Café Photo of the Week

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

A Place in the Sun, by Andrew Gentry

©Andrew Gentry

That perfect day when you find the perfect terrace table in the sun—and your socks match the decor. Meant to be.

La Boca, whose nondescript awning is marked simply with “LB,” has one of the sunniest terraces on Rue Montorgueil, which makes it a favorite of our editor.

Café La Boca, 41 Rue Montorgueil, 2ème

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Lily Heise's Romantic Café Picks

Author Lily Heise (Je T’Aime, Me Neither; Je T’Aime…Maybe?) shares her favorite romantic spots to cozy up with your amour this Valentine’s Day—or any day.

Parisian cafés serve a variety of purposes. Regulars pop in for their morning petit café on the way to work. Some come mid morning to linger over un café crème. Le plat du jour satisfies busy office workers lunchtime hunger pains and there’s nothing quite as perfect as celebrating the end of the work day over a glass of le vin du mois. Cafés also serve as the ideal spot for dates in Paris. That said, your café du coin might not be the right place for some wooing. From historic to hidden, these cafés all offer the perfect setting for a romantic meet-up in the City of Love:

 Le Jardin du Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill, 8ème; 01.40.07.11.41

Courtesy of Jardin du Petit Palais

For a touch of elegant grandeur, rendezvous with your romantic interest in front of Le Petit Palais, the City of Paris Art Museum, where its glitzy facade will already set the tone for your chic date. Located overlooking an opulent, leafy courtyard is one of Paris’s most attractive museum cafés. If things are going well, you can suggest extending your date by perusing the museum’s collections ranging from Roman statues to Impressionist greats (and it’s free!).

Musée de la Vie Romantique
Hotel Scheffer-Renan, 16 Rue Chaptal, 9ème; 01.55.31.95.67

©Lily Heise

You can’t find a more suitable setting for a romantic meet-up then at the City of Paris Museum of the Romantic Era (Musée de la Vie Romantique). Built in 1830 for Dutch painter Ary Scheffer, the house became the hub of intellectual Paris of the Romantic Era of the first half of the 19th century. On a given soirée held at the house, you might have crossed paths with Georges Sand, Chopin, Eugène Delacroix, or Franz Liszt. The small museum houses art and artifacts linked to the period (also free), however, its equally romantic courtyard café, nestled within the greenery and flowers of the garden, is open to anyone, and is sublimely romantique.

Café Louis-Philippe
66 Quai de l’Hotel de Ville, 4ème; 01.42.72.29.42

©Lily Heise

This charming joint is a great choice for a classic café experience without having to take out a mortgage to pay for two coffees like at most historic cafés. With a simple old-school decor of wooden bistro tables and chairs, a beautiful iron spiral staircase, a wonderful sunroom and terrace looking towards one of the most alluring streets of Paris (Rue des Barres), your petit café or petit Chablis will be delivered by an aproned waiter who will leave you be, Parisian style, so you can take your time gazing into your chéri/e’s eyes from across the table. Afterwards, keep the romancing going by strolling up Rue des Barres and through the quiet streets of the lower Marais.

Le Zimmer
1 Place du Chatelet, 1ère; 01.42.36.74.03

Courtesy of Le Zimmer

If you’re looking to combine history with glamour, the centuries-old café of the Chatelet Theatre fits the bill perfectly. Opened in 1896 during the great brasserie craze of Paris, this café has had a makeover—relooking—by star interior designer Jacques Garcia who, thankfully, kept many of its historic features and seductive feel of La Belle Epoque—including gilded mirrors, painted wood ceilings, and velour drapery. It’s Paris romantic chic at its best—without too much of a fuss.

Hôtel des Marronniers
21 Rue Jacob, 6ème; 01.43.25.30.60

©Lily Heise

There are a few hidden cafés in Paris and the one located in this discreet hotel in the 6th arrondissement is one of the most romantic. Meet your date nearby, perhaps in front of Saint-Germain-dès-Pres church, and then lead around to this address, where she or he will be instantly enchanted by the peaceful courtyard of the hotel. Going inside, make your way to the back, and you’ll find a glassed-in sunroom behind which is a terrace with intimate seating amidst flowers and statues. It’s not so well known, so you might even have the café all the yourselves.

