Look for the smallest ancient building tucked between quai des Célestins and rue Saint- Antoine in the Marais and discover our neighborhood café, Le Temps des Cerises on the rue de la Cerisaie. In June 2011, we arrived in Paris with suitcases and camera bags and headed for the metro stop Bastille, a direct route from the Gare du Nord. Settled in for the ride, we immediately discovered that the Bastille stop was closed for construction. Two transfers later after lots of stair climbing (France is very stingy with its escalators) and a walk in the rain from the metro stop St Paul, we stumbled into Le Temps des Cerises, mid-afternoon, too late for dejeuner and too early for dîner. Not a problem for Sylvie Antoine: a plate of charcuterie and one of fromage, some bread and two beers magically appeared just before we passed out from exhaustion. Now all was right with Paris, the rain, and even our over-stuffed luggage.
We were surprised and relieved to find Le Temps des Cerises open because on previous visits to this Paris neighborhood, it was always closed. The young, new proprietor, Gregory Detouy, has expanded hours and the café is open every day (which is especially good for Monday, when many restos in Paris are closed). Facing a boulangerie-pâtisserie and around the corner from the local elementary school, Le Temps des Cerises is at a crossroads of one-way streets where there is busy foot traffic but relatively few cars.
Three days later we returned for Sunday lunch. We shared an entrée of terrine de lapin, served with sweet/savory onions braised to a warm nest of flavor. For our main course, chosen from two plats du jour, we both had églefin (haddock) rolled, sauced with dill, and served with mixed vegetables. Following this delightful meal, we sauntered home, one of the joys of neighborhood dining.
Our recommendation to travelers: choose a restaurant or café in your neighborhood and put down roots, even if only for a day or two. While it’s fun to savor new experiences and tastes, a café on your block where you return a few times during your stay for a coffee, a kir, or a meal, can weave you into the local fabric of life. You’ll recognize the locals, be greeted a bit more warmly, and relax: for a moment, this street in Paris—or wherever—is home.