By Ella Riley-Adams
Walking down the street in SoHo, you’re guaranteed to witness a few French conversations. Incredibly, simply stylish people speaking the language of love. Okay, maybe they’re shouting at their children about a recent extravagant purchase, but still. It sounds pretty.
You’re also likely to see people who wish they were speaking French. These are the men and women who studied abroad in Paris, maybe lived there for a couple years after college. It’s possible they’ve never actually been to the nation, but they’ve fostered a love of French culture nonetheless. If MeetMoi has just introduced you to someone who mentions their appreciation for “cafés charmants” or describes their weekly croissant-baking, Amélie-watching ritual, you probably just encountered a Francophile.
Never fear, this is how you’ll show them a good time—and prove you have a certain je ne sais quoi.
For the casual and curious: Vive la Crepe Whether you and your date are in the mood for sweet or savory, Vive la Crepe will have something to satisfy. The Union Square location is small, but it’s in a charming area. After you’ve enjoyed your nutella or ham and gruyere-filled crepes, wander down University Place. You’ll pass NYU’s beautiful Maison Française before you arrive at Washington Square Park.
For the artist and romantic: The Met Visit the grand old museum to see paintings by French greats like Degas and Monet in the European Painting Galleries. Even if neither of you is an art history buff, the Met is a quiet place to converse and learn more about one another. You never know what subjects a painting will spark. Was your date once a ballerina like Degas’ dancers? Does Renoir’s “Daughters of Catulle Mendès” remind you of the subway violin player you saw last week? Let the art take you on an unexpected trip. And don’t leave before you go to the roof. You won’t see the Eiffel Tower, but the view of New York City may be just as breathtaking.
If all the art wandering has you peckish, stop by French transplant Ladurée. Authentic macarons (slightly crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle) have never looked so good. Get as many flavors as you can justify—the edible gems are expensive!–and eat them in Central Park.
For the late night explorer: Experimental Cocktail Club This Lower East Side bar is unmarked, so your date will be delighted when the door opens to this ambiance-laden location. Like at its Parisian counterpart (started by Frenchmen Romée de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon and Bierre-Charles Cros in 2007), bartenders serve alcoholic concoctions with a staggering variety of syrups, liqueurs, spices and oils. Before you spring this on your partner for the evening, make sure they’re not a PBR or Corona-and-lime swilling guy or girl. Adventurous taste buds are a must.
For the fashionista: Maison Kitsuné Kitsuné is a Parisian fashion/music label and the epitome of modern chic. New York Times Magazine says the brand’s New York location “retains a distinctly Parisian feel with its parquet flooring and white paneled walls.” It offers everything from soft t-shirts to flouncy dresses. Take refuge from busy midtown streets and see if this Maison offers any treasures for you or your date to take home. If you’re hungry, go for some butter-dipped radishes with fleur de sel at the NoMad, or take a decidedly American turn with coffee at Stumptown just around the corner at the Ace Hotel.
For the pastry connoisseur: Ceci Cela, Dominique Ansel Ah, SoHo, the fancy beast. Of course it’s home to two (and probably more) delectable patisseries. Take your date on a croissant tour starting at Ceci Cela (actually directly next to the 6 Spring Street subway stop) and continuing down the street to Dominique Ansel. Do your best to decide which buttery confection is better, though likely you’ll find the taste-test to be an impossible tie. Serious Eats voted Ceci Cela the best croissant in New York in 2010, while Dominique Ansel got “Best New Bakery” from Time Out New York readers.
For the foodie: L’Ecole If your pastry-centered date conversation is just too good to end or you’ve been introduced to a new Francophile through MeetMoi, check out L’Ecole on Broadway. The Culinary, Pastry, and Bread departments of The International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute) collaborate on a seasonal prix fixe menu. Because the kitchen is filled with budding chefs trying to earn their stripes, prices are more reasonable than at a traditional upscale restaurant. And if you go during restaurant week (July 16-August 31), a three-course dinner is $35.00. Both the French name and the fine food should please both the French enthusiast and you, their thoughtful New York date.