Le Lieu Secret
7 Rue Francis de Pressensé, 14ème; 01.45.40.07.50

©Lily Heise

Another hidden café, the “secret place” was formerly known as L’Entrepot, a historic cultural center that has recently been saved from closure. The building has already seen a few lives. Originally a textile warehouse (“entrepot” in French), in 1975 it became an important venue for the promotion of avant garde cinema. This “new” space hasn’t abandoned its roots, so after having a drink in its “secret” café—with soaring warehouse ceilings, a large glass atrium, and a quiet back courtyard—you could further your date with a play, film, or concert.

Pavillon des Canaux
39 Quai de la Loire, 19ème; 01.73.71.82.90

©Lily Heise

Perfect for dreamy romantics, this whimsical café is found at the end of the Basin de la Villette, where it becomes the Canal de l’Ourcq. This former lock-keeper’s home has been converted into an eclectic space where you can choose to sit in a plush sofa in the living room, around the retro table in the kitchen, in the bathtub in the bathroom…or on the bed in the bedroom. After your drink, you can extend your date with a stroll along the canal.

Peonies
81 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10ème

©Lily Heise

As you might guess from its name, this modern café doesn’t only offer up a good cup of coffee, it doubles as a flower shop. So before or after you’ve sipped your way through an excellent latte and nibbled on a piece of moist cake, you can surprise your date with one of their original flower bouquets. The café is small, so avoid taking a date here on weekend afternoons. If it’s full, you could always get your coffee and bouquet to go!

LILY HEISE is a Canadian travel writer, author, and romantic expert who has lived in Paris since 2000. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Frommer’s, Playboy.com (Travel), among others. She is also the author of two lively books on searching for love in Paris, Je T’Aime, Me Neitherand Je T’Aime…Maybe?. Lily shares tips on Paris date ideas and romantic travel on her website and leads romantic tours of Paris.
Discover her world at  www.jetaimemeneither.com.
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Cover photo courtesy of Pavillon des Canaux

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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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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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Café Photo of the Week

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

Sailing Past La Frégate, by Edith de Belleville

©Edith de Belleville

A classic car whizzes past this classic Left Bank café named for a ship (frigate) also built for speed. Captured on Quai Voltaire.

La Frégate, 1 Rue du Bac, 7ème

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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.

At the Terminus, by Patty Sadauskas

©Patty Sadauskas

Terminus Nord sits in the shadow of Gare du Nord, Paris’s North Train Station. But it’s a destination in its own right. This moment captured by staff photographer, Patty Sadauskas.

Discover Patty’s world at genuinefrance.com
Follow her on Instagram: @geniunefrance and @parisonadime

Terminus Nord, 23 Rue de Dunkerque, 10ème

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Le Rostand: A Writer’s Haunt

by Janice MacLeod, excerpted from her book, A Paris Year, page 111, “June 1: Le Rostand”

There are times when you know your coffee break is going to turn into a lunch break. That’s when I show up at Rostand. It’s the perfect writer’s haunt. The city is full of such magical places. I have a few for different purposes. I have a café for my letter writing, a café for my journal writing, a café for when I’m miserable and want to indulge in my morose thoughts, and I have a café for book writing. (Sometimes those last two cafés are the same depending on how the book writing is going.)

One such lovely writer’s haunt is Le Rostand. Le Rostand a terribly well behaved place mostly because of people like me. Solo patrons looking for quiet in the midst of a midday hustle bustle of clinking glasses and chatter of waiters. The sea of patrons keeps to themselves and sneak photos of each other. If we were to ever converse and share, we’d have an album of lovely café shots of each other, but the first rule of Café Club is to never talk to each other.

©Janice MacLeod. Reprinted by permission.

Le Rostand, 6 Place Edmond Rostand, 6ème

Reprinted by permission from A Paris Year, My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World, St. Martin’s Griffin. ©2017 Janice MacLeod, all rights reserved.

