At the northern end of the ancient cobbled market street Rue Mouffetard is a pretty sqaure called Place de la Contrescarpe, surrounded by cafes.
La Contrescarpe appears to be an ordinary Parisian bistro but step inside and you will happily discover the cozy charm of this little gem.
I had always opted to sit on the terrace when I have visited La Contrescarpe in the past.
Overlooking the pretty square, watching the world go by and the local homeless man with his hilarious antics kept me amused while I tucked into a delicious meal.
However on my last visit during lunch I decided I should take a few photos and add it to my recommended places to eat in Paris.
La Contrescarpe had more than passed my taste test, affordability and earned my tick of approval.
Sitting in cafés in Paris was something that eluded me to an extent. Although I liked the romantic notion of whiling away a few hours in the afternoon and people gazing, I always felt I should be out and about exploring the city.
These days I find great enjoyment and comfort in the knowledge that I can now do this. No need to rush but to simply enjoy being in Paris and this bistro is a perfect place to do this.
I try to be mindful of pulling out the camera in cafés and upsetting local diners, pointing a camera in their faces including them in photos they would rather not be in.
Normally when I have been polite and asked permission to photograph something, I am confronted with a protective, resounding no!
Explaining that my French is not good – oui, the maître d’ patiently listened as I continued to stumble out my poor French; I do a blog on Paris and would he mind if I take a few shots.
Not only did he switch to English and say yes but he also gave me a full guided tour and now I am so glad that I am sharing this charming bistro that is full of surprises.
He lead me through cozy pockets of the cafe, which has timber floors, comfy lounge chairs, elegant cane chairs, books lining walls and tucked into little alcoves and warm lamp lighting, highlighting photographs gracing the muted tones of the walls.
A quiet sunken alcove down the back allows for intimate meetings, as he points out two groups of people occupying the area.
This group he tells me, meet every week, they are artists, the other group meet three times a week to discuss politics and philosophy.
I was amazed to discover how vast the area inside beyond the terrace was and yet so elegantly and thoughtfully designed with intimate areas for two and larger areas for groups.
The French doors opening out onto a covered heated patio was another surprise I was not anticipating.
It was wonderful to discover that La Contrescarpe offered more than I had imagined, with its cozy nooks and crannies, comfy leather lounge chairs, timber floors, books tucked into alcoves and all stylishly brought together in an intimate and relaxed atmosphere with delicious and very affordable food, what more could you ask for. Friendly staff? Yes they have that too.
Here is a tip: Why not start at the southern end of Rue Mouffetard and explore the cobbled market street which was once a Roman thoroughfare to Italy via Lyon and end up in the cozy surrounds of La Contrescarpe for a glass of wine, a coffee or better still a delicious meal.
If you note people wandering around with huge portfolios tucked under their arm, you can safely assume they are one of the local artists who meet up at this charming and very affordable establishment.
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