Le Petit Paris

Words by Su Ertekin-Taner

For those Jacksonvillians chasing opportunities to romanticize their everyday life, Le Petit Paris stands waiting (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., that is). The restaurant, with locations in Mandarin and Atlantic Beach, romanticizes the average customer’s life without all the excess mindfulness that usually accompanies the exercise since the atmosphere has been created for you.

Le Petit Paris capitalizes on its beauty, which blossoms upon entrance: vibrantly colored wicker chairs adorn each table, fresh flowers brighten the already lush atmosphere, small painted or mixed media vignettes of Parisian life decorate the walls, mini chandeliers hang from ceilings, brick walls incorporate a rustic feel into the atmosphere, large windows welcome the sun as it brightens the indoor spaces, and all pastries present themselves on golden trays with handwritten signs. Welcome to a realm overflowing with the finer things in life. Every corner is Instagrammable, every view picturesque.

More than just a visual thrill, the restaurant offers an appetizing experience. The menu, which varies by location, offers a bit of sweet, savory and everything in between for breakfast, brunch and lunch. The authentic Parisian eats include salads, baguette sandwiches, quiches, egg sandwiches, croissant sandwiches, tartine baguettes and an assortment of fresh pastries, the aroma of which is immediately apparent. Distinct French ingredients grace the menu —cheeses like blue cheese, Brie, goat cheese, dijon mustard, and herbs de Provence — as well as delectable French desserts like pain au chocolat, crème brûlée and crepes.

In addition to the wide variety of filling foods, the range of beverages complements the cuisine with flavorful, distinct refreshment. Chalkboards at each location flaunt a rotating, seasonal drink menu. From caffeinated to alcoholic to kid friendly bubblies, Le Petit Paris’ concoctions please eager taste buds.

Equally as noticeable as its savory savvy, is the unique atmosphere of Le Petit Paris, all centered around the guest experience. Almost any time of day, you’ll find bubbly, chatty guests whether enjoy a quick lunch break, an after-work treat, date night or a fun gathering with friends or family making Le Petit Paris a welcome retreat from the monotony of life. This bright, exciting environment with its chattering customers, in turn, stirs conversation for new customers. The atmosphere is filled with joy.

And because the restaurant relies on a pay-first ordering system, where guests are not reliant on a server and can enjoy the welcoming ambiance as long as they please. This relaxed atmosphere forces guests to slow down and truly enjoy their food, drink and company. The slowed-down Parisian lifestyle, which values artistic allure over sheer productivity, is a welcome respite from the fast-paced American lifestyle.

Le Petit Paris, in this way, encourages the intentional living that customers may lack in their work and school lives: bites slow as molasses, conversation about the trivial or fantastical, connection valued above all. Customers linger in the bright, European environment as they eat slowly, chatting between bites or taking inspiration from the surroundings as they read a book, write or engage in other thoughtful activities.

Le Petit Paris goes against the grain in its appreciation of European life. The postcard-worthy atmosphere emphasizes high-quality food, purposeful eating, meaningful conversation and imagination. The present moment matters at Le Petit Paris especially when it places us on the path of beauty. Every customer deserves a savory journey of delightful sights, smells and tastes, not a brisk encounter. For the intentional consumer, Le Petit Paris welcomes you to a colorful, bright, intentional, soulful dining experience. The Eiffel Tower might as well be nearby because I, certainly, have been transported to Paris.