Paris has a large and thriving American expatriate community, making it relatively easy to get a slice of Americana (whether authentic or kitschy and nostalgic) in the city of light. Looking for an American-style pancake breakfast, complete with a refillable cup of Joe (watery filter coffee, also known as jus de chaussettes in French-- literally, "sock juice")? Need to stock up on canned pumpkin or cranberry sauce for a special Thanksgiving or holiday meal? From shops to restaurants and even churches, getting a slice of "Paris Americana" shouldn't be too difficult.
Bookmark this handy guide to turn to for those homesick moments, or for those among you who've always wanted to travel to the US.
American-Style Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars
Once a rare sight in the city that prides itself on its own cuisine and has at times written off American cuisine as a contradiction in terms, Americana is now raging in Paris, with a new crop of greasy spoon, 1950s style diners popping up around the city. Pancakes, waffles, milkshakes and malts in a gazillion flavors, and of course, burgers feature prominently on the menus at these diners, sporting Route 66 signs, paper cardboard cutouts of Elvis and Marilyn, bright red or blue booths and neon jukeboxes.
It ain't high cuisine. But it's fun.
Breakfast in America
Named after a Supertramp song circa 1979, this diner has two locations: one in the Latin Quarter on the left bank, and the other in the Marais, on the trendy and contemporary right bank. It's an old favorite among American expatriates and Parisians looking to ironically bask in "Yankee" culture. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, popular menu items here include chili con carne, blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup, veggie wraps, club sandwiches, and cheesecakes. There's the aforementioned bottomless cup of Joe/"sock juice", too.
They also offer Sunday brunch, but make sure to come early, or risk standing in long lines.
Address: 17, rue des Ecoles, 5th arrondissement and 4, rue Mahler, 4th arrondissement
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 54 50 28 /01 42 72 40 21
Happy Days Diner
Pale blue and pink dominate the decor in this 1950s-style chain, where you'll find a Disneyfied version of American culture cheerily beckoning you in. If it lacks in authenticity-- the fare is just a notch above mediocre and last I tasted, the milkshakes are little more than milk with a tiny splash of ice cream thrown in-- this is a good place for the young ones especially, and the service is very friendly. Burgers, sandwiches, and sweets abound, including a few decent veggie options. Full breakfasts are available.
Address: 25 rue de la Reynie, 1st arrondissement. There are also several other locations around Paris: See the official website.
This restaurant and cafe near the Opera Garnier and on the same street as the famed Harry's New York Bar (see below) is heavy on the kitsch-Americana factor when it comes to decor and ambiance-- and that's exactly what keeps the crowds coming. Burgers, several varieties of fries (chili, cheese, etc), milkshakes, sundaes, omelettes, bagels, and even "Tex-mex" and Japanese-style items make up the menu here-- but don't expect authentic Mexican or Japanese food. At night, the restaurant offers American-themed cabaret shows complete with scantily clad showgirls-- better forgo this joint if you're looking for a night of wholesome family fun, in other words.
Address: 21 rue Daunou, 2nd arrondissement
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 60 99 89
Nightcap: Harry's New York Bar
This classic bar, famous for its cocktails, first opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1911, and is the brainchild of Harry MacElhone. The likes of Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre came here to enjoy the elaborate cocktails, and today Harry's is still a legend, symbol of a bygone era. It's one of the picks for the best bars in Paris, and is ideal for an elegant and nostalgic nightcap.
Address: 5 rue Daunou, 2nd arrondissement
Metro: Opera or Pyramides
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 61 71 14
Visit the official website
American-Style Shops and Grocery Stores
If you're willing to pay a hefty price for items like canned cranberry sauce, breakfast cereals you can't find in French supermarkets, sauces and condiments hailing from the US, these shops are good choices. I also suggesting you try your luck by looking out for American goodies at gourmet Paris foodshops including Lafayette Gourmet and La Grande Epicerie, both of which stock brands and products from around the world.
This grocery, a favorite among expatriates looking to put together holiday meals or special American-style desserts, stocks everything you'd need for special occasions-- but you can also find everyday favorites like Kraft Macaroni n' Cheese, Betty Crocker cake mixes, cornstarch, coveted cereal brands, candy bars, etc. They also sell individual slices of American-style cheesecake. Again, the prices are pretty steep here, so make sure you can't find what you're looking for in one of the French supermarkets first.
Thanksgiving also has an online shop.
Address: 20, rue St Paul, 4th arrondissement
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 77 68 29
The Real McCoy
This American-style shop near the Eiffel Tower also has a cafe that serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, and is open seven days a week.
Address: 194 rue de Grenelle (shop); 49 avenue Bosquet (cafe), both in the 7th arrondissement
Tel: +33 (0)1 45 56 98 82
Mexi and Co.
This Mexican-style eatery offers, in my estimation, mediocre fare (see my review here). But its tiny shop featuring Mexican and American grocery products and brightly colored decor is quite cute, and if you need some refried beans or a jar of enchilada sauce, this is the place to come.
Address: 10 Rue Dante, 5th arrondissement
Tel: +33 (0)1 46 34 14 12
Community and Culture
If you're on a longer sojourn in Paris and are looking for some American community and culture, here are a couple of places to look.
Shakespeare and Company
Started up by American expatriate and beatnik George Whitman, this bookshop is still a haven for "tumbleweeds", young, mostly American writers looking to live the Paris dream who work and live in the shop. It's cramped, dusty, and unbeatable.
American Church in Paris
This interdenominational church is the first American church established outside of the US. In addition to serving as a spiritual hub for many, it's also a useful place to find a class, temporary housing, or to place your own want ad on the message boards.
Address: 65 quai d'Orsay, 7th arrondissement
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 62 05 00