10 Ideas for Food Trucks in Paris

Pierre Hermé Truck

Aside from a few crêpe stands here and there, Paris isn’t a city known for street food. And malheureusement, that Pierre Hermé truck isn’t open for business…although wouldn’t that be nice.

(However if it was, I would probably race around my house in search of spare change every time I heard it coming toward me, like I did when the Good Humor ice cream truck approached when I was a kid. Or haranguing my poor mother to dig furiously through her purse to dig up 40 cents for a toasted coconut ice cream bar to calm down her semi-hysterical child.)

Sure, come mid-day, the sidewalks of Paris are packed with people scarfing down les sandwichs (sic), which seem to have taken over as the lunch of choice in Paris. It’s nice to see the crowds and lines at the local bakeries, but it’s sad to see the long(er) lines at Subway sandwich shops, which I suspect are because people are craving a little creativity with what’s between the bread. And while the one Subway sandwich I had in my life was inedible – I didn’t realize you could screw up a sandwich…until then – I think the locals are fascinated by the varieties offered. Plus they’re made-to-order, and served warm.

The French do have versions of les ventes ambulantes, such as the pizza trucks parked alongside the roads in the countryside and there are the gorgeous spit-roasted chickens sold at the markets and butcher shops in Paris. But recently an American launched a roving food truck in Paris to staggering success, and a second one followed her lead. And judging from the line-up, it’s mostly French folks angling for a bite to eat.

While I’m happy for my fellow compatriots, and I love a good burger as much as the French seem to (judging from the crowds), I can’t help thinking how kooky it is that American cooks get to have all the fun, and some French cooks might want to get in on the action. Here’s a few ideas I’ve been thinking about…

1. Les Fromages Fondu

Image a truck with a row of blazing hot griddles, with sandwiches frying on them, topped with things like grilled goat cheese with tapenade, melted smoked raclette with cornichions and pickled onions on potato bread, poitrine fumé (smoked bacon) with Emmenthal and chives, and griddled Comté and jambon de Bayonne melding together two pieces of pain Poilâne. With all the great French cheeses available, and good bread (with brushed with a smear of salted butter before griddling, for good measure), I’m not sure if I can think of anything better on a brisk spring afternoon. Like right now, for example.

2. Choux On These

It’s hard to imagine rows upon rows upon rows of golden-brown, tender cream puffs, light as a feather, filled to order with tangy lemon cream with salted caramel dipping sauce, or coffee –white chocolate ganache with bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce. Let people mix ‘n match, then sold in little barquette of three.

3. Cassoulet Wraps

It makes perfect sense to me. A burrito is mostly beans and meat. Cassoulet is mostly beans and meat. So this one’s a no-brainer. First shred some crisp-skinned duck confit and bake it with savory white beans along with chunks of sausage and perhaps lamb. (Although that’s a little controversial in cassoulet, so perhaps offer two varieties, to keep the peace.) Then wrap it all up in a lightly seasoned pimente d’Espelette roll, flavored with the famed dried pepper powder from the Basque region.

4. Café Expresso

The coffee situation in Paris is getting better and a few folks have opened up shops that specialize is carefully brewed and extracted coffee. (And one mobile stand, here and there.) But it’s not enough. I don’t really want to see people toting 24-ounce paper cups of coffee around Paris, but how about a truck that pulls up with high tables next to it, near various neighborhoods and parks, where you can get a great cup of coffee?

This cart could serve two purposes: 1) To pass along good coffee to the people (I know I would like it, since the new quality coffee bars like Le Bal, Kooka Boora, and Coutume are kind of too far away from me), and 2) Silence all those people that correct you when you write café express, since that’s what espresso is called in France. (I would add a final “o” to the name, just to be difficult. Which is probably why I wouldn’t make a very good business person, such as giving all these ideas away and someone is probably going to make a fortune on one of them.)

5. Socca ‘n Salt

Admittedly, few people in Paris (and elsewhere in France) know what Socca is – roasted chickpea flour crêpes, best when charred by a fire then cut into pieces and served with salt and some pepper (and rosé, on ice) in Nice. Whenever I’m in the vicinity of the Côte d’Azur, I try to eat as much socca as I can, or I make it at home when I’m feeling in the mood. There’s a fellow at a stand at the Marché des Enfants Rouges, why not take it mobile? Although I don’t know how les pompiers (firemen) would feel about a mobile roaring fire. However, I’d be delighted if it rolled up to my local curb.

6. Crème Brûlée To-Go

I can’t take credit for this one. If I have my story straight, a young Frenchman apparently started a food cart in San Francisco, but was whisked away with immigration problems. I don’t know if he was serving caramel-topped custards, but maybe if he’s back in France, he might be interested in launching one here, torching up crème brûlées to order, with flavors like mocha, caramel, green tea, hazelnut-honey, lemon verbena with candied sour cherries, orange-cardamom, etc…

7. Dix-Huitre’r

In spite of the fact that everyone seems obsessed with the weight of French women (yawn), everyone in Paris seems to be on some sort of régime (diet), which is probably one of the reasons that so many of those inexpensive sushi bars are thriving. But who wants to eat endangered species and dubious salmon, when you could be eating freshly shucked huitres with buttered rye bread and a glass of bracing Sancerre from an eighteen (dix-huit)-wheeler?

8. Fou 4 Frites

French fries are a crapshoot in Paris. Some are dreadful, while others are made from real potatoes and are served nice and crispy. I don’t think les frites are really all that hard to get right, it just takes a bit of care. But I only order them if I can see them first since I don’t want crummy frites. I was once served plate of pale white ones, which were so soggy that I tied into knots, hoping the kitchen would get the message when the waiter took away my curiously uneaten plate of fries.

