If you’re a ‘cat person’, (we’ll sidestep the sexist slur of ‘crazy cat lady’), you might miss your feline friends while in Paris.
Travelling with pets is notoriously difficult. Most moggies tend to be attached to their territory as well as their humans, making matters harder.
Perhaps you’re a Parisian from Provence? You grew up with space and animals. Now living and working in the city of lights in a sketchy sublet with 18 metres squared to call your own, you somehow aren’t quite ready to take on cat-shaped responsibility, litter trays and vets bills for the next 18 odd years.
So what to do when lapping up Parisian culture and lifestyle, but missing the patter of tiny paws?
Rest assured there are plenty of places to pass time with Parisian pussycats, in the comfort of a café or restaurant setting.
The Cat Café is an imported concept. The first cat café, Cat Flower Garden, opened its doors in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998. Something chimed with tourists and visitors and it became a popular and original destination.
When cat cafés arrived in Japan the flood gates truly opened. Here the concept found its ideal culture and setting.
Neko (Shop of cats) opened its doors to Tokyo residents in 2005.
The owner Norimasa Hanada fully understood the need the original business met: Japanese rental contracts don’t allow for pets, young often single workers in their twenties and thirties can’t consider getting one, even if it would positively enhance their quality of life.
Numerous studies have shown the effect that petting a cat can have on blood pressure, stress levels and mental wellbeing.
Employees fresh out of University are often encouraged to show what they’re made of in the early years of their careers, staying late and taking on additional responsibilities. These expectations can be burdensome.
Perhaps turning the key in the latch to be greeted by purring companionship weaving around your calves, would be a great antidote to city life.
However if pet ownership dreams aren’t compatible with Paris, these feline friendly addresses will help ease the lack of cats in your life!
1.) Le Café des Chats
This is the unmissable cat café in Paris!
Pioneers “le café des chats” team set up in their first venture in a forgotten backstreet of the third arrondissement – rue Michel le Comte.
In these narrow streets of the Marais that don’t letting much light in, the café lay planted next to the ‘Centre des Finances Publiques’, and a few streets back from where the real action happens – Beaubourg, leading down to the Centre Pompidou.
Nonetheless certain zealous cat enthusiasts (yours truly among them) fully dedicated to the cause, sought them out to enjoy a café in an unpretentious, sitting room like space, surrounded by their rescue cats.
I have fond memories of this first space, which was in all the best senses a passion project, Margaux Gandelon used a crowdfunding platform to raise €35,754 of the 40K required to launch; showing the colossal amount of interest and generosity the concept met with.
This strong start assured the café three full time staff members, as well as ongoing veterinary care for the 13 feline residents. The cats, previously street cats, were adopted, offered a new way of life and were very much ‘chez eux’ in the cosy, calm environment.
When the hidden Marais gem ‘le café des chats’ closed its doors in October 2016 after going into administration, its four-legged lodgers were adopted or moved to the Bastille ‘café des chats’.
Right round from Bastille at 9 rue Sedaine we stumble upon ‘le café des chats’ flagship restaurant. This location right behind Bastille market, certainly has appeal in terms of foot traffic and being easy for all to find.
The closest métro is Bréguet-Sabin on the line 5. Bastille, with lines 1 and 8 is also close and convenient. Bus 69 passes at Bréguet-Sabin and at Pasteur-Wagner you have the choice of the 29, 65 and 20 bus lines, as well as the Bastille stop where you can catch the 86, 76 and 87.
The ‘Café des Chats’ has an inviting feel. Here’s a picture of its shop front window display taken in December 2018.
The Bastille ‘Café des Chats’ is every bit a real restaurant with its kitchen open all day, Tuesday through to Sunday from midday until 9pm, (Friday and Saturday this extends to 9:30) and the restaurant shuts its doors an hour later at 10:30pm, (that’s 11 on Friday and Saturday.
One thing I love about the menu here is their pledge to keep all dishes and desserts 100% homemade.
There are four cooks in the kitchen and the menu does simple staples well: Steak, Lasagna, Croque-monsieur, a hamburger or veggie burger and a tomato and goats cheese tart.
With a proper main course (but not without) you can order a glass of wine.
This quirky restaurant is just gaining in charm by the minute: Cats, a cosy atmosphere, home-cooked fare and some nice wine!
There are a few salads and sharing platters if you’d rather eat light. Brunch is offered at the weekend at 24 or 29 euros formula price points.
I’ve always been a fan of their Dammann Frères tea selections.
Since many passing punters drop by for coffee and cake and a catch up, they’ve got a good range of ‘Gourmands’ – a drink with a selection of sweet treats, from the classic ‘thé gourmand’ and café gourmand’ to indulgent options with hot chocolate or a cold drink for the kids.
While children are welcome there are a few house rules to keep the restaurant’s furry friends feeling unflustered: Children under 12 must be strictly supervised by their parents. There is no running round the café prodding sleepy cats.
In fact, older guests too are politely reminded that their moggies, although selected for their sociable nature towards humans and fellow cat creatures, they must not be pestered, or handled against their will.
Here, the cat truly is king of the jungle, or café!
2.) Chat Mallows
The new kid on the block opened in the residential neighbourhood of the 15th arrondissement. This took me rather by surprise, as it is not at all the reputation I’d associate with this sleepy, and dare I say sometimes a little dull, corner of Paris.
