The metropolitan landscape, moving as it is, frays one’s spirit after a time and even urban explorers flee for a dose of rustic respite. If not prepared to attempt a full-on Walden overhaul, hope that Fortune lands you in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. After a day of meandering the picturesque mountain lanes, bopping into ski shops and boutiques, eateries and watering holes your stomach growls for international flavor. If you happen upon a small French restaurant tucked on a hillside and if this suits your appetite du jour I’d urge you to enter.
Stepping inside Le Petit Paris indeed conveys you en France. In fitting with its mountainside setting, the ambiance feels more French country café than Parisian, but the proprietors are authentic. Two middle-aged sisters and a teenage daughter greet you warmly, and despite those negative rumors about French manners their welcome is très attentive throughout the evening.
I am one of twenty guests present for a wedding dinner. Aside from our section, two-top tables wind around the kitchen and bar area seating couples in casual outdoor attire. A medley of native curios lines the walls, Moulin Rouge posters, a mural of old-timey Paris, and although I didn’t see it, I’m certain La Chat Noir was slinking around somewhere. There are votives, hanging baskets, Tiffany lamps, red walls, low lighting, and strings of lanterns. With a glass de vin in hand you settle into its casual elegance, its comfortable charm.
I choose salade de chevre and Colorado striped bass from the special menu. Words escape the description of my meal aside from superbly magnifique. Included on the regular menu are many traditional French dishes, such as escargot, frog legs, and onion soup. As we dine the tiny ivory-haired proprietress scurries around in a virtual cancan refilling wine glasses, playing Edith Piaf, leading us in song, and introducing her entire staff. Après dinner et beacoup glasses de vin myself and another guest feel bold enough to enter the kitchen and pay regards to two handsome chefs whom we quickly realize are too young to join us at the bars they recommend.
I savor each bite of le dessert, a chocolate gâteau with a raspberry truffle and café au lait served with a rock candy swizzle stick. It is decadent while not too rich and completes the ascension to dining delight. While I sit at a table of strangers, we feel like family after sharing such a meal. The food, company, and atmosphere are splendid.
The wine, Le Faux Frog [of Todd Hollow Vineyards founded by Robin Williams’ late brother], fails to live up to expectation. The Pinot Noir is just too smooth, too easy, much like the manner of the proprietress. For all of her singing, fawning, kissing, and wine pouring the woman ends up grossly overcharging us and flitting away with some blasé excuse. Otherwise, the evening is more than comme ci comme ca, and I experience the best of easy mountain enjoyment with an international flair. I would not deter anyone from visiting, although one mustn’t leave all their lessons back in the city – especially the one about being on one’s toes when encountering an overly friendly Frenchwoman.
Le Petit Paris
161 Adams Ave.
Breckenridge, Colorado 80424