So with the amazing potatoes available in France (merci, Monsieur Parmentier!), it’s a shame when their amazing spuds get desecrated by lazy cooks. But when made right, one could go crazy (fou) for French fries. Each basket could be double-cooked until crisp on the outside, soft and potato-y inside. Served nice and hot, with dipping sauce on the side. Options could be housemade ketchup, chestnut honey-Dijon dip, spicy harissa mayo, garlic mayonnaise, Indonesian peanut sauce, French chocolate-spiced mole, etc…

9. Les Sandwichs (sic)

While I like a good jambon-beurre sandwich every once in a while, a whole lotta bread and a few thin slices of meat isn’t such a great meal. Plus I usually have a lot of bread for breakfast, so don’t know if it’s such a great idea to have a repeat at lunch. The French haven’t been so creative with sandwiches, although lately, a few new places are challenging that norm.

Spit-roasted chicken with garlicky aïoli, pain bagnat (raw vegetables, and sometimes tuna or anchovies, “bathed” in olive oil, Mediterranean seafood salad with rouille (red pepper mayonnaise), or support the locals with Brie de Meaux on bread made with flour milled on the Île-de-France, and a side salad of shaved champignons de Paris.

10. Le Parfait Scooper

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some guy making homemade ice cream, in flavors like French chocolate swirl, Café Frappé with cognac caramel, Breton strawberries and crème fraîche, fresh apricot sorbet made with fruits from Provence, served with icy crystals of Kir Royale granita, and Buckwheat honey topped with caramelized cocoa nibs on a buckwheat cone? He could drive around Paris, serving up scoops of freshly churned ice cream.

Hey…that gives me an idea…

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, some French folks have revved their own food trucks. Here is a list of a few of them:




El Carrito


Mozza & Co

Le Refectoire


  • Sue Sharp
    April 15, 2012 5:46pm

    Oh, yes please to all of those! I live in northern France, where the food can be…questionable…but travel to Paris fairly regularly. I have my lunchtime favourites, such as Fish (la Boissonnerie) in rue de Seine, but would love a good food truck. Reply

  • April 15, 2012 5:50pm

    You really are giving these ideas away :) But while we’re at it, don’t you think l’As du Fallafel should go mobile?? You should totally capitalize on your ice cream idea…park it outside of the Tuileries or Luxembourg on a nice day… Reply

  • April 15, 2012 5:51pm

    Excellent ideas, the lot of them. I would support the melted cheese most and the oysters on wheels. And you going around selling your perfect scoops.
    I fear the cassoulet wraps might be too much of a leap but why not. It is so crazy that it might just work! Reply

  • Susan
    April 15, 2012 5:52pm

    David, all great and delicious ideas! I think you should! Reply

  • April 15, 2012 5:53pm

    My town’s Friday morning market has an expresso coffee truck, complete with two tall bar stools. And an Armenian food truck, too. Go Provence! Reply

  • James in Seattle
    April 15, 2012 5:53pm

    I’m passing this posting along to a friend in Portland….where these ideas won’t seem far-fetched — at all. Reply

  • Cathy
    April 15, 2012 5:56pm

    Those ice cream flavors sound wonderful!! I think I need to stop reading your blog before breakfast since it makes me so hungry.
    On another note, your wheat-free brownies made a great passover treat when I made them with potato starch flour instead of corn starch! Reply

  • Liz
    April 15, 2012 6:06pm

    Excellent ideas! We would frequent each and every truck. Especially the cassolet wrap for my husband! Reply

  • Bebe
    April 15, 2012 6:07pm

    They all sound so good. Your creative put-togethers, whether sandwiches or desserts, are marvelous.

    I didn’t know until after she passed on twenty+ years ago that my late Mother’s french fries – the best I’ve ever eaten anywhere – were cooked correctly in the traditional two-fry method. She devised it so that she could serve french fries to six or so, getting them to the table hot. She knew that she couldn’t overload the heavy iron Dutch oven she used for deep frying, so smallish batches went in for one fry, then draining, then set aside for the finishing fry. And she used the mealy russet baking potato that yields the very best french fry, drying the cut pieces carefully before putting them into the hot fat. Yum. Reply

  • Laura
    April 15, 2012 6:08pm

    Living in Austin, TX makes me appreciate the rise of the food trailer! So many unique ideas and great affordable food are available at all hours of the day and night. I’d travel to Paris to try out your food trucks, David! Great post. Reply

  • April 15, 2012 6:12pm

    Sounds like a lot of perfect ideas! I’ve lived in France for 7 months & don’t quite understand why the only places you can get food on the go & quickly are frankly awful chains of Subway, McDo etc when there are so many possibilities such as these. Would love to set up my own little van & make a little tour of France! :) Reply

    • April 15, 2012 6:55pm
      David Lebovitz

      My take is that French people think of things like hamburgers as “junk food” because they only get imported into their country as such (ie: via fast-food joints). So they haven’t been exposed to the real deal. Just like if an American thought “Laughing Cow” cheese was representative of French cheese.