JANICE MacLEOD is the illustrator and author of the New York Times best-selling book Paris Letters, and her latest book, A Paris Year, part memoir / part visual journey through the streets of Paris.
Discover her world at janicemacleod.com
Visit her Etsy shop
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All photos this page: ©Janice MacLeod.

Café Photo of the Week

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

Café Chair, by Richard Nahem

©Richard Nahem

Like Paris cafés themselves, their chairs are each different in their own way. Most rattan bistro chairs have been handcrafted by the same company since 1920, Maison Gatti. Next time you’re seated at a terrace table, look for the telltale gold name plate on the back of your chair.

Maison Gatti Paris, (+33) 1.64.29.11.84; USA: 212.219.0447

Read Richard’s blog, Eye Prefer Paris. Discover his Paris tours.
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Edith’s Café Spotlight: Le Vrai Paris

[Trouvez ci-dessous la version française]

There are cafés in Paris that draw your attention just because of their names. Each time I take the Métro to Montmartre, I pass Café Au Vrai Paris. And each time, I ask the same question: Why it called ‘At the True Paris’?Is there an At the Fake Paris? Maybe there was a fight between this café’s owner and a rival, who stole his café’s name?

One morning, I decided it was time for me to solve this mystery. So I went to have a true coffee at this “true” Paris café. The terrasse is agreable with its flowers and stylish chairs, but since it was raining, I went inside. But the moment I entered, I saw something that made me want to leave immediately: a big-screen TV showing rugby.

The bar at Le Vrai Paris. ©Edith de Belleville

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against rubgy. But I’m not keen on cafés with TVs.  If I want to watch TV, I stay home. So I decided to sit at the back of the café, far away from the TV, on one of their comfortable couches. If you go to the back of this café, you will find a relaxing lounge-style space, but unlike most lounges, the music is not too loud. And everything is yellow: the chairs, the walls, the quotations from famous writers on the walls. Even the soft light is yellow.

A friendly waiter came to me to asked what I wanted. “A coffee, please,” I answered. “But first, I would like to know why this café is called Au Vrai Paris. With a big smile, he explained that this “true” Paris name was just a marketing strategy.

Writing in my cozy spot at the back of the café. ©Edith de Belleville

A bit disappointed by this prosaic answer, I started to observe my neighbors, a young Japanese couple who were drinking Champagne. I suppose for them this is what the true Parisian lifestyle is about: savoring a glass of Champagne with your lover in a charming and romantic café in Montmartre.

While I was drinking my coffee, I pondered another mystery: what is a true Parisian? Do you have to be born and raised in Paris? Can’t you feel Parisian just because you live here? Was this idea of being “a true Parisian” merely a marketing scheme? As I was  standing to leave my cozy couch, my eyes fell on a quotation written on the wall. It was from Sasha Guitry, the celebrated French playwright, who was born in St. Petersburg. I waved au revoir to my friendly Parisian waiter and left.

As I walked to the Métro, I thought about Guitry’s quote, how it perfecting answered my mystery: “Being a Parisian is not about being born in Paris, it is about being reborn there.”

©Edith de Belleville
  • Where? 33, rue des Abbesses, 18ème arr.
  • When? 7am – 2am, 7 days
  • How to get there? Métro Abbesse, line 12
  • What to drink? Expresso Ville de Paris: 2.40 euros; hot chocolate 4.90 euros; hot mulled wine: 7 euros; organic cider: 7 euros
  • What to eat? Croque-monsieur and salad: 13 euros; traditional onion soup: 9.50 euros; Roasted Camembert with honey, rosemary, and walnuts: 9.50 euros; French toast with salted butter and hazelnut ice cream: 9 euros

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EDITH DE BELLEVILLE is a licensed tour guide in Paris, and the author of Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes (Éditions Erick Bonnier) available in French at Fnac.fr Amazon.fr and Amazon.ca


VERSION FRANÇAISE

Il y a des cafés à Paris qui attirent votre attention juste par leurs noms. A chaque fois que je prends mon métro à Montmartre je passe toujours près du café Au vrai Paris. Et  à chaque fois je me pose la même question  Pourquoi ce café s’appelle t’-il  Au Vrai Paris?  Est-ce qu’il y a un café Au faux Paris? Peut-être y a-t-il un litige entre le propriétaire de ce café et un rival qui lui a volé le nom de son café?

