All posts by Lisa Anselmo

Author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life, branding coach, creative director. If I'm not in New York or Paris, I'm on a plane to one of them. Follow my story at: myparttimeparislife.com

Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Waiting Tables, by Nichard Nahem

©Richard Nahem

These tables would normally be much tighter, with two seats side-by-side, facing out. But this is the new normal. Not everyone gets a view, but everyone can enjoy the terrace. Seen in the Marais.

L’Escurial, 29 Rue de Turenne, 3ème

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WE’D LOVE TO POST YOUR PHOTO OF YOUR FAVORITE REOPENED CAFE! Submit one to us for possible publication here in Café Photo of the Week. Must be a recent photo post-déconfinement. Click here for full submission rules.
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Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Before & (Happily Ever) After, by Lisa Anselmo

Before. ©Lisa Anselmo

Colorful “happy hours” signage, captured during confinement. Today, this terrace is filled with customers once again, making these truly happy hours en terrasse. We take these hand-lettered signs for granted, but they add so much to the café experience. In a Café Photo of the Week first, we offer a bonus image of the same terrace, taken from a post-confinement perspective. Before and (happily ever) after.

After. ©Lisa Anselmo

L’Avenue Café, 19 Avenue Philippe-Auguste , 11ème

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WE’D LOVE TO POST YOUR PHOTO OF YOUR FAVORITE REOPENED CAFE! Submit one to us for possible publication here in Café Photo of the Week. Must be a recent photo post-déconfinement. Click here for full submission rules.
**************
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Nous Sommes en Terrasse (Once Again),
by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

Tuesday, June 2, marked the day when we could once again sit on our beloved café terraces here in Paris. Your favorite Editor-in-Chief made a beeline to my HQ and had un verre de vin to celebrate, but I visited many others, including Au Cadran Voltaire on Place Leon Blum, where I shot this photo of their terrace after the lunch hour. Paris feels alive again.

Au Cadran Voltaire, 109 Boulevard Voltaire, 11ème

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WE’D LOVE TO POST YOUR PHOTO OF YOUR FAVORITE REOPENED CAFE TERRACE! Submit one to us for possible publication here in Café Photo of the Week. Must be a recent photo post-déconfinement. Click here for full submission rules.
**************
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Bright Silence: a Stunning Project Documenting Paris Cafés During Lockdown

by Lisa Anselmo

When cafés were forced to close as part of an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19, the sight of stacked chairs behind locked glass doors broke the hearts of Parisians. But artist Geoffrey Guillin saw something different: a beauty in the stillness of a city in lockdown mirrored in its cafés, which are at the center of Paris life.

Disused terrace chairs; a calendar frozen on the date of the last service before forced closures. ©Geoffrey Guillin

In his newest series of 44 photographs called Bright Silence, Guillin documents café closures during confinement, but also tells the story of Parisian lives very much on pause. Shot entirely through the windows of closed cafés, these haunting images with their soft light and shallow depth of field, present a dreamlike portrait of abandoned rooms suspended in time. Reflections of a troubled outside world are superimposed over calm that has been carefully preserved and protected behind glass. These convivial places seem to retain their lightness despite their emptiness.

“I took these photos to show the bright soul of cafés,” Guillin says, “and how important the details of the decoration affect our well-being when we are there.” Undoubtedly, it’s a story told in details: coffee cups hastily stacked; empty water decanters lining a bar; a calendar frozen on 14 March, the last day cafés were open for service.

“I wanted to show the intensity and the luminosity of these places so dear to us, and our cultural heritage.”

Hastily stacked coffee cups; cheerful posters await the return of customers. ©Geoffrey Guillin

The images stir emotion, yet are not maudlin. Guillin lets the cafés and their details speak for themselves without manipulating the viewer. “I wanted to show the intensity and the luminosity of these places so dear to us, and our cultural heritage.”