      Thankfully that’s changing and places serving very good burgers in Paris are packed, as well as Mexican places, too. (Not that I want to see France overrun with foreign foods, but it’s nice that the food scene is reflecting the multiculturalism of the city.) Reply

  • naomi
    April 15, 2012 6:17pm

    I saw a bicycle espresso set-up in a blog a few months ago. And in India, they have those tea vendors who serve the brew in red clay cups which are thrown to the ground after, where they turn back into dirt. The cup makers are having a hard time now because many vendors are switching to cheaper plastic. Maybe they need to head to Paris and use them for tiny espresso shots? (Red clay would also give you your daily dose of iron.) Reply

  • April 15, 2012 6:18pm

    I would be all over a Pierre Hermes food truck! Macaron on the go, nothing sounds better. Reply

  • April 15, 2012 6:38pm

    You had me at socca. I love that stuff. Reply

  • April 15, 2012 6:40pm

    I love your ideas, especially numbers 1 and 2! I recently posted about food trucks (or lack of) here in Madrid and was surprised at how many people seemed to
    think they wouldn’t take off here. I think they definitely would and await the day we have some yummy & creative options! Reply

  • April 15, 2012 6:44pm

    Great ideas!!! After they are all good and set up in Paris, can you send them down here to the South of France for us to enjoy? I’ll even trade some sunny days for some days with just one of these ‘hypothetical’ food trucks. Reply

  • April 15, 2012 7:10pm

    So many great ideas…I have a real crush on socca! It would be lovely to have new concepts in Paris instead of all the Cojean’s copy opening everywhere! Reply

  • April 15, 2012 7:11pm
    David Lebovitz

    Linda: Socca is the best – so addicting! Every time I go to Nice, and that area, I just wolf it down. Someone started a stand in – of all places – Berkeley, California a few years ago. But I think it didn’t take off. Reply

  • April 15, 2012 7:26pm

    no merguez corndogs ? Snif snif. I’ve been meaning to invite myself over since you wrote about that one… but really, we have a pizza truck that parks across the street from our place in Maisons Alfort 2-3 times a week. It is, sadly, the most offensive pizza I have ever eaten… so much so that my manfriend actually returned it after one bite. But pizza trucks in other parts of the country can often be amazing… like one in corsica that makes figatellu calzones…. mmmm…. but yes, I think if any of our ideas need to happen immediately, it would be the first one. French grilled cheese for the win every time. Reply

  • Sophie
    April 15, 2012 8:18pm

    Okay, if all those do happen, I am definitely moving back to Paris. Especially for the honey buckwheat ice cream … Did you know Biocoop sells bags of “sarrasin soufflé au miel” ? I have been obsessed with it for a few weeks now, it’s so friggin delicious ! Especially on top of oatmeal in the morning (with almond milk and strawberries). But I kind of just want to eat it plain now. With cocoa nibs.
    Oh god. Reply

    • April 15, 2012 9:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      Will try those next time I’m in there. My Biocoop sells these amazing buckwheat sablés. They sometimes don’t put them on the shelves, so if you don’t see them next time you’re in there, ask at the deli-bread counter. You won’t regret it : ) Reply

  • Anna Hayes
    April 15, 2012 8:19pm

    David, I have a photo of a food truck parked inside — yes — La Grande Epicerie last February, dispensing empanadas and other Mexican food. I can’t figure out how to send you the picture but would be happy to if you can instruct me. The (very glossy) truck was parked up by the caisses. I took the picture because I could not believe my eyes. Reply

    • April 15, 2012 9:15pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’m actually more surprised you got a picture in La Grande Épicerie! I once took a photo in there (which I know is forbidden) completely by accident, and within a few seconds, a man in a suit came over to reprimand me. But they do interesting things in there so it’s fun they put in a Mexican food truck. Reply

  • Ken
    April 15, 2012 8:31pm

    Last week’s NYT Dining section reviewed a couple of gourmet grilled-cheese trucks that serve this city – menus precisely as you suggest: artisanal breads, raclette, chevre, truffles, delicate homemade pickles, optional schmear of duck fat…. it is a very good business. Reply

    • April 15, 2012 9:17pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think it’s very “American” to take something, and give it a twist (otherwise known as “Thinking outside the box”) So while many of these foods are perfect for making something more accessible to folks – in the food truck format, am not sure they will take off in Paris (the ones that I mentioned) — but the few that have started up are doing a bang-up business. So who knows? Reply

  • Sarah
    April 15, 2012 8:42pm

    I’ll cut the line when the Macaron truck shows up on the street! In true Parisienne fashion, of course… Reply

  • Stephanie
    April 15, 2012 8:43pm

    Great ideas……but…..the Paris food scene is better than food trucks. Yes, people eat sandwiches on the run in Paris, but if you pay attention, it is the younger crowd, the non-French or people who don’t have a lot of well…..class. The real French gastronomes (like my husband and his entire family) would rather not eat than eat on the run, outside, standing up, from paper plates, etc. It is totally frustrating for me sometimes because every single meal has to be an orchestrated event, but at the end of the day, our lives are richer and all of my best memories are around our lunch/dinner table.

    I say leave the food trucks in America…here the cafés, bistros and wine bars are far better. Reply

  • Katie G
    April 15, 2012 9:07pm

    When I lived in Vincennes, I would pass a little food truck in Montreuil at the crossroads of Rue Cuvier / Rue Emile Zola / Rue de Valmy. It was ‘wok’ inspired and had some tall tables and stools set up. I never got a chance to try it, but the line was always long! Reply

  • April 15, 2012 9:45pm

    Amen, David! If your ideas take off, maybe we can find a way to recreate the Lot on Tap, NYC’s beer and food truck garden under the Highline. (http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-lot-on-tap-new-york) You know how much French people love a good terrace, right? Surround it with food trucks and beer on tap. Think about it!


