I recently blogged about a little café hopping action that was going on with Mlle Mary of Fox in Paris… and maybe it is all the free time in the month of May with several bank holidays and whatnot, or perhaps it’s the nicer weather (as is it isn’t full-on winter anymore, but we certainly haven’t reached the levels of Spring warmth that should be happening…). Anyway, I have been in the mood to go sit in fun cafés, soak in the wifi waves and drink coffee concoctions and tons of tea…
So off I went one fine May day to explore a new café that has been open for just barely a handful of months. The Broken Arm café. Very-interesting-and-talented-dude that I met at the Kooka Boora café told me about it. So I scheduled a jaunt (yes, in Paris we schedule jaunts) over there to the haut Marais.
I was imagining a cozy spot next to the square (little park) and a little cubby corner for me to nestle in for a couple hours sipping a warm chai tea and blogging to my heart’s content. When I got to the Broken Arm Café, every table was full, and the room at a decibel of din that I wasn’t sure I was ready to face, (my initial café fantasy hopes were dashed). But! I did notice that they have a cool and hip (yet pricey) concept-store next to the café with a door communicating between the two. Kind-of like a chic Parisian co-op!
So I told the lovely girl at the counter that I would go browse while waiting for a table to clear out. I was intrigued to find very cool designers on the racks and a really fabulous décor set-up that drew me in and made me want to stay for hours trying on Christophe Lemaire « cigarette » pants and Ostwald Helgason dresses. Unlike the noisy café, it is an oasis of calm and reflection where you can find great coffee table books, über designer clothing and other fabulous odds and ends albeit with a certain price tag (Hey, we are in the Marais…).
I popped my head back in the café and noticed that nothing had changed, in fact it had become even a little more crowded while I was drooling over bobo fashion. I decided to scrap my café fantasy and head there another time. I stepped back out into the Parisian May weather chill and went in search of another café to host me and my laptop for a little while.
My wandering brought me to a little corner of the Haut Marais that is really the south République neighborhood. And I happened upon what I consider better than gold in Paris… a tranquil corner. So tranquil, I felt like I was in a countryside village.
The sound of vehicles was a distant and occasional hum, children were laughing and playing in the small streets, and several of the shops and restaurants close at the end of the afternoon for a couple hours so the people who work there can rest… It’s like being in another place in another time. I settled right in!
The café that caught my hungry eye is the Bistrot Gourmand du Haut Marais. It’s darling with a happy and inviting décor that called to me with its funky art hung on warm red walls. The owner, Marc was the absolute friendliest Parisian café owner I have EVER met. EVER. And Philippine, the server was always quick with a smile, and more than accomodating, as was her younger more charming colleague behind the bar… (Hmmm, I think I know young lady or two I could introduce him to)… Marc, the owner was more than happy to allow me to snap pictures to my heart’s content, to sit with my laptop and use their AMAZING wifi (99% signal!).
I ordered myself a little snack (home-made pâté -the only dairy free thing I could find on the starters menu), and a pot of tea and I tappity-tapped happily for a few hours on my computer. A few people came in for tea or dessert while I was there. But I was surrounded by a blanket of vintage tranquility and friendliness that I have not encountered in Parisian staff for well….a decade.
I will definitely go back.
They also have a charming room upstairs where they can host private parties (20 max.) or small events. Some of their clients hold a book reading club there (how fun!). And they have other requests for that room for all sorts of events. It looks so old fashioned and charming I may have to think up a reason to use it!
On your next trip here, come experience this pearl of Parisian charm and book your hotel through HostelBookers. They have plenty of conveniently located and affordable properties that will put you in a short distance from the adorable North Marais neighborhood. Use their map view search tool to find something in this area.
(Word to the wise, if you do head over to the bistrot with a laptop and the intention of sitting for hours, try not to do so in the middle of the lunch hour. It’s best not to monopolize a table like that until the lunch crown has died down and you aren’t bothering anyone with your paraphernalia.)