France’s Smartest Invention: le Café Gourmand

Posted on 07. Nov, 2011 by in Europe Travel, France

Forget the Millau Viaduct. Hot-air balloons. Pétanque. Braille system. Those are all great French inventions and realizations, but if I set my priorities straight, what can possibly be better than a dessert tasting on demand? Café gourmand is, hands down, the smartest thing the French ever thought of. How does it work?

café gourmand, french dessert

France's best idea yet: Café Gourmand

The concept is fairly simple, and available on pretty much every menu. Every establishment has its own selection of tiny desserts, which changes depending on the chef’s mood and the seasons. Not feeling like having a coffee with your treat? No problem! Ask to switch to a hot chocolate, or a tea (for the wise ones). What I usually do is order the regular café gourmand, give the coffee (whose taste repulses me) to my husband and ferociously keep the treats for me. I care about his cholesterol level very dearly.

When it is time to order your café gourmand, you don’t actually get to choose a specific dessert - instead, a surprise plate is brought to you, along with the hot beverage you requested. On this plate you can find everything from ice cream to fruit salad to apple crumble to macarons and crème brûlée, in all shapes and sizes. The price is usually a good indicator of the plate size and the variety of treats, but I do believe that dessert tasting is absolutely priceless. For the rest, there’s… you know.

France is very well-known for its high culinary standards and many travelers wish to experience the famous dishes for themselves. Considering the large array of traditional French desserts, I think café gourmand is the best option, especially for those not having enough time to sample many places.

Have you ever ordered a café gourmand? What is a good, or a bad surprise? Would you like to see the concept in other restaurants across the world?

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10 Responses to “France’s Smartest Invention: le Café Gourmand”

  1. katherina

    07. Nov, 2011

    Oh I adore cafe gournand…. You just made me realize of just another thing i miss of french culture!

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  2. Alaster

    08. Nov, 2011

    I’ve nerver tried café gourmand - I usually stop at too many patisserie on the way.
    Can’t resist a good Opéra!

    I’m not sure how well it would work in other parts of the world. I’m in the UK and that style of café cuture just doesn’t exist here, I wish it did.
    I suppose here it’s High Tea - which can be astronomically expensive.

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    • Marie

      10. Nov, 2011

      I think café culture does exist in the UK, but in a different form. It might not come in the form of a café gourmand, but in France the whole “coffeeshop, calming music and large mugs” isn’t very popular at all. But I guess that there is some resemblance between high/afternoon tea and café gourmand.

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  3. What a fantastic idea! I always want to try a little of everything.

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  4. Andrea

    10. Nov, 2011

    Sounds so good, though I did a dessert buffet tea thing once at a hotel with friends and felt absolutely sick afterwards, haha

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    • Marie

      10. Nov, 2011

      Haha yeah it is kind of hard to know when to stop when it’s all out there waiting for you!

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  5. Abby

    10. Nov, 2011

    I never want a whole dessert — this is perfect!!

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  6. Sherry

    10. Nov, 2011

    I just mentioned to a group of friends last night while we were having dinner about this dessert concept, and they loved it. More restaurant should start offering. I always love a surprised sweet treat at the end of a good meal.

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    • Marie

      10. Nov, 2011

      Indeed, I would also love for this concept to be exporter across borders - I’m sure it would be a hit (although I’m sure some people might get the idea of serving HUGE desserts instead of tiny portions, haha).

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  7. Julie

    11. Nov, 2011

    I’m absolutely obsessed with café gourmand and have it whenever I see it on a menu. One of the first times I had it was actually in an Italian restaurant in London but have had many in Paris since. Yes - every restaurant in the whole entire world should have that choice on its menu!

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