Le Cairn Coffee Shop & Naturopathie, Paris 7è

 
 

Here's my absolute favorite spot in the 7ème, LE CAIRN Coffee Shop & Naturopathie. Family-owned and run by a friendly mother-son team, Le Cairn is part epicerie, part holistic health center, with gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegan treats served every day from the likes of MyFreeKitchenL'Atelier des Lilas, and Toma sans Gluten. Everyone says it's the best coffee in Paris!

Conveniently located across from AUP, steps away from the Eiffel Tower and Pont de l'Alma, Le Cairn is the perfect place to cozy up on the sofa with a glass of freshly made detoxifying juice, watching locals walk by on pretty Rue Dupont des Loges. With two resident naturopaths and a massage therapist, the Le Cairn team offers holistic treatments, coaching sessions, and quality organic products in a beautiful, welcoming atmosphere. Photographs by Lionel Orriols line the café walls, and zig-zagging wooden shelves display everything from essential oils and hydroxydase to tasty kale chips, aloe juice, and kombucha. I take / send all my friends here for mini gluten-free cupcakes, carrot cake, almond tarts and vegan muffins and chocolate emporter or sur place. The cookies and brownies are exceptional- I brought a cookie home and told myself, before ascending the stairs, "Just one bite," and by the third floor, the cookie was gone. One of my neighbors claimed they could even hear me crunching. If you prefer something more substantial, Le Cairn also serves quiches, salads, and sandwiches by Noglu and MyFreeKitchen, among others.

So far none of my friends could tell they were eating gluten-free ("That's impossible- this is so moist," my friend Tiffany said approvingly of the almond tart), and everybody loves the juices, made with organic ingredients like radish and ginger. Francine and Mathias are incredibly nice, too. They remember everybody and every time I come in- which is every week- they're charming all the customers, who linger and relax in the sunny shop. I went with my friend Janet when she visited Paris recently and she said, "This is the best day ever. I can finally eat something vegan and gluten-free that I didn't have to bake myself!" Starting in September, their naturopathic services will expand to include massage as well. It's a unique concept for Paris- I've never seen this kind of place outside of Asia- one stop where you can buy all your natural products and gluten-free snacks while taking care of your health, too.

I can't actually remember what I did before Le Cairn opened. Now that I know I'm allergic to everything, the 7ème is basically a vegan wasteland. Since I'm loathe to leave the Left Bank, it's nice having a calm, spotlessly clean gluten-free café right around the corner, especially one run by such lovely Parisians. If they start serving cheesecake, I might live there.

 

P.S. I took the paper home and composted it :)

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Rue Crémieux

 
 

I wrote a post on Rue Crémieux last year, but deleted it because I thought, minimalism is my wheelhouse, lots of people write about it anyway, it's overdone, etc. Every now and then, I get an email asking, "Where did this post go?" or "What was that street with all the colorful buildings and cats?" It's here, à deux pas de Coulée verte (Promenade Plantée). Turns out, some of my French friends didn't know this street existed. Often compared to Portobello Road and Notting Hill, the homes- constructed for workers in 1865- remind me of Belle's xenophobic  Disney village in Beauty and the Beast, except the residents couldn't be nicer or more welcoming. 

 
 

In 1910, the street was flooded, with waters rising up to six feet. A typical day on Rue Crémieux might find the rare tourist (usually a guest of Hotel Mignon) snapping photos, residents applying makeup to each other's faces in the street, and neighborhood cats strolling in and out of houses, rubbing their pheromones on anyone and everything. The street's oldest resident, a professor, said he bought their home for cheap (3500€, or something crazy like that) in the 60s. He told me about the woman who spearheaded a campaign to make it a pedestrian road- formerly, both sides were covered in cars- and how once, he and his wife were having dinner when they heard a lady stop outside. "This used to be my home," she explained. "We lived above the grocery store my father had downstairs." People sit outside for hours eating lunch, and on sunny days, residents fling their doors and windows open to enjoy a bucolic piece of countryside in Paris. Once a group of neighbors invited me to join them for a glass of wine.

 
 

If you won the genetic lottery that is celiac disease, a lifelong bête noire which engenders fervor akin to the Frozen craze, you can eat gluten-free bagels around the corner at Sain Bio'z. After, take a boat ride under Bastille at Port de l'Arsenal, or visit one of my favorite museums, La Maison Rouge, which has a new surrealist exhibition, "My Buenos Aires."  I take very few visitors to Rue Crémieux, because not all of them understand why I like it. I feel the air is a little fresher (it's not), I smile a little more, and the cheery colors and cobblestones are a nice break from Haussmann besides.

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Rue Sainte-Marthe

 
 

Recently, my neighbor said he hadn't crossed the river in fifteen years. I thought he was joking, but sometimes I'll mention something I think Parisians should know- like Square Gardette or Rue Crémieux- and nobody's heard of it. An unsettling number of people I meet visit Pasco or Le Tourville for a night out. When shopping, they head to Le Bon Marché, if they're feeling adventurous. It's not limited to our neighborhood, either. French people often ask me for directions, and when I ask where they're from, reply, "Paris." My friend Joanna says people think, since I'm a tourist, I explore streets and sights longtime residents don't normally visit (my own husband never went to the top of the Eiffel Tower).  "Parisians don't know Paris," says my husband's friend Emmanuel. "They stick to their little area, and that's all they understand."

 


Because we're developing these tendencies ourselves- lately, anything further than Beaugrenelle is too much for me- my husband and I make it a point to wander less-touristy neighborhoods on weekends. Don't worry, I'm not trying to turn this into a photo blog! I just thought it might be helpful to share some of our favorite places.

