In the winter chill, when Paris feels bitterly grey, I crave a warm café to spend the afternoon. While there are plenty of traditional bars that do coffee and tea, there aren’t many that have really comfortable sofas where you can linger indefinitely. What I am really looking for is a Central Perk: not a bistro, not a Starbucks, but a shabby, homey space. These are my current haunts, judged on both ‘cuppa’ (hot drinks, different from the usual) and ‘sofa’. Some of the best coffees in Paris are not on here, since there are so popular that there is only a small amount of space and time to perch, drink and go. I am addicted to the London Fog from Holybelly, but I love the casual, squashy sofas at Les Pères Populaires and their excellent lunch if you get hungry. Pull up a chair and warm up!
My recommendations are for my local quartiers on the Rive Droite; where are your favourite spots?
Top five cafes to spend a winter afternoon in: with comfy seating and interesting hot drinks, apart from the usual coffee and tea.
1. La Chambre aux Oiseaux : 48 Rue Bichat, 75010 ; metro Colonel Fabien (2)
Cuppa: Citron chaud d’Hélène (a mug of hot lemon and ginger) or hot thyme and cinnamon, €3.50
Sofa: Comfy leather armchairs and cushioned benches. Casual, cosy: decorated like a Granny’s sitting room.
2. Les Pères Populaires : 46 Rue de Buzenval, 75020 ; metro Avron (2) or Buzenval (9)
Cuppa: Small glass of mint tea (to be topped up endlessly) €1.50; or even hot milk €2.20
Sofa: lots of leather sofas as well as restaurant tables. Even a piano. Fine to stay for hours.
Bonus: Delicious lunch on weekdays, €13 for two courses. Sandwiches and planches in the evening.
3. Pouya Cultural Center : 48 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 ; metro Goncourt (11)
Cuppa: all kinds of teas, with dried lemon, cardamon or cinnamon in nice tea glasses.
Sofa: Lots of seats covered in Persian carpets: not made for lounging but always free and quiet.
4. Holybelly : 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 ; metro Jacques Bonsergent (5)
Cuppa: London Fog (Earl Grey tea latte with homemade vanilla syrup) €4; also chai latte
Sofa: One squashy sofa if you are lucky enough to nab it, otherwise plenty of tables. Friendly, bilingual.
5. Bob’s Bake Shop : 12 esplanade Nathalie Sarraute, 75018 ; metro Marx Dormoy (12)
Cuppa: Chai latte (perfectly made, spicy and sweet) €4 or €6.20 with a shot of espresso.
Sofa: One or two leather booths, otherwise plenty of benches.
Bonus: bagels baked onsite, so it has a constantly tempting and warm aroma.
6. Soul Kitchen : 33 Rue Lamarck, 75018 ; metro Lamarck Caulaincourt (12)
Cuppa: Lait au speculoos or white hot chocolate.
Cookies and pastries, fresh salad lunches. But no sofas!
7. Caféothèque : 52 Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004 ; metro St Paul (1) or Pont Marie (7)
Cuppa: All kinds of coffees and proper leaf tea. A list that resembles a wine list!
Sofa: Made of old coffee bean sacks. Not amazingly comfortable to sit on, but the air is scented with the coffee beans roasted in the cafe.
What are your recommendations?