France and Aiken’s equestrian tradition are the inspirations at La Parisienne, which opened recently at 233 Chesterfield St. S.
Polo player and real estate investor David Meunier owns the building where the eatery and bakery are located. His partners in the business are restaurateurs Jean and Myriam Dandonneau, who “have a very nice bakery in Florida in Sarasota,” Meunier said.
The Dandonneaus moved from France to the Sunshine State several years ago.
A former race car driver in Europe, Meunier was born in France and raised in Switzerland.
“Very casual” is how Meunier described the atmosphere at La Parisienne.
People can slip in the back to buy macarons, tartlets and other sweet treats or they can sit down at a table and sip espresso for a while.
“There is no pressure; everybody is relaxed,” Meunier said. “We want you to have fun.”
Diners can choose from a menu that includes croque monsieur and croque madame sandwiches, quiches, crepes and salads.
Also available are croissants with ham and cheese or butter and jam, omelets and waffles with butter and sugar.
Adding an egg to a ham and cheese croissant is an option.
“We wanted to do something different. And when I say different, I mean French,” Meunier said. “They don’t have much French stuff around here.”
La Parisienne’s site previously was the home of other restaurants such as Olive Oils and the Swamp Fox.
A major renovation, which included a lot of new white paint inside and out, was completed before La Parisienne made its debut.
As a nod to Aiken, one room has an equine theme with an emphasis on polo. But Meunier would like to add photos of La Parisienne’s restaurant patrons participating in various horse-related activities to the decor.
In addition, customers can “bring me something like an old whip or an old stirrup and I will hang it on the wall,” Meunier said.
There also is a room dedicated to famous Parisian women.
Among them are “actresses like Brigitte Bardot,” Meunier said.
The bakery, he added, “looks like the Paris Metro – you know, the subway – with the tiles and the logo and all the other things.”
Meunier visited Aiken for the first time in May 2019, liked what he saw and began buying property, including farmland and houses in low-income neighborhoods to fix up and rent.
Last October, Meunier purchased the site for La Parisienne for $200,000.
The La Parisienne concept “is a good model,” he said, and plans call for opening other bakeries and eateries with the same name in Augusta, Columbia and other cities.
“If the opportunity arises – and it will arise – we might open another French restaurant in Aiken that is less casual than here (La Parisienne), but not too fancy,” Meunier said.
La Parisienne’s operating hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
“In late fall or early winter, we’ll probably start being open for dinner,” Meunier said.
For more information, call 803-226-0899 or visit the La Parisienne on Facebook.
“We have received a tremendous warm welcome,” Meunier said. “Everybody is like, ‘Thank you for this addition to Aiken.’”