It’s been quite cold the last few days in the City of Light, with nighttime temperatures dropping to near freezing and the days blustery and damp. But one of the pleasures of chilly Parisian winters is popping into a toasty cafe or tea room for a warm drink and a tasty dessert.
Or perhaps a cognac or two!
One of my best-loved warm-up spots is a fantastic little bar-cafe-tea room I stumbled upon quite by accident while roaming the tiny, winding Marais streets not far from the Picasso and Carnavalet museums—Royal Bar.
Located at 19 Rue du Parc Royal, Royal Bar has so much Parisian charm that it’s nearly a cliché—tiny marble-topped tables, creaky wood chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows that open out on the street in warmer weather, lots of copper fixtures, an ancient (in a good way!) bar at the back, a genial, aproned gentleman running the place and an array of snacks and drinks that draw a loyal clientele of almost entirely locals. (Although a few tourists do pop in from time to time, the cafe’s isn’t located near—or on the route to or from—any major landmarks or museums. So foreign patrons tend to be those, like me, who are simply meandering through the Marais.)
The bar offers a wide range of alcoholic drinks (although falls short of operating as a “full bar”), with such French staples as pastis, wine and champagne competing with such refined libations as cognac and calvados as locals’ favorites. There’s also a wide variety of warm drinks, from every coffee concoction imaginable to flavored teas, hot cider and—my favorite—hot chocolate, served with a separate cup of fresh whipped cream to fold into it.
And if that isn’t enough to re-warm your engine, there are several desserts to choose from, including fruit tarts, crumbles and cakes. (The older Parisian couple seated near me were oohing and aahing over their shared slice of dark-chocolate cake.)
Royal Bar is a bit more expensive than your typical corner café, even in the pricey Marais, but that extra euro or two is well worth the experience of being surrounded by convivial locals in such a quintessentially Parisian setting.
Serendipity brought me to Royal Bar. But I’ll be back again and again by choice.
Royal Bar is located at 19 Rue du Parc Royal in the 3rd Arrondissement (Metro: Chemin Vert or Saint-Paul). It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.