4 Ways Parisian Kitchens Differ From American Kitchens

Oh, Paris! How I would love to scoot over there for a day or two this Valentine's weekend! Paris is a classic destination for lovers, and with very good reason. The light, the romance of the city, and above all the wine and food make it such a wonderful place to wander on a romantic weekend. But if, like me, you won't be visiting Paris any time soon, here's a bit of eye candy and some thoughts on what makes a Parisian kitchen different from the average American kitchen.

These thoughts are from Maggie, a member of the team at Haven in Paris. Haven in Paris is a lush little collection of Paris apartments for rent — all quite beautiful and tempting. We chatted a bit about Paris kitchens, and how they tend to differ from American kitchens. These are all things to be aware of if you are indeed lucky enough to spend a Valentine's weekend in a real Paris apartment!

  1. Traditionally, Parisian kitchens tend to be separate from the rest of the apartment. Although this is changing a bit, Parisians generally do not have open kitchens, or eat in their kitchen. In fact, when a Parisian hosts a dinner party, the prep work is considered unglamorous and kept away from the view of guests. It's also a big faux paux for a guest to even consider washing dishes for the host, because that would involve coming into the kitchen and seeing the mess. Parisians prefer for you to think the dinner arrived to the table, effortlessly, almost magically.
  2. Paris kitchens do far more with far less space. Parisians squeeze everything they can into a tiny room, often one of the smallest rooms in a Paris apartment. There is far less countertop space, but all the typical appliances (fridge, oven, range) and even a washer and dryer miraculously squeeze in under the counter. With less space comes a lot less light, but Parisian cooks still manage to turn out such fabulous meals, you never could have imagined they were concocted in a closet-sized space.
  3. Paris kitchens are filled daily with super-fresh food due to tiny fridges. Full-size (American-style) refrigerators are less common in Paris. Sure, there are exceptions, but in general, fridges are about half the size of an American fridge. Less fridge space and the abundance of daily markets means daily grocery shopping, fresh food, produce and lots of fresh cheese.
  4. Parisians get by with less gadgets. You won't find a microwave in every single kitchen (although they are now present in most), but you will be hard pressed to come across a garbage disposal, an ice-maker or a drip coffee machine. Who needs gadgets anyway when there's all those fresh vegetables, fruits, and bread. Did I mention the cheese too?

Thanks Maggie! Take a peek at the Haven in Paris site (lots more eye candy there!):

Haven in Paris

Have you spent time in Paris, cooking in a Parisian kitchen? How was it different from your experiences in other cities?

Personally, I really appreciated having a washer and dryer in the kitchen, which seems to be much more common in Europe. Honestly, it makes sense to me, and it was extremely convenient, too!

Related: Kitchen Tour: Paule Caillat's Splendid Paris Kitchen

(Images: Haven in Paris)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.