The minute the weather turns mild enough to sit outside Parisians appear on terraces like mushrooms after the rain. Cafe owners prolong the terrace season by providing infrared heat lamps to take the chill off the air. They also enclose the terraces in heavy plastic sheets. They usually divide the terrace in half, with one part reserved for smokers, the theory being that this is the exterior of the cafe, akin to the sidewalk, where smoking is permitted. So if you are a smoker, there you go!
If I’m rushing and need to sit and make a phone call, I will stop at any cafe. However, given the choice, I have two requirements: the terrace must not be too close to the street as I do not like to mix street noise and exhaust fumes with whatever I am consuming, and it must be smoke-free.
Here are some of my favorites, where you can stop for a drink or have a meal:
Cafe Marly – Located under the arcades of the Louvre’s Richelieu wing, the Cafe Marly’s covered terrace overlooks the Pyramid and the Cour Napoleon Have a look inside at the Napoleon El dining rooms with their padded banquettes and gilded woodwork by Olivier Gagnere and Yves Taralon, a reminder that the Louvre was once a royal residence. 93, rue de Rivoli, Paris 1, (Tel : +33 (0)1 49 26 06 60). Metro : Palais Royal, Line 1.
Le Cap – This bistro restaurant is a bit off the beaten track, on the left bank in the 15th arrondissement. The selection is always fresh, seasonal and with dishes more usually found in a gastronomicâ restaurant. Great service and great food, reasonably priced. And, it is on the Place de la Mairie (town hall) of the 15th arrondissement, without traffic. 30 rue Peclet, Paris 15 (Tel: +33 (0)1 40 43 02 18), Metro: Vaugirard, Line 12.
I try to combine a stop at Le Cap with a seance at the Comptoir Zen, a spa just around the corner at 104, rue Blomet (Tel: +33 (0)9 82 29 0306). There are many full-service spas in Paris, some rather pricey, and I have sometimes felt rather like a piece of meat on an assembly line. What I like about Comptoir Zen is that Lesley not only gives a great massage and offers a manicure that lasts 3 weeks, but she is strong on client service and speaks English, having worked in the US; Tennessee, to be exact.
Cafe Barge – If you happen to find yourself near the Gare du Lyon or the Bercy sports arena (Palais
Omnisports de Paris Bercy -PPOB) walk over to the Cafe Barge at 5, Port de la Rapee, Paris 12, (Tel: (0)1 40 02 89 08), www.cafebarge.com, facing the Cite de la Mode et du Design. As the name suggests, this is an old barge that has been converted into a trendy restaurant. I like to go there when the weather is nice and sit back on the terrace on the Seine, complete with beach chairs and parasols. While you are there you can have a look inside and admire (or not) the decoration. Check out the menu and see if you’d like to return for dinner and dance the night away. Metro Gare de Lyon (Lines 1, 14; RER A – Gare de Lyon)
Le Saut du Loup – Located in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, 107, rue de Rivoli, Paris 1 (Tel: +33 (0)1 42 45 49 55) www.lesautduloup.com this restaurant has a lovely garden terrace with great views of the Carrousel du Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens and the Eiffel Tower. An absolutely sinful mid-afternoon snack is their gateau liquide au chocolat servi avec de la glace au lait d’amande. Metro : Palais Royal, Line 1
The Studio – At the end of a passage at 41, rue du Temple, Paris 4, you’ll find a paved, seventeenth century courtyard and The Studio (Tel: +33 (0)1 42 74 10 38 ). My friend Stacy and I like to meet for a drink or lunch, and we enjoy hearing the music coming from the dance studios that overlook the sunbathed courtyard. With the owner’s two friendly Labs loping around, it is a relaxing place, removed from the hustle and bustle of the Marais. A nice place to come for weekend brunch, a Tex Mex meal or a drink; the margaritas are lovely. Metro: Hotel de Ville, Lines 1,11.
This large district lies in the western part of Paris. Very upscale, with many embassies, it is probably best known to tourists for the museums that are found between the Place du Trocadero and the Place d’lena . I am not a big fan of the 16th, where a cloud of snobbishness hangs heavy. However, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it is also home to some of the most beautiful Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, and I must confess that I love to wander those streets aimlessly, eyes cast upwards to admire the buildings.
You could start by standing midway on the Pont de Grenelle (Metro: Bir Hakeim, Line 6; RER C -Maison de la Radio) that spans the Seine, connecting the 16th to the 15th arrondissement. To one side you’ll have a great view of the Eiffel Tower and on the other side you’ll see Frederic Barthold’s bronze model for the Statue of Liberty on Grenelle Island.