  • Kristine in Santa Barbara
    April 15, 2012 10:16pm

    Great ideas, all of them. They are all rational, possible, potentially profitable… and what people want to eat. If I were the betting kind I’d bet real dollars that next SF Underground Market has a Cassoulet Wrap vendor. The taste makers are watching you.

    The first person that perfects the FFF Truck can franchise it with my blessing. I’m not above eating corporate fries if they are done well. And they so seldom done well. Reply

  • Wordbird
    April 15, 2012 10:37pm

    When I lived in Geneva (OK, not France but pretty close) I had a favourite food truck in the bus station: they sold a variation on sausage-in-a-bun that was divine. Half a baguette was warmed on a spike then had mild mustard and ketchup squirted inside, followed by a bratwurst fresh from the charcoal grill. Bliss.

    And my favourite (low fat, low carb, high flavour) winter snack was the roast chestnuts from the cart at the train station. You could smell them from across the street and they were so comforting.

    If you’re travelling sometime, see if you can check out the festival food as I’ve found that’s usually the kind of thing that would be great on a truck or cart. Raclette, tartiflette, even choucroute garni are dishes I’ve seen on festival days in Switzerland. Not sure if regime-restricted Parisian mesdames would have such rib-sticking fare for lunch though. Reply

  • Vickie
    April 15, 2012 11:30pm

    Are you sure you weren’t just “astral projecting” around Portland, OR? As James In Seattle pointed out – those suggestions wouldn’t be considered strange at all. (And some of them are already here!) Reply

  • April 15, 2012 11:45pm

    Cassoulet wraps? :)
    The Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet de Castelnaudary would take serious issue with that idea! Reply

  • April 15, 2012 11:49pm

    As far as item 10. goes, it’s being done really well in London. You should take a look at La Grotta Ices site http://lagrottaices.tumblr.com/. Kitty’s ice cream flavours are inspired and they’re made from top quality ingredients. She trades from a Little Piaggio van. Reply

  • Ann
    April 16, 2012 12:41am

    Why not an ice cream truck? Your flavours are swoon worthy and you sound energised! The names are a delight. How would the Academy translate ‘Mr Whippy’ ? Reply

  • Tom
    April 16, 2012 1:01am

    Dear God, cassoulet wraps is genius. It will attract (not repel, is my bet) all the purists, who will want to see what’s going on. The majority of the prep can be done ahead at a commissary – fast turns for hungry customers. And it’s great stick-to-your-ribs drunk food. I’d been think that a west indian roti curry type of deal would be a good way to go, but this might be even better.

    Pure genius. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 1:25am

    Fabulous ideas! I hope to see a few of those the next time I visit. Reply

  • shari
    April 16, 2012 1:58am

    All great ideas David. Hopefully someone who reads your post will be willing to put in all of the hard work, pain, suffering, and tears that it takes to create a thriving business. The good things are never easy, or else everyone would be doing it. : ) Reply

  • April 16, 2012 2:06am

    The creme brulee stand in San Francisco is alive and well! It sits on the corner of Market and Sansome weekday afternoons…Which reminds me I should try it one of these days… Reply

  • Kristin
    April 16, 2012 2:15am

    Dear David,
    From what ive heard through the grapevine, there is a looooong list of french people waiting to receive their food truck permits (Chef Ducasse included). I would love to see all of these ideas come to fruition. Are you sure you dont want to jump in our truck and take any of these ideas for a test run???
    Kristin Reply

  • debbie c
    April 16, 2012 3:03am

    all those amazing flavor ideas you have, especially for your future ice cream truck…my mouth is watering. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 3:45am

    In Toronto, there’s a food truck where you can buy fries with various toppings. (Really, it’s poutine: fries, cheese curd, gravy.) So very good especially if the gravy and the fries are good. And I’m with you on the socca thing (living in Nice and all) and the cassoulet wrap would be good too. Reply

  • caseyOR
    April 16, 2012 7:33am

    If you are ever in Portland, OR, well, we are a food cart haven. Just about any food you desire, from all over the world, can be found at a food cart. Food carts are often located in what we call cart pods. These are a cluster of carts, often in a corner of a parking lot, with with electricity and tables and other amenities.

    [Here is some info on our food cart scene.http://www.foodcartsportland.com/%5D Reply

  • April 16, 2012 7:46am

    Wow! I read this just after waking up and it made me hungry… Great ideas! I especially like all your dipping sauce ideas for the fries. I would also love if there was a quality cake cart, for those times when you are craving a piece of cake but don’t want a whole one sitting around. And of course, a taco truck à la Oakland, CA. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 8:15am
    David Lebovitz

    Kristin: That’s the rumor – although I heard from pretty good sources Ducasse wasn’t opening a food truck. I have seen a few carts here and there (including a guy lugging a supermarket cart with a few battered thermoses of coffee up the boulevard Magenta) – so it seems like, yes, some others want to get into the act.

    Chez Loulou: I would imagine the confrérie would take issue with any cassoulet outside of their region…including most of the versions I’ve seen in Paris.

    Vicki and James: Yes, some of these likely have been done in other places (like the crème brûlée truck) but these are things/ideas I think would be popular with Parisians. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 1:10pm

    Love all of these ideas! Man, let us know if you go into business. My flight to Paris will come much sooner! Reply

  • FerminaM
    April 16, 2012 2:23pm

    OMG you forgot cheese nans! Nan & go. With lassies. Reply

  • Martha in KS
    April 16, 2012 4:13pm

    David, I know of a young lady in the U.S. who is fluent in French & wants to come to Paris to “cook”. Maybe she’d be willing to slave away in a kitchen on four wheels if you were inclined to start a business. Keep those ideas alive. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 4:34pm

    Lol – choux on these has my vote! Reply

  • April 16, 2012 4:37pm

    I was just reading Remarque’s “Heaven Has no Favorites,” which is set in the 1950-60s. One the main characters in it tend to subsist on wine and seafood, which she buys by lowering a basket from her window for a vendor to fill up. Somehow, I don’t think this is an option anymore!

