When Viviane and Yannick Fonfrede moved from their home in Nantes, France, to open The Galloping Galette in Braselton, they weren’t quite sure how local residents would receive their native cuisine.
But, when people experienced the casual atmosphere and tried their savory galettes and sweet crêpes, the couple’s doubts eased.
“When I see a couple enjoying the food, it’s just like bingo,” Yannick said. “I like to see people smiling and taking pictures of the crêpe and galette.”
Viviane said each region of France has its own culinary traditions. She grew up in the Bretagne region, with a tradition of galettes and crêpes, so when patrons visit The Galloping Galette, it’s like they’re experiencing a piece of that heritage.
“When I met him (Yannick), I was used to having a galette or crêpe every Friday,” she said. “I’m not a big cook, but this is what I know how to do. It was something we kept doing in our home when family and friends visited us.”
For those unfamiliar with galettes, Viviane describes them as “savory crêpes.” Instead of using white flour to make the thin pancake like with a crêpe, she said galettes are made with buckwheat flour, which they import from France. Viviane noted that they use French buckwheat flour instead of the American option because it's less sour and more approachable for customers.
Unlike a crêpe — which is usually topped or filled with sweet ingredients like chocolate, whipped cream, caramel and/or fruit — galettes tend to have cheese, meat and other savory ingredients.
Viviane assures people there is no right or wrong way to eat the two dishes.
“I know that traditionally the galette or crêpe are seen as being rolled,” she said. “When I was a kid, I’d have a galette with sausage and just run. You can eat it with your fingers or silverware and a plate. It’s casual here.”
Yannick, who trained in France as a chef, said he arrives at the restaurant early each day to make all the ingredients from scratch, including the caramel. The cook developed all the recipes himself and regularly introduces new items to the menu. With one of the crêpe dishes, Yannick offers a Southern twist to the French classic by adding sausage gravy.
At the moment, he said the restaurant’s best seller is a crêpe filled with smoked salmon, goat cheese, swiss and onions, then paired with a bit of salad, tomatoes and sauce made of dill, chives, lemon, shallots and cream.
One of their more traditional galette dishes, La Bretonne, is composed of mozzarella, sausage and a combination of plain and caramelized cinnamon apples.
“Every two or three months I try to find a new recipe or combination between new ingredients,” Yannick said. “To give the American people a nice experience with food, something different that they cannot have in this area, that’s my goal.”
Before opening The Galloping Galette in Braselton in 2017, Yannick ran his own home remodeling business while Viviane worked as a translator.
Viviane said they had never imagined leaving their life behind in France to move abroad until one of their friends told them about potentially opening a deli-like restaurant in New Orleans. At that moment, Viviane said the idea to relocate sparked in her mind.
Little did she know, Yannick’s head was in the same place.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for us, but I couldn’t see myself asking him to do that,” Viviane said. “But, at some point, he was tired of his business. Yannick started to have his mind on that too.”
Yannick said he already had a family member living in Hoschton, so both he and Viviane were already familiar with Georgia. The couple considered opening a restaurant in Atlanta or Athens, but ultimately decided on Braselton. They are both still French citizens with E-2 work visas.
Viviane said the hardest part about living abroad is being away from family and friends. Luckily, the couple has been able to form new bonds and find happiness in their new community.
“The smile of everyone everyday makes everything easier,” Viviane said. “We’re very happy to have chosen Braselton, and we love Georgia. People are genuinely nice here. I’ve yet to meet someone who is rude to me.”
The Galloping Galette is located inside the old Braselton Tile Factory, which is attached to the Braselton Bros. Department Store building. The restaurant has a patio that overlooks Davis Street.
Viviane said she owes her restaurant’s success to the help of the surrounding businesses, especially during the pandemic. She added that several allowed her to put tables in front of their shops to give The Galloping Galette more room for outdoor seating, a valuable asset over the past year.
“We have neighbors who are such a support to us,” Viviane said. “I feel like we don’t do enough for them. Without them, life wouldn’t have been the same. We are very fortunate.”