The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently gave the French baguette a United Nations distinction by adding it to the cultural heritage list. The organization included the bread as a way to safeguard the methods used to make a traditional baguette, a style that French boulangeries have been churning out since the mid-1800s.
The city of bridges and the city of light have more in common than first meets the eye. Find a little piece of Paris here in Pittsburgh at some of our favorite Francophile spots.
Manger: to eat
Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery is in Millvale, but once you have one of its specialties, it will transport you to the Le Marais neighborhood of Paris. The macarons are premiere, prize-winning butter cream-filled delights. 213 North Ave., Millvale
Five Points Artisan Bakeshop in Squirrel Hill brings European-style recipes to its patrons. The family-owned and operated bakery has perfected bread and pastries, and don’t forget about the Parisian ham and cheese baguette sandwiches, an ideal lunchtime snack. 6524 Wilkins Ave., Point Breeze
Executive Pastry Chef David of Gaby et Jules has been working at the famed patisserie for the last decade, bringing his expertise all the way from Metz, the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. While it offers many products, the macarons are the true star of the show. Also run by the duo behind Gaby et Jules is Paris 66, the award-winning bistro in East Liberty offering an authentic experience of French cuisine. Gaby et Jules, 5837 Forbes Ave. and Paris 66, 6018 Centre Ave.
Madeleine Bakery & Bistro excels at crafting handmade delicacies with a traditional French twist. The attention to detail and quality ingredients are a true homage Français. While both sweet and savory have equal footing, the “jambon et beurre” — ham and butter baguette — is superior. 609 S. Trenton Ave., Regent Square
No discussion about all things French is complete without chatting about the best places for crêpes in the city. Cafe Moulin is a Shadyside bistro that offers scratch-made breakfast and lunch with both sweet and savory crêpe options. Crêpes Parisienne is the Craig Street crêperie that has been serving crêpes for nearly 25 years. Add a French cider or beer with your meal to feel like you’re people-watching along the Champs-Élysées. And over in Mt. Lebanon, Mel’s Petit Café on Cochran Road is run by Melanie Streitmatter — a native of Burgundy, France — offers a mix of sweet and savory crêpes and waffles, along with bakery items and coffee.
Bertrand brings French cuisine right to Western Pennsylvania. While anything on the menu will transport you straight to the French countryside, the escargot is a quintessential entree. Snails are also on the menu at Poulet Bleu. The Lawrenceville bistro has French-inspired dishes that will have you feeling like you stepped from Butler Street into a Parisian arrondissement.
Regarder: to look
Carnegie Museum of Art can bring just as much inspiration as a visit to the Louvre. The 115,000-square-foot building houses all genres of art, but there are a few standout works hailing from France. The city has a strong and surprising connection to French Impressionism. Pittsburgh-born painter Mary Cassatt was a protege of Edgar Degas, and you can see some of these works among many others at the museum. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland
The Grand Concourse will make you feel like you’ve returned to a Parisian train station. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Station Square mainstay has been a dining and event space for decades. While you may come to gawk at the building’s ornate style, the menu here is also something to ogle at. There’s an escargot dish among the starters and a French dip sandwich on the lunch menu. 100 W. Station Square Drive, Station Square
While Gothic architecture burgeoned in Europe from the mid-12th century to the 16th century, Pittsburgh is home to a few buildings that harken back to the dramatic style. We may not have a Notre-Dame Cathedral, but the Heinz Memorial Chapel and Cathedral of Learning are both designed in the French Gothic architectural style. Get a view of the gorgeous stained glass windows Mondays through Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland
The Omni William Penn Hotel has an Art Deco style that is an homage to French design from the early 1900s. This Great Gatsby decor may remind visitors of Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age, and this visual art and architecture can be spotted in sleek geometric styles throughout the city. 530 William Penn Place, Downtown
Apprendre: to learn
Ready to master the French language? The Alliance Française de Pittsburgh is the perfect place to go to brush up on being bilingual. Not only do they promote the study of French, but another pillar of their learning process is to incorporate cultural and historical aspects into their education. Alliance is a national nonprofit, so you can find organizations in major cities across the U.S.
The French Cultural Center of Pittsburgh is helping create a community among Pittsburgh Francophiles and French language enthusiasts. The organization offers a way to stay connected by organizing social events throughout the year in and around the city
Head to The Point to learn more about French occupation during the French and Indian War at what once was Fort Duquesne. Point State Park, our “Golden Triangle,” played an integral role in our city’s history as an outpost to control the Ohio Valley, as well as a “gateway to the West.” You can spend time learning about the important strategic location of the fort by viewing the monuments and markers throughout the park, as well as by visiting the Fort Pitt Museum.