P’tite Bougnate (Paris, France)

Well, after a bit less than a week in France spent in Grenoble and Paris, it was time to catch a late morning flight home. Wanting to avoid the miasma of an airport breakfast, I decided to grab breakfast on my way to the airport. I was staying near Gare du Nord and Gare de L’est, an area not particularly known for French bistrots and cafes, much of it being more of the cell-phone-cover, beauty supply stores, and coiffures district, but right next to my hotel on the corner of the busy Boulevard de Magenta and rue de Chabrol was a nice little cafe that showed some potential: P’tite Bougnate (“Bougnate” means a woman from Auvergne, in a word that has a most interesting etymology, but that’s a story for another time and place).

The big attraction at P’tite Bougnate is the large sidewalk patio, basically facing Gare du Nord two blocks away; sitting right on Boulevard de Magenta, this spot sees a lot of traffic of both local Parisiens and travels heading to and from both of the train stations, as well as a healthy stream of bicyclists darting back and forth since Boulevard de Magenta is a major biking corridor. So it’s prime people watching.

Being at 7 in the morning on my visit, they had just opened, so I opted to sit inside. P’tite Bougnate’s Interior is quite handsome as well, with both a pleasant indoor dining room and a walk-up counter for quick service by pedestrians. The efficient staff noted that I had sat down, and quickly offered up a menu of breakfast specialties

While I was considering what I wanted for my actual breakfast, I ordered a Café Viennese to start. I always like a good Café Viennese: espresso served up with a hearty amount of whipped cream both mixed into the coffee and piled atop the mug, and then sprinkled with cocoa powder. Here at P’tite Bougnate, the result was a structurally-impressive mound of whipped cream, and it’s a testament to the cream quality that the whip held up firmly as I enjoyed the coffee. I’d definitely recommend stopping into Bougnate to try this impressive version.

For my main course, I did a simple order of crêpes with bananas and Nutella (one of my favorite combinations), and I enjoyed the rendition at Bougnate: the crêpe batter itself was on the eggier end of the spectrum, making for some nice firm and toothy crêpes, and they were fried up to just the point of a good crisp (bordering, but not crossing, from “crispy” to “burnt”). The result was enjoyable and flavorful, and just enough breakfast to get me off to my flight at the airport.

Really, I enjoyed P’tite Bougnate; for this neighborhood it’s a particular gem, and a good respite from the heavy traffic of two of Paris’ more busy stations. I’ll have to come by and try them for lunch or dinner at some point.

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