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Posted at 6:53 PM ET, 09/11/2007

Vive le Georgetown

By Erin

Summer -- and its requisite vacations -- may be over, but if you're looking for a quick jaunt to France, you need travel no farther than Georgetown. Sure, the Potomac is hardly a substitute for the art-laden banks of the Seine, but a new outpost of a delicious European bakery chain means more flaky baked pastries than even Britney could house. Load up the iPod with Piaf, Nouvelle Vague or Muzzy, and boogie over to Georgetown for the croissant crawl.

Butter-loving hearts leaped for joy at the news that Le Pain Quotidien was heading to Washington. The European chain is known for its stacks of bread behind the counter, numerous fruit tarts, meringues, golden omelettes, heaping tartine sandwiches and, of course, morning pastries. The croissants crumble into golden flakes as you break into them; the chocolate filling of the pain au chocolat melts the moment it hits your mouth. Sure, it isn't perfect -- the muffins are over-sugary on top and the granola has too many raisins for my taste -- but stick to the French classics and it's basically a dream come true for those who dream of breakfast on the Seine.

Looking for more crescent-shaped goodness? Head on up Wisconsin to test out Patisserie Poupon. Poupon's croissants are widely regarded as the city's best and weekenders often fight over dwindling supplies. Unabashedly full of butter, the croissants come plain, au chocolat, aux amandes (an almond filling) or filled with ham and cheese. The macaroons are light, the quiche is rich and the tiny patio feels decidedly French for sipping a cafe au lait and reading Le Figaro or Asterix.

The French-on-the-run club favors La Madeleine, which is situated just up and across from Le Pain Quotidien. For me, something about juggling a tray and fighting for a table drains the magic from my Madeleine encounters. You'll find croissants in the plain, chocolate, almond, chocolate-almond and raspberry cream varieties, though I usually order tomato basil soup when I'm eating there. Stop at Marvelous Market and Dean & Deluca for a few more croissants to round it out.

Alas, one cannot live on croissants alone. Luckily, the French fun doesn't stop at baked goods. Within a few short blocks, Georgetown offers steak frites at Bistro Francais, cassoulet, boudins, duck and souffle desserts at the cozy fireplace-endowed La Chaumiere and mussels, terrines, pates and more than a few French wine choices at Bistrot Lepic. A perfect lemon tart with fabulous wine from Citronelle should top off the French fest.

Crepes you favor? Choose between Cafe Bonaparte orSnap. Both stuff your crepes with sweet and savory fillings.

So, Georgetown's got most of the things you'll need to make your faux French vacation complete. All you really need is a beret, which, come to think of it, should be readily available for your little tete at Proper Topper.

-- Erin

By Erin  | September 11, 2007; 6:53 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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What, no mention of the most affordable - and most authentic French everyday food in Georgetown - Cafe LaRuche?
It deserved billing way above the chains you mention.

Posted by: Paul | September 11, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

It appears the reviews for Le Pain Quotidien are those of a prior establishment.

Posted by: FC | September 12, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I concur - omitting Cafe La Ruche is a very amateur blunder. The escargot alone make it worthy of placing near the top of the list.

Posted by: Outrageous | September 12, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

French talk always brings out the haters! While we're at it, I HATE Cafe La Ruche, but I guess we all have our faves. Snap's not too hot, either.
Le Pain Quotidien sounds good, though.

Posted by: Haterz | September 12, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh that is weak. I posted a comment pointing out that Le Pain Quotidien isn't even French, it's Belgian, and they deleted the post!

They'll probably delete this too.


Posted by: Anon | September 12, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if your original comment isn't showing. You should post it again.

We fully support the Belgians (which is why I called LPQ European and not French), so I'm glad you point it out. Hopefully you'll agree that the pains au chocolat and croissants are French cuisine, though.

Posted by: Erin | September 12, 2007 8:20 PM | Report abuse

It's also annoying to see no mention that Le Pain Quotidien uses all organic ingredients - that's it's raison d'être. You would think that would be a selling point. (Unless they've sold out, in which case I'm very annoyed.)

I'm just relieved that DC is finally getting one. The hazelnut spread is to die for. (so is the fake better-than-nutella)

Posted by: MB | September 13, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Cafe La Ruche is my favorite!

Posted by: Andy | September 13, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

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