In showcasing the quiet details of these restaurants, making them glimmer and glow like jewels, Guillin exalts the everyday café—and lifts the viewer’s spirit the way cafés themselves do. “A café is a refuge when you are feeling sick at heart. It’s also a symbol of life,” Guillin says. “So, yes, [this work] represents the heartbeat of Paris, where friends can meet, love, forget, laugh, cry—but above all, feel alive.”

Reflections tell the story of two worlds: the reality of a city in lockdown superimposed over calm perfectly preserved. ©Geoffrey Guillin

VIEW THE COMPLETE PHOTO EXHIBIT AT GEOFFREYGUILLIN.COM
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©Geoffrey Guillin

LISA ANSELMO is a writer, branding expert, speaker, and coach, and has worked at such iconic American magazines as Allure, InStyle, and People. She is the author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home, (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), and has been featured in New York magazine, Travel and Leisure, Bustle, House Hunters International, Expatriates Magazine among others.
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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Drinks on the Go, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

L’Escale on Ile St. Louis is doing takeaway beverages and nibbles. Pop over and support them if you are in Paris, and enjoy un petit café while you relax on the quay overlooking the Seine.

L’Escale, 1 Rue des Deux Ponts, 4ème

Support your local restaurants. Contact them directly for takeout or delivery because they earn more than if you use third-party apps like Uber Eats or Deliveroo (France).

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Pure Happiness, by Lisa Anselmo

A table outside Le Pure Café is ready for takeaway orders. ©Lisa Anselmo

It is with great joy, that we announce that the beloved Le Pure Café is open again—for takeaway (à emporter), exclusively. They serve a few items from their usual menu, and a plat du jour, all affordably priced. Read more about our editor-in-chief’s experience, here.

While the government here has loosened restrictions on non-essential shops, cafés and restaurants remain closed, forcing them to become creative to stay afloat and adopt the “takeaway culture” taken for granted in restaurants in the UK and USA.

In Paris? To order from Le Pure Café, call 01.43.71.47.22, go to Facebook or Instagram, or visit them directly at the café.

Le Pure Café, 14 Rue Jean-Macé, 11ème

Support your local restaurants. Contact them directly for takeout or delivery because they earn more than if you use third-party apps like Uber Eats or Deliveroo (France).

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

On Pause, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

This popular spot in the 11th boasts a generous terrace loaded with tables. That doesn’t me you can always find a free place. Today, though, the name of this café takes on a whole new meaning—on pause since mid-March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now, it sits empty, our lives on pause with it. We await the day when it is all set in motion again, and we have to fight once more for a place in the sun on the terrace of Pause Café.

Une pause-café means “coffee break.”

Pause Café, 41 Rue de Charonne, 11ème.

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Très Vite au Café, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

This local café on Place de la Reunion is usually brimming with customers, its terrace filled, especially on market days. For the moment, due to Coronavirus, it sits quiet, on pause until we return. A sign on the door announces its closure by government order, adding, “À très vite au café!”—a grammatically awkward expression, but the message is clear: see you soon. We hope so.

Le Café Sans Nom, 57-59 Rue de la Réunion, 20ème.

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Love Letter to a Café, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

This note, tacked up on the window of a beloved local café now shuttered because of confinement, sends a message of love and support from a customer. To all our local cafés: we love you. Nous vous aimons.

Café Colette, 96 Avenue Philippe-Auguste, 11ème.

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Closed by Government Order, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

As part of the shutdown to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus, cafés across France have been asked to close until further notice, an unthinkable, but necessary measure. Want to know what Paris would be like without cafés? This is it.

La Parisienne du Faubourg 1 Rue Faidherbe, 11ème.

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week: An Homage

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Un Beau Souvenir, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

We’re breaking our rules a bit today to pay homage to a wonderful longstanding family-owned restaurant in Montmartre, La Pomponette, which has recently closed its doors, perhaps another victim of the rampant gentrification/corporatization affecting the 18th arrondissement, and all of Paris.

