Postcard from Paris: a Paws Café at Café des Chats

Cafe des chats, rue sedainePaws Café… Pause café… get it? OK, that was a bad pun, but I couldn’t help it. Just like I couldn’t help visiting both of Paris’ cat cafés during my last stay in the city. In my defense, one of them is just a few blocks away from my parents’ apartment. When did rue Sedaine become so hip?

The original Café des Chats, located in the haut Marais close to Beaubourg, opened back in the fall of 2013 and turned out to be so popular that a second location near Bastille was added. Margaux Gandelon, the young entrepreneuse who launched the “café chat” concept in Paris after a successful crowd-funding campaign, was directly inspired by the “neko” cafés in Japan. She describes her project as ronronthérapie, or purr therapy, arguing for the potential health benefits of stroking a purring kitty. However, it’s the health of the cats that’s truly at the center of the projects, and all visitors must abide by a few rules:don’t force the cats to do anything they don’t want to do,do not wake up the cats  if they’re sleeping and do not feed the cats.

Humans shouldn’t feed the cats, but café des chats feeds its humans pretty well, and the kitchen is the only area where cats are not allowed. I hear the brunch is quite popular though when we visited, around goûter time, we simple settled for coffee, tea and cheesecakes. If you have a choice to visit one over the other location, I would recommend visiting the one in the Marais, which is a beautiful and cozy bi-level space with a faux-library and a 15th century vaulted ceiling (downstairs.) The Bastille location is more modern, but also easier to get into as it doesn’t require reservations. Both feature a group of twelve-ish resident cats, which, unlike in other cat cafés, notably in the United States, are not up for adoption. All of them, though, were previously stray or abandoned cats that were given a permanent home rues Sedaine or Michel Le Comte. and a portion of the proceeds from the cafés though is donated to animal protection organizations.

Cafe des chats

Cafe des chats, Paris

Cafe des chats paris

I can’t wait for DC to open its own cat café! If you too are excited about this prospect, visit Crumbs and Whiskers’ website for updates on their kickstarter’s campaign [update: here’s my post on my first visit to Crumbs & Whiskers.] Until then, I’m glad I have not one, but two places to go when I need my kitty fix in Paris!

 Café des Chats: 16 Rue Michel le Comte (3ème) | Bastille: 9 Rue Sedaine (11ème)

10 Paris Instagrammers You Should Follow

I follow all sorts of people on instagrams. My friends, of course. Foodies. Travelers. Cat owners. Even a few politicians (bonus when they post #FridayKitty pics every week!) But I have a soft spot for people instagramming from my hometown. Here are some of my favourite Paris-based snappers right now:

INSTA_Goutdfood
In addition to having a pretty dreamy job in PR for Ladurée, Delphine also runs Goût’d Food, a lovely French food blog with an accompanying instagram feed GOUTDFOOD that’s as sweet as you’d expect. 

INSTA_Desserted in Paris
DESSERTED IN PARIS is the instagram account of Taj Spiegel, a graphic designer and pâtissier with a passion for shoes and pastries. Follow him for snapshots of gorgeous-looking desserts juxtaposed against his extensive collection of colourful shoes.  

INSTA_Parisian Floors
PARISIAN FLOORS also looks down, this time to the ornate mosaics and colourful tiles of the city. Unlike I have this thing with floors (also one of my fave!), photographer Sebastian Erras doesn’t regram anyone else’s content… the repetitive floor shots are all his. And while his shoe collection could use a few pointers from Taj Spiegel, his elegant but plain black footwear lets the focus shine on the brightly patterned tiles underneath. 

INSTA_NAT PARIS
Nathalie Geffroy’s NATH PARIS captures daily slices of life in Paris, many taken in the rain or close to the ground. Nathalie is an artistic director at an ad agency and her creativity definitely comes through in her beautiful instagram pictures.

INSTA_Vuthrea
VTHEARA KHAM is a UI/UX Designer and one of the most followed French instagrammer in the world. In addition to instagram, his work has also appeared in little known travel books…you know, like, the official city of Paris tourism guide 😉

INSTA _ Paris je t'aime
Speaking of official tourism guide, Paris does have an official Instagram channel, PARIS JE T’AIME. It regrams a ton of people so it’s a great spot to discover new fun Paris-based account. Use the hashtag #parisjetaime in your photos if you want to be figured. Also official but a little more fun is the account of VELIB, Paris’ bike share network. You’ve guessed it, that one will be pretty bicycle heavy 😉 

INSA_Julien French words
Following the attacks of November 13, Julien created the instagram account French Words where he introduces his followers to a new French word everyday. FRENCH WORDS JOURNAL is his personal account where he shares beautiful pics from his daily life in Paris and from his travels.

