You might discover that your favorite restaurant in Paris depends just as much on good memories as it does on good food. Depending on the occasion, I may have many ‘favorite picks’ but if you asked about my all-time favorite, it would have to be Chez Josselin on Rue Montparnasse – because of the memories. When I was a flat broke student, this was one of the few restaurants in town where I’d splurge for a dinner (otherwise it was the student cantines).
Chez Josselin is one of many creperies on this small street located between Boulevard Montparnasse and the Edgar Quinet Metro stop in the 14h arrondissement.
It’s a good restaurant for students because you can have a filling meal of dinner crepes (galettes) and dessert crepes for a reasonable price. The rows of tables and chairs are jammed into one large dining area filled with nostalgic décor from the Brittany region of France. Old lace and heavily carved wood dominate the room. The crepes are prepared before your eyes on a round iron griddle just like you see on some of the street corner creperie stands, but here the batter is poured fresh.
The Breton influence is no surprise because the closest train station – the Montparnasse line will take you straight to Brittany. Many of the Bretons who arrived in Paris looking for work (back in the 19th and early 20th century) decided to stay right in this neighborhood close to the train station. Crepes and cider are considered Breton specialties – although you will find them as well in Normandy which is the cider capital of France.
The cider is served traditionally in round bowls, so you can order a ‘bol’ wherein comes the old expression of ‘prendre un bol ensemble’ or let’s have a cup.
I’m happy to see that students are still praising the Josselin creperie. Over the years, they’ve expanded to a second restaurant on the same street to pick up some of the overspill. If you want to go to this very popular place, it’s a good idea to get there before 8 pm.
When friends come to Paris, I like to take them to Josselin’s (or if Josselin’s is full, any of the creperies on Rue Montparnasse) because it hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. The crepes taste just as good as they did when I was a VERY hungry student!
photo at top by Meg Zimbeck