7 Places to Pretend You're French in NYC
Because following French bulldogs on Instagram doesn't count
It's common knowledge that New Yorkers are obsessed with all things Gallic, between Parisians' effortless style, out-of-this-world pastries and, of course, cheese. And while we wouldn't be mad at a transatlantic getaway anytime soon, there are plenty of spots to feel très français in NYC.
Stepping into this Paris-based boulangerie is like passing into carb nirvana--and we're more than happy to go toward the light. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of options (pistachio éclairs? apple cinnamon brioche?), just remember, you can't go wrong with a classic croissant and a café au lait. Make sure to grab a to-go baguette and tuck it under your arm for maximum effect.
Multiple locations in New York; maison-kayser-usa.com
Francophiles and bibliophiles alike will find plenty to love at this charming Upper East Side bookshop--inside a landmarked mansion--dedicated to titles from French-speaking countries. (Don't worry, there are lots of options translated into English.) Make sure to pause from browsing long enough to look up at the gorgeous Zodiac-inspired ceiling.
972 Fifth Ave. (at E. 79th St.); 212-650-0070 or albertine.com
Pétanque in Bryant Park
Try your hand at this traditional French game that looks like bocce but, as proponents will tell you, is very different. (And how could you not love a game that has a ball called "the piglet"?) Let La Boule New Yorkaise show you the ropes at Bryant Park on weekdays from 11 to 7. Once you've got your throwing game down, show off your skills at the semi-secret court in the garden at the Standard East Village.
Meets near the northwest corner of Bryant Park, Sixth Ave. (at W. 42nd St.); labouleny.com
Films on the Green
You've already seen Amélie a dozen times--now dive deep into French cinematic territory at this outdoor screening series that's co-produced by the French Embassy and NYC Parks. This year's series is wrapping up, but you can still catch Céline Sciamma’s Parisian coming-of-age tale Girlhood on September 8.
Columbia University, Rotunda, Low Memorial Library, 535 W 116th St.; frenchculture.org
Le French Diner
Something about this hole-in-the-wall neighborhood staple makes it feel as though you’ve stepped into a side-street brasserie in Paris. The chalk-written menu changes often, but expect to see no-frills, all-delicious riffs on French comfort food like duck rillettes, smoked oysters and tarte tatin. Add some French vin and we might never leave.
188 Orchard St. (at Houston St.); 212-777-1577 or lefrenchdiner.com
Aedes de Venustas
You've already nailed the artfully undone hair and the perfect red lip. All you need now is an oh-so-chic fragrance, which is where this West Village perfumery comes in. The shop--which happens to look like a Victorian parlor loaded with flowers--stocks coveted European imports, and the knowledgeable staff will help you find a signature scent in no time.
9 Christopher St. (at Gay St.); 212-206-8674 or aedes.com
Coucou French Classes
Feeling antsy for that trip to Paris yet? Before you start looking for flights, brush up on your vocabulary beyond hors d'oeuvres and prix fixe at this French language school with classes in Williamsburg and Soho. Class sizes max out at eight people, and it's not unheard of for a glass of wine to accompany the curriculum (authenticity counts, after all).
Locations in Williamsburg and Soho; 347-529-6168 or coucoufrenchclasses.com