Sometimes it’s not about knowing the right answer, sometimes it’s about asking the right questions. Enter Ten Belles, the little coffee shop near the Canal Saint Martin in the 10e assisting bobos in coffee crisis. Opened last month, Ten Belles is a collaborative effort by Thomas Lehoux, celebrity coffee man about town, and talented kitchen ladies from Le Bal Café (cf. 24/4/12). The team also includes a barista from one of Sydney’s well known coffee hot spots: Mecca. The décor is basic – white walls, concrete floors, blue wooden tables, colourful stools – and everything is small other than the enthusiasm of the boys behind the counter who, I might add, are not too hard on the eyes ladies. The menu is limited with a particular focus on sweets, but the stand out is clearly the coffee. 15 euros max for your goûter, but you’d probably be devouring more than one chocolate caramel tart or a second cappuccino to confirm the first was as good as you thought. Your starter for 10? Ten Belles.
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Bohemians all over Paris are certainly enthusiastic about Nanashi, the organic Japanese inspired canteens multiplying all over the capital. The Northern Marais branch perfectly embodies its ethos – simple and cheerful, both in terms of décor and food. A long, narrow hall flanked by white walls on one side and floor to ceiling windows on the other are brought to life by colourful wooden furniture, blackboards and hoards of fashionable fresh food seeking bobos. The menu reflects the chef’s Japanese heritage and stint at Rose Bakery, you can choose the bento and chirashi options or opt for a salad, brioche pizza or cheesecake with a twist. Prices are reasonable, no Freddy Mercury meltdowns here, 20 euros for a meal with an organic fruit juice thrown into the mix. Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go. To Nanashi that is.
The girls may be wearing more than bikinis but they’re still hot at La Maison Mère, the hip Franco-American fusion restaurant in the 9e. Looking like a trendy New York bistro that has set up camp in a Parisian butcher shop, this bobo hangout is only a few doors down from another well-known SoPi institution, Hotel Amour (cf. 22/2/12). Decked out mainly with white tiles and vintage wooden furniture, it’s the lights hanging above the bar in the shape of Derby hats that add an extra touch of originality. The daily and brunch menus combine classics from both cultures, but given it’s harder to find bagels, burgers and cheesecake in Paris than tartare ou entrecote, it’s certainly more tempting to focus on the American inspired items. Prices are reasonable at 35 euros for 2 courses plus wine. Yo Bobo, let’s kick it!
They say that France is a republic, but in Paris, many answer to a King by the name of Iñaki Aizpitarte. After the success of Le Chateaubriand (cf. 7/3/12), its offspring Le Dauphin is his new too-cool-to-be-true wine bar and restaurant. Located next door to its regal predecessor in the 11e, the decor is dominated by majestic white Carrara marble. With a fit out consisting of a few floor to ceiling mirrors, an island bar and some wooden tables and stools, Le Dauphin is suited to its trendy patrons. But noble bobos should know that the royal treatment does not end here – the tapas style menu, both varied and creative, is also befitting of monarchs. More affordable than its patriarch, 45 euros is the budget for a meal with wine. Call in advance if you want to book a table for the first service, or turn up around 9:30pm for the second, no-reservations coronation. Long live the King!
They say all good things must come to an end. Le Point Ephémère, part bar/restaurant, part cultural super center in the bobolicious 10e, was conceived to respect this rule. But everyone who’s anyone knows rules are meant to be broken, and so it is that eight years on, Le Point Ephémère is still kicking it. Housed in an impressive brick and concrete dock style building covered in graffiti, Le Point Ephémère lies on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin and is home to exhibitions, concerts and artist residences as well as a very down to earth watering hole and eatery. So down to earth in fact, you might find yourself sitting on the floor to enjoy your beer, served (un)cheerfully in a plastic cup. Be prepared to fight the hoard of trendy bohemian and arty types on a warm day – its perfect location canal side coupled with very reasonable prices (under 20 euros for a main and a glass of wine), makes Le Point Ephémère a serious contender for best outdoor terrace. Check it out bobos: nothing ventured, nothing gained.
