In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, New Yorkers–right down to the mayor— have been affirming their love and support for their sister city. This past weekened, shops like AuH20 Thriftique and Barbara Feinman Millinery drew the Eiffel Tower peace sign on their chalkboards. And further down East 7th Street, a new Parisian sandwich shop served as a beacon for anyone seeking to reconnect with the City of Light, Love, and baguettes in some small way.
As it turns out, Le Petit Parisien has deep ties to French history: the great grandfather of 26-year-old Paul Dupuy, who opened the shop with his 29-year-old uncle Jean, owned Le Petit Parisien, a newspaper that, in the 1890s, covered anarchist terrorist attacks at Paris restaurants. Though it was one of the world’s most widely circulated papers, it became defunct after it was taken over by the Nazis and used for propaganda during World War II.
Now, copies of the rag serve as wallpaper in the sandwich shop that shares its name. It’s a way of doing “something related to the brand that was buried 70 years ago and never used since,” Paul said.
Needless to say, Le Petit Parisien serves a version of “le Parisien,” as the buttered baguette with cooked ham is widely known. But Dupuy wants to go beyond the fare you might find in his native country. “Even in France, when you want to eat a good sandwich it’s not easy to find,” Paul told us. “Most of the time you’ll buy bakery sandwiches, but they’re sitting on a shelf. They don’t make it for you fresh. You have a couple of stores that do very good sandwiches, but not many.”
To insure quality, the shop worked with Orwasher’s to come up with a custom baguette that uses French flour. The bread will be parbaked at the Upper East Side bakery and finished in-house every hour. “It’s really hard to get really good bread in New York, because of the humidity,” Paul explained. “It’s not the same weather conditions you have in Paris, where it’s easy to get good bread.”Still, Paul thinks his native city could use a sandwich shop like this; he and his uncle, who operates restaurants in Dubai, hope to eventually bring the concept to Paris.
Paul, who plans to move to New York to oversee the shop, told us he was in Tokyo when the terror attacks happened. “I have a friend who lost friends,” he said. “His best friend was having his birthday party in one of the bars— five of his friends died. I’ve been extremely shocked, of course, by the situation. It’s really, really terrible and devastating that such terrible things can happen in the open.”
Le Petit Parisien, 32 East 7th St., East Village; 917-262-0406; open daily, 10am to 6pm.