Spend enough time walking around New York City and you could potentially hear conversations in around 800 languages.
NYC is quite the melting pot, which makes it the perfect destination for exploring another culture without ever leaving the city. Travel to France via your palate by sampling French cuisine at authentic brasseries, and complete your cultural immersion by visiting unique ethnic gems specializing in French fashion, food, and events.
If you’re looking for a French twist on a New York staple, brunch at Cafe Tallulah is a must. Wander into the romantic cafe and revel in its vintage charm. With its tin ceiling, exposed brick walls, and expert bartenders crafting creative cocktails behind its 50-foot zinc bar, you’ll instantly fall in love. You’ll be even more smitten when you smell the inspiring aromas of tangy lemon-ricotta pancakes, cheesy croque monsieur, and smoky quiche Lorraine. Pair your meal with a mimosa or Bloody Mary before moving on to a signature creation—such as the gin-focused Pink Panther with honey syrup (that’s made in-house), pink peppercorns, gingerroot, and absinthe bitters—and sneaking down to the subterranean lounge.
Saint James Boutique
To play the part, you’ll need to look the part. Saint James Boutique is one of France’s 43 haute couture and ready-to-wear brands. In fact, Saint James has been granted Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company, or EVP) status by France in recognition of their excellent craftsmanship. Peruse the dizzying array of must-haves, but be sure to pick up one of their classic signature Saint James striped tees, made popular in the 20th century by style icon Coco Chanel.
If you visit the Upper East Side location (they’re also in the West Village) pop by the Lady M Cake Boutique next door for a traditional French mille crêpe to complete the comprehensive experience.
Like Cafe Tallulah, Ladurée immerses you in French whimsy through food—although here, the focus is specifically sweets. You no longer need a plane ticket to savor the perfect French pastry. This historic luxury bakery started in Paris in 1862 and has since expanded to the Empire State. You’ll be delighted by the cases of colorful cookies, sumptuous ice creams, and golden madeleine cakes. But the real highlights are the macarons, which are available in an array of decadent yet delicate flavors such as lemon, pistachio, praline, cherry blossom, and mint strawberry. The business even sells perfumed candles in a variety of enticing scents; pair one with your macaron for a multisensory experience.
Dijon mustard is an iconic pantry staple in French cuisine. In New York, you can learn all about this beloved spicy condiment at Maille, where you’ll discover how fields of bright yellow mustard flowers are transformed into an equally exquisite edible treat. The 270-year-old French brand boasts being “America’s first-ever Dijon mustard boutique,” offering over 50 types of mustard and unique amenities, such as a mustard sommelier, mustard on tap from a French ceramic pump, a mustard bar with complimentary samples, and unusual mustards, such as mustard with white wine, Parmesan, and basil.
French Institute Alliance Française
No French immersion tour would be complete without a visit to the French Institute Alliance Française. Here, you can take French classes and sign up for exciting cultural events like film screenings, wine tastings, discussions, seminars on French cuisine, and more. You don’t need to bring your passport, but you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a hub of French culture. It is truly an unforgettable experience.