    Buckwheat honey ice-cream topped with caramelized cocoa nibs on a buckwheat cone sound wonderful! Reply

  • Jackie
    April 16, 2012 4:38pm

    Sounds terrific. I live near Boston where there are several food trucks. Imagine getting to the Museum of Fine Arts a little early for a lecture on 19th century Paris and finding a grilled cheese truck right by the museum’s parking lot. I indulged, not having had lunch and it was delicious- sharp cheddar with grilled tomatoes. Brookline, MA just approved a half dozen food trucks to be stationed in various areas. Restaurants don’t like the idea because they’re paying rent and other taxes, but it’s a terrific idea that has worked for a while in NYC. I had a great cup of espresso at a truck on 6th Avenue at W. 22nd street a few months ago. They turn it into an a gourmet ice cream truck and move it up to W. 23rd later in the day. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 4:41pm

    I’m so hungry now I can’t stand it. Very clever, David. I’d follow the choux on these down the street waiving my money in the air. Reply

  • sue miller
    April 16, 2012 4:46pm

    While staying in Brittany a couple of years back I visited the marche and there was a crepe truck! It sold the most decadent, delicious buckwheat crepes filled with different things. I had the ham and fromage and it was smeared with Breton butter. It was indescribable!! There’s an idea for a truck in Paris. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 4:50pm

    Yes please an ice cream truck David,
    and right next to it.
    http://www.lukeslobster.com/ Reply

  • April 16, 2012 4:50pm

    A list of great fun and quite a few ‘soupires’….
    Although, I wouldn’t line up for the choux, they are simply too messy to eat on the hoof, but on the whole it’s a sumptous idea! Good luck to the ‘takers’ and ‘doers’…. :) Reply

  • Martha
    April 16, 2012 4:51pm

    How about the Mexican truck offering duck tacos/burritos with fancy salsa combos – mango, etc?

    I could see Vietnamese sandwiches or pho as well. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 5:27pm

    Life Is Sweet Cupcake Truck
    David’s Vraiment!
    DL est arrive!!
    Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reply

  • April 16, 2012 5:46pm


    You have a talent for making everything sound delicious.

    About Subway (awful and very successful here), my stagiaire says : it is cheap, and they give 20% discount to students. So, voilà une explication : broke students.


    Paule Reply

    • April 16, 2012 5:50pm
      David Lebovitz

      One of the problems with Subway, which a friend pointed out today when we passed one, is that they don’t even make an effort to blend in (especially the one on the rue de Bretagne, which has a painted over window, on an otherwise nice street.) McDonald’s at least makes an effort with fresh paint, earth tones, and modern furniture – so they don’t stand out as badly as some of the other fast-food places. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 6:04pm

    I’m SO disappointed that Parisians are falling under the Subway spell – I expected more from the French. Reply

  • Carolyn
    April 16, 2012 6:10pm

    You are making me hungry. If you are ever in Portland, ME, stop into Duckfat for the best French fries (yes, fried with some duck fat). They are better, or at least as good as, any I have had in Paris. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 7:02pm

    If you have an ice cream truck, I’ll have the Euro at the ready anytime I hear the bell. OK, could be difficult to hear all the way to the Rockies, but mentally, I’m with you. My town has some great food trucks, yet restaurant owners don’t want them parked anywhere near where they are paying rent. Makes sense to me, but I feel like I miss out as I don’t wander the office parks. Reply

  • Sharon
    April 16, 2012 7:03pm

    When you’re next in San Francisco, go to Ft. Mason Friday nights where you’ll find 15+ food trucks to graze through. Plus live music, ocean air, and the fog that keeps our cheeks so soft. Reply

  • Rebecca H.
    April 16, 2012 7:08pm

    The creme brulee guy in SF is still here. I saw him on Market & Battery this past Saturday with his floppy chef hat! Reply

    • April 16, 2012 7:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      Rebecca: I think the crème brûlée guy with the cart isn’t the same one who had immigration issues. (Am not sure if the crème brûlée guy in SF is French.) But was thinking of a Frenchman with a food truck in San Francisco that may have come back – he’s welcome to ply his trade here.

      Sharon: I do miss the food in San Francisco — although not the fog! Reply

  • April 16, 2012 7:35pm

    Coming from Kolkata a food truck is pretty much a luxury. We do have hordes of street vans(!) carrying the entire food stall or food rickshaws or the more interesting one where the entire food stall is mobile as the stall owner carries the entire stall on his shoulder and perches it wherever he thinks has the possibility to attract more customer! Reply

  • April 16, 2012 7:54pm

    I live in Portland, Oregon, where food carts are big (as James in Seattle mentioned above). Undoubtedly your ideas WILL be pilfered by someone here and soon I’ll be seeing ALL of these things on offer! (Which won’t be a bad thing, really. One gets tired of the proliferation of tacos and Thai curry.)

    On the other hand, there’s a “French” restaurant here, and their most popular dish is – the ‘amburger. Served at your table with a steak knife jabbed right down the middle! Mon dieu – incroyable!

