These past few months have been unnerving, stressful, and downright scary for almost every single one of us. Being in Paris has been a strange experience: seeing the city void of tourists (and, of course, of people, during the lockdown period) has been a unique opportunity to experience the city from a true locals’ perspective.
But one of my favourite things has been seeing the small little ways that our neighbouring Parisians are doing to put a smile on fellow residents’ faces. And what absolutely tops the list of fun things to see in Paris during the past few weeks are the following Paris cafés, which are using oversized teddy bears to socially distance their customers.
How did the bears in Parisian cafés begin?
What started out with just one or two cafés placing the giant plush toys outside of their venues to not only enforce the mandatory 1.5 metre distance between clients, but also to attract customers after months of shutdowns, has since turned into something of a trendy. In many parts of the city, there are a handful of Parisians and bistros hopping on the trend.
But, what many teddy bear spotters might not realise is that the ‘nounours’ (teddy bears) trend actually began in late 2018 when the ‘nounours des Gobelins’ (teddy bears of Gobelins) first popped up in the less-touristed area of the 13th district of Paris. Since that time, the trend has grown from just one café to places across the world. Les nounours des Gobelins even have their own Instagram account, which you can find here.
Le Voltigeur, 45 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75004 Paris
Situated in Le Marais, an area of Paris which is the very heart of the medieval city of the past, the 4th arrondissement is not to be missed. Home to winding lanes and many a museum, the district is also where you’ll discover, Le Voltigeur, which has had teddies outside for many months.
The oversized stuffed toys hang out from the windows above and populate bar stools on pedestrian level, making for a fun photo prop, and of course, helping customers to socially distance. Le Voltigeur is open every day of the week and is a bistro-brasserie serving drinks, as well as a selection of traditional French dishes.
Teddy bears aside, one of the most exciting aspects of this Parisian café is the foam art served atop the speciality coffees. From cut-out shapes to words, you never know what you’ll be served up next! Worth noting is that Le Voltigeur has indoor and outdoor seating, meaning that you can enjoy the food and drinks no matter what the weather!
Le Café de L’Odéon, Place de l’Odéon, 75006 Paris
Though a little more expensive than some Parisian cafés, on account of its prime location just steps away from the likes of the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Saint Sulpice Church (the second largest church in Paris), Le Café de L’Odéon has hands down one of the best views and terraces in the entirety of the French capital.
Situated on the steps of the historic Théâtre de l’Europe, the open-air café is set against the backdrop of an incredibly quiet and less frequented square, despite being located between the Latin Quarter and the ever-so-chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés. I would personally recommend visiting for drinks as opposed to the food.
Le Choupinet café , 58 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75006 Paris
If you’ve seen any posts on social media regarding the teddies of Parisian cafés, then no doubt you’ll have spied Le Choupinet Café thanks to a photo which was widely circulated of the bears. The bears are present inside and outside the dining establishment.
But, of course, Parisian dining is an institution in itself and so it’s worth noting that the food at Le Choupinet is a seasonal menu which changes throughout the year. The recently opened Parisian restaurant can be found in the 6th arrondissement of the city, not far from the Jardin du Luxembourg.