Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paris, France - Café Charlot

Sundays can be tricky in Europe. Traditionally it is a family day, when most shopkeepers and restaurant owners call it quits and take a rest. I've walked through some entire neighborhoods on Sunday mornings that are so tightly shuttered up and eerily deserted that I start to question whether or not I was the only one who slept through the air raid alarm. I was having a similar experience a few weeks ago when I landed on a Sunday morning in Paris after an overnight flight from Boston. It was 8am, I couldn't check into the hotel yet and there wasn't a croissant in a four mile radius. Thank goodness a text came through from my uber-hipster, très Parisian colleague, Lionel, telling me to head to Café Charlot in the fashionable Marais district.

Café Charlot is where ALL the action is, but a word of caution to anyone who might even consider themselves slightly sartorially challenged: come here in your comfy Sunday sweats and you will want to literally slide under the table and disintegrate into the floor with shame. This is where all the beautiful, well-dressed, hipster Parisians with that "je ne sais quoi" ineffable style congregate. I literally did not know what face or head to toe clothing ensemble to look at first. You will not be disappointed by this fashion show.

Take a cozy table with half circular sofa inside, the outside tables are too loud with the traffic. The menu offerings are somewhat basic but feature very well prepared and tasty comfort food, such as eggs benedict, huge hamburgers, salads and steak frites. (Still trying to figure out where the leggy blonde seated next to me put that half pound of ground meat and fries she scarfed down).

The special salad of the day with avocado, shrimp and salmon
A mouth-watering cheeseburger with french fries
Salmon Club Sandwich with french fries
Chicken and avocado club with french fries
There is actually a great outdoor flea market on Sundays lining both sides of the street that Café Charlot sits on, so spend some time looking at the antiques, furniture and vintage clothing finds. I spotted a to-die-for pair of Chanel pumps for €100 that the seller told me were freshly off the runway from the last fashion show, but alas, they were a size 10. You could spend the day hunting unique finds at the stalls that line the street and then retire to Café Charlot for a long and lazy brunch and watch the fashion parade. It really is a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Café Charlot is refreshingly open from 7am to 2am daily and the kitchen serves until midnight. They are located at 38 rue de Bretagne, on the corner of rue Charlot across from Marches des Enfants Rouge, the oldest food market in Paris. Pin It