while popular across France and beyond, crêpes (made with wheat flour) and their savoury counterparts, galettes (made with buckwheat flour) originated from Brittany and are still extremely common in the region. crêperies (restaurants serving crêpes and galettes) are fairly easy to find, especially in some of the more traditional areas of Brittany.
after departing the Loire valley, we headed westwards towards the coast. that first entrance into Brittany found us down in the baie of Quiberon for our first (but certainly not our last) crêperie meal.
the inside of many crêperies we visited looked similar to this.
common fillings for galettes include the ubiquitous combination of ham and Emmenthal cheese, or ham and cheese, with an egg cooked on top (called a galette complète – i’m a fan).
dessert crêpe selection runs the gamut from basic sugar sprinkled on top, to crêpes Suzette, or anything in between that may include chocolate, caramel, ice cream or fruit.
served traditionally with hard cider also from Brittany, this is a tasty, hearty meal that doesn’t break the bank.
after eating crêpes and galettes in several places, the standouts were:
best crêpe – a plain crêpe with sauce made from caramel with salted butter. seriously, this stuff is the ish. so good that i bought jars of it to bring back!
best galette – ham, cheese, egg yolk, with a side of provençale sauce. this sauce was only at Au Vieux Quimper, reputed to be one of the best crêperies in Quimper. this town is situated in a very traditional area of Brittany and known for having excellent crêperies.
best ambiance: aside from the long wait times, eating at the little crêperie next to a field of megaliths in Carnac.
plus, the menu made me ask the staff what the difference between ‘lard’ and bacon’ was, and i was invited to follow her to the kitchen to see for myself, since the server seemed at a loss for words to explain. turns out ‘lard’ (pronounced in French, lard is more like ‘lahr’ with a soft trailing back of the throat ‘r’) was a bit more like crispier bacon, while ‘bacon’ (be sure to pronounce it with a French accent for full effect!) was back bacon.
in Paris, i used to buy pre-made crêpes from the grocery store on occasion. they were really convenient! to my recollection, that’s not easy to find in Toronto (i’d be glad to be enlightened if they are actually more easily available!). the best were the sugared ones you could pop into the toaster.
speaking of Paris, friends of mine sometimes ask for recommendations ahead of their trips to the “city of light”. food-wise, i usually throw in eating at a crêperie near to Gare Montparnasse, most have prix fixe menus with a savoury galette, a dessert crêpe and a little pitcher of cider, all for a pretty reasonable price (plus it’s at least got vegetarian options). the Gare Montparnasse is the terminus for trains from western France, so in the past, Bretons arriving into Paris tended to establish more crêperies in this area of the city. for crêpes in Paris, i generally find a better deal here instead of in a more touristy spot like St-Michel or the Latin Quarter (not that they will all be bad, but likely all pricier). in a pinch, even in the touristy bits, a take-away banana-nutella crêpe from a crêpe stand makes for an excellent snack :)
vive les crêpes et les galettes!