A Vignette of the Victorian Era Hiding in Central Paris

From the moment I heard it described as “Downton Abbey-esque”, a bistro called Poulette slid to the top of my to-do list. Because among my various life goals I dream of one day chilling with the Dowager Countess of Grantham, noshing crumpets and lamenting how the deafening roar of modernity drowns out the charms of the old world.

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So with an extra hour between appointments I left the present and in fact traveled further back than expected: according to the friendly barman the décor is from 1890, which precedes Downtown Abbey and places it firmly in Belle Époque territory. All the better – the Dowager would’ve been younger and more sprightly then anyway.

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A cup of tea at the zinc-coated bar was the price of admission as I took in the details and watched delicious plates come out from the kitchen. I would learn later that the chef is actually a transplanted New Yorker who specializes in French cuisine with an American accent. Having just eaten lunch elsewhere, I was able to stave off the temptation to order something.

As for the plate of homemade cookies cooling on the bar next to me, that struggle was much more real.

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Poulette was opened just a few years ago, with the pleasant feeling of being nestled between Paris of the past and the hipster slick of 2017. The tile walls are authentic, but the lighting is straight out of Brooklyn. A crate of fresh produce destined for the juicer sits near bottles of whiskeys and liqueurs. The underground bathroom felt like part safari visit.

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This quaint throwback address was a reassurance that there are still some restaurateurs of my generation who have a respect for the days of old. Call it vintage or kitsch or Dowager-Chic; either way Poulette has moved off of my to-do list and onto my growing roster of local loves.

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Poulette is located at 3 Rue Étienne Marcel in the 1st arrondissement. It is closed on Sundays. 

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25 comments

  • Meet you there, Don! About 10 years ago I hit 60 and my family pitched in to send me by myself to Paris for five days. No one wanted to go with me because I’m such a bore, pointing out where Moliere might have thrown up. I found a very inexpensive monkish room across from the Louvre and for five days got up in the morning, put on my raincoat and comfortable shoes, and started walking. I love French but don’t speak fluently, which I regret, but made my way through. It was terrific. Just sitting in Notre Dame and imagining.

    >

    • That’s a great story Lance! I love hearing about others’ Paris memories; the city has inspired and affected people in so many different ways. Thanks for your comment and for following along with the blog. P.S. I totally empathize with the idea of boring people with random details and historical facts. :-)

  • Thanks for the great tip… I am always looking for new things to do on my trips to Paris and will definitely be adding this spot to my list!

  • Dear Mr. Frye,

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and I love it. I’m a New Yorker who is also a francofile at heart.

    I’m also an author who has written a novel called The Pug That Ate Paris. It’s a lighthearted, comic novel about a talking pug dog who becomes the toast of Paris as a restaurant critic and food writer. I’m wondering if you would consider giving the book a plug (after reading it, of course). To find out a bit more of the plot I’ve attached the amazon link. If you would consider giving it a read, please give me your email address and I will gift it to you. It’s a short read. Only 124 pages, but it’s a love song to Paris.

    I hope you can find the time to help.

    Best,

    DB Gilles

    *D.B. Gilles* *Script Consultant & Writing Coach* *646-339-0608* *Twitter: @dbgilles*

    *www.facebook.com/dbgilles *

    On Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 9:33 AM, A French Frye in Paris wrote:

    > A French Frye in Paris posted: “From the moment I heard it described as > “Downton Abbey-esque”, a bistro called Poulette slid to the top of my to-do > list. Because among my various life goals I dream of one day chilling with > the Dowager Countess of Grantham, noshing cr” >

    • Hi DB, thank you for reaching out. I only post original content I don’t tend to plug products, so I’m afraid this wouldn’t be a good fit for me. But I wish you luck with the book! Best wishes from a fellow (ex) New Yorker.

  • We ate there last Fall-wonderful! Steak Frites were perfect, along with the right bottle of wine. And, who could resist that cookie??? Glad you found it-they deserve great press!

    • Hey Louise, thank you for your comment! Steak and wine sounds like the perfect dish at a place like this. I’m so glad you could add a legit review to this place. Can’t wait to grab lunch there one day; the dishes coming out of the kitchen looked great.

  • Am going tomorrow!!!..it’s very close to me!!..

    Sent from my iPhone

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  • What an amazing find Corey and thanks again for sharing all these wonderful places in Paris. I am missing France. Bonne journee a vous.

      • Well … the compliments are most sincere! Your photos are beautiful, Corey. You’re really finding your “voice.”

      • Funny you say that because that’s what I’ve been working on. The Paris photo market is so dang saturated, I’m trying to find my own voice. Having fun in the process I might add!

  • This Belle Époque corner is a nice change up from the eclectic decoration of Belleville. Nice that you appreciate all of Paris’s eras of decor.

  • Sounds beautiful. You didn’t mention prices. You had already eaten or the prices were too steep?

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