INSTA_lost in cheeseland
Lindsey Tramuta is a writer and photographer behind LOST IN CHEESELAND, a blog that documents her life as an American expat married to a Frenchman in Paris. Recently, she started traveling the globe on writing assignments so her instagram pic extends beyond Paris. But don’t worry… Paris is still the main star of her instagram feed.

INSTA je ne sais quoiAt one point, I realized I was basically only following “expats” living in Paris and made a conscious effort to seek out more Frenchies on both twitter and instagram. That’s when I came across Juliette’s account JULIETTE_JNSPC and blog Je Ne Sais Pas Choisir and I love it. Her comments are in French but her pictures don’t need any translations. Bonus: unlike my furrbaby Chloe, her cat Sherlock is super photogenic…

INSTA _ Jean LucJEAN-LUC RAYMOND‘s feed combines two things I absolutely adore: cats and street art! Well, make that three if you include Paris 😉 

Last but not least, some bonus instragram accounts: HUGO KATSUMI‘s sky-heavy feed (cloud-haters abstain), MARTA LISBOA for some unexpected angles and bright colours, MECS METRO PARIS just for fun (and for some French dudes… in the Paris metro) as well as I_AM_UN_CHAT, the feed of Jean-Baptiste Delame, an advertising executive who owns the cutest tuxedo cat and takes some great snapshots documenting his daily life in Paris.

Did I miss one of your fave Paris-based grameur? Who are some of your go-to instragram peeps (Paris based or not)?

{this post was update February 4, 2016}

Guest Post ~ My Trip to Paris by Ashley

389176_10100620880866639_2081008904_nNeither David nor I can remember how we agreed that Paris would be our honeymoon location. And truthfully, it never occurred to either of us as being cliché (being the city of love and all). The truth is, we’re city people, and we like to visit other cities, and we both took enough years of high school and college French that we felt it needed to serve some purpose.

We flew to Paris a few days after our wedding, with only the vaguest ideas of what we would do or see. We had secured our apartment via AirBnB, a great little studio in Le Marais, exchanged our dollars for Euros and headed off on Iceland Air. When we got there we were surprised that Paris seemed trapped in time. For me, it was romantic to see metro trains right out of my understanding of the 1940’s. There seemed to be less automation, more stairs, and definitely fewer people using smart phones. For David, it was a thoughtful collision of the new (La Défense) and the old (“What do you mean they don’t accept our credit cards?”). The biggest adjustment? The lack of air conditioning on our fifth floor walk up–and the communal bathroom.

Either way, a trip to Paris is an incredible experience and one you’re not soon to forget–no matter which century you prefer. Here are some of the sights we loved and tips we learned doing our Parisian honeymoon:

1. Grab a Vélib’. Paris was one of the first city to implement a large-scale bikeshare program and it’s a great way to get around without losing out on any of the sights.  You will need to buy your pass online since the Vélib self-serving stations don’t take American credit cards.

Velib, paris velib, paris bikeshare, biking in paris

2. We loved Caffe Boboli and Bistro La Coopérative. The Cooperative serves traditional Southwestern food close to the Louvre Museum, but without the tourist mark-ups (or crowds) of other establishments nearby. Caffe Boboli is this tiny Italian restaurant with fewer than 10 seats; the owner serves your meal.

3. Visit the farmers’/merchant market on Boulevard Richard Lenoir, near the Bastille on Sunday mornings (8AM-1PM, metro: Breguet Sabin or Bastille.) If the weather is nice, you can buy everything you need (but especially cheese, olives, cured meats etc.) for a picnic. Then grab a bottle of wine and improvise a meal by the Seine. Unlike in Washington, there are no such things as open container laws in Paris.

marche de la Bastille, paris farmers' market, bastille farmers market

4. Take a cooking class. I tried a croissant-making class at (American-expat owned) La Cuisine Paris, and took home more than we could eat!

5. Select your museums wisely. The museum pass was helpful if you really enjoy museums and plan to make them a dedicated part of your trip. But if you’re not a big museum person, don’t worry about it. And the Mona Lisa…eh. We visited the Centre Pompidou which has great modern art. Make sure you get in the entrance line and not the line for the library-we stood in line for an hour before realizing we were in the wrong one. Don’t miss the the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain nearby too. We also made a full day excursion to Versailles, rented a rowboat and leisurely strolled through the gardens. If the weather is nice it’s definitely worth the quick RER ride.