    Having lived in New Orleans for 13 years, I wonder how Parisians would react to po’boy sandwiches? The only glitch would be getting the bread. New Orleans “French” style bread is hard to find anywhere outside New Orleans. Reply

  • RH
    April 16, 2012 10:14pm

    Here in Belgium, food trucks are everywhere, though not in the same way they are in the US. I think anybody just pulling a truck up to a curb and setting up shop for a few hours is likely to get told off by the police. (Ice cream trucks operate here, but they only stop for a couple of minutes at a time.)

    Anyway, what they do here is park at the regular street markets that operate in every city at least once a week. You’ll find everything from ice cream to rotisserie-cooked meats to ethnic foods (especially from Africa and Asia, though with the spice dialed down considerably), and of course, waffles and fries. The rotisserie trucks are amazing — entire semi-trailers that are nothing but gigantic rotisserie cookers on wheels! It’s pretty hard to resist the smell of dozens of chickens and dozens of racks of ribs roasting simultaneously! Reply

    • April 16, 2012 10:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      In France, there are similar vendors at the outdoor markets, who sell things like roast chicken, charcuterie, paella, etc.. so the concept of “street food” is already hear, so to speak. It’s just that they’re part of the market rather than out in areas where people work, who might want lunch, on a daily basis. (I don’t know about Belgium, but the markets in Paris are usually 2 days per week.)

      And the two food trucks that are currently operating in Paris are, indeed, somewhat attached to a market which likely has something to do with permits. Reply

  • April 16, 2012 10:24pm

    Wait! Toasted coconut ice cream bars from the Good Humor truck? Down in Los Angeles our choice was red, orange, green, or blue twin-stick popsicles. All of them pretty much tasted the same regardless of color. But that didn’t stop us from shaking down our parents for the nickel (in the early 50s) to buy one to share with a friend. The real thrill, however, was showing each other the color of our tongues when we finished. Life was simple.

    The cream puff truck is brilliant! In Austin there’s a doughnut truck (Gordough’s) that sells humungous doughnuts freshly fried then covered with decadence… like the Funky Monkey covered with grilled bananas and cream cheese icing with brown sugar or the Flying Pig covered with maple syrup icing and strips of bacon. Uhh, yeah it’s Texas, not Paris.

    Yours would be elegant and still be finger licking good. Great, now I’m hungry for cream puffs and a good cup of coffee. Thanks. Reply

  • mindy
    April 16, 2012 10:32pm

    Love this post. Reply

  • suedoise
    April 16, 2012 11:05pm

    Your marvellous ideas do challenge the French way of life and how.
    Eating in the street is not done nor is eating at a time that suits you. Only tourists are allowed to eat at all times.
    You are up against every owner of small restaurants, bistrots and brasseries serving food only during very special hours.
    Everyone is badly in need for a tasty alternative.

    As it is Paris is already facing revolution ás the bed and breakfast format is becoming the raging fashion meaning individuals now offer a high quality alternative at low prices seriously challenging all hotels as told on French television news. Reply

  • Melanie
    April 16, 2012 11:10pm

    I am a long time reader of your blog. I just saw your article in May’s Travel & Leisure – way to go :-) Reply

  • Michele
    April 17, 2012 12:43am

    I live in San Francisco and we are very fortunate to have a lively food truck culture. We do have a creme brulee guy who has cart which is quite good. There is a cream puff truck which is expensive for a little, not so good, cream puff. We also have a cupcake truck, burger truck, bbq (Rib Whip), Chinese (Kung Fu Tacos), Japanese (JapaCurry), Indian, Mexican. You name it and we probably have it. Most of it is good and reasonably priced.

    Now that it’s spring, we have Off the Grid in various places about town. Food trucks and foodies gather for good food and fun. Reply

  • Amy
    April 17, 2012 2:19am

    I agree with all of the comments above, but please, none of that French national habit of forming queues (lines) everywhere! I went to Le Camion Qui Fume only to be told to wait an hour and fifteen minutes for a burger–if I were back home in the SF Bay Area that truck would’ve been kicked out! Food trucks are meant to assemble food quickly on the spot, I’m not planning on hanging out for an hour! Maybe it just needs more competition to pick up the pace. Reply

  • Jim G
    April 17, 2012 2:37am

    I remember reading in some guide to Paris that the French consider eating street food gauche unless it’s an ice cream perhaps. Maybe that’s why the idea of food trucks in Paris seems far-fetched? I wish the entrepreneurs who are already trying their hand at this idea bon chance…..I love your ideas…..maybe le parfait scooper would succeed? Reply

  • Victoria
    April 17, 2012 2:42am

    STOP!!! You’re making me hungry!! Reply

  • Ann
    April 17, 2012 3:39am

    Wonderful ideas! IMHO marketed right you could make billions….and billions of happy eaters as well. Please do your initial exploration in my humble town of Mound, Minnesota so that I can enjoy the deliciousness of your creative mind! Reply

  • April 17, 2012 5:25am

    I love these. I’m in Austin, where food trucks seem to spontaneously reproduce. Betting I’ll see at least one of your ideas on the street before the month is out! Reply

  • April 17, 2012 5:34am

    you, my friend, are brilliant. any and all of these sound amazing. what you need to do is turn the tables. get some french chefs to open these in america. they’ll do phenomenally well. i suggest you start around portland (i live there). Reply

  • Cynna
    April 17, 2012 5:50am

    Love this! After living most of my life in NYC, I’ve witnessed several food truck success stories (including ones that morphed into brick and mortar restaurants). The beauty of the food truck is one can change locations and open and close on a whim. Reply