Start at Square Juliette Dodu, where you can grab a bento from  gluten-free, paleo food truck Chasseurs Cueilleurs. Walk up Rue Saint-Maur to Rue Jean-Marie Moinon for dedicated gluten-free, organic atelier Papy Bio, which offers two-hour macaron, baguette, or pizza-making classes, using authentic Italian methods. He was standing on the street when I took these pictures and teased me for being a tourist. "All the buildings are cute and colorful," I protested. He pointed a street over, to Rue Sainte-Marthe. "C'est mieux," he said.

  

Rue Sainte-Marthe is an explosion of color. Brazilian, Mexican, and Jamaican restaurants with brightly painted storefronts sit side by side with artist studios and hot dog stands. On one end, you have Lula, a concept lifestyle shop and restaurant offering gluten-free brunch every Saturday, to rave reviews. A little further down is La Tête dans les Olives, which turns into a one-table restaurant every night, with a waiting list of a month or more. The owner, Cedric Casanova, makes delicious gluten-free foccacia and sources amazing ingredients from Sicily, supplying Chambelland, Alain Ducasse, and the Plaza Athenée with food. Last time we went, he made us sample generous spoonfuls of olive oil before filling our bottle from the tap. We washed everything down with fresh-squeezed lemonade, buying basil flowers and green oranges, unpackaged in our own produce bags.

Across the street, at 5 Rue Sainte Marthe, is an artist's atelier straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Ring the bell to discuss meubles sur mesure- colorful robotic mobiles, mechanical fish, oversized chess tables, etc. Past Place Sainte Marthe, Geneviève de Divonne's Ebénisterie sainte Marthe offers beautiful, custom wood furniture and restoration services, supervised by the resident black cat. There are restaurants, record stores, and good places for rhum punch here, and the entire street gets decked for Fête de la Musique.

  

Set between Canal Saint-Martin and Belleville, Rue Sainte-Marthe is the perfect jumping off point to explore the last authentic neighborhoods in Paris. For my favorite addresses by arrondissement, click here. For gluten-free metro and guide maps, click here and here.

P.S. The lady in the Tête dans les Olives picture? Super expensive Levi's jean skirt, Maison Bonnet glasses, and vintage Hermès bag, which- correct me if I'm wrong- seems like a pretty typical outfit for that neighborhood. Those streets were originally constructed for workers. It's funny to see how gentrification changes things. She was insufferable, by the way, and stepped on an elderly woman's foot on her way out. Poor Cedric looked relieved when she finally left, though he was too nice to say anything about it!

Paris to Go

La Guinguette D’Angèle: Gluten-Free, Vegan Comptoir

 
 

 
 

I had my first tarte au citron recently, and it was magic- vegan, gluten-free, and delicious. Do you know what it's like, living in Paris without even being able to try a tarte au citron? It's a Sisyphean tragedy.

Angèle Ferreux-Maeght grew up partly in Paris, partly in the garden, with a family that appreciated fine cooking and quality (her family's gallery, the Maeght Fondation, is one of my favorite places in France, with works from Braque, Chagall, Miro, Calder, and others). By age 18, she was serving up local, organic food at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, before moving to Australia, where her passion for healthy, clean eating developed. After studying naturopathy at Le Cenatho, she started a catering business with clients like Chanel, Kitsuné, Louis Vuitton, and Inès de la Fressange (catering weddings, private dinners, and brunches as well). Now La Guinguette d'Angèle, a beautiful "comptoir detox," is open at 34 Rue Coquillière, a stone's throw from the Louvre and Quartier Montorgueil.

Focusing on local, organic, and seasonal produce, La Guinguette d'Angèle offers raw, vegan, gluten-free desserts and lunches to go. Detoxifying juices and citrus or cucumber infused water accompany matcha lattes and house-made kombucha. One day I had the "red fruits" kombucha, strawberry-topped lemon tartelette, raw "cheesecake" with edible violets, giant (perfectly chewy) carob chip cookie, and fondant cake made with carob, avocado, coconut, and sesame seeds. Like Schmidt, I always thought carob was fake hippie chocolate- but everything tasted incredible, completely indistinguishable from gluten-and-animal-product-containing counterparts. Another time I had green juice, vegan yogurt with pecan maple granola in a cute, zero-waste friendly Weck jar, and a deliciously filling bento with shitake mushrooms, edible flowers, sprouts, tasty kale chips, red cabbage, and almonds. Everything was spectacular and traveled well to Palais Royal, where I met my friend Joanna, picnicked in the garden, and chatted with two old ladies who dared me to walk on the grass, "pour quelques photos." I don't know how they do it- the cookies taste just like my mom's!

Portions are generous and the prices low- a big salad, dessert, and drink for 12€, or individual desserts at 3€ apiece.The team is really friendly and a picture of glowing health, with flowers in their hair and big smiles on all faces. Everyone seems enthusiastic about what they're doing- when one girl opened up a box of tarte au citron for the day, she exclaimed, "Wiaou, so beautiful!" in English, with a cute accent. I looked at the woman ahead of me in line and we both started laughing. That place put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

I should have written about La Guinguette d'Angèle sooner- it opened six weeks ago- but I've been burned so many times before by gluten-free food in Paris. The pocket-sized shop is a wonderful addition to Paris' gluten-free offerings, very few of which make anything vegan. La Guinguette d'Angèle is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 3 pm for takeaway. If you get there right at 11, you might have to wait, but it's worth it. Pull up a chair at the tiny table, pour yourself a glass of cucumber water, and sip until all the freshly-made orders arrive- they'll be sold out by noon!

P.S. My husband says I should add the meaning of the word "guinguette." These are taverns along the Marne where people listened to accordion and ate and drank merrily. Van Gogh and Renoir painted them, and there are still a few left over today outside Paris. He says it's a very French thing :)

Paris to Go