If you’re confused by the title, don’t get your knickers in a knot. You’re about to learn a couple of expressions from our friends down under. Finally, Parisians are being introduced to coffee: Aussie style. The hip Coutume Café is shaking up the Paris coffee scene from an otherwise uneventful corner of the 7e. The boys behind the café, a Frenchman trained in Melbourne and an Australian, may as well be mad hatters, serving up untraditional coffees by Parisian standards in a chemistry lab inspired setting – bonding elements such as classic period ceilings and wooden floors with plastic curtains, laboratory glassware and white tiles. They roast their own beans, using different methods depending on the variety, and have sourced a special milk: their secret ingredient. Before you spit the dummy about the food you should know that the brunch, at a respectable 20 euros, is also the ant’s pants. Alerting all bobo coffee lovers: this is possibly the best coffee in Paris. Fair dinkum.
Britain, Britain, Britain, they may have invented the cat but we have Le Bal Café, a café/restaurant tucked away in a suprisingly charming alley off the Avenue de Clichy in the 18e. Recognisbly anglo-saxon, Le Bal Café’s cool colours, modern design and menu that screams Pom is a genuine voyage to the land of hope and glory. If scones and capuccinos don’t butter your toast, you may be interested by the venue itself: Le Bal, an independent exhibition space dedicated to the image in all its forms. A melting pot of English accents, the café has a pretty terrace facing a little park, making for a most enjoyable brunch that will cost you around 20 euros. With the cat out of the bag there’s only one thing left to do - head for a cuppa to chew the fat with the lads at this intellectual bobo paradise.
It’s a good thing a leopard cannot change its spots, or we may never have lived to see Chez Jeannette. This ever so trendy bar/cafe in the animated rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis in the 10e, looks like it hasn’t changed a thing since 1950, despite its recent renovation. Modernity’s loss is our gain: [zinc bar + red satin lampshades + neon signs] x frayed, yellowing walls = a room full of snappy dressers. The food is reasonably priced at an average of 14 euros a main. For a slightly rougher version, try Le Sully down the road at number 13. The crowd is eclectic and the drinks are so cheap, they could be classified as social security benefits. Carpe Diem bobos!
This funky, hard to miss corner café, bar and bistro, not far from some Goncourt heavyweights in the 10e, is the latest venture from the team behind the hipster Chez Jeannette. The décor is a mix of 60’s retro, classic French bistro and the best of the 1980’s. The generous terrace is luring with its bright colour blocks and classic wicker furniture. Inside, it’s Formica tables, leather benches, individual table lamps and a colourful ceiling to contrast the warm wooden tones. My favourite touch: a neon “Cocktail” sign behind the bar, reminding us that once upon a time before Scientology and Oprah, Tom Cruise actually made good movies. The menu varies from burgers to lobster, average budget around 40 euros. If you want to keep up with the Joneses bobos, strike while Le Floréal is hot.
Le Chateaubriand: how fine it is to know a thing or two
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, le Chateaubriand is breaking hearts all over Paris. We had Great Expectations from this néo-bistro found in an unpretentious avenue in the 11e, whose name simultaneously depicts the father of Romanticism and a rather dandy bit of beef. I could tell you that the time-warp décor, so à la mode with its zinc bar, mosaic floors, dim lights and dark wood furniture creates a casual, somewhat nostalgic atmosphere. I could also tell you that the set menu at 55 euros, printed in black and white on an A4 piece of paper and probably photocopied, is the daily brainchild of a genius self-made chef of Basque origins. All these things are relevant, yes, but the truth is that you only need to know one thing. At Le Chateaubriand, I ate possibly the best dessert of my entire life. If you think that’s an exaggeration, ask the queue trying to get into the second seating because they missed out on a reservation. Sorry Molière, but we think bobos should live to eat.