Un matin je décidai qu’il était temps pour moi de résoudre ce mystère. Alors je décidai de prendre un vrai café au vrai Paris. La terrasse de ce café est agréable avec ses chaises stylées et ses fleurs mais comme il pleuvait je pris la décision d’aller plutôt à l’intérieur. Mais quand j’ai vu ce que j’ai vu, j’ai  immédiatement songé à quitter cet endroit:  Un énorme écran de télé montrant des joueurs de rugby était placé à l’entrée du café.

Ne vous méprenez pas, je n’ai rien contre le rugby. Mais je n’aime pas les cafés avec la télé. SI je veux regarder la télé je la regarde chez moi. Alors je me suis installée au fond du café le plus loin possible de la télévision et je me suis assise sur l’une des confortables banquettes. Si vous allez au fond du café vous constaterez que c’est un endroit relaxant avec une musique d’ambiance pas trop forte. Et tout est jaune: Les chaises, les murs et les citations inscrites sur les murs. Même la lumière tamisée est jaune.

Un sympathique serveur est venu me demander ce que je souhaitais. Un café s’il vous-plaît  lui ai-je répondu mais d’abord je voudrais savoir pourquoi ce café s’appelle Au vrai Paris?. Avec un sourire il m’expliqué que ce nom d’ Au vrai Paris était juste une idée marketing.

©Edith de Belleville

Un peu déçue par cette réponse prosaïque, je me suis mise à observer mes voisins, un  jeune couple de Japonais buvant du Champagne. Je suppose que pour eux voilà ce qu’est le vrai style de vie parisien: Savourer une coupe de Champagne avec son amoureux dans un charmant et romantique café à Montmartre.

©Edith de Belleville

Pendant que j’étais en train de boire mon café j’essayai de résoudre un autre mystère: Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire être un vrai Parisien?  Est-ce qu’il faut être né et avoir été élevé à Paris pour être un vrai Parisien? Est-ce que vous ne pouvez pas vous sentir un vrai Parisien juste parce que vous vivez à Paris? Et si toute cette idée d’être «un vrai Parisien»  n’était qu’un pur produit de consommation? Comme je me levais pour quitter ma confortable banquette et partir, je vis sur le mur une citation de Sasha Guitry, l’auteur bien connu des pièces de théâtre.

En partant je pris soin de faire un signe de la main vers mon gentil serveur pour lui dire au-revoir et je quittai le café. Et alors que je me dirigeais vers mon métro je me dis que Sasha Guitry, l’écrivain français né à Saint-Petersbourg avait raison. Etre Parisien ce n’est pas être né à Paris…..c’est y renaître

  • Où ? 33, rue des Abbesses, 18ème arr.
  • Quand ? 7h à 2h, tous les jours
  • Comment y aller ? Métro Abbesses, ligne 12
  • Que boire ? Expresso Ville de Paris : 2,40 euros ; chocolat chaud  4,90 euros ; vin chaud  : 7 euros ; cidre biologique : 7 euros
  • Que manger ? Croque-monsieur et sa salade : 13 euros ; soupe à l’oignon traditionnelle : 9,5 euros ; Camembert rôti au miel et aux noix  : 9,5 euros ; brioche façon pain perdu au caramel au beurre salé et glace : 9 euros; café ou thé gourmand : 9, 5 euros

Guide-conférencière à Paris, EDITH DE BELLEVILLE est également l’auteure de Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes ( Éditions Erick Bonnier ) un livre disponible à la Fnac.fr Amazon.fr et Amazon.ca.

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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.