Straight off the bat, we can tell that Chat Mallows is the trendy Cat café from its website: http://chatmallowscafe.fr/
The team invites their public to savour a hot or cold beverage with sweet or savoury treats while ties and bonds of friendship develop with the real masters of the space – that’s to say, the cats of course.
The decoration is kitch pastels and cat-shaped accessories abound. The overall impression is that you’re in a cloud, or baby’s room slightly removed from reality.
You can tell it has been designed to a certain degree as a giant playground for cats with obstacle courses attached to the walls, and cosy cat-shaped boxes for them to snuggle away and hide in.
While the cats at Bastille’s ‘Café des Chats’ are rescue animals, it isn’t clear if the residents of ‘Chat Mallows’ are.
The photographic felines are displayed on a page with a short bio, which details their name, birthday and astrological sign.
While about half their furry friends are the standard ‘European’ breed; tabby cats, others amongst their residents have a rather grander pedigree…
Jerico, the eldest of the fraterie ahem, Caterie (?!), is a magnificent, big-boned British short hair.
Chaun and Jessie are James Bond villain choice, ‘Devon Rex’.
There is an equally striking oriental shorthair, Yuki; a lucky or unlucky (depending on your personal superstitions regarding black cats) British longhair beauty called Lourse and the classically pretty Ragdoll breed with Jade, a young male.
Chat Mallows could equally be a good place to come if you’re thinking about choosing a particular breed from a specialist, to see how they all interact. That said the café cats have been handpicked for their sociable nature and ability to share their territory with others.
Chat Mallows describes itself as a Tearoom, rather than a restaurant and the bulk of its foody fare is coffee, hot chocolate and simple sweet and savoury snacks.
Here are some of our favourites from the menu:
– The café charmant, thé charmant and chocolat charmant offer various hot beverages accompanied by a brownie.
Things really get interesting when we get stuck into their milkshake and smoothie suggestions..
Rather touchingly certain concoctions are named after the cats who call the café home:
Chaun Milk, is a nutty flavoured milkshake, while Jade milk is the spicier version with cinnamon, (both topped with whipped cream). The Jericolada is the exotic option with flavours of coconut and pineapple, as you would imagine.
If you have a sweet tooth you’ll be in heaven with the desserts – Dream of cats consists of strawberry and candy-floss flavoured milk, almonds and marshmallows. There are plenty of cat donuts to go round.
If you’re really after a savoury snack it’ll have to be the ‘tête de chat espagnol’, a small tortilla portion, if you’re feeling hungry you may want to order two! There are charcuterie and cheese plates and a simple house wine or beer on offer too.
Customers should be aware that this is not a ‘budget eats’ venue, the milkshakes come in at just under €10, a simple black coffee is €5.80. Prices are a little higher than average for the neighbourhood, even by Paris standards.
As Chat Mallows website informs and reminds their customers – ‘when you pay us a visit you’re contributing to vets bills to keep us clean and healthy as well as filling up our bowls with kibble, clean regularly changed litter trays. All this to keep us looking our best for you!’
Other Cat-Themed addresses
To save disappointment and tears, I wanted to make it very clear in the title that these remaining addresses do not actually have live free-range cats on site.
They may be cat themed and serve beverages, or provide facilities for cats but not their human counterparts.
1.) Au chat noir, 76 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
At the Black Cat’s! The intriguing name of this bar doesn’t disappoint. It has a fun bohemian backwater feel to it, in the heart of the cool 11th sandwiched between Parmentier, rue Oberkampf and Ménilmontant, going up the hill to Belleville. They’re serving up an eclectic mix of concerts, open mike and poetry here. Open late: A fun night out.
2.) Le Chat Bossu, 126 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine
This fun address, (the hunchbacked cat!) is a typical Parisian brasserie, loved by locals and tourists alike. It’s in the Ledru Rollin neighbourhood right near the lively marché d’Aligre and its colourful smells, sounds and display. The decoration is pretty retro with little mosaic tiles on the floor and checked red and white tablecloths. Here you’ll enjoy hearty portions of classic bistrot favourites. Best not to go in a rush as service is a little slower than say around Opéra and Bourse where Brasseries do the lunch break, cantine thing.
Hôtel le chat noir, 68 Boulevard de Clichy :
A four star boutique hotel, which takes its name and heritage seriously. In times gone by the address was a popular cabaret. Set in the foothills of Montmartre village, neighbouring the world famous Moulin rouge. This could be a fun place to stay in Paris. On closer inspection of their website, they are offering best price guaranteed rooms from 123€ per night.
Aristide Hotel, 11 rue Ambroise Thomas :
This is a hotel for the four-legged and feline only! It’s in central Paris and offers its services as a lifesaver to stressed out Parisian pussy cat parents when they’ve exhausted possibilities with neighbours, family or cat sitters. The rooms are pretty luxurious, compared to the small compartments pets stay in at the vet’s. Multi-level spaces with mezzanine, hidey holes, scratching posts, cushions and toys. Prices start from as little as 20€ per night for 30 days+ on the “séjour cool cat” package, sharing with one other moggy mate.
So what do you think about the cat cafés of Paris?
A purrrfect pairing – cats and coffee?
Or a gimmick and hipster trend that got a little out of hand?