In the space of a month, I went from gallivanting across France on a post-college gap year, to spending 50+ hours a week squinting at my work computer in the “real world.”
The transition was, understandably challenging, especially when my birthday rolled around. Last year’s had been momentous, filled with apéros and French pastries galore. This year’s promised nothing but MTA delays—my lovely past life was well and truly over. Luckily, my dad, a Francophile like myself, came to the rescue by planning a perfect French-themed day for my anniversaire. Here’s the template, so you can also treat yourself to day comme en France:
Start the Day off Right at Bien Cuit
120 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 11201
Though I rarely make the trek down to Brooklyn, I could not ignore the call to Bien Cuit, known as one NYC’s best French bakeries. With a my body in Manhattan and my heart in Paris, I could even smell it, the Frenchness of it all. Over the Brooklyn Bridge I went.
You’ll find a steady supply of fresh, hearty bread, including the basketball-sized loaves of miche. My friend brought one to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and it was the highlight of the night! Get there early for oven-kissed pain au chocolat and croissants.
Indulge at La Maison du Macaron
132 W. 23rd street, Manhattan, 10011
Head back to Manhattan for the rest of the day. Hopefully you’re not too full from your delicious fresh pain for a few macarons. Yes, Ladurée is great. The New York location allegedly flies macarons in daily from Paris (or is it just that just an urban legend?), but sidestep the hype to find some real gems in NYC. La Maison du Macaron takes their perfectly puffed and baked pastries seriously. Patrons are gently-but-firmly reminded to enjoy after letting their macarons warm to room temperature. It’s difficult advice to follow in the face of these candy-colored delights, but better things come to those who wait.
Peruse Books at Albertine
972 5th Avenue, Manhattan, 10075
Next, go to the Upper East Side to Albertine, New York’s premiere French bookstore, and the brainchild of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Housed in the beautiful and historical Whitney Payne Mansion, this quaint two-level bookstore is ideal for finding French works in both English and French. Staff are knowledgable and can help readers navigate the French literary scene (no easy task), and you can take your spoils up to the calm reading room with the astrological sky.
Stop by the Met for some French classics
1000 5th Avenue, Manhattan, 10028
Just across the street, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is enormous, boasting an impressive array of French artists in the permanent collection. After enjoying our macarons (at room temperature), my dad and I made a beeline for the European painting wing. The room of Romantics features everything from Degas to Monet and Renoir. If you’re feeling particularly dedicated, you can even purchase an audio guide and set the language to French.
Order Wine at Pardon my French (PMF)
103 Avenue B, Manhattan, 10009
If you’re looking for a glass of wine, a great brunch or dinner spot, and want to speak exclusively with attractive French waiters with enchanting accents, look no further. This East Village spot can serve whatever mood you’re looking to facilitate. Pardon my French is all at once cozy, romantic, and fun—take your pick, and have a cocktail while you’re at it.
Find a French Film Screening…Somewhere
22 E. 60th Street, Manhattan, 10022; or 18 W. Houston Street, Manhattan, 10012
France consistently produces some of the best cinéma every year, New York is overflowing with Parisians and American Francophiles, and there is still no theater that screens all of France’s insufferable, emotional, and delightful drames? C’est insupportable!
Cinéphiles are always happy to catch an old classic at L’Alliance Française, which screens movies in their auditorium on Tuesdays. The Angelika Film Center often has a French offering or two among its Indie and foreign films.