Paris : Day 14 – Les Meow

Now that I’ve shaken off the jet lag and settled in to a somewhat regular routine here in Paris, and shaken the monkey of ‘writing something…anything’ off my back for a bit, I’ve had a chance to do some of the mindless wandering of the city that I was looking forward to doing.  I head out in search of the odd, the beautiful, and the oddly beautiful.  I like to think I fall into the last category; alas, likely only the first – sigh.

Of course, there were the usual Parisian suspects like :

Strolls along the Seine…

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A snack on a bench in front of impossibly beautiful fountains…

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Amazing art randomly applied to residential gates in nondescript alleys…

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Crepes that lead you to SWEAR there must be something more than caramel in there [like crack]…

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Cured meats and fresh fruits that are mysteriously absent from American menus…

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Then the slightly more odd twists, like:

The sushi conveyor restaurant…

And the Paris twists on American staples…

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And of course, the downright bizarre that only Paris can produce, like :

the young lady dancing effortlessly on a park bench for seemingly no reason…


But today I experienced my favorite Paris oddity so far, the Le Café des Chats.  Located in a quiet alley in the 3rd arrondisement, it’s a two-level quaint and tiny café inhabited by about twenty cats that were rescued from local shelters.  The upstairs area is bright and cheery, exposed to street level, and the downstairs is more medieval and dungeon-esque, with exposed stone walls and arched passageways.  Scattered throughout are cat towers, cat toys, an eclectic mix of tables, and an assortment of chairs bearing various levels of damage from the frisky residents.

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The menu is pretty much run-of-the-mill coffee shop fare, plus a specialty quiche or two for someone looking to have a light dinner.  Prices are Paris-reasonable, maybe a touch higher than other places in the area.

Of course, you don’t come here for the food or the value or the architecture, you come here to be with the kitties.  If it is at all possible, these cats seem to know they’re in Paris and act accordingly.  Every cat comes standard with a certain level of dismissive dickishness, but these French felines carry themselves with an extra helping of “I do not give a FUCK what you are doing here”.  It actually adds to their cuteness and the charm of the place, as if you’re lucky to be here with them.

Of course, they still stick to global rules for cat behavior – they don’t play with the dozens of toys lying around for their use, they lunge at the shoelaces of customers walking to and from their tables.  They claim chairs ostensibly here for customers to sit in, curl up and pass out for hours.  I can verify this, as I have been here three hours and the black and orange fellow in the chair next to me has only moved to rotate his circular sleeping body in the chair a few times.  Probably overloaded on French pastry.

It’s a charming and amusing sight to see two adults walk down the stairs tenuously balancing their cappuccino on their saucers, looking for a place to sit, seeing that the only “available” two seats are occupied by cats resting leisurely, then shrugging and heading back up the stairs to find another place to go.  After all, it’s a house rule that you can’t move the cats.

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The wait staff is not only pleasant, but seemingly in possession of a sixth sense that lets them weave in between the hodge-podge of tables and chairs balancing their trays, while avoiding the wandering and darting and cats at their feet.  The occasional meow indicates a waiter failed doing the latter.

Only one of the cats approached me as I sat here typing.  He jumped up on to the ottoman next to me, looked me in the eye, looked at the screen, yawned, and then scampered to a couch in the back.  Yeah, everyone’s a critic.

If you’re ever in Paris, I strongly recommend you drop by.  It’s around the corner from the Centre Georges Pompidou modern art museum, a perfect place to grab a coffee before or after.  I know I’ll be back.  Probably tomorrow.





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