If Mama won’t come to bobo, then bobo must go to Mama. Mama Shelter: the funky hotel, bar and restaurant in the OMG-its-gritty-and-so-far-away-how-ever-will-we-manage-to-get-there-did-I-just-see-a-Porsche-pull-up? 20e. Mama Shelter is a bustling, quirky, rough and tough hub for the fashion conscious, designed by Philippe Starck. Four spaces to enjoy on the ground floor: a no reservations pizzeria with a long communal table (11 euros average), a more traditional, reservations necessary restaurant (around 35 euros for 2 courses), a square island cocktail bar (approx. 12 euros a pop) and a narrow private outdoor terrace, decorated in a deliberate mismatch of industrial, vintage and rock gangsta styles. The focus, a chalkboard ceiling covered in graffiti. The hotel rooms continue the contemporary theme and are a treat, if you’re into bed side lamp shades in the shape of batman’s face. I love the smell of chalk in the morning… smells like, victory.
Beigbeder might think that love lasts 3 years, but at Hotel Amour, it lasts at least 6, or one hour, depending on how you like to look at things. Opened in 2006, this boutique designer hotel in the 9e is still one of the places to be in Paris. Embracing its past life as a brothel, and reminding us that notwithstanding its hipster location we’re still in Pigalle, it’s one of the few hotels where you can book a room by the hour. If you like provocative but don’t have anyone to provoke, there’s always the restaurant/bar, a destination in itself. Fitted out with 1950’s style furniture, the décor is understated (red booths, dim lights, mirrors) with the exception of a few erotic photos and the trendsetters lining the tables. And yet Hotel Amour has another card up its sleeve: a leafy internal courtyard - coveted in Paris - perfect for a summer brunch, in fact, a summer anything. Budget around 40 euros for traditional bistro fare, unless you’re hoping for a dangerous liaison. But please, don’t go all Glenn Close on us.
Meet Candelaria, the taqueria in the upper Marais that is bringing authentic tortillas to the discerning Parisian bobo. There’s an air of exclusivity at this tiny establishment, housing a small communal table, narrow counter and genuine Mexican accents. The décor is minimalist, some might even call it sterile, but all that glitters is not gold - the proof is in the quesadilla. As if that wasn’t enough to write home about, there’s a cocktail den hidden behind an unassuming white door by the kitchen: push through to go from Mexico DF to Playa del Carmen, figuratively speaking of course. The bar is seductive with its exposed wooden beams, stone walls and candles, and feels very private. Watch out for the Guêpe Verte, a delicious cocktail made with chili infused tequila and cucumbers. At 11 euros a pop, it’s going to be one pricey, spicy evening. Que pasa güey? Candelaria, that’s what.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A notion dear to the crew behind the Caves and Pères Populaires (in the 17e and 20e respectively), successfully applied to their business model. Their latest venture, Au Passage, is built upon the tradition of its predecessors. A canteen/bar where shabby is synonymous with chic and the hobos have turned into bobos, tucked away in a narrow alley in the 11e that you’re unlikely to hazard upon by simple chance. Au Passage has joined the wave of Parisian bistros offering tapas style dining, and they’re doing it with a talented kitchen team. At an average price of 8 euros a plate, Au Passage is making good quality produce accessible, and encouraging that conviviality around a meal we could only envy once upon a time about our endearing Spanish neighbours. Strike while the iron is hot bobos, and check out the New Kids on the Alley.
Le Carillon is an old school café and bar in the 10e, without the bells and whistles (pun intended) of some of its Canal Saint Martin neighbours. The authentic, no frills approach of Le Carillon is exactly what drives Parisians there, and the reason why some have made it their local HQ. A popular bobo hangout, there’s not enough room to swing a cat on a Saturday night, but who swings a cat anyway. Prices for beer and wine are reasonable, though when it came to the mixed drinks, they varied slightly depending on the bar tender. The crowd is clearly more boBO than BObo, don’t expect just pretty faces. This place is a gem - being at Le Carillon is like running into an old friend and realising that some things never change. Amen to that.
