The tradition of brunch, a contraction of breakfast and lunch, has come to France from the US.
In the last few years it has become an essential element of a Parisian weekend, as can be seen in the ever-increasing number of restaurants, luxury hotels and coffee shops competing to offer their special brunch menu.
Every Sunday late morning/early afternoon, Parisians and tourists gather with friends, family or in couples for a meal that takes the place of both breakfast and lunch. Aside from the great-tasting food and special menus, brunch in Paris is a chance to relax.
Whether you prefer a new take on brunch or a traditional one, you will find something to satisfy your appetite after a lie-in, in and around the districts of the Canal Saint Martin, Montmartre, the Marais, the Champs-Elysées …
Some tips for choosing a good brunch
Since brunch has its own peak time, informed ‘brunchers’ should telephone to make an advance booking so they don’t miss out when it comes to lunchtime. If they haven’t booked, late risers will have more chance of finding a table after 1pm. Some places even serve until 7pm (Casimir)
Weekends, yes but …
Although more and more Parisian restaurants are offering brunch menus on Saturday, Sunday and even during the week (Twinkie Breakfast, Le Pain quotidien, Maison Pradier), brunch is still a Sunday tradition and in most cases this is the only day it is served.
Good bread and coffee
Hot drinks, fruit juice, pastries, bread and eggs are the basis of this sweet and savoury meal that features food from both breakfast and lunch. So a good quality brunch should take these essentials into account. If the bread isn’t fresh, the eggs don’t look good and the coffee isn’t strong enough, go somewhere else.
Emphasis on the menu …
When it comes to brunch in Paris, one thing stays the same: it is a combination of sweet and savoury. But this rule aside, there is any number of variations available. From a traditional American brunch of bacon, scrambled eggs and cheesecake (Joe Allen) – to an exotic version with bubble tea and wasabi eggs Benedict (Miss Kô), food lovers will have too much to choose from.
… and the atmosphere
The setting is just as important as the quality of the food. For a family brunch, more and more places offer entertainment for children (Le Comptoir Général). Rendez-vous at the organic tea room Violetta et Alfredo Salon de Thé inspired by the opera La Traviata. In general, for a good meal and a relaxing time, it’s best to choose cosier places rather than big, often noisy, restaurants.
Value for money
Brunch prices vary considerably from one place to another. At the top end of the spectrum, for the start of the month or special occasions, are big hotels (Renaissance Paris Vendôme Hôtel, Pershing-Hall, Mama Shelter). This is not just a brunch, but a real experience. Then, there are many other places offering deals for €20 (such as La Chambre aux Oiseaux, set menu at €19).