Rise and Shine, by April Pett

©April Pett

The life of a tour guide finds you up ahead of the sun, especially during the strikes in France when you need to walk to your destination. This image captures Le Nemours on Place Colette, in the quiet dawn hours, preparing to receive its morning customers.

Café Le Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 1ère

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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.

Le Dôme, by Edith de Belleville

©Edith de Belleville

The classic Le Dôme Café in Montparnasse, on this New Year’s Day.

Café Le Dôme, 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse

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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 Festive Terrace, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

Café Colette, in the 11th arrondissement, really takes the holidays seriously. This is just one of two trees (the other is inside) and the windows are painted by an artist. Despite the cold, this festive terrace is very inviting.

Cafe Colette, 96 Avenue Philippe-Auguste, 11ème

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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 Shadows, by Richard Nahem

©Richard Nahem

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Edith’s Café Spotlight: Bar Edith Piaf

[Trouvez ci-dessous la version française]

There are cafés in Paris you are attracted to just because of the name. This is why I went to Bar Edith Piaf (aka Bar de la Place Edith Piaf). I guess I don’t have to introduce you to Edith Piaf. This neighborhood place is located in Square Edith Piaf in the working class district in the 20th arrondissement where Piaf once lived. It’s also not far from the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery where she is buried.

When I do my Edith Piaf tour, this place is a must to have coffee or lunch.  Here, you find only locals, not one tourist. This bar, which is also a café and restaurant, is dedicated to the singer. You will feel like you’re having your coffee with Edith because she is everywhere.

You are surrounded by images of Piaf and her life. ©Edith de Belleville

It’s not trendy or chic, and not really historical, either. It’s just an ordinary—but authentic—café with real Parisians who share their daily lives together. And a very important detail: the toilets are clean, which is always a good sign.

Since I was hungry after my coffee, I ordered duck à l’orange with roasted garlicky potatoes, for a mere 10 euros. The bread was excellent, which is another good sign. I talked to my amiable table neighbors, a young Parisian couple who were with their adorable three-week-old baby, Martin. It’s not surprising that cafés are in the Parisian DNA since they start going to them from the day they’re born, evidently. The couple chose a vegetarian lentil salad, and the Norwegian salad, with smoked salmon, both which looked very tasty.

Canard à l’orange, 10 euros. ©Edith de Belleville

When my friendly waiter heard my name was also Edith, he asked me if I was a singer. “Only in the shower,” was my reply.

He told me that on Saturday evenings they organize musical soirées where the customers can sing French songs. “It’s really fun,” he said. “You should come!” 

I promised him I would come back, and complemented him on the delicious duck I’d had, as well as the friendly ambiance.

“You did Edith proud,” I said as I left.

Then I started singing the street as I walked away. Hold me close and hold me fast, this magic spell you cast, this is la vie en rose…

  • Where? Place Edith Piaf (22 rue de la Py), Paris 20ème
  • When? Monday-Saturday, 8am-midnight. Check for their Saturday night music soirées.
  • How to get there? Métro Porte de Bagnolet, line 3, exit 5
  • What to drink? Coffee, tea, beer, at cheap prices
  • What to eat? Duck à l’Orange, 10 euros; Beef Tartare, 12 euros; Vegetarian Lentil Salad, 10.50 euros; Norwegian Salad, 11.50; Croque Monsieur, 8 euros; Fries, 4.50; Chocolat Mousse, 4 euros
A charming table by the window with Edith watching over you, like an angel. ©Edith de Belleville

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EDITH DE BELLEVILLE is a licensed tour guide in Paris, and the author of Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes (Éditions Erick Bonnier) available in French at Fnac.fr Amazon.fr and Amazon.ca


VERSION FRANÇAISE

Les deux Ediths. Photo ©Chrissy Willey

Il y a des cafés à Paris qui vous attirent juste à cause de leur nom. C’est la raison pour laquelle je suis allée au bar Edith Piaf, juste à cause du nom. Je suppose qu’il est inutile que je vous présente Edith Piaf. Ce bar de quartier est situé place Edith Piaf dans un quartier ouvrier où Piaf habitait. Ce n’est pas loin du célèbre cimetière Père Lachaise où elle est enterrée.

