How Many Cat Cafes are there in Paris and What do they Offer?
Google "cat cafe Paris" and you currently get 3 results.
Chat Mallows advertises itself as "coffee and ice creams plus cats to pet"
Teaformycat's online description translates (via Google Translate) as "Speciality tea and coffee counter. Sale of porcelain and tasting workshop". They don't seem to have much of an online presence - we will try and pay a visit in 2023 and let you know how we get on.
Over the course of the next 9 months we hope to pay a visit to each of these establishments, but for this trip we selected Le Cafe des Chats which summarises its experience as:
"coffee, cakes and light meals in a cosy cafe with quirky retro decor, also home to numerous cats"
Le Cafe Des Chats, 9 rue Sedaine 75011, Paris
Location and Entry
Le Cafe des Chats occupies the ground floor of a relatively nondescript building in the 11th arrondissement, not far from the Place de la Bastille. We walked there from Saint Chapelle, passing the building site that is Notre Dame (following the devastating fire in April 2019).
Our chosen feline dining experience differs from traditional cat cafes - there is no "entrance fee", it is essentially a bistro/restaurant which happens to have some semi-resident cats.
After a morning at Saint Chapelle and the Conciergerie, we needed a bit more than a cup of coffee and a cake, so Le Cafe des Chats fitted our needs well. We hadn't known how long our morning sightseeing would take so hadn't been able to book anything in advance. Again, that suited the Cafe des Chats model as they don't accept bookings. We timed our arrival well. There were only two groups ahead of us when we arrived at 15.00. By the time we were ushered inside 15 minutes later, the queue had grown to around 7 parties! The main picture for this post shows the queue when we arrived. The picture below shows the queue a few minutes later:
The 15 minutes outside passed very quickly. The weather was fair and we were able to observe some of the cat behaviour inside. One cat appeared to be dozing happily in a basket in the window. However, as soon as a human client stood up to leave they leapt gleefully onto the vacated chair, hoovering up all the human heat left on the seat pad! Sound familiar? I guess cats are heat-seeking missiles whatever country one is in?
The Seat Stealer. We think this was Gavroche. Note: the back of the chair behind him has had the attention of many kitty claws!
A black and white cat, Guenievre was also visible. She was enjoying some human head scratch attention whilst also doing a vaguely plausible impression of a Kitler.*
*A term related to a historical website which I won't name or advertise in any other way. Please don't go looking for more information if you fear you might be offended.
What's it Like Inside?
Well, it's like a French bistro/restaurant, but with cats roaming around. The walls are decked with a lot of feline themed images and memorabilia and the dining furniture is a quirky mixed bag. The one thing that is consistent about the decor is that every chair with fabric on it has been subject to the attention of many kitty claws. In most Parisian establishments a threadbare chair would solicit an immediate complaint to the Maitre' d. Here it felt more like a badge of honour to be offered a seat with a back in tatters!
We were pleased to be seated away from the front window. This is where people queue, so unless you like the sensation of eating inside a goldfish bowl, opt for a seat further inside if possible.
Our visit was just prior to Hallowe'en. There were cats down low and cats wandering around on high.
A cat down low:
A couple of cats on high
We ended up in a back corner which allowed more privacy and gave a good vantage point for photos!
What about the Food and Drink?
So, here again, Le Cafe des Chats differed from any Cat Cafe we'd been in before. For a start, there was beer on the menu. And not just any beer - cat themed beer! There were 4 to choose from. One of us had a White beer, the other a blonde. Both hit the spot and went down very nicely with our shared "assiette de fromages".
The savoury menu covered a variety of bases, including croque monsieur, burgers and salads. There was also an extensive selection of cakes and desserts plus teas, coffees, hot chocolate and cold drinks.
Would we Visit Again?
We would, and we probably will (Alison didn't manage to make this trip, so I'll need to go back with her, in due course). Le Cafe des Chats offers something a little different to a "full-on" Cat Cafe. Treat it as an opportunity to have some nice food and drink in slightly eclectic surroundings with feline company and you'll have a great time. We visited on a Sunday during French half term holidays, so it was probably a little busier than normal. Unlike "book in advance" cat cafes, you WILL get in, but may have to wait - not a hardship when you can watch cats and people through the window.