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Oct 22, 2009 10:33 AM

Thanksgiving in Paris

My wife and I will be in Paris with our 8 and 11 yr old sons. Would like to have a special Thanksgiving meal. The boys are (somewhat) used to being dragged through grand meals (or left in the hotel room) but this is a different thing -- we want a family event. Doesn't have to be traditional American Thanksgiving food (at all) but should be a memorable family meal.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Since Thanksgiving is not at all a French holiday, I doubt you will find anything resembling a traditional American turkey dinner in Paris. The French dinde is quite a different bird, even if you wanted to cook your own holiday meal.

    I have friends who rented an apartment in Paris over Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, thinking they would cook "American in Paris," but ended up instead opting for rack of lamb over turkey!

    17 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      Chef June and others: I am interested in ChefJune's comment " The French dinde is quite a different bird, even if you wanted to cook your own holiday meal." I plan to cook a dinde this Thanksgiving in Provence. Any tips?

      1. re: sderham

        "Chef June and others: I am interested in ChefJune's comment " The French dinde is quite a different bird, even if you wanted to cook your own holiday meal." I plan to cook a dinde this Thanksgiving in Provence. Any tips?"
        I have no idea; for years I've either had my rotisserie guy do one (he does 30+ a T-giving so somebody in the deepest 18th celebrates) or last year a bunch of us did it ourselves - Felice made sweet potatoes, Ptipois the veggies and Soup carved; doing an excellent job I must say. Turkey=turkey. It is what it is, company outweighs the bird.

        1. re: sderham

          The French version of turkey is a very lean bird, not at all the plump bird most Americans are accustomed to. This means it needs to be barded or otherwise fortified with fat in order not to turn out very dry by the time it is cooked through.

          1. re: ChefJune

            If you can get ahold of a turkey bag (have someone mail it to you from the States). It makes the turkey nice and tender without having to fortify it with fat (only butter it). You can get a 10kilo turkey if you have a good butcher and order in advance. :) If your butcher can't do it go to the butcher 79 r Seine 75006 PARIS
            01 55 42 65 65.

          2. re: sderham

            I'm not familiar with the French bird, but I find brining turkey is a great way to keep the meat moist and not dried out. It was very trendy a few years ago but it really makes a huge difference.

            1. re: kfoster21

              French turkey are smaller and tastier than their American counterparts (just like chicks...). It means that it is important to cook them well, and essentially on its legs rather than on its back. I'm preparing a blog post on that complicated matter, stay tuned.

              It's also important to order your bird from your butcher in advance. They're not frozen in here and they're not traditional.

              1. re: souphie

                souphie, I'm really looking forward to your post. I don't want to dissappoint my French friends for their first Thanksgiving dinner : - )

                1. re: sderham

                  Well, here's the French in case that works for you :
                  I'll have the French translation the week before Thanksgiving.

                  1. re: souphie

                    My French friends have always liked our thanxgiving turkey, esp the stuffing, esp the mashed celery root with massive butter. But they think cranberry sauce is too much of a perversion to handle.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Mine of maghrébine or alsacienne origin tend to like cranberry sauce, as do the germanophiles.

                        1. re: tmso

                          Hmm, was just considering replacing the cranberry sauce with confits d'oignons. Or am I just compounding the perversion?

                          1. re: tmso

                            Yeah -- you won't get me all tolerant and understanding and cultural diversity about that. It's just bad -- a bad habit.

                            Confit d'oignons, on the other hand...

                            1. re: souphie

                              Nah, I wasn't trying to get anyone feeling all multiculti and tolerant. I was trying to allude to the fact that when done well, cranberry sauce closely resembles the different berry sauces that are often served with game in germanic countries. If one likes those, one would probably like the type of cranberry sauce that I think of as good. If it's from a can, it's crap.

                              Confit d'oignons sounds like a great compromise, though.

                              1. re: tmso

                                You're probably right -- I don't think I ever had non crap cranberry sauce, and when I had them, it was only good because the turkey was so bad and dry.

                2. re: sderham

                  The French often serve Dinde, or Turkey for Christmas. It can be quite good, but beware! The stuffing, or farce, is quite vile.. very hard, gamey, pork liver, not the delicious bread stuffing we love.

                  1. re: Fleur

                    You can buy Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix at Thanksgiving, a little shop around the corner from me on the rue St. Paul in the Marais (4ème).

              2. Having recently hosted our 2 10-yo's, I think the hit was Le Soufflee but if you need a bird or two how about Au Petit Marguery? Both would be memorable but not "grand."

                If you want "grand" then the places in the Bois de Boulogne would do.

                John Talbott

                1 Reply
                1. re: John Talbott

                  Thanks for the suggestions. Definitely did not mean to suggest American Thanksgiving food was desirable or even poultry per se. Thinking more of best possible food in an environment less formal (and drawn out, time-wise) than the usual suspects with some "specialness" maybe to the ambience or location. Le Souffle sounds fun. Other thoughts welcome!

                2. Hello,

                  You can find a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner in Paris. Check out It is located near Canal St-Martin so nice for a walk after that large dinner.

                  1. If you actually want real thanksgiving food you can go to the Real McCoy in Paris and do any of the following:
                    -eat at the cafe- I am pretty sure that they make a thanksgiving meal (very casual) not a "nice meal out" by any means, but it gets the job done
                    -go to the real mccoy grocery store and make your own. It is expensive, but they carry all of the american brands and necessities for thanksgiving
                    -I am pretty sure that you can have them cater a thanksgiving dinner. I am almost positive that they make turkeys and sides for pick up on thanksgiving. I would call and inquire.


                    1. Thanksgiving ( in the 4th serves up a traditional meal, as well as ordering turkeys and carrying all the fixings. Can't speak as to the food; never eaten there, but I know they're there and I know they carry lots of American groceries.

                      Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in France, so it's just another Thursday as far as they're concerned.

                      Since I'm out in the provinces, I googled and came up with a poultry farm out in the middle of nowhere that raises gorgeous turkeys (they look like an American wild turkey) and butchers to order. Expensive, but the best turkey I've ever had, here or in the US -- and at about 5-6 kilos, just the right size for my little oven. Last year a girlfriend and I each roasted one of their birds, and we ended up with a couple dozen people for a traditional American Thanksgiving...and I have to say it was pretty darned awesome.

                      (We roasted ours just rubbed with olive oil and salt and pepper and both birds were deliciously moist and tender.)