“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris, as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
None other than the infamous Ernest Hemingway spoke those words about Paris, where he spent many years alongside the likes of
Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, roaming the streets and writing what we know today as works of artistic genius. Hemingway held Paris on a pedestal and immersed himself in its charm.
There isn’t a place quite like Paris. Whether your reason to visit is the cafés, the art or the history, it’s the Parisian charm that seduces you to stay. Sadly, most of us don’t have the funds or the time to grab a quick six hour flight. Fortunately for us, we live in a city that has been described as very European and is filled with numerous quaint cafés and bistros that can satisfy your cultural needs.
La Croissanterie Figaro has encompassed the Parisian charm and established it into a miniature café in the Mile End of Montreal. Upon entry, you’re immediately enthralled by the smell of fresh croissants au beurre, a stereotypical parisian tune resembling the one from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, antique furniture and Renaissance-style statuettes.
I felt like I was transported to Paris in the 1920s. Surprisingly, to my immediate displeasure, there was no Hemingway or Fitzgerald glaring at me from the dark corners of the room.
Figaro describes itself as “un petit coin perdu de Paris,” which translates to “a little lost corner of Paris,” summing up the place perfectly.
La Croissanterie Figaro has quite a long history. It was initially a house before it was transformed into a boutique in the early ‘20s, and then a candy store. It went through many changes as it was passed from one owner to another over the years, from a bakery to a type of fast-food joint. It was only in 1991, when Al Charmant took over the business, that it became the elegant and charming bistro that it is today. Interestingly enough, the ancient oven that was installed when it was known as a hippy bakery in the ‘80s is still visible in the bistro today, adding to its compelling glamour.
To complete the look, every waitress and waiter speaks in a thick Parisian accent, a nice prerequisite to working in this bistro and something I did not expect. The menu is kept small and simple; the desserts and the petit dejeuner, as well as their dynamite coffees, are the heart of it. In the summer, a terrace is set up along the sidewalk, where one can enjoy the sights of one of Montreal’s oldest neighbourhoods.
French writer Honoré de Balzac once said that “whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.” So to add a bit of charm to your day, a venture to this little slice of Paris they call La Croissanterie Figaro, is something we can do to get closer to the elegance we so desperately desire.
La Croissanterie Figaro is located on 5200 Hutchison St. in Outremont.