Opened in 1909 by Arthur Delcroix, La Pomponette was frequented by his artist friends, like Francisque Poulbot et Eugène “Gen” Paul, whose works hung on the walls. Four generations of his family have lovingly tended the restaurant, which was a piece of Montmartre history for 100 years.

The decor never changed, maintaining the true charm of the artists’ village and the life that is unique to the Montmartrois. In 2014, the restaurant closed for two weeks—not for renovation, but for a restoration, when an artisan repaired the ancient floor tiles, one by one. That’s a family’s love.

I shot this photo that same year, while dining with my dear friend, writer/blogger Lisa Taylor Huff (The Bold Soul), with whom I co-founded No Love Locks. Lisa passed in 2015, so this photo is all I have of both her and the restaurant—a beautiful memory that will last even in times of change.

La Pompinette was located at 42 Rue Lepic, 18ème.
See what you missed, here.

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Café Art, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

The unexpected beauty in the little things cafés do. This is how Café des Anges served up their hot chocolate one day—like a flower. That’s melted chocolate on the sides and hot milk in the center. It was a shame to mix it up and spoil such a pretty sight. But mix I did, and delish it was.

Café des Anges, 66 Rue de la Roquette, 11ème

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

A Warm Terrace, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

The perfect order of terrace tables, draped with warm blankets, make this terrace inviting even in winter. Seen in the 8th arrondissement, between Parc Monceau and Arc de Triomphe.

Continuing our frigate-theme for Cafe Photo of the Week, La Belle Poule is also the name of a 26-gun frigate (see the ship in the logo), famous for her battle against HMS Arethusa in 1778, which marked France’s entry into the American Revolutionary War. Three other ships bore the same name over France’s history—one, commissioned in 1834, was charged with bringing Napoleon’s ashes back to France, where they reside in the Invalides (7ème).

La Belle Poule, 18 Avenue Hoche, 8ème

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Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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My Favorite Café Is…Treize au Jardin

Penelope Fletcher of The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, as told to Lisa Anselmo

Treize au Jardin is just down the street from my bookstore, The Red Wheelbarrow, in the 6th arrondissement. Owners Kajsa von Sydow (Swedish) and Laurel Sanderson (American) bring the friendliness of both of their cultures to this beautiful café, which sits just opposite Le Jardin du Luxembourg. Kajsa, who is often the welcoming face greeting you at the door, is partly responsible for the graceful and flowery décor, and comfortableness of the café: the private, intimate places to cozy up in; the large, round tables for groups of friends to gather—everything is extremely well thought out in this beautiful café.

The charming decor of Treize au Jardin. ©Lisa Anselmo
A cozy corner awaits. ©Lisa Anselmo

But a great part of the attraction to Treize au Jardin is the food, which celebrates the American South. That’s Laurel’s domain. Biscuits, eggs Benedict, chicken and grits, craft cocktails and wholesome alcohol-free drinks, one called Liquid Sunshine. All the food is organic and responsibly sourced, prepared by chefs with years of experience.  

I like the Artichoke Heart Pie, and the quinoa salad. Almost every day for lunch, I order their delicious daily soup, and a hot biscuit. But most people go for their Southern brunches (which are served all day, every day), or the Pecan Chicken. Or, their special Pulled Pork. They also make delicious cake, by the way.

The cake! Just one of the many delectable items on the all-organic menu. ©Lisa Anselmo

The café is popular with locals—couples having a romantic rendez-vous; work colleagues conducting lunch meetings; families; writers; people looking for a café to read or work in—or even to propose in; American expats who want a taste of home; Parisians who want to travel to the American South for an hour or two. All of us.

But Treize au Jardin is a special place to me, personally. I owe the location of my bookstore to them. Laurel, who previously ran the much-adored Treize…A Baker’s Dozen on Rue des Saints Pères in the 7th, and a cake shop before that, is a friend from way back. We had often talked casually about doing a café-bookshop, and when they found their location on Rue de Medicis, there was an old librairie–book store—near them that was also going up for rent. Laurel told me about it and I swooped in and grabbed it. Laurel and Kajsa opened their café early summer 2018; we opened later that same summer.

