Those of us here in Hudson County don’t have to fly off to France to experience delectable macarons, eclairs, lemon tarts, and divine coffee. We have our own little Paris, right in the heart of West New York. Petite B French Bakery, located at 200 61st Street is a woman-owned, authentic French boulangerie and patisserie that has us saying, “Oui Oui!” Keep reading to learn more about Petite B French Bakery in West New York.
Petite B opened in September 2020 — a risky time to start a business. Camille Boulla, owner of Petite B, had already purchased the space before the pandemic began in 2019, and had to put her plans on hold in March 2020.
“I already had the place, I already had my lease — all before the pandemic. I was in.”
March 15th was the original opening date, when everything was shutting down,” Camille shared with The Hoboken Girl.
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While most businesses suffered greatly when COVID shutdowns struck, Camille’s business was not truly open yet. A fact she is grateful for.
“I think it actually helped us. I cannot compare my business before COVID and after COVID. So I was not one of those people who lost everything. I was not engaged yet. Like, I didn’t have to fire people. It was really hard on businesses, but mine wasn’t open yet.”
Before she took over the space where the bakery now stands, there had been about four different restaurants at the location in the last 10 years. Camille realized probably why most failed — there were too many of the same kind.
“People thought I didn’t know. They were like ‘she’s crazy’. Yes, but a good crazy. I live here. This is my neighborhood. You hoped it was going to work but I knew it was four different types of restaurant but it was the same type of food that you can find everywhere,” Camille told us.
“It’s my neighborhood. I love it. Living in N.J. made more sense. More affordable and close to the city. The customers are awesome, because they’re locals. When people ask me why I’m here, I say ‘it’s my neighborhood, I love it’. I don’t want to be in NYC talking to people I don’t know and that I’m not going to see again.”
At the end of the day, Camille will find ways to donate the leftover food to the needy or neighbors. “Some stuff we donate to organizations. We’ll fill up two or three bags.” Petite B also previously contributed to the community fridge in WNY before it was removed. The community aspect of the bakery plays a vital role in its success.
Her favorite thing to do back in Paris was to walk around and enjoy the delicious food, which is why as she describes, “I love WNY, because you can walk everywhere, and NYC too. I love it — it’s easy. You walk everywhere and no matter where you eat, the food is good.”
Understandably, Camille felt she couldn’t be without her favorite food while living in WNY, so using a certain hint of je ne sais quoi, she introduced the community to something that it lacked through what she knew best — and it turned out to be an excellent recipe for business.
The Parisian Influence
Born and raised in a small town South of Paris, Camille never imagined she’d move to the U.S. and start a brand new life. She traveled often with her family and came to NYC as a teen in 1999. She fell in love — with NYC and eventually with her future husband — while she was interning in the city during her college years. The couple decided to plant roots and moved to WNY in 2010.
As you walk into Petite B, you’ll be immersed in French decor — small, yellow boots made for children, pictures of the Arc de Triomphe, and tons of memorabilia that serve as a love letter to France. There are even framed paintings of butter.
“I bought nothing,” Camille shared with HG. “Everything is personal. It’s all my stuff. The yellow boots are my kids’. I had the same ones growing up, the portraits — my mother found in Paris. I have tons of art at home and I collect. I’m a big thrift hunter.”
In addition, a customer gave her a beautiful, large portrait of the Eiffel Tower. The postcards in the shop are hand-written by friends.
“This is a place that is personal to me. I spend 10 hours a day here. It’s my home away from home.”
About the Name
The hard-working, multi-tasking wife + mom of two describes how Petite B’s unique name holds numerous meanings and is derived from Camille’s personal life.
“I love the word petite because it’s French and it’s one word that Americans love to say. It’s an easy one and I wanted a little French in my name. Also, B is the first letter of my last name — Boulla — it also represents boulangerie in French and bakery. My husband calls me little bee because I never stop. Petite B means ‘little b’ — I was like ‘that’s me’. It has everything, my last name, what I do, and my nickname.”