  • April 17, 2012 5:58am

    Those all sound great! Also, some of them sound like the carts/food trucks in San Francisco; there’s even a crème brûlée cart here! Reply

  • Gavrielle
    April 17, 2012 6:55am

    I opened this one with trepidation, since I remember how insanely hungry your excellent suggestions for airport food made me. Yep, you did it again! (And I’m still giggling at Dix-Huitre’r, Choux On These and Fou 4 Frites!) Reply

  • Kate
    April 17, 2012 7:48am

    Yes, your story is straight. There was a lovely Frenchman in SF who sold small baked goods and chai tea and whatnot near the Bart station for commuters. There is an American man in SF who runs the Crème brûlée cart. Two different people. I can’t recall the Frenchman’s name, but now I’m curious if he made it home to star anew! Reply

  • Sarah Vaughan
    April 17, 2012 9:43am

    The traditional pause to appreciate food in a bistro or brasserie was one of the original draws of France when I began visiting decades ago. While it seems to remain firmly in place for many Parisians, there are many areas in the farther-flung arrondissements that don’t offer the sometimes critical mass of imaginative kitchens of the city center. Your marvelous ideas would transform these streets, draw visitors and maybe foster some Gallic competition in the local ‘formule’ lunch! Of course any of food your trucks would also do grandstand business within aroma distance of tourists standing in lines for hours to see the exhibitions! Brava! Reply

  • April 17, 2012 10:35am

    You need to start your own culinary think-tank David! Killer ideas. Reply

  • ron shapley/nyc
    April 17, 2012 10:56am

    In NYC, cops are shooing the many food trucks OUT of midtown… As you know David, there are many varieties of food truck offerings in NYC but I have never, NEVER, patronized any of them.. Why are we going back to caveman status eating standing up or perched on a curb somewhere ? I know it’s kind of a hipster thing. I avoid at all cost. The chicken idea is a winner however…but only from a stand where I can take the food home and eat it like a civilized person. Reply

  • April 17, 2012 11:30am

    How can you resist buying macarons when you see such a camionette. They really know how to get you… Reply

  • April 17, 2012 2:15pm

    I absolutely agree with Subway and how they don’t try to blend in. I grew up in a historic town in Massachusetts and when we finally let Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks into the town, we mandated they adjust their decor accordingly. We have a very classy looking Dunkies with blue and white colors, not florescent orange, pink and purple.

    We took a 10 day road trip through France in February and took note of the lack of French-Fast-Food, very quickly and adjusted accordingly. Always kept fruit, cheese, wine, olives and a baguette in the car at all times….and chocolate too.

    Your cassoulet wraps are brilliant. There’s a food truck in the US that is an old British double decker bus so there is seating up above. How classy. Another food truck hauls along a truck bed so they can set up tables and chairs. The possibilities are endless.

    What are the rules in Paris for street food? We just came back from living 6 months in England but live in Seattle where the food truck rules just became much more loose and the restaurants are just about having coronaries over it. I hope you find some time in your life to open up one of these wonderful places! Reply

  • April 17, 2012 2:22pm

    I love the socca served up hot out of the oven at the Marché Provençal in Antibes. Antibes also has the best gelato at Place Nationale at the corner of rue Thuret/rue George Clemenceau. There’s nowhere in Paris (not even Amorino) that I’ve found that can match that gelato. My favorite is a cup combining cassis and pistache.

    During our recent visit to Paris, a friend who bakes wondrous pastries (including macarons) joined us. I had your Paris Pastry App to use to guide us. Our friend declared the Pierre Hermé to have the best macarons. This is the first time that I’ve gained weight after spending time in Paris! Thank you, David! :-) Reply

  • April 17, 2012 4:42pm

    These are awesome food truck ideas! I have a special space in my heart for Crème Brûlée. I love the drama of it. I’d love to see Crème Brûlée to go, or any of these in Paris or in NYC! If you need any help making these food truck dreams a reality, please give me a shout or check out my book (the food truck handbook). Food trucks are a great way to try out a new restaurant concept. Reply

  • April 17, 2012 6:02pm

    I am all about Les Fromages Fondu! Yummmm! Could be cool also to have a Vietnamese truck (banh mi, bo bun, pho if it’s not too complicated to serve out of a truck, etc.) or perhaps a couscous van. Glad to see that there are already some trucks running doing non-traditional things like burgers and tacos. If I was still in Paris, I would try to do an Indian food truck :-) Reply

  • April 17, 2012 8:08pm

    Your post hit a tender spot: the idea of a new mobile-stand food on-the-go has been brewing in my mind for quite a while. :) The question is where I get the valor to make it work… People seem so attached to subs, pizza, and burgers.
    As for the street food in Paris (and other places for that matter), maybe the rules of the city are not in favor of such endeavors. Friends of mine are opening a restaurant here in Massachusetts and are literally drowned under piles of paper they need to fill and submit. It’s not easy at all to open any food business.

    Your post is delicious… I had only two apples for lunch and feel so hungry after reading your juicy passages… :) Reply

  • April 18, 2012 2:49am

    Can I get in on the ground floor of this investment opportunity?


    Most seriously.

    Absolutely, serious…Seriously.

    P.S. I can’t dine on Subway, either, my girls love it, though. I find the food to be ‘perfumed’…casting a scent that is about as appetizing as the almighty Big Mac.

    …but I digress, back to those trucks. My absolute favorite is going to be the coffee one, but that french fry sits right next to it. (Is it Norway that has little french fry shops, serving those beauties with yellow mustard? … I think, I think. Not a truck, but a dedication, none-the-less, to that lovely potato.)

