Thanksgiving in Paris

One could certainly argue that Paris—and France in general—is home of the most beautiful (and delicious) food traditions in the world. It is common for families to have long lunches on Sundays “en famille”, it is a time for everyone to share with their loved ones anecdotes from the past week. Sidewalks are crowded during lunchtime year round, with friends huddled together under the heat lamps in winter and couples sipping cool drinks under the shade of café terraces in summer. France seems to be the country that invented—and continues to uphold—the notion that meals are meant to be enjoyed and shared with loved ones. While Americans—and particularly those of my kin, New Yorkers—have become increasingly too busy to spend mealtimes with their families and friends as much as the French do, there is one day of the year which my fellow Americans finally find the opportunity to slow down and break bread with their loved ones. That day is what, you may ask? Thanksgiving of course!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year as it officially starts the holiday season. It also is a day that gives way to opportunities for reflection, to express gratefulness and thanks, and to spend time with loved ones. While my family lives in New York and celebrated Turkey Day stateside, I was lucky enough to have my mother visit for the holiday! However, where can two Americans celebrate a day filled with cranberries, roast turkey, and pumpkin pie—decidedly the antithesis of traditional French food? As it turns out, one needn’t look further than Treize Café, near the Jardin du Luxeumbourg in the sixth arrondissement. The café is run by an American expat and staffed by other Francophiles; they serve typical American fare with a masterfully executed French influence. On Thanksgiving night, my (very French) boyfriend, my mother and I arrived café, stomachs growling in preparation for our first Parisian Thanksgiving feast. We were treated to all of the classics, each served with a French flair—French-style green beans, roast turkey with provençale herbs, freshly baked biscuits (okay, not so French, but the butter slathered on them was!), cornbread stuffing with saucisson, cranberry sauce made like a traditional French jam, and “tarte pecan” (good old fashioned pecan pie). Other American expats and curious Frenchies celebrating the holiday alongside us crowded the tables, laughing and sipping on French champagne. It was one of my most favorite Thanksgivings of recent memory and the perfect mélange of American and French tradition. Sharing a delicious meal en famille, as it turns out, is as American (and French) as it gets.


Texte et Photo Antonia Bentel - Barnard College