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The Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes

Do French people really do that? Whether it’s wearing berets or eating escargots, French stereotypes abound. Some of these assumptions have more merit than others. One classic “Frenchism” is their love for crêpes. And truth be told, crêpes are widely eaten in France. Nearly four out of every five French people enjoy sweet crêpes, per Statista. We’re sharing all about French crêpes: the different types; their history; and la Chandeleur, a holiday known for its crêpe consumption.

The Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes

The Origins of Crêpes

North, south, east, west: no matter where you travel in France, you’ll be able to find crêpes. But these French “pancakes” originated in the region of Brittany. The crêpe or galette can be traced back to the 1200s during the time of the Crusades, per Crêpes Recette. But long before then, cultures had been eating pancake- or crêpe-like concoctions. 

The recipe is simple: some flour, eggs and milk. Restaurants or vendors may have a special crêpe-making machine, but you can also make them in a frying pan on the stove. Our rule of thumb is: the more butter, the better!

Sweet Crêpes vs. Savory Galettes

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Not all crêpes are made the same. There are two main categories of crêpes: sucré (sweet) and salé (savory). The first type is traditionally made with wheat flour, the second with buckwheat (or sarrasin) flour. The latter is often referred to as a galette, instead of a crêpe. Typical toppings for crêpes sucrées include: Nutella, chocolate sauce, caramel, sugar, lemon and many more. Restaurant menus for galettes vary, but you’ll most likely see the complète, with ham, cheese and an over-easy egg. But just like sandwiches, chefs use their creativity on what they include in crêpes.

Some restaurants even offer a formule, or meal deal, where you nosh on a savory galette and then a sweet crêpe for dessert. You can find them at a sit-down restaurant or take it to go and eat it while walking.

French Crêpes and la Chandeleur

Crêpes are eaten year round in France, but there’s one day in France that’s particularly known for crêpes. February 2 marks la Chandeleur, or Candlemas. This holiday celebrates the day that Mary and Joseph presented baby Jesus at the temple. At the temple, a man named Simeon gave Jesus a blessing, saying that he was “a light for revelation” in the gospel of Luke. That’s why Chandeleur or Candlemas celebrates this light with candles, per Geo.

“The celebration is said to date to Roman times and Pope Gelasius I, who had pancakes distributed to pilgrims arriving in Rome for the festival,” according to an article in The Connexion. “Chandeleur symbolized the end of winter and the return of the sun and lighter spring days. Crêpes, with their round shape and yellow, golden color were seen to embody the return of the sun.” 

How to Enjoy French Crêpes in France

Finding a sweet crêpe or savory galette during your trip to France won’t be difficult. Whether it’s a street vendor or a restaurant serving up crêpes, you will have your pick. But perhaps the technique and art of French crêpe-making intrigue you. We have several delicious crêpe-making experiences that are sure to make you drool.

Private Crêpes-Making Class in Paris

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In between your stops at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, spend an afternoon with a French chef as you perfect your crêpe technique. Whether it’s creamy chantilly or salted caramel, you’re sure to find a crêpe that suits your fancy. Try your hand at the famed crêpe Suzette, a sweet dessert with orange and flambéed. And the icing on the cake: you’ll enjoy this cooking class in an elegant Parisian suite. Bon appétit !

Private Crêpes-Making Class in Brittany

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Vanilla whipped cream, buckwheat crumble and roasted fruit… need we say more? During this private cooking class, you’ll try your hand at crêpes bretonnes, or crêpes from Brittany. Your chef will provide an array of seasonal products as you get to work in the kitchen. 

Where to Stay in Paris and Brittany

Courtesy of Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel George V
Located in the posh 8th arrondissement in Paris, Four Season Hotel George V promises a luxurious escape — and only a short walk to the Champs-Elysées. Admire the rooms’ style inspired by Louis XVI – think chandeliers, thoughtful decor and Eiffel Tower views. Explore the the charming neighborhood or enjoy a night “in” at one of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Treat yourself to a visit to the spa, perhaps with an individualized Haute Couture treatment.

Les Maisons de Bricourt
This luxury collection of villas near Saint Malo jumped right out a fairytale. Perhaps you fancy a stay in its Château Richeux in one of its 11 rooms or two apartments facing the bay of Mont Saint Michel. Or maybe you’d like to indulge in a stay in its boutique hotel, Les Rimains. This foliage-covered stone building feels more like a home than a hotel. You can wander the hotel garden’s pathway to the bay. And if you’re deeply longing for tranquility, enjoy a stay at one of its Seafront Lodges. Each morning, you’ll wake up to freshly baked French bread, fruit and milk products on your doorstep

It’s one thing to read about French crêpes, but it’s another to taste or make them yourselves. Looking to discover the best of French gastronomy? You might enjoy: A Culinary Experience in Paris or Lyon Wines & Culinary Delights. Need some help planning your trip?

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