    …Park me. I’ll be awhile…

    I can’t invest much, but count me in.

    ;) Reply

  • April 18, 2012 4:18am

    Meet you at the creme brulee truck to get fortified so that you can scoop ice cream and I can eat it. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Paris with fantasies like this. Reply

  • Skippy
    April 18, 2012 8:04am


    (Sorry, terrible joke, but someone had to make it)

    I know that some can argue that food truck eating is gauche, and another sign of the decline of civilization by replacing the leisurely table meal with fast food to go. But keep in mind that food trucks started in places like LA and NYC because rents had gotten so high that the dream of opening a restaurant was out of reach for many people. Food trucks allow people to start a food business at a relatively low cost, allowing them to experiment and build up a following. They perk up what could easily turn into a staid, cautious food scene. They’re the indie movies of the food industry, while bigger restaurants and chains are the formulaic blockbusters. Reply

  • Nari
    April 18, 2012 9:02pm

    I think we need all of the above in LA to test it out first (to my total advantage)… We have a great food truck scene (thank you, Kogi Truck and Salina’s Churro Truck, my two absolute faves!) and I would be more than happy to be the guinea pig if one or few of these opened up. Just saying! Reply

  • April 18, 2012 10:19pm

    I love your food truck ideas! :) Reply

  • Isaac
    April 19, 2012 1:29am

    The crème brûlée truck is still up and running to great acclaim in San Francisco – it’s parked in the Castro and I pass it at least once a week. Reply

  • Dee
    April 21, 2012 2:57am

    I am horrified that Subway is in Paris, and shocked that any Parisian would eat from there. I agree that Subway “sandwiches” are inedible. Why would anyone eat that when, in Paris, you can buy those wonderful cheap sandwiches from those street stalls? When I visited Paris, I used to buy them all the time – my favorite was tuna, egg and tomato on a piece of baguette. Wonderfully simple, inexpensive and delicious. Reply

    • April 21, 2012 8:48am
      David Lebovitz

      As a French woman & friend commented earlier, Subway offers a student discount and it’s cheap.

      It’s also likely for the same reason people in America choose ‘American-singles’ cheese over the cheddar cheese on the same supermarket shelf, or that ‘Sunny Delight’ orange drink over regular, pure orange juice. I don’t quite get it either – but I guess folks have their reasons. Reply

  • April 22, 2012 10:57am

    Roach coaches? Who’d have thought they would take in Paris? Camions-cafards, I guess will be the French name. We have weekly pizza trucks in various villages and towns on different days of the week out here in the country, and also butchers and charcutiers in their trucks. Reply

  • April 23, 2012 4:41am

    David! My whole blog is reviews of food trucks here in Los Angeles! I will be in Paris this summer and I will definitely scope things out. The great part about our trucks here is that most are truly gourmet experiences, and sometimes even more scrumptious than you could get a restaurant. I could be on any “regime” if it let me eat something froma delicious truck every so often. ;) Reply

  • April 24, 2012 6:52am

    Wow…these are some wonderful ideas for a food truck! I’ve been to a few food truck meets here in Dallas and to be honest they are far and few in between that actually have quality food AND something unique and tasty. Def. none of these ideas here…! Plus, my last experience left me waiting outside for 45mins before they finally told me they ran out of food…I thought it was supposed to be quick! Reply

  • textibule
    April 24, 2012 2:39pm

    Frances just said: “The great part about our trucks here (in LA, USA) is that most are truly gourmet experiences…”

    I think that’s the great problem with an otherwise great-sounding idea – the French are not about to seek out their truly gourmet experiences from a truck. There are tried and true ‘gourmet’ experiences elsewhere (used to be everywhere, but that’s another story) and the French aren’t known for taking risks, nor tampering with ze Culture. Also, food trucks exist in France since forever but their brief is really concise: pizza, rotisserie chicken, pan bagnat (tuna, tomato, olive sandwiches) and, of course, crêpes.

    Funny that it’s in the land of ‘mal-bouffe’ that innovative food trucks have taken off. I have dreamt often of serving up pistachio-crusted salmon or tandoori bbq ribs or [fill in great recipe] here in the SW of France, but I just don’t see it happening. Sniff. Reply

    • April 24, 2012 4:54pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think the food trucks that are doing well right now are because 1) The French like novelties, and 2) The food is really good. (As you mentioned, that used to be everywhere. But…) And while it’s true they don’t take risks, which is why the first to roll out the food trucks in Paris were Americans, there are some folks that do think outside the box (Gregory Marchand at Frenchie, Pierre Jancou at Vivant, etc) – I think it’d be great for some locals to do their own thing.

      re ribs: I’ve made bbq ribs for French friends and they absolutely love them! Reply

  • April 24, 2012 5:09pm

    i wish “choux on these” was parked outside my apartment! Reply

  • Carlynn A.
    April 24, 2012 10:44pm

    Ah yes the famous creme brulée cart! Still parked at Market and Sutter in San Francisco!! The lavender Vanilla is my favorite (although not my waistlines).

    http://thecremebruleecart.com/ Reply

  • lesoleilquidanse
    April 25, 2012 1:34am

    Can I call dibs all of these ideas?

    When is your follow-up with the necessary dossier paperwork? I every document in quadruplicate ready when you are. Reply

  • Elisabetta
    April 27, 2012 2:01pm

    If you are looking for a partner in a food truck business, I’m in! Reply

Leave a comment


Get recipes and blog posts sent right to your Inbox!


Subscribe and receive David's free guide to the best pastry shops in Paris