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6. We loved the view from Arc de Triomphe more than the Eiffel Tower. Then again, I’m terribly afraid of heights. If you want to save money (and a few hours), you can elect to walk up the Eiffel Tower via stairs.

7. Stroll up to Berthillon’s on the Ile St Louis. The celebrated glacier has many retailers behind Notre Dame, and there’s typically always a small line, waiting not-so-patiently for the best ice cream in the city.

berthillon, ice cream paris, best ice cream in paris

8. We took a fun wine tasting class at O-Chateau. Their wine pours are generous and the knowledge was invaluable-we learned that a high-dollar bottle of wine rarely tastes different than a more reasonably priced bottle of wine. We also learned a great deal about the the flavors you can expect from specific regions of France.

9.  The city of Paris spends a small fortune of their taxpayers’ euros lighting up the monuments at night and one of the most convenient way to appreciate them is on a boat tour of the city at night.  There are several offering dinner or drinks too.

10. Sacré Coeur and the surrounding neighborhood are a lovely afternoon excursion but watch out for pick-pockets and all their tricks!

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Last but not least, take the time to enjoy the city. You’ll never have the time to see everything so don’t stress out trying.

577526_10100624987931049_1043153038_nAbout the author: Ashley and David were married in May, 2012 in Meridian Hill Park in Washington, DC. Following their honeymoon in Paris, they welcomed a sweet puppy named Jack into their lives. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ashley through our mutual love of DC-city life and our involvement with the local blog Borderstan. I can’t remember if I suggested slash ordered that she gets ice cream at Berthillon before she headed out to Paris, but either way, I most definitely agree with that tip. Berthillon is the best. Period 😉 For more on Ashley, you can read her blog Metropoetrylis and follow @arlusk on twitter. 

Paris or DC ~ Cathedral Edition

Il est venu le temps des Cathedrales
Le monde est entré
Dans un nouveau millénaire
L´homme a voulu monter vers les étoiles
Écrire son histoire
Dans le verre ou dans la pierre.
” ~ Notre Dame de Paris

One is one of the largest cathedral in the world, the other is one of the most famous Cathedral in the world. One is Catholic one is Episcopalian. Both have gargoyles, but only one of them has a grotesque sculpture of a Star Wars villain…

IMG_9613Notre Dame de Paris vs the Washington National Cathedral ~ can you tell which one is pictured above?

Des larmes éclairs de crocodile

Joyeux Anniversaire Lacoste! The brand with the green crocodile logo was founded 80 years ago by French tennis champion René Lacoste. Lacoste is an iconic French brand and so for its birthday, it partnered with other iconic French brands like Hermès or Veuve Clicquot to create a collection of celebratory items. My favourite collaboration though is with Fauchon. I mean, you can’t be a French brand and not celebrate a big birthday with a special pastry right? Right. So Fauchon, which makes the BEST and most beautiful éclairs, came up with four stunning limited edition “crocodile” éclairs branded in Lacoste’s logo and colours. I *love* them!

3101

Sadly, these are only available for a limited time, June 17-21,  at Fauchon’s Place de la Madeleine boutique (24-26-30 place de la Madeleine, 8ème). They will also be on display at Colette (213 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1er) from June 10-16. And for those of us who can’t be in Paris during that short window of time, well, there’s always the special 80th collection available online and at Lacoste stores throughout the United States (Washington, DC: 3146 M St NW in Georgetown).

Roland Garros Macarons

Tennis and macarons go la main dans la main in France. Every year, Paris plays host to one of the grand slam tournament, les Internationaux de France de Tennis, which the French just call Roland Garros (after the stadium where it takes place.) I’ve attended a couple of games in my days, including an all Williams women finals back in 2002. While we don’t make everyone wear white like some other fancy tournament, this is Paris and it’s tennis, so you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that you can purchase champagne and macarons at the concession stands. I mean, beer and hot dogs are SO Flushing Meadows 😉 In 2011, they came in kind of unappetizing colours though: yellow (for the tennis ball), dark ocre (for the clay) and dark green (for the logo.)

Photo credit Compass Group France

Never one to miss a good marketing opportunity, Laduree launched a commemorative macarons box for Roland Garros last year:

Image courtesy of Laduree

And this year, it’s Häagen-Dazs that’s hitting an ace with these macaron ice cream sandwiches. You won’t find them at the stadium though, the limited edition macarons will be sold exclusively at Häagen-Dazs’ flagship store on the ChampsÉlysées from May 15 to June 15 (for your info, the Roland Garros tournament takes place Porte d’Auteuil, right on the edge on Paris, from May 21st to June 9, 2013). They will come in 5 flavours: banoffee, pralines & cream, vanilla, macadamia nut brittle and lemon sorbet. A box of 5 will retail for 10. 