Lorsque je fais ma visite guidée sur Edith Piaf je m’arrête obligatoirement dans cet endroit pour prendre un café ou bien déjeuner. Ici vous ne trouverez que des locaux, aucun touriste. Ce bar qui est aussi un café et un restaurant, est dédiée à la chanteuse. Vous aurez  l’impression de prendre un café avec Edith parce qu’elle est partout.

©Edith de Belleville

Ce café n’est ni branché, ni à la mode, ni chic, ni historique. C’est un café ordinaire mais authentique avec de vrais Parisiens qui échangent à propos de leur vie parisienne de tous les jours. Et détail très important… les toilettes étaient propres ce qui est toujours bon signe.

Comme j’avais faim après mon café, j’ai commandé un canard à l’orange accompagné de pommes sautées à l’ail pour seulement 10 euros. Le pain est excellent ce qui est un autre bon signe. J’ai parlé à mes gentils voisins, un jeune couple qui était avec leur adorable nourrisson prénommé Martin âgé de trois semaines. Pas étonnant que les cafés de Paris soient dans l ‘ADN des Parisiens puisqu’ils les fréquentent à peine nés. Le gentil couple avait choisi une appétissante salade de lentilles, ainsi qu’une salade norvégienne avec du saumon fumé.

Canard à l’orange, 10 euros. ©Edith de Belleville

Quand j’ai dit au sympathique serveur que je m’appelais aussi Edith il m’a alors demandé si j’étais chanteuse. 

Seulement sous ma douche lui ai-je répondu.

Les samedis soirs on organise des soirées musicales. Les clients chantent des chansons françaises, c’est très sympa, vous devriez venir.

Je lui ai promis de revenir et je lui ai dit en partant:
Mon canard était délicieux, j’ai vraiment apprécié mon repas et cet endroit est très sympathique. C’est bien, vous n’avez pas déçu Edith !

Puis je me suis mise à fredonner dans la rue : quand il me prend dans ses bras, qu’il me parle tout bas, je vois la vie en rose ….

  • Où ? Place Edith Piaf ( 22, rue de la Py ), 20ème
  • Quand ? Lundi à samedi, 8h à minuit. ( Vérifier les samedis soirs pour les soirées musicales. )
  • Comment y aller ? Métro Porte de Bagnolet, ligne 3, sortier 5
  • Que boire ? Tout est abordable  
  • Que manger ? Canard à l’orange : 10 euros ; Tartare de boeuf : 12 euros ; Salade de lentilles végétarienne : 10,50 euros ; Salade  Norvégienne : 11,50 euros ; Frites : 4,50 euros ; Croque-monsieur : 8 euros ; Mousse au chocolat : 4 euros 

Guide-conférencière à Paris, EDITH DE BELLEVILLE est également l’auteure de Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes ( Éditions Erick Bonnier ) un livre disponible à la Fnac.fr Amazon.fr et Amazon.ca

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Cover photo: ©Chrissy Willey

Café Photo of the Week

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

At Les Pipos, by Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

The bar at the popular Les Pipos, in the Latin Quarter, dates from the mid-1940s, and there has been a bistro or café on this site for the last 130 years. Woody Allen liked to hang out here when he was filming Midnight in Paris in the area.

Les Pipos was in danger of losing its lease, and its future is still unsure, but hopeful after the locals launched a petition to save it.

Bistrot Les Pipos, 2 rue de l’Ecole Polytechnique, 5ème

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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.
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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.

Wine & Pétanque, by Paul Boyd

©Paul Boyd

Le Caveau du Palais in Place Dauphine is a wonderful oasis of tranquility, just steps from Notre Dame, where often the only sound is the clacking from a nearby game of pétanque.

Le Caveau du Palais, 17-19 Place Dauphine, 1ère

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Photo Essay: Le Bistro Chair

by Janice MacLeod, excerpted from her book, A Paris Year, page 106, “May 25: Le Bistro Chair”

When you spend as much time in cafés as I do, you begin to notice that the typical bistro chair is like a snowflake. They are alike, yet no two are the same. Surprisingly, each chair costs on average $500.

