You’ve heard of it. You’ve dreamed of it. You’ve tasted knock offs and Americanized versions, but you simply can’t wait to get your hands on the real thing. The Parisian Crêpe.
And then you get there, to Paris, and you’re suddenly hit with crêpe problems. Maybe all you wanted was a snack crêpe but you mistakenly bought a meal. Maybe you timed your visit to the Eiffel Tower wrong and you end up needing a crêpe lunch when the only places nearby are charging an arm and a leg for a basic food. Maybe you can’t find a crêperie to save your life and you’re thinking “isn’t Paris supposed to have crêpes on every corner?”
To solve all current and future crêpe problems, here’s the How To Crêpe In Paris, written by someone who could probably rival the world record quantity of crêpes eaten in one day.
What exactly is a crêpe? There are two different types of crêpes: Salé (salted) and Sucrê (sugar). The only difference between the two is the teaspoon of either salt or white sugar that is added to the batter and the type of things used as fillings.
Ingredients for crêpes are as follows:
- White flour
- Salt or Sugar (depending on the type)
They’re thin, tasty, and without too much substance. To make the crêpe, cooks will pour a cupful of batter onto a round hotplate, then use a wooden stick to spin the batter around, filling the pan. Seeing them made for the first time is almost as exciting as eating them for the first time.
Where does a person find a crêpe?
Crêpes are all over town in various forms. A “crêperie” is a restaurant that primarily sells crêpes or gallets (crêpes made with buckwheat flower). Most crêperies require you to sit down and eat your crêpe with a fork and knife. They also charge more, as a sort of rent for your time spent sitting with them. These are great for real meals, not for snacks.
Street crêpes are sold either at small stands or an open window into a restaurant. These types typically only sell crêpes and they will be much less expensive because you take the crêpe away with you.
How to eat a crêpe: Just do it. It might get messy. Just do it.
In all seriousness however, street crêpes will be handed to you in either a plastic or cardboard sleeve with a napkin around it. Roll the sleeve down as you go so you spend less time touching the food and more time eating it. Keep the napkin, it’s often necessary.
Tip: Try not to eat in the métro. Whether it’s the French obsession with long social meals or the tendency not to snack, Parisians rarely eat on the métro. Munching a crêpe is a clear sign that you’re not from here and you might be a prime pickpocket target since you clearly have your hands full of food beauty. That being said, I have broken my own rule many a time.
Crêpe stands and crêperies will be fairly plentiful around tourist destinations, although watch out for the high prices. They will also be plentiful around popular nightlife destinations like the area around the Pantheon (5th arrondissement), Montmartre and around the Saint-Denis metro stop. That being said, crêpe deserts do exist. It is possible to walk for an hour and not encounter a street crêpe stand. These tend to occur around large parks, major places (Place de la Concorde), luxury areas (Place de la Madeleine, Champs-Elysée), and very residential areas (Passy, Place d’Italie, the outskirts of the city). If you find yourself walking for what feels like an extreme amount of time simply to find the perfect crêpe, my advice is either to 1) Give up and find a perfect boulangerie for a pastry instead or 2) Take the metro to one of the areas listed above with larger nightlife scenes. If you’re feeling adventurous and have lots of time, try walking from wherever you are towards crêperie-dense location. I’ve been known to walk over four hours through the city exploring, but also in search of the perfect, cheap crêpe.
While it’s clearly up to you how much you are willing to pay for a crêpe, here’s a basic guideline. Cheap sugar crêpes should be sold for about 1.50 Euro and a really cheap Nutella crêpe usually goes for 2 or 2.50. However, as long as the Nutella crêpe price doesn’t cost over 3.50, you’ve found a decently priced crêpe stand. Stands with whirly lights and lines of tourists are likely to try and charge you 5 Euro for a Nutella crêpe.
Salé (Salted) crêpes are likely to cost around 5 Euro or more because they are more of a real meal — I’ve seen the fanciest crêpes sold for around 10 Euro. Choose your flavor based on your level of hunger — the salé crêpes can easily create a lunch if you so choose.
As for paying, street vendors like you better if you pay with coins and in exact change rather than using them to break that 50 the ATM gave you. Often if you hand them a bill they will give you a blank stare until you show them your change purse to prove that you really don’t have exact change. Obviously they will take your money in whatever form it is given, but try to give a quick thought to the quantity of coins in your wallet before you order a 2 Euro crêpe and realize you only have a 20 Euro bill. In crêperies and restaurants, larger bills are much more acceptable.
Here are some of my favorite flavors, to inspire your next visit to the crêperie:
Citron et sucre (Lemon and sugar): Hands down my favorite. Sweet but with some flavor, typically the second cheapest thing on the menu. I highly recommend this flavor.
Nutella: I mean what could possibly go wrong with this combination of a hot pancake filled with gooey nutella. While you do have to pay a little more and it won’t constitute a lunch, nutella crêpes are the best comfort food and also an incredible thing to hold in your hand on a rainy day.
Complête: This salé crêpe is filled with cheese, ham, and an egg that you watch them crack onto your cooking crêpe. Your crêpe chef will often ask if you want it salted and peppered — always go for that extra flavor if you can. The crêpe (or galette, they make this flavor on buckwheat pancakes too!) complête is a perfect lunch or dinner.