There are more homeworkers now than at any time before, but the lack of office banter can leave many feeling isolated. Luckily help is at hand with the new breed of Parisian co-working cafés…
Words: Mabel Wattam
With the advent of home-working in recent years, savvy Parisian café-owners have now acknowledged our need for a productive space. Keen to tap in to this new type of customer, they have been busy reimagining the role of the café, and working to eliminate the usual issues that come with writing, presenting and working in public.
If, for example, you struggle to get into the workflow waiting for a waiter to emerge, or often feel obliged to order one too many coffees to stay put, the ‘Anti-cafés’ may be for you. Located at Beaubourg, Louvre Rivoli and République, these co-working spots are frequented by writers, illustrators and creative meet-up groups. Instead of paying for a drink or a bite to eat, you pay per minute and are welcome to as much as you like during that time. The food steers away from the usual café fare that needs cooking to order and, instead, you simply help yourself to healthy snacks as and when you please, but order your tea or coffee in the usual way. In addition, you can connect to projectors for presentations, free printers and even hire out an entire room for a group meeting.
A growing trend
Not surprisingly, similar establishments are beginning to appear all over the city. If you like the sound of this pay-per-minute system, you could also check out Unicorners, in the Marais, where you can tuck into a croissant in a comfortable chair with plenty of space. Just a few streets away, there’s also Le 10h10, which aims to create a space that is “cosy with an atypical spirit and the most cool of the co-workings.” Get ready for a serious case of wallpaper envy.
For those who prefer a more traditional café experience, there are plenty of charming places that still encourage productivity. For instance, Le Barbouquin of Belleville is perfect for writers seeking inspiration. Nestled on the corner of colourful street-art hotspot rue Denoyez, this café-come-bookshop is full of second-hand gems from around the world in a wide variety of languages. Owner Yohanna Uzan was working at another café beside Canal Saint-Martin when she asked to set up a small book stall here, which has now sprawled across the entire back wall thanks to visitors dropping off second-hand reads of their own. Despite following the usual café routine, there is no rush to leave after finishing your drink. You can continue working, thinking or reading among the beautiful mismatched crockery, postcards and artwork as long as you like. There is enough space for groups beside the large windows but also plenty of little corners to curl up alone with your laptop.
Free of distractions
If you aren’t in need of inspiration but want somewhere free from distractions to work solidly for a while, head to Bastille and the minimalist calm of Passager. Owned by the same people as the popular Starvin Joe around the corner, it offers a light, airy setting, exposed floorboards and a strong brunch menu. You can order a ‘chezem’ of coffee for two that will keep you going long enough to write a novella, and the matcha latte is one of the best in town.
Finally, a luxury alternative will soon be opening in Paris too. The Bureau aims to provide a high-end working space complete with Eiffel Tower views, an Art Deco restaurant and the chance to become a private member. This looks set to be especially useful for young professionals without large office spaces and in need of a formal environment to meet with clients.
In summary then, you are never short of options in this city, and there is definitely somewhere for everyone to work in peace in Paris.
ANTI CAFÉ BEAUBOURG: 79 rue quincampoix, 3rd
ANTI CAFÉ LOUVRE RIVOLI: 10 rue de richlieu, 1st
ANTI CAFÉ RÉPUBLIQUE: 6 rue du chateau d’eau, 10th
UNICORNERS: 67 rue Beaubourg, 3rd
LE 10H10: 19 rue de Clery, 2nd
LE BARBOUQUIN: 1 rue Denoyez, 20th
PASSAGER: 107 avenue Ledru-Rollin, 11th
THE BUREAU: 28 cours Albert, 8th