Treize au Jardin. ©Lisa Anselmo

I love having a café just next to the bookshop, and it’s wonderful how we share many of  the same customers. There are families that eat at the café almost every weekend, and the children will rush into the bookshop to choose books before lunch arrives. I often send my own customers to the café, who report back how pleased they are with my recommendation. Our two businesses also help each other out in little ways, like when we run out of the rolls of paper for our credit card machines.

Cafés create community in a different way from bookshops, but in a way that compliments them. On Friday evenings, Treize au Jardin has great live music, which makes a wonderful end to our week at the bookshop. And of course, we at the Red Wheelbarrow stop over at Treize several times a day for their delicious coffee.

It’s a really warm feeling to have good friends running businesses near each other. We’re a community serving a community. •

All the hand-lettered signs at the café are done by the sister of co-owner Laurel. ©Lisa Anselmo
The terrace is non-smoking. A rarity in Paris. ©Lisa Anselmo

Treize au Jardin, 5 Rue de Médicis, 6ème
Brunch Menu; Boozy Teatime; Live Music Fridays

PENELOPE FLETCHER is the owner of The Red Wheelbarrow, a beloved Anglophone bookstore on 9 Rue de Medicis, just opposite the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th arrondissement. Follow the shop on Instagram.

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The Local Café: Where Everyone Can Belong

by Lisa Anselmo

I’m sitting in my local café at lunchtime, which I use as my office. The WiFi is excellent, the manager and wait staff are welcoming and accommodating. There are no rules, no restrictions here, no signs warning “Laptops Forbidden.” I’m able to adapt the café to suit my life as I need, and it’s as though that’s expected. No one is imposing an agenda on me; they want me to feel at home, to call this place my own. This is the beauty of the cafés and bistros of Paris: they are an extension of our homes, and an indispensable part of our lives.

The lunch crowd has arrived. Next to me is a young couple and their baby; across, sit three woman, one in a hijab; beside them, two men huddle over a laptop discussing what looks like architectural drawings. Just outside on the terrace, a small group of construction workers of various origin are no doubt taking a break from renovating a nearby apartment, their work togs covered in plaster dust and paint. 

The clientele at this café represents the makeup of the neighborhood: Jewish, Muslim, hipsters, Millennials, old-timers, and newcomers—all of us living in the same buildings together, our lives mingling on a daily basis.

Cafés are essential for local communities—inclusive public houses where everyone has a seat at the table. But Paris has lost 300 cafés since 2014.*

Cafés are a vital part of our diverse communities. ©Lisa Anselmo

This is what makes the local café so special—and so essential. It’s where the entire community gathers—regardless of income, origin, religion, education, political affiliation, or skin color. “The crucible of friendship,” says restaurateur Alain Fontaine of cafés and bistros. “The melting pot where everyone meets.” Fontaine is leading an initiative to attain UNESCO status for Paris’s beloved bistros. Cafés could use this boost as well.

Cafés are the ultimate democratizer, inclusive public houses where anyone can find their place at the table. It’s something we take for granted because they’ve always been here, serving our communities. But it’s changing. Cafés are closing, both in Paris, and in France at large.

Cafe closures have been making headlines for years. The French government is finally recognizing the problem.

LOSING THE HEART OF LOCAL LIFE

Cafés in small towns across France have been the most hard-hit, mainly due to dwindling populations, not in small part precipitated by a massive reduction in national rail routes, cutting off these towns from the main artery, so they wither and die. The local businesses close—and worse, the café, often the only one in the village, leaving the residents with no common meeting place. In a country with a culture of socializing around food and drink, this loss is devastating to a community. The French government has recently understood the impact of this on the heart of the people, and is investing 150 million euros to launch an ambitious initiative that gives grants to anyone willing to open or preserve a café in a small town. It’s a start.