Photo credit: Haagen-Dazs

I know Roland Garros macarons is quite a mouthful to pronounce (that’s a lot of rrrs right?) but how cute are these?

Paris’ Metro Diplomacy

There’s so much to see in Paris. There’s literally a landmark or museum every other street. So it’s not surprising that even our metro entrances would be historical monuments… Paris’ metropolitain is one of the oldest in the world, opening at the beginning of the 20th century for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. The metro was, at the time, a very novel mode of transportation. Only London had one…  Since Parisiens are all about style, they thought having attractive entrances would be a great way to encourage them to get on board (literally). So they hired Hector Guimard, a young architect, and between 1900 and 1913, some 141 Guimard metropolitain entrances were installed throughout the city. Today, only 86 are still standing, two of them only a few blocks from where I grew up, at Bastille and Breguet Sabin. A few more can be spotted around the world from Moscow to Mexico City, and where I currently live, in Washington, D.C.

The ornate green cast iron entryways Guimard designed became so iconic over the years that they turned into one of the best ambassadors of Paris around the world. Like China’s pandas, except, well, less furry and cuddly, the Guimard metros have been used as diplomatic gifts by the RATP*


Number 1 and number 2 are located in Washington, D.C.’s sculpture garden and New York City’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at the MoMa museum respectively. Unlike the other 3, they are not used to mark the entrance of an actual metro, but are pieces of art in a museum. Both are originals (the one at MoMa used to stand at the Raspail metro station) that have been restored. That’s more than the next two can say… actually, out of all of the Guimard entrances that have been given to other cities, the only functioning original one outside of Paris is number 5 at the Square-Victoria station in Montreal. Meanwhile, replicas from original molds have been given to the Lisbon metro (picoas station), the Mexico City metro (Bellas Artes station – number 3 above), the Moscow Metro (the Kievskaya station, which is actually one of the prettiest metro station in the world with chandeliers and artwork is inspired from Ukrainian life and folk motifs) and Chicago’s Metra (number 4 above is located on Van Buren Street.) 

 

These bouches de metro** are an important part of Paris’ architectural heritage. I know, they’re not quite as cute as panda bears, but I think they still make great ambassadors for Paris abroad!

 
*RATP is the Parisian transit authority… because it’s on strike so often the joke is that RATP stands for Rentre Avec Tes Pieds or “go home with your feet.” But in reality it stands for Regie Autonome des Transports Parisien or Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transports

** bouche = mouth, we call our metro entrances mouths of the metro… poetic I guess.

Guest Post ~ My Trip to Paris by Cecile

Gertrude Stein once said “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” I couldn’t agree more! When I am in Paris, I feel very much at home and become une petite Parisienne. Of course, it helps that my father is a francophile and my mother is, well, une vraie Parisienne. She used to live near the picturesque Place des Vosges and I grew up hearing all about Paris, its culture and its fashion. I’m lucky that I get to visit about once a year, and I’m thrilled to share with you a few of the things I love the most about my hometown…

… starting with fashion. French women always manage to look effortlessly chic, elegantly maneuvering the cobblestone streets of le Marais in their Louboutins and expertly wrapping a Hermès scarf around their necks. But all French women, myself included, know that the base of any great outfit is what only a select few people get to see: their unmentionables. French lingerie is typically designed for women by women and it shows! You can find a few good French brands in D.C. at Coup de Foudre on E Street, for example. But when I head to Paris, I love picking out perfectly fitted colorful pieces at Cadolle, the designer credited with inventing the bra (4 rue Cambon) or at Chantal Tomass (211 rue St-Honoré, 1er). Since those will set you back a bunch of euros,  I also love shopping at more budget-friendly Princesse Tam-Tam. The brand targets a younger crowd with affordable, fun, contemporary lingerie. It’s also a chain with locations pretty much all over Paris so you’re bound to come across one while exploring the city.

