An American Thanksgiving in Paris with a twist!

A new Thanksgiving tradition - riding on the Grand Roue at the place de la Concorde

I call myself an expat. An American in Paris. But that's a lie. I realized just how much of a misnomer that designation is when I had to dredge up long forgotten memories during a recent interview with a French Ph.D. student who wanted to know about the challenges faced by expats living in France. When she asked which American comfort foods I carry home in my suitcase, my answer proved unsatisfactory. A strange amalgam of cultures, I'm as likely to miss Indonesia's spicy nasi goreng as America's tangy barbecue.

When I received the following message from Rachel on Out and About's Facebook page, I knew I had to come clean.

Hello! Last year I was so appreciative of your post on where to do Thanksgiving in Paris. Are you planning on doing another for this year? I would be ever so grateful!
Your local homesick American

Rather than write a post with suggestions for where to have an American Thanksgiving with all the traditional trimmings, I'm going to propose that you do something special ... yet completely different this year. Be creative! Think outside the traditional Thanksgiving box. Combine something uniquely Parisian with something from your past. Only you know which of your familial traditions are negotiable and which ones aren't. I can skip the turkey but there's no way that I can forego my mother's Picayune Pecan Pie. It's a must-have holiday staple.

Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées

In 2012, we stuffed ourselves on (get ready for the twist!) ... spicy fish soup, giant sea bass a la plancha and the best rice pudding that I've ever tasted. There wasn't a cranberry or pumpkin pie in sight, but we still have fond memories of our Carte Blanche Thanksgiving dinner at Chez L'Ami Jean.

In 2013, we gave thanks for France's pivotal role in the American Revolutionary War by dining at 1728. The elegant restaurant is located in the beautifully restored salons of the mansion formerly owned by my hero, the Marquis de Lafayette. Afterwards, we went for a spin on the Grand Roue and admired the twinkling Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées. In keeping with tradition, the finale of the evening was a big slice of pecan pie.

I'm not yet sure what we'll do this year ... but whatever it is, 2014 will be remembered for its uniquely Parisian Thanksgiving.

If you prefer to have a more traditional dinner, there's a good chance that the ideas listed in my post, Some ideas for where to eat Thanksgiving dinner in Paris - 2013, are still valid.

Thanks to Bridget Wall for forwarding Emily Monaco's entertaining article, Tiny Ovens, Hidden Cranberries: How to Survive Thanksgiving in Paris. It reminded me of my early attempts at recreating Thanksgiving in foreign lands.

And here's a Washington Post article with an excellent suggestion via Anne: Thanksgiving Aha! moment: To relieve the holiday stress, just leave the U.S.

Our Thanksgiving staple - my mother's pecan pie


  1. Now about that pie! Yummy is all I can say. We are more the chocolate pecan pie types but all pecan pie is good to me. Let's get cooking.


  2. My Thanksgivings have been different every year since I've left home, but pie has been the one constant, which now includes your mom's pecan pie! :)

  3. I love pie. Bought a pumpkin pie the other day so that I could have it before I come to Paris. There are so many nice restaurants there, I will not be missing Turkey. My favorite place, La Coupole. Always a fine meal in a fun atmosphere. Can't wait to see what I discove on trip # 3!

  4. I'm not sure I've ever had a pecan pie, shocking! It looks good

  5. Today's Washington Post suggests a cure to juggling families over Thanksgiving -- go to Paris! (Or somewhere else.) I intend to heed that advice.

  6. In 1995 I went to Thanksgiving [the store] in Paris and bought a $7 box of Stove Top stuffing and a $5 can of corn. Went back to Provins, where I was living as that year's assistante d'anglais at the Lycée Thibaut de Champagne, and roasted a chicken in my 1-cubic-foot countertop oven. Fed the lycée's assistante d'allemand and the collège's assistante d'anglais and had a blast!

  7. For Thanksgiving we go out to an Asian restaurant - and we live in the U.S. - love enjoying sharing our dining experience with families - excellent soup dumpling and no family fights!
    To me that is the real spirit of Thanksgiving.

  8. Great post. I've been doing non-traditional Thanksgivings for the past 6 or 7 years and I enjoy the holiday so much more than I once did.

  9. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family. Love to all from Brady and me!


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