first cat cafe has opened, bringing the enchanting Japanese concept that
combines food and felines to Paris’ Marais neighbourhood.
Le Café des Chats, which opened in
September, is already a roaring success, with visitors having to reserve three
days in advance for a weekday slot and up to three weeks in advance for a
weekend. The cat-themed idea, where you can sit and stroke any of the cafe’s 12
resident felines while sipping a warming cup of organic tea, originated in Japan
and aims to create a relaxing environment in which the stresses of the busy world
can be alleviated by the soothing presence of docile, purring cats.
the Japanese model involves a cover charge and an hourly fee – essentially
making it like a pet rental service – Le Café des Chats’ owner Margaux Gandelon
has made his version a friendly tea room, where the focus is first on the
quality of the food and the cats are an added extra. As you eat a weekend
brunch of croissants and freshly squeezed orange juice, a classic lunch of
quiche and salad, or a home-style French supper such as poulet à la Normande (chicken with Calvados), the friendly cats –
all rescued via an animal protection society – weave between your legs or doze
contentedly on chairs.
space features mismatched furniture, an upright piano and a vaulted basement
dating back to the 15th Century, all combining to create a cosy
environment that recalls the atmosphere of an ordinary French sitting room.
Visitors are briefed on how to behave with the four-legged furballs (don’t
disturb sleeping cats; don’t feed them; wash your hands before stroking them)
and children are to be closely monitored as the cats and kittens aren’t too
fond of having their tails pulled.
The cafe has
been such a hit that the Café des Chats team is already looking to open a
second branch elsewhere in France.
Kim Laidlaw is the
Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.