They say when in Paris, do as the Parisians do. But what happens when the Parisians would rather do like somebody else? Well, Grazie. If Naples and Tribeca were two people (or restaurants capable of reproduction), Grazie would be their illegitimate love child. There’s nothing much French about this hybrid pizzeria/cocktail bar, except its location in the Marais. Grazie is a magnet for cool Parisians, and the attraction is no surprise. Firstly, a pizza is to a cocktail (or in our case, a few…) what a nutella crêpe is to a Saturday night out in Pigalle at 3am - one delicious lifesaver. Add to the mix a fabulous New York industrial loft style décor, where bottles are displayed in wooden crates and the walls look more like the inside of a bomb shelter, and you have a winning combination. Pizzas range from 8-19 euros and cocktails hover around 12. Vespa over to Grazie, just remember, the early bobo catches the peacock.
Ding Dong! The witch is dead. But magic, thankfully, is not. And it can be found here, at the exclusive Hotel Particulier. Hidden in the picture perfect Montmartre, you’d be forgiven for consulting Google maps several times to find your way. Seek out the Witch’s Rock – this is a passage, not a potion – and follow it down to the black iron gates. Once inside, a lush, secret garden (landscaped by the man behind the renovated gardens at the Elysée and Tuileries no less) and an imposing white mansion await you. The garden is set up with wrought iron tables and chairs, nestled within the foliage, lit at night by candelabra. When we were last there, they were only serving plates of charcuterie. But alas, our prayers have been answered and a restaurant has opened for dinner, Wednesdays to Sundays, under reservation. For a special treat, why not stay at one of their extravagant suites? As the weather warms, you can be sure we’ll be around to sip delicious cocktails from their bar, le Très Particulier. Come out, come out, wherever you are…
Lesson number 1: must not confuse Philou with filou. One is short for Philippe, and in the present case, refers to Philippe Damas and his restaurant a hop, skip and a jump away from the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10e. The other, an adjective to describe a not very nice person. Despite the identical pronunciation, they have nothing in common, for Philou is a simple, honest kind of place. The restaurant’s decor is sober: ruby red booths stand out against blackboard walls setting out the day’s menu. A beautiful Ingo Maurer lamp with poems attached to thin wires by clips gives the room soft lighting and a cosy feel. But without doubt, the highlightis the food. Not only great value at 30 euros for 3 courses, but a fresh, market menu and a clin d’oeil to some ingredients you didn’t think had been revisited since the end of WWII. We don’t usually comment in this level of detail about a meal, but in the case of Philou, the buzz is on the plate! So now we’ve established that Philou and filou are different and that Philou is not a filou – are you still with me bobos? OK, just go and check it out for yourselves then.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and this has never been more true than Aux Deux Amis in the 11e. This retro bar and bistro, with its blinding neon lights, wooden panel walls and minimalist decor, may leave you completely indifferent should you walk past at the wrong time. But there is more than meets the eye Aux Deux Amis. This tiny place is so popular in the evening, people are pouring out into the street, and we know why. Friendly service, fresh food at reasonable prices and more red lipstick on pretty girls than DSK could poke a stick at, this is the local you’ll wish you had in your neighbourhood. 20 euros will get you a couple of tasty, simple tapas and some vino. If you own a pair of plastic, thick frame glasses, this is the place to wear them. So bobo, so chic.
He who said the best things come in small packages obviously has never been to La Bellevilloise. Slightly off the beaten track in the 20e, La Bellevilloise was the first Parisian co-op, founded in 1877 to give the working class access to political education and culture. Today, it’s a multi-purpose space hosting concerts, theatre performances and festivals, as well as art exhibitions and conferences. The restaurant, an internal garden with its olive and palm trees, iron tables and sofas, is the perfect place for a jazzy Sunday brunch or an evening with friends to discover an independent artist. For more bite than a croque monsieur, there’s the club - who can resist a Big Bang Gang Party? I know I can’t. Life imitates art at La Bellevilloise.
