Since April, I have now a good reason to hang out around les Halles in Paris. One of our greatest French chefs, Alain Ducasse opened one of the awaited restaurant, the brasserie Champeaux. And of course, we had to discover it.
Not only Alain Ducasse wanted to give a very French touch to the newly renovated Les Halles but the Michelin starred chef payed homage to the area’s past in the new restaurant’s name. In fact, Champeaux was the name once given to the locality where Louis VI ordered the building of Les Halles, Paris’s central fresh food market. Then, from 1800, a famous neighborhood brasserie — which cropped up in the work of novelist Emile Zola — also used the name.
Beneath the glass and metal of the new La Canopée, Brasserie Champeaux serves hungry diners from 8am to midnight, or 1am on Saturday. Alain Ducasse has had to think big to satisfy the appetite of the neighborhood’s young clientele, set to rub shoulders with business people and tourists in this 180-seat contemporary space, designed by the Ciguë architecture practice.
Diners can also feast their eyes on the restaurant’s electronic billboard — of the kind showing arrivals and departures in a railway station — displaying information such as dishes of the day prepared by head chef Bruno Brangea, the current wine list and inspirations of the moment.
An urban decor traversed by light and defined by industrial effects and furnishings, Alain Ducasse is serving up dishes based on good, old-fashioned grub with a modern twist. Soufflés is the restaurant’s signature dish, with sweet and savoury options to choose from.
Alongside traditional brasserie fare such as deviled eggs and the croque-monsieur hot cheese and ham sandwich, dishes is accompanied by ingredients dear to Alain Ducasse, such as spelt, spices and condiments. This revisited snapshot of traditional cuisine sees a French onion soup cooked without the gratin top, as well as a lighter take on pâté en croûte, and a spatchcock-style lemon chicken.
If les Halles might not be your favorite spot to walk around when in Paris, it might be one of your best choices when it comes to enjoy a very French brasserie and high quality food. Brasserie Champeaux is one to put on your to-do list when visiting the city of lights.