But in Paris, where money talks and international trends have a strong impact, cafés here are not getting the same kind of aid. The corporate chain is king, as is the foreign investor. Tech start-ups are the only small business ventures anyone wants to talk about these days. Longstanding locally owned businesses have little recourse if they’re struggling, and few resources, often shouldering the lion’s share of taxes, stymied by one-sided labor laws, and struggling to pay ever-rising rents. Cafés, too, are feeling this pressure, and in recent years, there has been a spate of closures, particularly in gentrifying or touristy areas. Paris has lost 300 cafés in just the last four years. And, like in small towns, the local Parisian café is also the center of neighborhood life, and the closure of a popular café has the same devastating impact on the residents, particularly if it’s replaced with an upscale restaurant or trendy specialty shop geared more to tourists than locals.

A Brooklyn-style coffee house just opened in our neighborhood. While French-owned, everything is in English (or a sort of English). Not sure about the coffee. ©Lisa Anselmo

Cafés are also facing competition, at least in the minds of some, with the rise of the Brooklyn-style coffee house: small establishments known for artisanal beans brewed by English-speaking baristas. Often, these are owned by Aussies or Americans who’ve imported this coffee culture to Paris—at first as a response to their own dislike of Parisian café coffee, which many find bitter and wanting. But the trend has caught on in a city where all things Brooklyn are highly prized. And, if you’re a coffee-lover, these are a welcomed addition to the Paris food scene. They’re often cozy and friendly, and along with impeccable coffee, serve tasty treats like brownies, and avocado toast. If that’s your thing.

But we shouldn’t mistake these places for the new Paris café. For starters, they’re technically not cafés—they don’t keep café hours, for example—and the vibe is completely different from a classic café. The coffee house is not a place where you can stay for hours gabbing, drinking, and eating until midnight. They often have only three or four tables (some don’t allow laptops for this reason), and are more tranquil and solitary. People tend to go alone or with one other person, have their coffee and a brief pause or business chat, then move on. It’s about the coffee, not the experience.

And there’s something else decidedly different about these places: the demographic. White, young, educated, middle- to upper-class. Period. The most diverse thing about these coffee houses is that they serve vegan milk options.

SERVING (& PRESERVING) DIVERSE COMMUNITIES

Why should we care? Because these kind of upscale businesses are a sign of the changes in our communities, thanks to gentrification and rising rents. Whole neighborhoods are going upmarket, transforming in a few short years; restaurants and shops serve a new moneyed clientele. The Saint-Ambroise district in the 11th arrondissement is a perfect example of this. Suddenly, the working class residents who have lived in these neighborhoods for decades can no longer afford to eat or shop in their own backyard, marginalized in the very quartier they call home.

I admit, as someone who blogs about Paris to an audience of a certain demographic, I have a nagging guilt about my own possible contribution to this change, real or imagined. Eight years ago, when I arrived in my sleepy neighborhood, a district somewhere between Charonne and Nation in the 11th, I was the only English-speaker around, and I liked it because I wanted to immerse myself in Paris life. I chose the area for it’s authentic local feel, something my New York neighborhood had long since lost. My Paris neighborhood was, and still is, home to a mix of young professionals, students, and families; the businesses are affordable and utilitarian. The cafés, if not always pretty, are welcoming and cheap. I’ve often called this area the last patch of real Paris.

Now I see signs of gentrification. The first giveaway: I hear and see English everywhere—even the servers at the cafés speak English now, menus are offered in English, perhaps catering to tourists encroaching on the district thanks to AirBnb. Prices are starting to rise. My nearby Leader Price grocery store, once frequented by the neighborhood’s working-class and elderly residents on pensions, has become an expensive organic shop with sparse, highly curated shelves. The old grocery store was packed with customers, and we all knew each other; the organic shop sits empty for now, confounding the locals who, when they do enter, wander the aisles slightly dazed then walk out with empty carts, shaking their heads. They’ve been abandoned.

