Tassina of Le Petit Paris

Le Petit Paris

1221 19th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 446-3639

While on vacation in Paris, Tassina, the co-proprietor of Midtown cafe/boutique Le Petit Paris, had asked me to meet her and a tour group in the garden of the Rodin museum in the 7th arrondissement, an elegant spot. So, I cruised past “The Thinker” and spotted them.

After introductions, the group split up to buy food for a picnic on Rue Cler, a pedestrian-only street lined with charming shops, which Tassina said has gotten noticeably more crowded since Rick Steves mentioned it in a book. She instructed everyone to each buy something for the meal, and I made a beeline for the pommes de terre aux lardons, or those potatoes that cook while basting underneath the dripping rotisserie chickens. I also picked up some Camembert and pélardon, goat’s milk cheeses from the Languedoc region sold by a lab-coat-clad dowager at the fromagerie. The rest of our group picked up two bottles of wine, strawberries, bread, and a chicken and headed off to the Eiffel Tower.

As we joyfully devoured our rustic meal among the student groups and a Japanese bride posing for wedding pictures, Tassina reminisced on her love affair with Paris. She said it began many years ago, when she was on a long trip across Europe with a friend, but the minute she got to Paris, it “felt like home.” She loved the lifestyle, the wine at lunch, the fact that the people were living in the moment and “weren’t worried about five minutes from now.”

She vowed to go back, and began doing so every year. She dragged friends and relatives there and even went by herself when no one could accompany her. As the years passed, she was working at a job she didn’t like and realized that her obsession with Paris wasn’t going away, so she and Ruben, her husband, started to brainstorm about how they could turn her passion into a profession and to “bring Paris home to Sacramento.”

Enter Le Petit Paris: Their business is diversified as a hedge against failure during this recession, and part of that plan is to lead tour groups there a few times a year. The ladies in this group (mostly Sacramentans, including a mother-daughter duo) were clearly satisfied customers.

Tassina has an unruffled calm that smooths the rough edges and stresses of traveling, and Ruben is an excellent wisecracking baggage toter. Bella, their bubbly daughter, is a friendly mascot who is quick to grab your hand. Tassina constantly throws out little insider tips, such as where to eat at the Clignancourt flea market and that you can climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

As our picnic ended, we were floating comfortably on the wine and stopped at a dress shop on the way to the Metro. Ruben talked some off-the-record smack about K Street revitalization as one of the ladies bought an haute knit hoodie, saying to her daughter, “Your father is going to have a heart attack.”

I’m going to have a heart attack,” her daughter announced upon hearing the price.