Ask any student or budget traveler the best tips for eating cheap in Paris and I can almost guarantee one of them will be simply to eat lots of crepes. (I know it’s what I did when I visited Paris as a student!) And while crepes don’t originally hail from Paris (they come from Brittany), you’ll find the City of Lights positively littered with crêperies – whether they’re sit-down restaurants or take-away windows. Perhaps the most important thing is that, although crêpes make a great budget meal, they’re delicious no matter how much money you’ve got to spend on your vacation.
Perhaps the best thing about crepes, aside from their overall low cost, is that they’re so malleable. Just by changing what you put inside the crepe, you can make a meal entirely of crepes – vegetables, cheeses, and meats for dinner followed by fruits, chocolate, and jam for dessert. And what’s more, their roll-up portability makes them the perfect French fast food. I remember many an afternoon spent wandering Montmartre with my lunch crêpe, then returning to the same creperie for a dessert crêpe. Thankfully, climbing all those Montmartre stairs helped me work off all the crepes I was consuming.
Luckily, most of the crepe stands in Paris are open late enough that you can either grab a snack before heading back to your hotel (before midnight), or chow down on a crepe to help you keep up your energy for going clubbing in Paris.
If dining on crepes in Paris sounds like a good idea to you, then here are some tips for finding the best crepes in Paris.
How to Find the Best Crepes in Paris
- Take-Away Crepe Stands are Best
I’m all for a lovely sit-down meal, especially in one of the charming and cozy (not to mention chic) Parisian cafes that line just about every pretty boulevard in the city – but when it comes to crêpes, the best ones come from the take-away stands. These stands are most often attached to restaurants, and many are nothing more than a window that opens directly into the kitchen.
The best thing about ordering your crepe from a take-away window in Paris is that you can watch them make it right in front of you – you can check out ingredients, stand in awe of the ability to make the crepe paper-thin with that little wooden dowel, and admire the dextrous way the crepe is swiftly folded and wrapped for you. It’s like getting a bit of entertainment with your meal, at no extra cost. And if you’re scoping out crêperies for the ones with the best ingredients, watching someone else’s lunch get made before you even order is a good way to do that.
Take-away crêpe windows have the added bonus of being cheaper than the crepes you’d get at a sit-down restaurant. The price you pay generally corresponds directly with the number of ingredients you want, although some ingredients cost more than others. Nutella, an incredibly popular dessert filler, sometimes costs more than you think it might – because it’s popular, and people will still order it. But typically, a simple 1-2 ingredient dessert crepe will be roughly €3-3.50 (at the most), and savory crepes or ones with more ingredients will be about €4-5.
- Buy from Shops that Make Fresh Crepes
You won’t necessarily be able to judge the quality or flavor of a crêpe until after you’ve bought it, but one thing that you can see before you pay for anything is whether the creperie is making their crepes fresh as they’re ordered or whether they’ve got a stack of pre-made crepes at the ready (as you see in the photo to the right), waiting to be reheated.
Some crepe shops that use pre-made crepes do so for what sounds like a legitimate reason – savory crepes, with ingredients like eggs or cheese that require additional cooking time, may burn if they’re on the stove long enough to cook both the crêpe and the filling. Others just do it to save time.
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Your rule of thumb should be that if you’re ordering a sweet dessert crepe, there’s no justification (other than laziness) for using pre-made crepes, so don’t settle for anything less than freshly made. If you’re ordering a savory crepe, and everything else about the crêperie looks good (including the fact that there’s a long line to get the goodies), then you can take your chances.
- Go to the Right Neighborhoods
As you might expect, there are certain neighborhoods in Paris that are particularly well-known for their creperies. David Lebovitz notes that there are many around the Gare Montparnasse train station, “since the trains departing and arriving from that station go to Brittany and the immigrants set up shop there once upon a time.” The bustling Latin Quarter has many noted crêpe shops because it’s traditionally full of students (who never have any money). And the bohemian Montmartre area, famous for its “starving artist” population, is another magnet for crepes and other cheap take-away food options.
Keep in mind that crêperies in Paris are something of a tourist attraction in and of themselves, so if you’re in a touristy area (like Montmartre) and you see a line at a crepe shop, do a little eavesdropping to see whether that line consists of locals or visitors. If it’s the latter, you might want to meander elsewhere. And should you find yourself with a hankering for a crepe and you’re not in Montparnasse, Montmartre, or the Latin Quarter, take heart – there are creperies all over the city, though they may not be as densely packed as in those areas.
Here’s a fun short video of a professional crepe maker in Paris:
Some of the Best Creperies in Paris
Crêperie de Josselin – Many people count this authentic Breton eatery as having the best crepes in Paris. You can also get galettes here (which are crepes made with buckwheat flour).
67 rue du Montparnasse, 14th arrondissement, open 12n-11:30pm
Chez Nicos – This place on Rue Mouffetard is noted by several people as one of the best creperies in Paris. There are a few tables where you can sit down and enjoy your meal, but it’s mainly take-away.
44 rue Mouffetard, 5th arrondissement, open 11am-1am
Ty Breiz – This creperie was named Paris’ best back in 2000, but it still ranks highly with locals and visitors alike.
52 boulevard Vaugirard, 15th arrondissement, open 11:45am-2:45pm & 7pm-11pm Tues-Sat
Crêperie Bretonne – This is a particularly authentic Breton spot, serving up galettes and crepes alongside traditional fermented apple cider from Brittany as well.
67 rue de Charonne, 12th arrondissement, open for lunch M-F, dinner M-Sat
Point Chaud Express – The friendly owner of this creperie helps make it popular, but the fact that they serve fantastic crepes doesn’t hurt, either.
49 boulevard St-Germain, 5th arrondissement
Ti Jos – Any creperie that’s been in business since 1937 like this one has deserves a mention. And if you want to come by in the evenings, Ti Jos also has happy hour in its pub.
30 rue Delambre, 14th arrondissement, open daily except Tues evening and Sunday afternoon
Here’s a video of the crepe-making at Chez Nicos on Rue Mouffetard, featuring possibly the biggest crêpe I’ve ever seen.
>> For another by-no-means-complete list of some of the other creperies in Paris, check out this website with the incredibly appropriate name “Paris Crepes.”