When in Paris, some things you plan and some things you find. It’s a city that you can schedule down the n-th degree but is also one of the best cities in the world for meandering and following your nose to see what culinary treasures one can find.
Here’s what I found between plans and meanderings on my recent sojourn back to what I call my spirit city.
Go there for: coffee, wifi and musings
The KB in KB Café originated from its former name, Kooka Boora Café; that should help you guess the influence here. You won’t find any croissants but you won’t find any infamous Parisian attitude, either (that’s not to say you can’t get a good half baguette with butter and jam for breakfast). What you will find is fantastic coffee, wifi, a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and a cosy space to work or watch the world go by. Look for the divine, unsuspecting glimpse of Sacre Ceour just up ahead.
Hardware Societe Paris
Go there for: brunch and coffee
Following in the footsteps of its flagship cafe on Hardware Street in Melbourne, this spot is making its mark on the Paris brunch and coffee scene – big time. With queues that rival those of Melbourne’s on the weekend, here you can expect to find all the familiar flavours from home (including Padre coffee) with a menu crafted by the original head chef himself, Jess Keane. Naturally, they’re licensed, so you can enjoy a glass of vino with your Sunday brunch. And with the venue practically hugging Sacre Coeur, ease the digestion from the unnecessary but necessary dessert with a stroll through neighbouring Mont Martre.
Go there for: shared French plates and an intimate, romantic vibe
Unbeknownst to us at the time, this joint takes a healthy dose of waitlisting or queue time (sans promise of success) to get in. It was thus incredibly fortuitous that we experienced a mere champagne glass worth of waiting for a seat at dinner. Still blissfully unaware of the luck that we had struck, we enjoyed a satisfying series of French share plates and impeccably matched wine in an intimate setting, albeit within conversation distance to other dining comrades (the French are so good at making this work). After failing to get a booking at the nearby and equally-popular L'Ivress Sentier, this was one truly parfait incidental find.
2nd, 7th and 18th arrondissements
Go there for: great coffee and soy milk
A local contact told me that when Bonsoy – the dairy alternative heralded for its coffee yielding abilities – experienced a quality issue some years back, France banned all use of the product in the country. This seems to have eradicated a great deal of any soy milk presence at cafes in Paris, replaced by an (admittedly tasty) alternative to the alternative; oat milk. But for lovers of a good, nutty soy latte, such as petit moi, Cuillier fortunately comes to the rescue with not only great coffee skills and knowledge, but the soy milk to boot. We found them in Abbesses but they're also in the 2nd and 7th arrondissements.
Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie
Go there for: gourmet goods and French cuisine in a lively setting
Like moths to a flame, we were drawn into this amazing gourmet hub offering promises of foie gras that we could pack and take back to England – only to discover the wonderful café bar residing within. It’s a bustling and quintessentially French space with locals on lunch breaks and a few happy-to-wait tourists, passers-by and loyal patrons. We indulged in brunch from the foie-gras inspired menu, which naturally included a simple, generous slab of foie gras and a little glass of wine. Heaven.
Le Yacht Club
Go there for: sea-themed night of food and buzzy fun
You’d never expect a place like this to be found in Paris, which is what makes it so good. Le Yacht Club offers a fun and casual environment with an oceanic theme without taking it so far that it becomes tacky. The menu is not all seafood - in fact I expected there to be more - but it was good nosh, very social and completely different to anything I’ve been to in Paris. A bit of flirty fun and lots of buzz.
Need more tips, including where to stay in Paris? Get in touch and say hello!