I never used to care for crepes. Until I discovered galettes, those dark buckwheat flour crepes – all crisp and lacy on the edges – last time I was in Paris.
So here I am again in Paris. And it’s always a debate: do I try new things (that’s how I discovered galettes in the first place) or go back and do the things I love. Yesterday, it was definitely go back.
So I had lunch at the Creperie Josselin in Montparnasse. It’s situated on a narrow street lined with enticing creperies, but Josselin is the great grandmother of them all. It always seems to be crowded here, but they wedged us into one of those tiny tables four inches away from the tables on either side. In the US, I would refuse a table like that. Here in Paris…well, that’s how it is. And at least they don’t allow smoking in restaurants anymore.
Crepes are a specialty of Brittany, and when you cross the threshold of Josselin, it’s as though you’ve traveled several hundred miles and nearly a century back in time. Antique Quimper plates – examples of the iconic Breton pottery – hang on the dark walls, and the light fixtures are draped with Breton lace. The place hums with activity, as waiters greet you with a big grin and rush to get you seated and served.
A friend and I shared a couple saumon fumé, a double buckwheat crepe with smoked salmon, lemon and a big side dish of crème fraiche to slather on top. Traditionally, you wash it all down with Breton cider; we had a pitcher of semi-dry. And we followed that with a crepe of caramel buerre salé – salted butter caramel. Oh, so good. The man sitting next to us ordered a crepe drenched in Calvados. When the waiter set it alight, it burned with a blue flame for nearly a minute.
Should you find yourself yearning for a great galette in Paris, you can find Creperie Josselin at 67, rue du Montparnasse (not to be confused with Boulevard Montparnasse, a much bigger street that runs nearby). Seems Josselin is too traditional for a website, but they’re easy to find (and open on Sundays).