Celebrating Thanksgiving in France can be a bit of a challenge as it's an American and Canadian holiday. The French do not celebrate Thanksgiving even though many French went to the north American continent to settle there. Originally it was a thank you to their Indian neighbors for the ingredients and cooking methods they had taught the newcomers: turkey, corn and sweet potatoes.
But if you are an ex-pat living in France or are planning a visit during that time, here are tips for indulging in turkey day.
Where to buy that turkey
If you plan a Thanksgiving Feast for your French friends, don’t be surprised if they have no idea what this is about.
You’ll find turkeys (une dinde in French; don’t use le dindon as that applies to the living animal); sold all over France so there won’t be a problem sourcing the main ingredient.
Turkeys are a favorite here, particularly in Licques in North France, which is famous for its annual Turkey Festival held in December.
But what about those other vital ingredients?
Food Stores in Paris
You will pay a premium for American foods imported to France, but hey-ho, if it gives you a taste for home, how can you resist? And you’ll probably meet fellow Americans feeling equally nostalgic which is another bonus.
- Thanksgiving Store at 20, rue Saint Paul 75004 Paris, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 42 77 68 29; open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 7pm, Sunday 11am to 6pm. Opened in 1990, this is a great store for getting your holiday food and decorations. You can order an uncooked or cooked turkey, as well as several trimmings (such as cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes). They also provide an extensive Thanksgiving catering menu. It’s owned by Judith Bluysen, who does a lot of the baking herself.
- The Real McCoy, 194 Rue de Grenelle, Paris 75007, Tel: 01 45 56 98 82. This is the place for all those ingredients for Thanksgiving, and also those American favorites like Oreos, Reese’s Pieces, Dr. Pepper and Hershey bars. It's now in its 27th year.
- For American groceries and food that you buy online and have delivered, check out My American Market
Restaurants for Thanksgiving meals
Try these Parisian restaurants for a Thanksgiving meal.
- Restaurant Verjus, 52, rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris is the place to book for an up-market Thanksgiving Menu using seasonal ingredients. The restaurant was opened in 2012 by two Americans who have made this a local favorite as well as a home-from-home for visiting Americans. They also have a wine bar, Verjus Bar à Vins, 47, rue Montpensier, 75001 Paris, and a third restaurant called Ellsworth, at 34, rue de Richelieu, 75001.
Main booking telephone number for all Verjus restaurants. Tel.: 00 33 (0) 1 42 97 54 40
- Harry’s New York Bar, 5 rue Daunou, 75002 Paris, Tel.: 00 33 (0)1 42 61 71 14, , open Sunday to Thursday noon to 2am, Friday, Saturday noon to 3am. Harry’s Bar was opened on Thanksgiving day, November 26, 1911 by a former American jockey with a New York friend. It’s a great fun place.
- Joe Allen, 30 rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 42 36 70 13, open Monday to Saturday noon to 1am, Sunday 11am to 12.30am. Everybody knows Joe Allen’s, as there are branches throughout the world. The Paris version gives you a real Thanksgiving dinner; book way in advance.
- Breakfast in America (BIA) has two diners in Paris, ideal for a casual meal. They take no reservations, so turn up early. 17, rue des Ecoles, 75005 Paris, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 43 54 50 28. 4 rue Malher, 75004 Paris, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 42 72 40 21.
- Blues Bar-B-Q, 1 rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 48 06 79 53, is the place for a rack of ribs, burgers, Texas Ranch style beans and the rest.
- Le Saint-Martin, 25 rue Louis Blanc, 75010 Paris, tel.: 00 33 (0)1 46 07 73 68, , is a small smart bistro by the canal Saint Martin. Expect a good meal at this French restaurant, or order a special take out.
And now for something completely different
- Learn how to cook your own Thanksgiving Feast with true French style at the cooking school, La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, 75004, Paris, tel.: 0033 (0)1 40 51 78 18. The cookery classes are in English. You cook your meal then eat it overlooking the Seine celebrating with a glass of Champagne and wine.
Thanksgiving Meals outside Paris
Look for any American-themed bars and restaurants via the website of the city you are visiting.
Also check out the various different American organisations scattered throughout France; you’ll be surprised at how many there are.
- The American Club of the Riviera in Nice holds a Thanksgiving lunch at the Hotel Hermitage, with members of the American Military as guests. More information from the club at 50 bd Victor Hugo, Nice, 00 33 (0)4 93 82 01 08.
- Stars ‘n Bars, 6 Quai Antoine 1er, 98000 Monaco, tel.: 00 33 (3) 77 97 97 95 95, usually holds a Thanksgiving celebration. Reservations by telephone only.
- The Association Bordeaux-USA holds a Thanksgiving dinner at Middle School Alain Fournier, 83 Rue de Saint-Genès, 33000 Bordeaux.
- The American Club of Lyon usually holds a Thanksgiving dinner where turkey and beverages are provided, but it’s a bring-your-own for the rest of the trimmings that make Thanksgiving such a special, uniquely American celebration. Mailing address is American Club of Lyon, BP 2060, 69226 Lyon Cedex 02.
Edited by Mary Anne Evans