The beating heart of brunch is in the 10th arrondissement
It was here in the 10th arrondissement of Paris that morning food-porn was born after the online pancakes-peeking site, OnlyBrunch, failed to satisfy the hunger for something syrupy IRL.
A torrent of recipes for amateur eggs benedict flashed themselves gaudily online, some even on the darknet, fueling the ascendance of the virtuosi of the breakfast world. Those that mastered pancakes fluffy and light commanded crowds of tourists, then later, the Parisians showed up to see what the hell the line was all about.
A movement was ignited—if you dare call it as such against the backdrop of continual political upheavals—and an hour-long line ensued (a decidedly un-Parisian thing to occur before noon, or ever). Parisian joggers, unaccustomed to waiting in line for breakfast (as breakfast here is normally the ubiquitous, but delicious croissant and espresso), ran by exclaiming, “C’est dingue!” [this is crazy].
Just as nature abhors a vacuum, in rushed others with pots and pans; willing conscripts in the war on hangovers in the hopes of appealing to the newest parisien trend—the sense of needing more than 1,000 calories to shake off a hangover.
That’s how the cross streets of Rue Lucien Sampaix and Rue Chateau d’Eau became the spot where the sidewalks groan with crowds, especially on the weekends. We crown it the ‘Axis of Brunch.’ Almost resembling a Banksy gallery opening, there’s so much normcore and English. But the French aren’t content to copy, non, they’ve definitely Frenchified things.
The next stage: tourists and foreigners imposing le brunch on a weekday morning (it’s always Saturday when you’re on vacation).
Instagram brought us avocado toast, cleaning up the raunchy reputation of the a.m. bacon bacchanal—because glistening pictures of pork products are ‘moche’ (#alsodetox). Rinse and repeat.
Perhaps its popularity here is because brunch is unlike anything we enjoy in Paris. Five-week vacations, a good bakery every two blocks (maximum), regular strikes to clear any economic blockages, beaucoup butter and cigarettes and world-class health care to mop it all up are things that were constructed on an underlay of tradition that goes back decades, if not hundreds of years (or, in the case of strikes, over a thousand years when the French invented la grève [the strike] on the banks of the Seine at Île Saint-Louis).
The French simply don’t go all ham-gasmic in the morning, hence flat stomachs being the norm and not the hard-won exception.
In fact, it was the Aussies (and Aussie-influenced Frenchies) who imported the orgiastic, early-afternoon, 1,000-plus calorie pancake ritual: Le brunch.
Hesitant French people, refusing to be outmaneuvered on their home courts—food and Paris—are, however, adapting. Instead of pancakes and waffles, there’s a slightly less calorie-obscene version française; heaping tables of all-you-can-eat-and-still-fit-into Celine cakes, viennoiserie, and orange juice, and double the remarks about how crazy the whole episode was. Also added, on occasion, is seafood—oysters instead of smoked salmon—so you really aren’t in Kansas anymore. Non, c’est dingue.
Now, the list…
Holybelly 5: 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix
Holybelly was opened in 2013 by actual Frenches who returned after soaking in Aussie food culture for inspo. The French government agency INSEE, tasked with monitoring the economy, marked a drastic uptick in pork belly trading on the Parisian Bourse that same year. Coincidence? non.
In the well-Instagrammed line at Holybelly 5 we lay down our credit cards for 90 minutes spent at the altar of transcendent sausage and a London Fog (the coffee alternative du jour: an earl grey tea steeped in milk). Hallelujah! Why didn’t they think of that sooner?
Add a side of toast to your eggs, maybe more, pourquoi pas? Sauteed mushrooms? Oui! I could do it over and over again, if only Fashion Week wasn’t fast approaching. Holybelly 5 is truly the queen of the brunch prom.
Immersion: 8 Rue Lucien Sampaix
Immersion is the transfer student who disrupts the reign of the popular girl (in this case, having had an hour-long line for the past six years makes you the queen bee…)With a slightly more alternative menu that offers “crispy brunch,” music to the ears of salty lovers everywhere, Immersion rivals the overdone avo-toast and stacked pancakes with huge plates of fried chicken and eggs, mascarpone pancakes and, of course, bacon-topped waffles. I think Rue Lucien Sampaix would cease to be without bacon riding a magic carpet of carbohydrates.