Upscale overnight. A very pricey organic shop replaces an affordable grocery store that had served the working-class neighborhood for years. ©Lisa Anselmo

THE FATE OF OUR CAFES IS OUR FATE

The next time you see a café close, take note. Because it marks more than a change in our way of commerce; it’s a change in how we relate to each other—or more accurately, how we are beginning to not relate. Gentrification is just that: creating a place for the gentry. A certain class of people. If we build coffee houses that exclude some of us, what does this say about who we are now? It concerns me, and it should you. There is a trend toward isolation that is sweeping the world, and this is affecting how we interact, vote and govern, and how we see the world. The local café is the opposite of isolation and segregation. In a fast-gentrifying city like Paris, our cafés remain a place of liberté, égalité, fraternité. A Utopia for a diverse and vital community.

It’s why, sitting in my café now, I cherish this place. Here, there is something for everyone, because everyone matters, equally. I can’t say that Paris is the most inclusive city I’ve ever lived in, or that I’ve never witnessed racism here, but for this hour or two in this wonderful place of food and drink, we are all one, united by the desire to share and connect with the world around us. We are the Paris café, and it is us.

Coffee houses are fine for some, but cafés are essential for all. This, more than any other reason, is why I fight for the survival of the Paris café. I want to be where everyone has a seat at the table. Where we all can belong.

Thanks for the memories. Chez Gladines was very popular, and served decent food to a mix of locals. “Coming Soon” as the sign touts—in English—is a Brooklyn-style craft beer bar. ©Lisa Anselmo

*Source: French National Statistics Office, 2014 – 2018

LISA ANSELMO is a writer, branding expert, speaker, and coach, and has worked at such iconic American magazines as Allure, InStyle, and People. She is the author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home, (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), and has been featured in New York magazine, Travel and Leisure, Bustle, House Hunters International, Expatriates Magazine among others.
Discover her blog and book
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5 Café Deco Trends We’re Over Already

by Lisa Anselmo

If someone were to say “Paris café style” to you, it would probably conjure up some immediate images: bentwood chairs, globe lights, wood paneling, maybe even a zinc bar. There’s a classic look to a café. A tad cliché, maybe, but it has stood the test of time, and somehow never looks dated, much like the American diner.

But even Paris cafés go through a relooking—makeover—every decade or so. Usually the changes stay somewhat within the vernacular: a new awning, a redux of their rattan Maison Gatti chairs, signage redesign. Mostly, it’s a much-needed refresh, yet it still feels Parisian: stylish, but not too trendy.

A Belle Epoque café captured by Ilya Repin in 1875. Wikimedia Commons

THE NEW DESIGN MOTTO: CONFORM OR PERISH

But we’re in a Pinterest world now, where design decisions are crowd-sourced. It’s not about creating a unique look based on your brand identity; it’s about fitting in. With cafés struggling to stay in business, they’re not just renovating, they are actually duplicating each other in a scramble to stay on the map. If one changes their red awning to blue, so does the next one down the street. Aided and inspired by social media, trends sweep the city from quartier to quartier like a contagion, stamping out the authentic and replacing it with the Instagram-able.

“Tropical Chic.” One of the hot trends on Pinterest right now that’s sweeping Paris cafés. Courtesy of Pinterest.

If you’re trying to attract customers, put that money into a good chef and better coffee, and keep the café as is.

Sure, you can argue that there’s a sameness to classic café style, but at least it’s timeless and uniquely Parisian, instead of this soulless caricature of Brooklyn that’s (super)imposing itself on the city. Everyone is conforming to the exact trends, churning them out with zero interpretation: the same industrial furniture, the same cold color palate, the same minimalist feel—like hipster McDonalds franchises—so the look is already played out, even before the paint is dry on that relooking.

GOOD DESIGN IS ETERNAL; BAD DESIGN IS FORGETTABLE

No one is saying modern is bad. We’re talking about bad choices. When you design anything based solely on the trend of the day, you risk a result that might not resonate longterm. It’s just bad business. Cafés spend a lot to renovate—money they can ill afford in this economy—and it’s heartbreaking when they choose styles that will look dated in a year, especially after they’ve gutted their original 100-year-old interior to do it, one that still looked perfectly on brand, and would have for years to come.

