French culture has permeated the United States, from television to fashion to restaurants. In LA, laid-back cafes, cozy bars, and chic boutiques across the city have been inspired by French gastronomy, culture, and style. To find the best of the best, we spoke to one of the coolest French Angelenos we know. Sophie Tabet is a French-Lebanese film writer/director and co-founder of Unemployed Magazine. Now based in LA, Tabet has shared her favorite places that remind her of France. Whether you’re a tourist or a long-time local, these French-inspired places in LA will make you feel like you’ve been teleported to Paris.
Where to Eat
Pastries are a quintessential part of any visit to France--there’s nothing better than enjoying a perfectly flaky croissant at an outdoor cafe. Thankfully, LA is full of good bakeries, from ultra-hip Gjusta to sophisticated Chaumont Bakery. For the best croissant in LA, Tabet recommends La Chouquette, a charming patisserie making classic French pastries, cakes, and more on Melrose Avenue. And for that quintessential French baguette, look no further than Tartine, the Bay Area bakery (now with three LA locations) with a cult following.
When Tabet’s feeling homesick for France, she heads to a café. “Petit Trois tastes the most like France but Little Door feels the most like France”. If you’re looking for the perfect French brasserie, don’t miss Petit Trois Le Valley (a secondary location of Petit Trois). Tabet recommends ordering the Boston salad and a side of French scrambled eggs.
Another local favorite is Gigi’s, a glamorous French bistro in Hollywood, and Stella Café, where everything on the menu (including French favorites like steak tartare, Frisée aux Lardons, and moules frites) is perfectly executed.
Where to Drink
LA has some of the country’s best nightlife, from celeb-studded clubs to low-key hangouts. For that perfectly cozy Paris feeling, Tabet recommends Figaro Bistrot--a Los Feliz brasserie with red banquettes--and La Poubelle, where Tabet says the terrace is the place to be.
If you’re shopping for wine in LA, don’t miss out on the natural wine craze. Tabet, who’s been on a biodynamic wine kick for years, says “natural wines started in France even though the French will tell you they don’t like it!” She recommends Lou’s in Los Feliz, Domain LA in WeHo, or Almor’s in WeHo for a nicely curated selection of French wines. “If you want a really wonderful experience,” she says “go see my friend Andy at Lolo Wine Bar - he will never lead you astray!”
Where to Shop
Specialty stores and gourmet markets like Monsieur Marcel, Gwen, and McCall’s all have a great selection of imported French cheese like Époisses and La Tur (Tabet’s favorite cheeses). Tabet’s personal life hack? “Hit the cheese section at Ralph’s. They import Murray’s Cheeses and have a fire selection.” And believe it or not, Tabet says “Trader Joe’s has the best saucisson sec in town”. If you’re looking for the perfect table linens, glasses, and kitchenware for your own French-inspired dinner party, Tabet recommends Maison Midi, a colorful shop with gifts, homewares, and more. French women are notorious for their impeccable style, and Tabet is no exception. One of her favorite designers is Ami, whose perfectly tailored trousers can be found at Mowhawk General Store, a must-visit destination for fashion, bath products, homegoods, and more.
Where to Stay
LA’s new Thompson Hollywood is entirely French-inspired, with Mes Amis--a chic, modern brasserie designed by Martin Brudnizki--and Bar Lis--the rooftop bar that feels straight out of the French Riviera.
Tabet also recommends Chateau Marmont (a bit of a hangout spot for LA’s French community) and Le Petit Ermitage, a quirky and stylish hotel that feels like it could be in Pigalle in Paris.
Where to Explore
Beyond food and drinks, there are corners of the city that look and feel French. Parts of Beachwood Hills--where Tabet lives--remind her of the area near where her grandmother grew up in Toulouse, with bougainvilleas and white-washed walls. One of Tabet’s favorite parts of France is the Parisian neighborhood of Le Marais and she says there are parts of Melrose Place that remind her of it, with cute streets lined with shops.
There’s a vibrant French community in LA, and Tabet frequently finds herself surrounded by other artists and creatives with ties to France, like Laure Vincent, an interior designer, Gigi Rose Gray, an illustrator, and Luisa Conlon, a documentary filmmaker. “The French community is the same everywhere,” says Tabet, “standing outside having a cigarette.”