If I haven't said it enough, I'll say it again; France, and its cat cafes are first-rate!
The Neighbor's Cat visited ten French cat cafes in November, 2017 and is considered the highlight of my cat travels. You see, in France, they don't just settle for a few cute kitties and a cup of coffee, they give you the full French cafe experience, complete with charming atmosphere and fabulous food.
Today, we will journey to Lille, in the northwest, and finish our tour in Paris.
I hope you have enjoyed meeting the fine felines of France!
Cat-See-Live: Au Chat Voir Vivre, Lille
Au Chat Voir Vivre is another example of a great French cafe that also happens to have cats.
The space is stylish and completely unique with lovely dark wood floors, mix-and-match chairs and lots of books. The vibe is shabby chic with equal measures of sophistication and coziness set to a soundtrack of lively chatter. Everything about it made me feel so happy.
There are eight cats, all rescues, in permanent residence at Au Chat Voir Vivre (loosely translated as 'Cat See Live'), but most were sleeping during my visit. The few that were awake were not particularly social but cute to watch while sipping a hot beverage.
Speaking of which, my coffee and pear tart were outstanding and beautifully presented on a colorful tray and served in eclectic china. I loved how everything about this cafe felt authentic, effortless and so very French, right down to the cups! The menu has a substantial offering of hot and cold drinks plus patisserie, and they also serve a lunch service featuring a plat du jour.
My afternoon at Au Chat Voir Vivre was an incredibly satisfying experience and an easy day trip from Paris, too, as the high speed TGV train to Lille is a mere hour. See cats and live? Yes, but seeing the French countryside on the way to Lille is a life-affirming bonus.
Kitty of Light: Le Cafe des Chats, Paris
Izmir makes Le Cafe des Chats worth every effort.
The first time we attempted to visit, the line to get in was down the block. We returned a week later on a Wednesday morning and while several tables were occupied, we were able to be seated immediately. That's when we saw her, our Izmir.
This fair feline with the exotic name and split color eyes stole our hearts.
The cafe, which opened in 2013, has twelve rescued cats in residence, although we counted nine the day we arrived, a variety of short and long-haired kitties. None were terribly social, but that may have been due to the number of children in the cafe, sweet things, but with their loud voices and running around, unfortunately sent the cats to their hiding spots.
The staff have more of a hands-off approach, typical of a Parisian cafe. Despite the steady flow of non-French speaking tourists, they are far more pleasant than you might except.
While waiting for our meal to arrive I took in the ambience of the cafe, a vintage library-inspired space with antique-esque salon furnishings, it has a classic, yet quirky nonchalance that feels very French (although a bit catty, so allergy sufferers beware). We thoroughly enjoyed our platter of mini desserts, pot of tea and a chocolat chaud a l'ancienne (old-fashioned hot chocolate) that was particularly decadent.
It was a fairly standard experience until the very end. We had our eyes on Izmir the whole time, but who wouldn't, she's so pretty to look at! But as she fastened her gaze on us, we moved to the couch where she was perched and to our delight, she climbed into our laps for some cuddle time. It was truly one of the highlights of the ten cat cafes we toured in France!
Located in Paris, the most visited city in the world, and in the tourist mecca of Marais and Bastille, Le Cafe des Chats certainly can't help but be a busy place. The location, plus unique environment and traditional French foodservice make it the ideal place to sit and watch the cats, but your experience will surely be more feline-friendly if you drop by during a less busy time.
Say hello to Izmir for me!
Mallow Cute: Chat Mallows Cafe, Paris
Chat Mallows has some extremely handsome cats... and one dog.
We booked reservations for late afternoon and made our way to Gare Montparnasse. From there, it was a pleasant thirteen minute walk to the cafe, winding between the 14th and 15th arrondissements.
Checking in, we received a pleasant greeting from the staff. We weren't charged an entrance fee, but instead ordered two cups of coffee that were served in darling Chat Mallow branded cups delivered on a cat tray amidst pink and white Chamallow, a brand of French marshmallows that clearly is the inspiration behind the name Chat Mallows!
Once seated, I couldn't help but smile The cafe is very cute, with yellow and blue striped walls that evoke an old-fashioned candy shop. I especially loved the adorable decor accents such as the Chat Mallow pillows and photos of cats dressed in classic French attire! The tables are a bit close together, but better to get to know your fellow cat lovers. Most importantly, it's a feline-friendly space with plenty of cushioned perches for the kitties to peek down from.
Sixteen cats, a variety of pedigreed pussycats are in residence at Chat Mallows, including five Devon Rex who were napping together during our visit. My favorites included Jerico, a chubby white British shorthair, Lourse, a gorgeous Maine Coon and Yoda, a sweet Sphinx.
The kitties weren't particularly social, but absolutely entertaining, walking around the room and looking at the guests with curiosity. The dog was an interesting fixture that I haven't seen in my cat cafes visits around the world (at least not until Taiwan!). He was mild-mannered and enjoyed being petted, but being tied up in the middle of the floor made it feel a bit crowded.
Overall, Chat Mallows is a charming cafe with plenty of beautiful cats to admire and I would recommend a stop if you happen to be strolling the neighborhood and in need of a coffee break.
The Neighbor’s Cat is the alter ego of Paula LaBine, an itinerant cat lover who writes about cat cafes, cat travel and rescue/adoption. She is visiting every cat café in the world, 199 in 29 countries so far! Find her at theneighborscat.com or on Facebook/Twitter @catcafeviews.