Designer Matthew Waldman is famous for saying “the future should not look like the past.” You could add that it also shouldn’t look like the fleeting moment. If you must modernize, think about how your makeover design will look in five years’ time. If it won’t hold up like your current interior, scrap your plan. At the end of the day, if you’re trying to attract customers, put that same money into a good chef and better coffee, and keep the café as is.

Behold, the top 5 trends in café deco that we’re over already:

1: THE NAKED EDISON BULB

An obligatory element in any café makeover. A cool look…5 years ago. It’s a café, not a lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Put a lampshade on that thing; you’re burning our retinas.

And speaking of lampshades…

2: THE GIANT WICKER LAMPSHADE

The first time we saw this it seemed sort of design-y, but after the 50th café, Paris is starting to look more like a cheap beach resort. Baskets are for bread.

3: THE METAL STOOL

About as comfortable as sitting on a barbed wire fence, mais non? We’re assuming you don’t want us stay long. Even more fun for your fanny after that thing has been baking in the hot sun all day. Youch!

4: THE TINY TERRACE TABLE

Oh, sweetie, no. Do you really expect two people to eat at this flimsy little thing? There are limits to how far to take a trend. You may have reached it.

5: THE TROPICAL WALLPAPER

Giant palm fronds, pink flamingos—it’s so oddly specific, and so woefully out of place. Yet there it is, hopping from café to café, like a conga line. Even my local has gone Copa Cabana bananas.

My local. With basket lampshades for the full Tropicana effect. Babalu aye!

Top photo: Courtesy of Croco, formerly Café Cassis. Ironically, the idea for Save the Paris Café was born in the defuct Cassis. Croco is an entirely tropical-themed café…except for the food (though it’s pretty decent). But go figure.

Is anyone doing these trends right? Check out Mon Coco, at 6 Place de la Republique. The decor is more thoughtfully done: classic bentwood chairs are paired with the “Brooklyn-style” industrial table; a whimsical straw chandelier (instead of the ubiquitous basket lamp) hangs over a plush blue velvet booth; instead of tropical wallpaper, a mural by a street artist nods to the area’s gritty vibe. It makes a unique statement because it’s an extension of who they are, vs. what’s trendy, so it has a far better chance of holding up as time goes by.

Which Paris café has your favorite interior design? Let us know!

LISA ANSELMO is a writer, branding expert, speaker, and coach, and has worked at such iconic American magazines as Allure, InStyle, and People. She is the author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home, (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), and has been featured in New York magazine, Travel and Leisure, Bustle, House Hunters International, Expatriates Magazine among others.
Discover her blog and book
Subscribe to her Youtube channel
Follow her on
Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

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Introducing Café Photo of the Week

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

If you live in Paris or have visited Paris, you’ve got them: café photos. And if you got ’em, we want ’em. Send us a Paris café photo, and if we like it, we may run it here, in our new weekly column, Café Photo of the Week, which will post every Wednesday.

We’ll accept photos of anything related to a café: full facade in context; detail shot; view from your table—any photo that tells a story, celebrates café life, or showcases the café itself is alright with us. We’ll give you credit in the post!

Editor’s privilege for the first post. Yup, this one’s mine. Think you can do better? Good! Send it along. This was taken in 2015 at Café Manfred in the 3ème, before their “relooking” as they say in French—the makeover. ©Lisa Anselmo Instagram: @Lisa_Anselmo

HOW TO SUBMIT

Send your photo by email to savethepariscafe@gmail.com, with the subject “Photo of the Week Submission.” Include your name and the name of the café, along with written permission that we have free, non-exclusive use of your photo on the Save the Paris Café website and on our social media, in perpetuity. (Oh, come on, you give away much more to social media sites every day.)