Also visit their newest location: 23 Rue Danielle Casanova
O/HP/E: 27 Rue du Château d’Eau
Employing the rigorous scientific method and hewing the stringent journalistic standards demanded by sceptical people around the world, I, fully disguised, infiltrated the Sunday brunch scene and came across the bewildering name O/HP/E, one of the newest additions to the morning food scene. (It stands for Objects, Homemade Pâtisserie, Épicerie)
Less of a sit-down-and-gorge establishment, this épicerie-pâtisserie hybrid calls for a more on-the-go breakfast with locally made juices and well-packaged ginger shots, paired of course with a home-made ganache filled fruits rouges tartelette, for a balanced detox. And coffee roasted by our dearly beloved Terres de Café, winner of the Best Roaster in France award.
P.S.: This one weird trick — people behind you in line hate it.
We highly recommend you download the French app Skeepit. It’s a backdoor way to ‘get in line’ while not physically being in line.
I’m one of those anxious brunch types, just thinking about the lines makes me need a side of Xanax. Skeepit, however, (still new-ish at the time I’m writing this) is the new hostess. All the places that command hours-long lines now require you to get a virtual spot online, instead of having you glower at them into their windows.
It’s a brilliant way of taking reservations while maintaining the pretense of not taking reservations. Log in while you brush your teeth and see what the wait is like before you venture out, and then ‘get in line’ while you’re still getting your boots on.
So, go ahead and grab an espresso down the street to avoid getting the twitches. Like some futuristic hocus pocus, you’ll still be ‘in line’ for those pancakes in spirit, if not IRL. Which is the best type of line to be in…
For more Parisian Brunch intel, you know what to do
Indecorous Culturevore and Polychrome Chow Virtuosa Kat Walker likes nice things.
She once went to a job interview for that was supposed to be for sales but was actually for prostitution (the high-class version, she hopes lol) at a fancy hotel in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (article coming soon) and, another time interviewed for a position as a phone psychic.
She passed both with flying colors. However she declined the human trafficking position but stuck around longer than she should have to be able to write about it. (Are you not entertained?)
As for the telephone psychic gig, she only lasted one day, even though the pay was excellent. Wooooooo…..She sees you subscribing to our weekly PARIS RIGHT NOW dispatch and also our Patreon. There is also a man in your future.
Now she is settled in as your Editor-in-Mischief here, leading the charge to not take Paris so damn seriously…let’s frolic a bit, non?
When she’s not writing about croissants, love, culture, and lovable, sexy croissants, she is a gonzo performance artist whipping up a (usually) political ruckus. Her rabble rousing has provoked the attention of various public forums, like the time she appeared in the movie The Yes Men Fix the World as Russian journalist Laika Gagarina or was featured in RollCall’s Heard on the Hill for her mockery of the U.S. senate. Other efforts have landed her in the Le Nouvel Observateur, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Reader.
In other places and other lives, the actual live guy who played Ross on Friends came to see her show at a NYC gallery.
She has never had a weirder lunch than that one when an FBI informant offered to kill her business partner for her.
She declined (phew) and that’s why she’s here, freely- and un-jailed-ly writing about croissants and perverts and the Eiffel Tower (in that order, usually) for PARIS > DEFINED MAGAZINE.
Her perfectly impossible dinner in Paris would be at Pierre Sang on Gambey (the waiter chooses the wine) with Genesis P. Orridge, Napoleon Bonaparte (he picks up the tab and the waiter knows this in advance when picking wines), Christopher Hitchens, Anais Nin, and Ketamine in attendance. Drinks after at le17 but back in time, like 2017.
Her favorite French word is ‘bruit’ but only when a hot girl says it slowly.
In a bid for your attention and approval she writes things here and manages this unruly tribe of Parisians endeavoring to bring you what Parising is really about.
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