The best of Paris: Café

From Fragments to Ob-La-Di - the best coffee the French capital has to offer

Photo by Lea Brds

The world revolves around Paris - at least, mine always did. I first came to the city when I was seventeen years old before returning as a full-fledged college student to spend a semester in the ville de lumière. I slowly started to make a home of the city, one that was all my own, adopting all the ways of life so ingrained in the daily routine of a Parisian. One major aspect, transcending time, that goes all the way back to those of the lost generation (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein): cafés.

Cafés in Paris have always been a liminal space for writers - a place of transition, where time is neither here nor there, where the veil is thin. Take the Cafe de Flore, for instance: one of the oldest coffee shops in the city (located in the 6ème) that hosted a variety of greats, such as Picasso to Jean-Paul Sartre, the latter of whom reportedly spent so much time there he eventually had his own phone line installed. Many of your favorite books from French writers have probably been penned in cafés - that is the common thread they all share, in a world of so very few.

As a foreigner, I stumbled into these spaces and found small inklings of comfort and familiarity - they all carried the same scent of warm, roasted coffee beans and vinyl crackling in the background. It was a constant at a time where there weren't many. Time moves differently in these tucked away corners of Paris - not necessarily slower, but in a way that allows you to pause. A mindset very deeply embedded in French culture, cafés are the spaces where it's important to linger. Coffee is not the quick stop on the way to work - it's the destination. At any time of the day, you'll find people ever-presently scattered on the outside tables of rue du Temple, trying to absorb one more sip of their espresso before returning to work.

I invite you through the most magical coffee spots the city of Paris has to offer. Not only patrons of their craft, but spend enough time in these warm home-away-from-homes and Paris will become a part of yours, too.

Fragments

via Fragments Paris instagram

via Fragments Paris instagram

via Fragments Paris instagram

WHERE: 76 rue des Tournelles, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 8AM - 6PM, except opens at 10AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: espresso 2.5€ - cappuccino 4€ - avocado toast 9€

HOW TO: 8 Line, Chemin Vert

CONTACT: Instagram

Located in the inner heart of Le Marais, Fragments remains one of the neighborhood's crowning jewels in all things caffeine and pastry. It is tucked away in a closed-off rue des Tournelles, before inviting you in to it's warmth curated by it's visionary and owner Youssef (the former owner of Black Market). The vinyl stacked behind the counter as well as the eclectic collection of artwork all create the atmosphere of home, something that will definitely tempt you to stay here with a good book for hours (if you do - don't forget to tip well!) The baristas at Fragments are never anything but kind, gracious and welcoming, even if your French doesn't go past a couple sentences. As I went to school a short ten-minute walk away, I would always find myself here after a long day with the promise of a safe space and espresso - I still consider it my most favorite spot in Paris.

Ob-La-Di

via Ob-La-Di instagram

via Ob-La-Di instagram

via Ob-La-Di instagram

WHERE: 54 rue de Saintonge, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 8AM - 5PM, except opens at 9AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: espresso 2€ - latte 5€ - poached egg 9€

HOW TO: 8 Line, Filles du Calvaire

CONTACT: Instagram

Famous for their blue tiling that will surely pop up on your Instagram feed every now and again, the best part of Ob-La-Di is their locally-sourced coffee. The café uses Lomi beans and specializes in vegan/gluten-free products, so if you're a foodie looking for some organic goods this is definitely the place for you. Even though anything you order will be delicious, definitely try the avocado toast - using homemade purple potato bread, chimichurri sauce and pomegranate seeds, Ob-La-Di managed to create the perfect addition to your morning coffee. I always seemed to come out of here humming the Beatles song of the same name, too.

Café Oberkampf

via Cafe Oberkampf instagram

via Cafe Oberkampf instagram

via Cafe Oberkampf instagram

WHERE: 3 rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 (11ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 830AM - 430PM

HOW MUCH: espresso 2.5€ - americano 3€ - green eggs & feta 7€

HOW TO: 5 or 9 Line, Oberkampf

CONTACT: Instagram

A sweet little café in one of the hippest parts of Paris, Cafe Oberkampf is a eutopia of good shakshuka and dirty Chai coffee. The owners always have a smile on their face and are eager to help. The coffee roast changes every week, so every time you pop in here you're likely to enjoy a new selection to choose from. It is not the most notable coffee in Paris, but the atmosphere, baristas and people make it one of the warmest places to be. A tip: as the place is a little bit on the smaller side (as all things in France), we recommend going early if you wish to have a spot to do some work.

Strada

via @amazing.france / instagram

via @declancheuse / instagram

WHERE: 94 rue du Temple, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 8AM - 6PM, except opens at 10AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: espresso 3€ - cappuccino 5€ - croissant 3€

HOW TO: 11 Line, Rambuteau

CONTACT: Facebook

The first of two Strada's in Paris (the other is located near the Sorbonne in the 5ème), this café has a bit more of an American flair than most but particularly cozy. The coffee is always freshly-roasted and always served with a smile. This is a prime study spot for me, whenever I need a little bit more peace and quiet to get things done. Strada is inviting and unassuming, which makes it a perfect fit for your every-day coffee needs.

For more in Paris, stay tuned for the next part of the series: museums. Turning away from the essentials for a moment (like the Louvre), we're going to bring to you the smaller gems you might easily overlook.

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Know What Type of Wine To Choose

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Know How Much You're Willing To Spend

It's no secret that a penchant for wine can become an expensive hobby. If you're just getting into the idea, don't waste your time or money with the extremely pricey bottles. A good place to start looking for decent bottles of wine is somewhere between the $10 and $30 price range. This will keep you from buying something too low quality without breaking your bank in the process.

Read the Labels Closely

A good bottle of wine will often give tasting notes right on the bottle. Because everyone's palette is different, you may not get the same notes when you try the wine, but it's a good place to start. Choose something with tasting notes that you already enjoy like berries or cocoa and try to see if you get any hints of that as you drink. The labels may also tell you about the wine's acidity, or how tart it is, and the wine's body, or the way it feels in your mouth.

A beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine can only go so far without being overwhelming. The next part of your wine journey will need to be undertaken on your own. Try various types of wine and see what tastes best to you—that's what wine is really all about.

Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

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La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

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To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

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Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

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Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!