My mother used to say to me: “you need to stop playing the fool and get some religion up in that head of yours”. She is nothing if not direct my Mum. So I headed down to Café A, a building that used to be a convent, to sit on the terrace and bask in the glorious sunshine. This is probably not what my Mother had in mind when she said I needed religion!
Café A must be one of the best kept secrets of Paris. A terrace and I mean a proper terrace, reasonably priced drinks and space. Why had I not heard of this place before. Oh yes, possibly it’s location is the only slight chink in the glass. It is located a hop and maybe two skips away from Gare de L’Est. Thinking about it, that is not such a bad thing if you are catching a train to the East or Germany this would be a great place to come for a drink or potentially something to eat (more on that later) beforehand. Or alternatively, Gare du Nord and trains to England and Amsterdam is only a 10 minutes walk away.
As I walked across the courtyard and entered into the banging music and distressed plasterwork on the walls. The previous occupants features had been kept, such as the double height arched doorways. There were tables with no occupants as everyone was outside sitting on the terrace. I ignored the queue of people waiting to be served at the bar and headed towards the light. The terrace was glorious and in yesterday’s 30 degree heat in Paris – the only place to be. There were; trees that provided shade, deck chairs, regular chairs, tables of different heights. However, there were no empty chairs! I did though spy a stool that someone was so generously using as a foot stool. I asked if I could use the stool. The look of horror on the person’s face as they proceeded to tell me that they needed to stretch their legs. I could have started an argument but I just shrugged, oh how Parisien I have become, and perched at one of the tall tables set aside from the main area of the terrace for smokers.
As I stood and watched the couples, friends and even families with pushchairs. Yes, this place is child friendly – not overrun with children – but definitely you could bring your child here to enjoy the joys of a terrace in Paris! I suddenly thought I need a drink and then I had a sudden sinking feeling that the queue of people I gleefully walked past standing inside were waiting to be served!
Now, service is not the reason to come here the terrace is. Remember that as you stand in the queue for 20 minutes and wait and wait. The prices are super reasonable, I ordered a schweppes for €3,50 and most soft drinks are similarly priced. Alcohol is not that much more expensive. Food is served here and it would appear that it has to be ordered at the bar. Given how slow the service was I am not sure I would even order food.
Anyway I couldn’t complain not in such a wonderful setting as I was in. My apéro was quick not only because I still couldn’t find a seat but I had tickets to the Paris cinema festival at 7pm! This is definitely a terrace to try out during the summer months but get here early and by that I mean 3pm. I got here around 5pm and it was packed!
148 rue du Fg. St-Martin, 75010
Metro – Gare de L’Est