Paris has a lot of strengths. Coffee is not one of them. To get a quality cup you have to do your research. On my quest for great coffee, I have found it in some of the smallest of spaces. Moving to Paris has meant embracing a 'smaller' lifestyle and I have enjoyed learning about using space to it's maximum potential. Here's what I've learned from four of the smallest and best cafes in Paris.
1. The Boot Cafe
19 Rue Du Pont Aux Choux
The Boot Cafe is a tiny blue jewel in the upper Marais. The best noisette (espresso topped with milk) I've ever had was at The Boot. If you decide to have your coffee 'sur place' you will encounter the most interesting mix of people imaginable who stop to chat with friendly baristas that seem to know everyone in Paris. My favourite thing to do here is to watch people's faces through the window as they walk by. They almost always do a double take because The Boot is simply put, an interesting place. First of all it might be the smallest coffee shop in Paris which I love because it feels like you have stumbled upon a hidden gem that only you know about. Secondly, the bright blue exterior catches your eye and draws it into the perfectly eclectic decor within. Some of the other things that make this place awesome; good music, good vibes, cool reading material, and an ever changing assortment of fresh flowers. So how do they make such a tiny space work? Check out some of my photos of the space to find out.
1. The exterior of The Boot has the word 'Cordonnerie' across the top meaning shoe repair. Many of the shops in Paris keep the original signage from previous inhabitants to preserve the charm of the past. You can see in this picture that there are two ledges jutting off of the front windows where in the Summer people bring out stools and enjoy their coffee. Utilizing this outdoor space can double their occupancy during nice weather and the stools can be easily brought back in when things get cold or rainy. Big Windows and high ceilings make the space feel bigger than it is.
2. Here you can see a stack of colourful stools that they use for extra seating when needed. This stack-ability is important for small space design because it takes up far less floorspace. I would say this space could comfortably seat 6 people with room for 2 more standing at the bar and an additional 4-6 people outside in nice weather. Party!
3. The majority of the finishes in The Boot are neutrals. This is true for many small spaces and helps to keep them feeling open and bright. Bursts of colour are added through a mix of eclectic artwork, fresh flowers, and stools that can be easily transported to accommodate different sized groups. The original doors are also stacked here and act as a pretty awesome coat rack.
4. Floating shelves are key for small spaces because when you can't expand your floorspace you have to go vertical. The Boot uses their vertical space to their advantage by putting shelves all the way up the walls to store supplies and merchandise.
2. 10 BELLES
10 RUE DE LA GRANGE AUX BELLES
10 Belles is another small haven for coffee lovers in Paris. This charming little place has friendly and knowledgeable baristas who make a mean filtre (filtered coffee)! We often buy beans here as it offers some great options from Belleville Brûlerie, a local roaster. This place has cozy vibes that make you want to stay longer than you should.
1. This photo is taken from my perch in the loft, my favourite place to sit. You can catch all of the action from up here and watch the baristas make the coffees if you're so inclined. When you have high ceilings, a loft is a great way to add square footage. They were able to tuck a small kitchen under the loft space and use the extra height for plenty of floating shelves. Check out the flattened stool beside the counter; more on this later.
2. Flowers always add life to a space. No space is ever too small for fresh flowers. I was particularly drawn to this wild bunch in a concrete vase.
3. The sign here is great. It catches your attention and draws you into the cafe. It also sections off a little outdoor patio space complete with a garden(okay so there are 2 plants)! The patio can be used year round and offers plenty of extra space during busy times or nice weather.
4. The extended window ledge shown here is perfect for outdoor sipping and is a great way to host a larger amount of people. They also have these awesome stools (shown here) that are designed with hinges so that they can collapse and be flat packed when not in use.
3. Fondation Cafe
16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars
Fondation is a relatively new fixture in the Paris coffee scene and has quickly established itself as one of the best. The minimalist interior is a breath of fresh air and when the sun shines through the window, which it often does, it is a haven you don't want to leave.
1. People sit outside during all seasons at Fondation. It's in the perfect location for the sun to shine on the patio and the large sidewalk makes it so more people can actually sit outside than in the cafe itself.
2. This is a cool shelf because it's very narrow and doesn't cut into the space too much but is still able to hold merchandise for sale, fresh flowers(check), a stack of books(I am particularly fond of one on small cafe design), and it's the perfect place for coats to hang underneath. Here you can also see the base of some pretty cool Potence lights by Jean Prouvé.
3. Benches are a good way to maximize possible seats. These grey sheepskins are a cozy addition to the outdoor lineup.
4. I loved drinking out of these metal cups so much that I bought one. It will always remind me of Fondation and the delicious filtered coffee they made.
5. Here you can see minimal finishes like concrete and plywood are used to streamline the small space. The concrete floor bleeds right into the countertop in seamless simplicity. The stools here are triangles; a conducive shape for small spaces because they take up less room while remaining perfectly functional. Triangle is also the best design for a wobble free chair.
4. L'arbre À Café
10 rue du nil
I only discovered L'Arbre À Café recently but had a great experience and had to include it! The stone walls and ancient flooring made it feel storied and authentic. You could tell they were serious about coffee here and the barista seemed genuinely interested in how our coffee was and even gave us a brochure. As I told her, the espresso was très bon! This is another great place to purchase quality beans and I'm definitely coming back to try the affogato with Pierre Hermé ice cream.
1. Here you can see that they use hanging lights to put the spotlight on the coffee merchandise they're selling . It really is more of a coffee boutique so much of the space is dedicated to a unique selection of merchandise. I really thought their logo, shown here, suited the place to a T.
2. The storefront at L'Arbre À Café draws you in with it's glowing warmth. It's the epitome of a hidden gem that's worth uncovering.
3. I found the equipment in here really interesting and it certainly added to the vintage charm of the place.
4. They used shelving along the perimeter of the space to store supplies and merchandise and also installed vertical shelving for additional storage.
5. This and one other crate was the only seating in the place and I thought it was great! A few people also stood and chatted at the bar. It's definitely a creative way to add seating without taking away from the boutique vibe or precious square footage for that matter.
These small space ideas can be incorporated into any type of interior to maximize storage and usability! Small spaces have a special intimacy and charm that a big space just can't match. Vive le petit!