difference from most. The result is a uniformly warm, crisp crepes that boasts a perfect internal uniformity. Another bonus: the stand is popular among students from the nearby Sorbonne so it is great for people-watching while you wait.

36 Rue Mouffetard (5th)
M: Place Monge

A tiny crepes take-away shop, Oroyana is easily missed on a street packed with creperies. However, it stands alone in that their crepes eaten in-house are crowned with an extra dollop of Nutella on top of the plated crepes (in addition to the abundance inside). I dare say the resulting ratio of Nutella to crepes is in Nutella’s favor. They also make flambeed crepes with Grand Marnier or Cognac.


The Petit Grec
68 Rue Mouffetard (5th)
M: Place Monge

The Petit Grec is one of the cheapest crepes joints around. Maybe because they let clients tweak the menu and invent concoctions. I mix goat cheese, tuna, salad and onions. For sweet crepes, the Petit Grec makes a thick homemade dark chocolate spread for which I would gladly shell out 2.80 euros any day.

Chez Alberto
79 Blvd Montparnasse (6th)
M: Montparnasse-Bienvenue

Popular for Torah-style scrolled crepes, Chez Alberto attracts large crowds from the Montparnasse Tower and neighboring movie theaters. It offers thick, doughy crepes with a wide variety of fillings. It also sells pizza, ice cream and paninis.


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