The Wednesday of our trip to Paris was possibly one of the best days of the holiday – it started with a brunch in Ladurée, which had its Rue Bonaparte branch right opposite our hotel. I was quite short-sighted on our first evening there: I didn’t even notice that there was a Ladurée right there until after we got back from our first dinner! I had a Rose Religieuse for dessert – talk about heavenly…
We then did some walking towards the Seine, and walked along the banks to cross the Pont des Arts bridge which was practically groaning under the weight of all the ‘love locks’ fastened to it. I once harboured a wistful idea of putting a lock on the bridge because, well, it’s sort of romantic. However, I now have mixed feelings about it because although no doubt it started as a way for couples to profess their love and commitment, it has become a bit of a ‘tourist’ thing to do. There are so many locks; on one hand I feel like it’s a testament to how much love there is in the world, but on the other can understand why the Paris residents and authorities might feel like it’s a bit of a blight. The bridge is rigid with padlocks, they climb up even to the lanterns on the bridge.
We spent most of the afternoon walking along the Seine, taking pit-stops for ice-cream and coffee, and taking plenty of photos on our way to Shakespeare and Company, which you can read about a couple of posts down. Paris is the ideal place for walking – as much as I complained of sore feet (I was wearing the wrong type of footwear, boots that had seen better days!), it is the best city to see by foot. Parisians have perfected the art of strolling, and you can see why – their city is beautiful and there are many little winding streets and sweeping grand avenues, and bridges to cross and linger upon.
It isn’t a city like London, which feels fast-paced and frenetic. It’s the perfect city for people watching too – just take a seat, order a tea or coffee, and watch the world go by. I’m glad that café culture has seeped into the UK because in my opinion, it’s one of the best things about the cities of Europe.
The week before we went to Paris, I was trying to find unusual things to do because we had already visited the main tourist attractions before. I chanced upon Le Café des Chats, Paris’s first cat café. I was a little reticent to start with, but I read more about it and was interested because they take in rescue cats, and have a set of rules for patrons to follow, such as not feeding the cats, not waking them or disturbing them whilst sleeping, no flash photography, and being respectful of their space. So I decided to book for the Wednesday evening. Like London’s new cat café, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, it is essential to book.
The Paris café is interesting – you walk in and feel like you’re in a cave, with cavernous stone walls and little nooks and crannies for cats to curl up in. They have their own room to retreat to and obviously different places to eat and go to the toilet, so they are well looked after. We went downstairs and decided to eat first before we went near the cats – most of them seemed sleepy after a long day anyway!
There were a couple of cat trees with beds, where two of the cats were sleeping for most of the time we were there. They are simply adorable, all with very different personalities. I think it would take a few visits for a cat to get to know you better though – perhaps that is the point because if you don’t have cats at home, you would be more likely to visit more often and become a regular?
I find the whole thing interesting, because it allows people who love cats to spend more time with them and also for rescue cats to be looked after by a team of dedicated cat-lovers. I would love to know more about how people run these cat cafés, the people there were lovely, a young team of smiley people. I especially loved the book wallpaper on the wall downstairs with the chandelier and they had a great selection of Kusmi tea. I indulged in some chocolate mousse cake too! When in Paris…
If you do find yourself going to Paris and want some time with cats, the website is here for bookings. Depending on the time you want to visit, I think daytime might be better for less sleepy cats, but the atmosphere was nice in the evening.
‘Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.’ – Christopher Hitchens.