WHAT TO SUBMIT

  • YES! An original photo taken by you
  • YES! Anything that showcases and celebrates cafés, and café life
  • YES! Color or black and white
  • YES! Shape format: horizontal, square, vertical
  • YES! File format: JPG (1050 pixels wide, 72 dpi); 1M max file size (larger files will be deleted)
  • YES! A cropped and retouched photo, prepped for Web.
  • YES! Name of café
  • YES! Your name
  • YES! Your social media handle for your photos, if you have one (i.e. Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Behance, etc. No Facebook or Twitter, please)
  • YES! Title of photo, and an optional brief description or caption (35 words max)
  • YES! Written permission to use your photo on our site and social media

WHAT NOT TO SUBMIT

  • NO. A photo that is not yours
  • NO. Previously published photos (or that’s already made the rounds on social media). We prefer fresh eyes.
  • NO. Straight-up food porn (unless placed within some context of the café)
  • NO. Portraits where the café is not the star, or there is no clear context
  • NO. Blatant advertising or self-promotion
  • NO. Watermarking or branding on the photo (your work will be properly credited on the page)
  • NO. Screen shots from your other sites (source files only, please)

Send submissions to savethepariscafe@gmail.com, with the subject “Photo of the Week Submission.” Make sure submissions comply with the above rules. Due to maximal work and minimal staff, we cannot notify you if your photo runs. To receive up-to-the-minute posts, subscribe to our newsletter, or like us on Facebook. (Cheeky, yes, but really it’s the best way.)

Apero at Le Nord Sud, 18ème. This from staff photographer, Patty Sadauskas. It works because it tells a story. What’s your café story? ©Patty Sadauskas Instagram: @parisonadime @geniunefrance

RIGHTS & USAGE
Submission of your photos to Save the Paris Café gives us the non-exclusive rights to publish your photo in perpetuity on our site and our social media. You affirm that all photos submitted are taken by you and that you have the sole right to submit for publication. Save the Paris Café is not responsible for rights abuses of any photos that were not submitted as per our rights and usage rules. Photos will be run with credit. You have the right to promote your post in social media, provided you link back to the page on Save the Paris Café. We cannot notify you if your photo runs.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER in the sidebar above left, and never miss a single post of Café Photo of the Week. Plus, get the latest articles, news, and more.

Cover image: ©Lisa Anselmo; Instagram: @lisa_anselmo

Welcome to Save the Paris Café

(Our First) Letter from the Editor

Hello, readers!

Well, we are officially launched. C’est parti, as they say: here we go! For those hundred or so of you who have already subscribed during our beta stage, what can we say but, “merci!” And, if you’re just finding us now: bienvenue. Welcome, friends.

Who are we? We are an ever-growing group of French and expat collaborators, all lovers of café life in Paris, who will be extolling the wonders of the Paris café, and sharing the latest café news. For more on that, and why we do what we do, go here.

Photo: Edith de Belleville

What will you find in our pages? In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing articles from, and interviews with, notable locals, writers and authors, restaurateurs, and other residents sharing their stories  and backstories about their favorites cafés, café trends and news, and café culture in Paris. We’ll highlight new cafés, local favorites, cafés in danger, and more. Meet our team, and our growing list of extraordinary contributors.

We hope you’ll come along with us as we grow and evolve, and celebrate the Paris café. In a globalized world, where trends come and go at a breakneck pace, and local color can become whitewashed by commercialism and gentrification, Save the Paris Café is here to remind us that we can’t take for granted the unique and wonderful gems that make Paris shine, like her cafés and the diverse communities they  serve.

Enjoy the read, and join our café cause. Your table awaits.

Lisa Anselmo
Founding and Editorial Director

Lisa Anselmo at La Grappe d’Or, in the Montorgueil district. Photo: Geoffrey Guillin

Want to write for us, or contribute a photo or video? Here’s how.
Nominate your favorite cafe.
Alert us of a café closure.

Cover image: Edith de Belleville