Monday, February 7, 2011

France-less in Seattle: What's a French girl to do?

On a particularly wet and dreary Seattle winter day, our family decided to go on a field trip while most of our friends - and the rest of America it seems - stayed home to watch football.  Off we went, across the bridge, to the Emerald City. We had originally planned to drive North, catch a ferry, and drive around Whidbey Island. This has been a favorite adventure of ours for years. We got up late though, following a long day of skiing for Les Boys, and an even longer day of teaching for Moi. Change of plans. Seattle it would be. But wait, we needed a theme, a place to go. Would we go back to lovely Madison Park? The waterfront did not seem that appealing in the drizzle. How about lively Fremont? Mmmmm... Been there, done that a few too many times... Then lightning struck: On the day Americans celebrate football (and TV commercials, interestingly), this family would celebrate... France. Vive la différence!

We arrived late morning, and the rain stopped. We took this as a good sign. We parked by Pike Place Market, and made our first stop at a great French address, Paris Grocery. The place is not cheap, but it's always fun to browse the shelves loaded with authentic products, that include food, wine, books, dinnerware, stationery, and a variety of other items made in France. 

I miss those guys...  Northwest Banana slugs can't compare!
Salt that costs as much as caviar...

We left with a few treasures: two bottles of hard cider from Normandy (at just $9 a pop, I felf I was getting a good deal), herbes de provence, birthday cards, moutarde de Dijon, and a selection of French candy (including the caramel sucettes -lollipops- I loved as a child). There was so much more, but since we were planning to walk around Pike Place market for a while, I just could not pile too much inside my chi-chi Galeries Lafayette shopping bag. After looking at all that food, we decided we were famished. Pike Place Market offers several options to the French brunch lover. Would it be Maximilien ? Le Pichet? A simple jambon-beurre at Le Panier French bakery? Non... in  the damp and grey Northwest weather, only Café Campagne would do. 

Café Campagne is a popular place especially on Sundays, but thanks to the gods of football, a lot of people had decided to stay home and eat potato chips and dips. Très bien! Le Husband and I immediately ordered two mimosas for apéritif, followed by our favorite dish les oeufs en meurette. Junior settled for his beloved croque-monsieur.

We enjoyed our lovely table overlooking a busy side street, Post Alley, and then the feast began... I can still taste the rich red wine sauce coating a generous serving of the best French fries since... McDonald's! 

Our friendly waitress even took a picture of us, as a souvenir of our "French day in Seattle". 

A stroll was necessary after this feast. We walked down to the busy waterfront and visited a few boutiques. Unfortunately, most of our old favorite stores -what a great place Ye Olde Curiosity Shop used to be!- now cater to the cruise ship clientèle and have lost a great deal of character in the process (cheesy key rings and t-shirts anyone?)

We would not be defeated and decided there was time for one more French stop before Le Husband had to drive back and get ready for his late afternoon flight to California. How about some snacks that Junior and I could enjoy during our Sunday movie night? 

If you recall, our recent survey about the best French businesses in the area listed a West Seattle eatery, Bakery Nouveau, as a must-see! Off to West Seattle and across another bridge, we went.  

Bakery Nouveau did not disappoint. It was still packed after 3:00pm. People were lining up to buy sandwiches, award-winning baguettes and fresh pastries. I could not have possibly eaten another bite after our fantastic brunch at Café Campagne, but les Boys ordered two golden, flaky pains au chocolat to go. I was happy taking pictures... virtual eating if you will.

I will have to go back, preferably on a sunny day, when I can enjoy one or two of their delicious pastries before taking a long walk at nearby Alki beach! West Seattle has a charming downtown and we don't visit often. I spotted several promising boutiques and coffee shops, and managed to spend a few dollars at a well-stocked stationery store (have I already mentioned I am a sucker for fine paper and elegant pens?)

This was a successful day overall. It was good to be reminded that there are still treasures to be found -even after so many years, even for a lover of all things French- in the city of Seattle--- A bientôt...


  1. You whet my appetite for Cafe Campagne and french pastries, what a perfect French field trip. Great pic of you and your boys.


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle