Last time, we visited four cat cafes across France, and I hope you enjoyed their delightful charms.
Today, we will travel to three more feline focused coffee shops, all stylish, yet different in their approach. One features rescue kitties available for adoption, while another hosts a clowder of pedigreed Maine Coons, and the third splits the middle with a combination of street and posh cats.
First up is Ronron Cafe, which proved to me that focus on rescue/adoption and a quality cafe experience are not mutually exclusive.
One of the Best: Ronron Cafe, Reims
Zoe, a petite tabby, curiously sniffed my arm, which seemed like a distraction technique but instead of heading for the whipped cream on top of my chocolate tart, she nudged my hand as if to say ‘Make yourself useful.’ I obliged her with a rub around the ears while taking another sip of Darjeeling tea.
While Zoe and I bonded, I observed the other patrons. Two teens left their sodas untouched as they moved from cat to cat cooing and petting. A middle-aged woman eating lunch grinned happily as a long-haired tuxedo kitty slept next to her. A young couple seated far away from the other guests held hands over Leo, a huge white cat that decided to make their table his afternoon nap location.
Simple, everyday moments are extra special at Ronron, one of the best cat cafes in the world.
Everything about it made me feel just so happy. The first thing you notice is how cheerful and stylish it is with colorful neon green cushions popping against the light brown slate walls, wooden floors and white chairs & tables. In a tongue-in-cheek homage to the famed Reims Cathedral one wall prominently features a mural of the cathedral adorned not with saints, but of cartoon cats.
Once seated in my cozy corner, the kitties came over to greet me as soft instrumental music played overhead. It was pure cat cafe bliss.
Speaking of the cats, there were ten the day I visited, all rescues and available for adoption. I was delighted at how sweet and loving they were, and apparently they responded to the merry vibe as much I did. In addition to Zoe, I made friends with Paty, an elfin-like black & white cutie, Speedy, a handsome white and tabby boy and Luna, a Zoe look-alike.
Roxane, owner of Ronron Cafe, has thoughtfully created not just a pretty atmosphere for humans, but one focused on feline well-being. Having previously volunteered with a cat welfare association before opening her cafe, she's developed a keen understanding of cats and their behaviors. Today, she has specific requirements for the organizations (she works with several) that supply cats to the café, mainly that they are well-socialized and enjoy being around people.
She goes one step further by requesting adults (vs. kittens) with short hair or less attractive features (missing eye, etc) that might prevent them from being adopted in a traditional shelter. This approach combined with the relaxed environment has successful, resulting in over 22 adoptions since the cafe opened in March, 2017.
It's not just the physical space and kitties that earn five paw scores, the food is outstanding as well. Ronron offers a full menu with daily specials and extensive list of specialty teas. I selected a bacon and cheese quiche with salad followed by the aforementioned decadent chocolate caramel tart and cup of Darjeeling, all prepared and served by Roxane's mother Martine, who is a talented chef.
Ronron is located in the beautiful and historic city of Reims, which is also famed for being the unofficial capital of the Champagne region. An easy day trip from Paris, a visit to Reims and Ronron would be recommended even if you weren't a cat lover.
But when sweet Zoe nudges your hand, I suspect you might change your mind.
Au Revoir les Chats Doux: Review of Le Chat L'Heureux Bar a Chats
Autumn was a busy time for The Neighbor's Cat with a whopping 48 cat cafe visits in three months. As such, I've been a bit backlogged writing reviews.
When I finally pulled up the notes for Le Chat L'Heureux in Nantes, I was excited because my visit was incredible. The cats, the food, the facility, the staff-- my experience was superior in every way and it's much more fun writing positive reviews.
So you can imagine my devastation when I learned that they are closing on January 27, 2018. Per their website, the lessor has sold the building and the cats will enjoy 'retirement'.
I really want to let the owner and staff to know how special their cafe is, and how impressed I remain to this day. Le Chat L'Heureux is not just one of the best in France, but one of the best in the world.
When I arrived just after the cafe's noon opening, I was greeted by Loriane, who gave me quick and friendly run-down of the rules as she seated me in the main cafe area, a casual, yet elegant space with an original 18th century stone wall.
I studied the menu and was impressed with the selections, a variety of soups, entrees and plats du jour, plus wine, coffee and an enormous selection of specialty teas. I quickly placed my order and turned my attention to the supermodels of Le Chat L'Heureux, the cats.
A combination of pedigrees and rescues, the six felines of Le Chat L'Heureux (French for 'The Happy Cat') have been permanent residents since the cafe opened in April, 2015. All are nearly three years old, a deliberate effort to socialize them from a young age into a cohesive clowder. There is Ulysses, a curious ragdoll with piercing blue eyes and his brother Titus who likes to keep a distance--a better vantage to be admired, I reckon. Cesar, is a drop-dead gorgeous (and rare) red point Birman with the fluffiest tail I have ever seen and rounding out the posh cats is Junon, a pretty, but shy British Shorthair, the only girl amongst these boys. Then, there are the moggies- Lucky, a black and white former street cat that loves people and Luxor, a gray tabby that found himself homeless after his owner went to a nursing home, but is now a cat cafe celebrity that loves a belly rub, L'Heureux's owner worked with Association Griffes to find Lucky and Luxor.
In between kitty love, I was able to discover that the owner is a former professor who wanted a career change and sought to create a cat cafe where beautiful felines lived, including rarer pedigrees that most people would not normally see. I also found out that the space the cafe occupies is part of an historic building, which tilts a bit, (as do many of the buildings in this part of Nantes). Back in the day, coins were placed between the uneven stones and mortar to monitor the leaning, a cultural vestige that is still in practice today.
I learned all of this and much more from Loriane, the charming host, who is also a student, but more importantly, an incredible story teller. She spun hilarious tales of the cats adventures at night with Loriane herself narrating the thoughts of the cats.
I'm certain I haven't had a more entertaining experience in a cat cafe.
Adding to my delight, lunch was simply divine-- a hearty butternut squash soup topped with swiss cheese and homemade croutons, with a light Darjeeling tea and decadent minis for dessert.
As I finish this review, I am painfully reminded that this wonderful cat cafe will have closed.
Thank you, staff of Le Chat L'Heureux and, especially, Loriane and the sweet cats for your kind service. I consider myself lucky to have met you.
La Maison Maine Coon: Review of La Maison d'Elise
If you visit the 'About' page on this website, you will see a photo of me holding a Maine Coon cat. I've always had a thing for them.
Lucky for me (and you!), so does Elise.
Elise, owner of La Maison d'Elise moved to Nantes a few years ago with her three Maine Coon cats before deciding to open a cat cafe.
She has fashioned a chic and stunning space with warm wood floors, sleek leather chairs and white tables. With seating for up to 25 people, everything still looks fresh and new which is impressive considering the cafe has been open for two years.
I learned about this from Elise as I was lucky to visit with her between guests. She is a warm and friendly host, and also incredibly hard working, managing the cafe by herself most days.
Elise started with three cats, but found two more to enhance her clowder. They are all gorgeous and interestingly, diverse in looks. I had never seen an orange or gray Maine Coon before, so fortunately Jerkhan and Gala gave me the chance, but unfortunately they were sleeping in the cat tree for most of my visit. Luckily the rest were awake including Leiko, a supermodel feline with beautiful long hair in a light calico/tabby combo, Miyazaki, a young and impish cutie, and Jün, my favorite, a handsome and extremely large boy with traditional markings.
La Maison d'Elise is not just unique in that all the cats are one breed, but also because they go home with Elise every night instead of living in the cafe.
The cafe specializes in tea by the Alveus brand as well as bio products and juices. Patisserie products are made off site and my chocolate layered tart and coffee were decadently delicious.
I found La Maison d'Elise to be a complete delight- from the lovely environment to the gorgeous cats to the personable host, Elise has created a high quality experience you are guaranteed to enjoy!
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.