Nestled into the shops and restaurants of Gay Street, the doors of The French Market are a portal to the city of Paris.

Owners Susan and Allen Tate opened the crêperie five years ago this past October, and they continue to enjoy serving Knoxville with fresh, authentic crêpes and coffee.

"It's a lot of work with day to day operation ... but it has gotten easier," Susan Tate said. "The first couple of years are more work than people might imagine I think, but we really enjoy our employees and customers."

Tate explained she and her husband spent quite a bit of time in France and were even able to live in Paris for two years.

So, naturally, they wanted to bring some of the French food they love to the Knoxville area.

"We wanted something unique, casual and inexpensive," Tate said.

The restaurant has several selections of both sweet and savory crêpes made from ingredients such as Gruyere cheese, smoked salmon, imported ham, organic baby spinach, Roma tomatoes and marinated artichokes.

Lena Ayoub, a sophomore majoring in nutrition, said she loves any of the sweet crêpes, but especially the Monte Cristo.

"I believe in supporting the little local businesses, and I do love good food," Ayoub said. "The French Market serves up delicious crêpes and a few other French dishes."

The food is pretty authentic to what you would actually find in France, Tate said, all the way down to the flour, which they have imported. The couple uses a great deal of French recipes coupled with their knowledge from living in the country itself.

They do encounter some differences with American ingredients, however. For example, the use of turkey in American cuisine.

"They use more ham and chicken in France," Tate said, "but we use more turkey like in our bacon, turkey and avocado specialty crêpe."

French lecturer Erin Smith said she agrees the crêpes are pretty accurate to what she experienced in France.

"What I usually get is the Nutella crêpe ... when I was in France I ate Nutella crêpes like crazy," Smith said. "You can go up to windows and order them and they'll give them to you in a little cone, which they also provide ... at the French Market, which is awesome."

The French Market also serves breakfast crêpes, omelettes and baked goods, including petit fours and macaroons imported straight from France. The crêperie only sells Lavazza coffee, the best-selling coffee in Europe, which Smith said is "really good."

Aside from authentic French food, The French Market also strives to create an inviting French atmosphere.

The couple put a great deal of work into the shop to achieve its current charm. Tate explained they collected many of the French images, maps and posters from their time in France. Even the light green paint on the walls was inspired by the color of the rooftops in Paris.

Tate mentioned her husband sometimes jokes, "How did we end up with this chick restaurant?"

Both want The French Market to add something distinctive to downtown Knoxville.

"It's casual, but still really good," Tate said. "It's something different, and we hope it's part of what makes downtown unique."

Ayoub described why she enjoys the location and atmosphere of The French Market.

"I love how it's on Gay Street, so after a meal you can explore downtown," Ayoub said. "There's no other crêperie around. Sitting inside you'll forget that you're in Knoxville."