About the Menu
The charming bakery has so many things to enjoy. After doing the strenuous legwork of trying as much as we possibly could on the menu, the standouts are the bread, canelé, chocolate croissants, and so much more. You simply can’t go wrong when ordering from here. All of the food is made in-house and the chocolate for the chocolate croissant is imported from France.
“It’s a specific kind of chocolate not readily available everywhere,” Camille said.
“The butter is made in a specific way. We need the fattier, creamier butter. It’s American but made in the French way. I don’t ship things that I can find here. If I’m local, I’m trying to be as much as I can.”
HG pro tip: The canelé is a must-try. These tiny, caramelized pastries are flavored with rum + vanilla and originate from Bordeaux. They pair excellently with a bold coffee to give you that sweetness. They make a small batch of baguettes a day.
The bakery’s specialties are simple Parisian favorites — the baguette with butter, a plain croissant, a lemon tart, and of course, black coffee.
“That’s the French way. I can tell if a customer is French — 99% of the time they will order a black coffee. That’s how we like it.”
Petite B serves La Colombe — a favorite among coffee connoisseurs. In fact, Camille says one of her baristas was even persuaded to work with her because she brewed the Philly-based coffee.
Gonzalo Diaz, a WNY native and barista who began working at Petite B two years ago, says he loves the locals as much as Camille. He also mentioned some must-try treats for your next visit.
“The almond cake is my favorite,” he shared with HG. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the raspberry cream tart. I’m really proud of all the stuff we put out here — it’s really good quality. I love the bread. I think that’s one thing that the French get right. For a lot of Hispanic cultures, they love their super soft bread. If the bread is hard, it’s stale. That’s not always true. When the baguettes are out of the oven, they’re crunchy, they’re a little on the harder side but it’s so good. You put butter on it, it’s so good.”
She does not hold aspirations to be the best baker or to own the most lauded bakery in the world — she simply wants her establishment to be a place that locals love. As she described, “I had that conversation this morning — I was like ‘ I don’t want to be a 3-star Michelin restaurant, I want to be your local bakery. I just want to make food.”
When asked about potentially expanding, Camille is optimistic. She shared, “I’ve always wanted to open a second spot but it just takes a lot of time. I don’t want to burn myself out. I always keep an eye open but now is also not the right time. Prices are crazy. When it’s going to happen, it will.”
Camille says she feels truly fulfilled with her life and business, but some more free time to do her favorite things wouldn’t hurt.
“I’d like to get more time to read. I’m a big reader. I tried to read two books a month. I love fiction — Alexandre Dumas or Scandinavian police-thriller types. I love a book that I cannot get away from. I would love to travel more.”
“My mom loved it. She is proud. I just had to do it because I wanted to do something different — and for myself. But I would never open a French bakery in France. I would probably open an empanada shop. Something we don’t have. Something different. I needed my bread, I needed my desserts. They’re not as sweet as what I found around here. I needed my coffee,” Camille shared.
While taking pride in her accomplishments, Camille is humble when speaking of her thriving business. She recognizes that in French culture, you are pushed to do the best you can — and never settle.
“I love it, she said. I’m just happy. In France, we didn’t grow up hearing ‘you can do it, go, yes’, we say ‘you can do better’. Your teachers in school will always tell you ‘you can do better’ so I never feel like it’s good enough. But I’m happy and we’re good and that’s what it is. It’s a local shop.”
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When asked what she misses most about France – Camille mentioned her family and friends first, as well as France’s laid-back approach to life.
“I guess everything. I love the city, I love the mentality because I’m used to it, because it’s my culture. You take your time, you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s different from NYC.” Camille continued, “We do wonderful work. We have great movies, really good writers. French people are the ones who read the most.”
Petite B’s schedule is 8AM to 3PM on Sundays and Mondays, 7AM to 3PM Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 7AM to 7PM Thursdays and Fridays, 8AM to 7PM on Saturdays, and 8AM to 3PM on Sundays. The spot is open year-round except on Christmas, and closes early on certain holidays like Easter. Follow along with Camille’s journey + bakery updates on Instagram.