Another hidden yet important element of a French woman’s style is her fragrance. Perfume has been one of my passions since I pursued an MBA in luxury goods with a concentration in perfume in Monaco. Perfumes define your personality, whether it is fresh and fun, romantic or sensual, what better way to discover this than in Paris? Visiting perfume boutiques such as Annick Goutal (14 rue de Castiglione, 1erand Chanel (31 rue Cambon, 1er) will help you determine whether you are a Petite Cherie or more of an Allure Sensuelle. You can also visit Romano Ricci (yes, he’s related to Nina Ricci…)’s new concept store Nose (20 rue Bachaumont, 2eme) to get a tailored scent assessment. Finally, a sensory tour of Paris wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Ateliers Parfum Guerlain’s flagship store. Conveniently located on the Champs Elysees (68 Avenue des Champs Élysées, 8eme), the boutique dates back to 1912 and features a shimmering art-deco interior that will transport you to the famous avenue’s most glorious days, before H&M and Abercombie and Fitch moved in.
Beyond shopping, Paris is obviously known for its art and many museum. My favourite is le Musée d’Orsay, which houses an impressive collection of impressionist masterpieces in a former 19th century railway station. If you need to take a break from the Renoirs and bronze ballerinas, don’t miss the breathtaking views of the Seine from the fifth floor.
Great views of le musée du Louvre from le musée d'Orsay (picture: Cecile R.)

Great views of le musée du Louvre from le musee d’Orsay (picture: Cecile R.)

 

Shopping, art… I guess I can’t write a post on the things I love about Paris without mentioning the food. I definitely indulge to the max when I am in the city. I can literally spend my days eating! I recommend people watching over le petit dej at Café Mabillon (164 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6eme); an afternoon break of delicious hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows at La Maison Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli, 1er) or to-die-for macarons from Pierre Hermé (72 Rue Bonaparte, 6eme) and Ladurée (21 Rue Bonaparte, 6eme). If the weather allows, improvise a picnic Pont des Arts. The pedestrian footbridge with a wooden decking will l
ead you straight to the Louvre’s 
cour carrée and is a popular spot to take a break and soak up the romantic cityscape (and yes to leave a padlock too). I also love the inventive selection of eclairs at Fauchon (26 place de la Madeleine, 8eme). Rather than compete with the celebrated macarons makers, Fauchon decided to make a name for itself with another classic parisian pastry, which it declined in over 75 different flavors since 2003. During my last trip to Paris, I tried their foie gras eclair. It tastes as decadent as it sounds… And of course, there’s no shortage of options for lunch but I recently stumbled upon Le Petit Jacob (40 rue Jacob, 6eme), a cozy bio wine bar with simple, organic fare like charcuterie or tartines. I recommend it. 

Savory Eclair Foie Gras from Fauchon. Another fun flavor they have is the eclair chien chaud. It looks like an elegant hot dog, but tastes like raspberry and caramel.

Savory Eclair Foie Gras from Fauchon. Another fun flavor they have is the eclair chien chaud. It looks like an elegant hot dog, but tastes like raspberry and caramel.

As you can tell, Paris is near and dear to my heart. Do you have any favourite Paris spots? Feel free to share them in the comments… I’m already planning my next trip to Paris this summer and I always welcome recommendations!
About the author: born in India, Cecile grew up in Arlington, VA. She currently works in marketing for a French luxury hotel in the District. I had the pleasure of meeting up with her in Paris during her last trip there. And by meeting up with her, I mean we flew on the same plane and hung out everyday. I guess I should mention Cecile also happens to be one of my best friend and contributes witty postings to the French Twist DC facebook page 😉 Find her on twitter under the handle @cecileremington.

Joyeux Anniversaire Dame de Fer!

On January 28, 1887 construction began on a controversial tower that would change the skyline of Paris forever. It took just over two years to complete, which is nothing when you think that it took 182 years to build Notre Dame (ps: the cathedral is celebrating its 850th anniversary in great pomps this year). I can’t imagine what the city would be like today without it… 

 
 
For the celebration of the new millenium in 2000, she got adorned with sparkling lights. Just like the tower itself, which was only meant to be up for a few years, the lights weren’t meant to be permanent. But they were too popular to go anywhere and, today, they still glitter on the hour every hour. No matter how many time I’ve seen her sparkle, I still stop in awe to admire the show whenever I’m close enough to see it. Pictures and videos don’t do it justice, I really think it’s a sight everyone should experience in person, at least once in their lifetime…. 

2012: the year of the ramen

Since I take a lot of pictures of the food I eat, it’s quite easy for me to look down my stomach memory lane. And by the look of things, I ate a lot of ramen in 2012…

My first meal out of 2012: Toki Underground (DC)
My favourite ramen of all: Totto Ramen (NY)
Occasionally, Mandu serves late night ramen (DC)
Royu ramen at Hokkaido in Paris’ Japanese quarter (Paris)
Les Parisiens have caught ramen fever too 😉
Chosun Ramen at Sakuramen (DC)
Where it all started: Momofuku noodle bar
Minca (New York)

Now I just need to get myself to Japan so I can actually try the real thing… travel goal for 2013? 😉