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.