After 30 Years, Birmingham's Le Petit Prince Preserves French Tradition

C'est Si Bon: After more than 30 years, Le Petit Prince in Birmingham remains a regal little slice of French goodness


Published:

Yvette Didierjean was content bringing up her family of four small children in Frejus in the South of France. But her husband, Marcel, had other ideas. He was set on moving to the United States.

So in 1979, the family picked up stakes, relocated to Michigan, and opened a bakery with the same name as the one they left in France, Le Petit Prince.

“What could I do?” Yvette shrugs and says in an accent still redolent of the Riviera. “He was my husband, so I had to come.”

The Didierjeans, with the help of two of their sons, Cyrille and Adrien, are still making pastries, baguettes, almond croissants, chocolate éclairs, and dozens more classic French creations in the same spot on 14 Mile Road at Pierce in Birmingham where they set up shop upon arriving here.

Many bakeries have opened and closed here since Le Petit Prince, named after the 1943 novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was established. But this little corner of France remains remarkably untouched by the 30-plus years that have gone by. Its small quarters might have been wrapped in cellophane all these years.

The brick oven left in the kitchen when the previous owner vacated is still there, and when it was repaired recently, the couple saw that it was built in 1947, “the same year Marcel was born,” Yvette notes while manning her usual post amid the old-fashioned wood-and-glass cabinets and shelves showcasing Marcel’s baking finesse.

ABOVE: Yvette Didierjean and son Adrien with some of their treats.

A second oven, a Pavailler steam oven from France, is used to produce true baguettes, as well as the long, skinny loaves called ficelle and petit pain (rolls).

Displayed around the room, along with colorful linens that the family imports from Provençe, are framed photographs of France by Adrien and fanciful contemporary paintings by Cyrille. Along with his mother, Cyrille is also the creator of the elaborate chocolate confections such as the intricately detailed chickens that take six to seven hours to hand-paint in brilliant colors with tinted white chocolate. The hollow chocolate creatures filled with candy change with the seasons.

The small space has never been updated. Every time the family thought about remodeling, Yvette says, their customers persuaded them to leave the place as is.

The Didierjeans spend their summers in France, closing the shop the last week of June and reopening the Tuesday after Labor Day.

“Summer is not a good time for chocolate,” Yvette says with a twinkle, but that’s only an excuse for the family’s need to connect with their deep French roots.

Le Petit Prince, 124 W. 14 Mile Rd., Birmingham; 248-644-7114. Open Tue.-Sat.


If you enjoy the monthly content in Hour Detroit, "Like" us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

My Two Christmases

An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents

Sanctuary for the Senses

Castalia in Midtown offers a cocktail experience unlike any other

Local Pie Makers Offer Variety of Fillings

Area bakers offer alternative fillings for holiday pastry.

A Taste of Paris

Cannelle Patisserie chef Matt Knio’s baked goods are turning up in restaurants and markets across metro Detroit

The Big Dipper

Garden Fresh Gourmet is a shining star in the metro Detroit Food scene
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. The Sincere Storyteller
    Broadway fans will soon learn, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s work is unapologetically Detroit
  4. An Hour with ... Carmen Harlan
    Broadcast journalist and founder of the Carmen Harlan Collection
  5. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  6. Hour Detroit and Detroit Home’s Downtown Living Tour 2018
    Hour Detroit and Detroit Home’s third annual Downtown Living Tour took place September 7th-9th....
  7. God-Given Talent
    A local choir sings its way to live television
  8. Cocktail Recipe: Toddy Incarnata
  9. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  10. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food