Reprinted by permission from A Paris Year, My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World, St. Martin’s Griffin. ©2017 Janice MacLeod, all rights reserved.

Editor’s note: Most classic rattan bistro chairs in Paris cafés have been handcrafted by the same company since 1920, Maison Gatti. Next time you’re seated at a terrace table, look for the telltale gold name plate on the back of your chair.

JANICE MacLEOD is the illustrator and author of the New York Times best-selling book Paris Letters, and her latest book, A Paris Year, part memoir / part visual journey through the streets of Paris.
Discover her world at janicemacleod.com
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All photos this page: ©Janice MacLeod.

Café Photo of the Week

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

Service Continu, by Patty Sadauskas

©Patty Sadauskas

Another gem from Patty Sadauskas. Non-stop service—or service continu—on this warm and inviting terrace during a raw night, courtesy of La Tour du Temple in the 3rd.

Shop Patty’s page on Redbubble
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Café La Tour du Temple, 160bis Rue du Temple, 3ème

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My Favorite Café Is…La Belle Hortense

by Filly di Somma

I used to organize a literary evening at La Belle Hortense with an international writers group—a mixer for new authors where we’d discuss books and drink wine. Where better to host such an event than La Belle Hortense, because it’s not just a café; it’s a book store, too.

©Lisa Anselmo

Since 1997, this café, with its facade of electric blue, in the heart of the Marais on rue Vieille du Temple, is a literary oasis for all who pass in this trendy Paris neighborhood. On the facade is posted: Cave-Librairie-Bar Littéraire (Wine Shop-Book Shop-Literary Bar), and La Belle Hortense is all this, and more.

Every day from 17h to 2h (5pm-2am) you can stop by for a drink (there’s a good selection of French wines by the glass, or bottle), buy or browse something from their stock of beautiful novels and other books then sit, either at the bar or comfortably installed in the well-lit room at the back. The hours pass quickly in this timeless place— the sort you can only find in Paris.

The old zinc bar where you can have a glass and a read. There are tables, too. And if you’re hungry, they’ll order in from one of their cafés across the street. ©Lisa Anselmo
View toward the back room. Lots of little nooks where you can sit and read. ©Lisa Anselmo

From time to time, La Belle Hortense also offers readings associated with wine tastings . The wine producer and the author of the book are both present, and you can chat with these knowledgable people. What could be more Parisian? And if you’re hungry, you can visit, or order in from, one of their three other cafés across the street, all owned by restaurateur, Xavier Denamur: Les Philosophes, Au Petit Fer à Cheval, and L’Etoile Manquante. Xavier is a fascinating man, and has a few books of his own, which are also on sale at the café.

Books and booze happily reside together on the bar. ©Lisa Anselmo
The hostess pauses from serving her clients to stock the bookshelves. ©Lisa Anselmo

At this magical literary café you’re encouraged to consume both wine and books “without moderation,” either to stay, or to take away. But why not stay? La Belle Hortense is a beautiful combination of my two most favorite things: literature and oenology, and I highly recommend you explore it.

The eclectic selection of books, just across from the zinc-top bar. ©Lisa Anselmo
A whimsical chandelier hangs overhead while you read and sip. ©Lisa Anselmo
Detail of the back room. The building dates from the 17th Century. ©Lisa Anselmo

La Belle Hortense, 31, Rue Vieille du Temple, 4ème.
Métro: Saint Paul or Pont Marie, 01.48.04.71.60

FILLY di SOMMA is a hospitality professional who lives between Rome and Paris. She grew up in her family’s hotel business in Castellammare di Stabia, in Italy, and hospitality is in her blood. She has dedicated her career to bringing people of different cultures together via tourism, and organizes cultural events such as Paris Hospitality, Discovering Japan in Paris, Social Writing, and Paris Italian culture. Filly speaks five languages including Japanese, and is also a travel journalist, contributing regularly to Where Rome, among others. Discover her blog.

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