Inspired by the original idea of cat cafés in Japan, Le Café des Chats has recently opened in Paris, at the heart of the trendy Marais quartier. The idea, as its Japanese equivalent (there are now around 40 cat cafes in Tokyo alone), is to create a relaxing environment where visitors can stroke one of the resident cats, while enjoying a beverage or light meal. The therapeutic and soothing effect of stroking a relaxed, purring cat is well documented, but the Parisian café has rapidly become a great success, and it is advisable to book several days in advance, or even more for a weekend slot! The owners are already talking of opening another one in France.
Apparently the Japanese equivalent charges a cover charge and hourly fee to enjoy feline company, whereas the emphasis of the Paris version is on the quality of the food, and the cats are an added benefit. Most of the cats were homeless and rescued via an animal protection society, so are no doubt delighted to be receiving such regular attention. There are a few rules though! They must not be disturbed when they are sleeping, and there are several high places for them to enjoy periods of calm when required, away from over-enthusiastic humans. It is also forbidden to feed the cats from your plate of food, as they are fed cat food separately. The website emphasizes the hygiene aspect, with all the cats receiving regular veterinary checkups and vaccines.
The café is on two levels and, owner Margaux Gandelon has created a cosy and quirky ambience, with comfortable sofas, bookcases, and a piano in the vaulted basement. The menu includes an interesting and diverse selection of teas, including Hansel and Gretel (orange and cinnamon) and Romeo and Julian (Green tea with raspberries, pomegranate and ginger), as well as hot chocolate and various coffees, and cold drinks. Wine is also served by the glass. To eat, there is an appetizing selection of salads and light main courses. Dessert is mainly cookies and cakes, bearing in mind that this cafe is open for tea all afternoon. At the weekend, there is a special brunch menu for 25 euros.
16 rue Michel Le Compte, 75003 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)9 73 53 35 81
Open every day from midday to 10 pm. Bookings can be made on-line, or by phone.