Name the top 5 branchouille restaurants in Paris, go… Ok, no need to make Rob Gordon lists to know that La Fidélité, in the buzzing 10e, is a favourite of the Parisian bobo crowd. The neon sign and proximity to the Gare de l’Est could be somewhat misleading, but once through the heavy curtains concealing La Fidélité from the outside world, you will find an unusually spacious, sober and elegant restaurant. The high ceilings, dim lights and ornate art nouveau mirrors (did I see art deco as well?) are a perfect contrast to the dark wooden floorboards and deep red booths, creating a warm and intimate space that takes you back in time. Expect to pay around 40 euros, and after your meal, follow the skinny jeans generation to the jukebox bar in the basement for the smoking hot installment of the evening… What came first, the music or the misery? Who cares – leave High Fidelity for La Fidélité.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which room’s the coolest of them all? You will wish you had your own magical mirror when asked to choose where to sit at this very original, apartment-style restaurant. Located derrière the 404 (a chic Moroccan eatery by the same owners) in the Marais, the formula is simple – a fun time in a trendy setting. Each room has a different feel and boasts loads of cheeky, eclectic knick knacks. My favourite, the fumoir – who can resist chesterfield leather couches, empty hanging frames, worn wall paper and…umm…mounted animals around a foosball table? The food was not the highlight, but the charming surroundings and unusually elevated levels of attractive 20/30 somethings easily puts Derrière on the must-do list. Heigh-ho into the kitch Andy Wahloo bar next door after your ping pong victory (yes, there is a table downstairs!). This is a place for Happy the bobo.
Hotel du Nord: all the atmosphere without the film noir
Made famous in the 1930’s by Marcel Carné’s film of the same name, l’Hotel du Nord is in the trendy Xe, facing the Canal Saint Martin. If you’re looking for mementos, you’ll find plenty of Arletty. But unlike the movie, there’s nothing fatalistic about this place. The mosaic floors and white tiled walls of the zinc bar morph into a restaurant brimming with books, candles and hanging pictures. Hotel du Nord is seductive, in a paradoxically glamorous yet laid back way. You can get away with 35 euros for 2 courses and a glass of wine. Atmosphère, atmosphère…Est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère? Poetic realism never looked this good.
They say good things come to those who wait. But it seems there is such a thing as waiting too long, to go to Café Charbon that is. This famous belle-époque establishment in the XIe is a bobo institution. The perfect mix of Paris old and new: red leather booths, frescos and tiled floors meet tolix chairs, metal kegs and cocktails. Brunch is a treat – copious and tasty, at 18 euros per person the tables are snatched up comme des petits pains. But if it’s a more underground bobo experience you’re looking for, turn up after sunset, and bring the funk.
Bonjour left bankers, this is a call to action. A sexy establishment opened its pretty little doors in Odeon, and you’d be a Schmuck not to go there. The handsome team behind the original cocktail club in the VIIIe has struck again, this time with the more accessible restaurant version. Expect baroque decadence – chandeliers, vintage wall mirrors, Louis XV style sofas and chairs. Be prepared to spend 50 euros per person for dinner, and dress the part. Watch out bobos, we hear the Schmucks may be multiplying…
I spy with my little eye something beginning with M: Marcel, the cosy new york loft style restaurant on the chic Avenue Junot in the XVIIIe. The look is minimalist but très tendance – industrial pendant lights, metal tables, vintage wooden chairs your mother remembers from her school days in the 1960’s – and the food is best described as “world”. Marcel attracts a local bobo crowd, making it an authentically Parisian experience despite the lack of steak frites on the menu. Budget for 35 euros a head.
Recently, I discovered an American teen TV series called Gossip Girl (I know, I am a little behind on the uptake), which revolves around the lives of privileged kids on the upper east side of Manhattan, NYC and witty one liners from the show’s narrator. It wasn’t long before I was hooked – the outfits, the parties, the beautiful people (Ed Westwick, if you’re reading this, you now know how to contact me…). I hadn’t felt this way since the great days of Beverly Hills 90210, the 1990’s version of Gossip Girl but with tragic hair do’s and unfortunate names like Brandon and Cindy. But I digress. When it comes to fashion and the best places to eat and drink, Gossip Girl reminded me just how lucky we are to be in the world’s most fabulous city – Paris. When the sun goes down, the neon lights go on, and the beautiful people of Paris take flight to the trendiest bistros and bars the city has to offer. It may not be as debaucherous as my favourite TV show, but the effortless elegance of the Parisian bobo crowd will leave you asking for more. Want to know where to be seen in Paris?
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