I was in Paris for a few days towards the end of November. The night before I went, as per, I waged a duel between the desire to sleep and the worry that if I did, I might not hear my alarm pinging, in the small hours, and as a result miss my flight. While I was tossing and turning I was running through a mental list of things to do and places to see when I got to Paris: wondering which museum to visit and musing over the more mundane question of where to have breakfast.
I drifted into dreamland before I decided on a breakfast spot. Breakfast, you see, is my favourite meal to eat out. Breakfast in a Parisian hotel is usually expensive and a good local café is often a better bet. However, I decided, this time, to eschew the local café, on my only full day in Paris, and instead wandered across the Seine for breakfast at the ultra-chic Café Marly.
The Café Marly is run by the Costes brothers – Gilbert and Thierry. They own and run an inordinate amount of Parisian cafés and these are normally easy to identify, there is a better than average chance that if you walk past a café that’s stylish decorated and looks as cool as an ice-cube that it is a Costes establishment.
I don’t know if they ever serve breakfast outside on the terrace, which is the desired spot to be seated at the Café Marly, they certainly haven’t anytime I’ve been there before nine but by lunchtime the terrace is in full swing. So, I had my breakfast indoors in one of the beautiful high-celinged sumptuously decorated Napoleon III rooms. Minimalistic it isn’t, unless of course you are a member of the Maire Antoinette school of decor, but it’s all terribly tasteful and it has peerless views with the front windows overlooking the Louvre’s Cour Napoleon and the rear ones looking directly into a Louvre sculpture gallery.
Breakfast is €18, not admittedly cheap but such a lot is included: coffee, freshly squeezed juice, a plate of midi-sized breakfast patisseries, and a large piece pain grillé (toasted baguette). Enough to keep you going way past lunch hour.
I have had lunch on the Café Marly’s terrace a couple of times on previous visits to Paris and sitting there and watching the world go by is a quintessentially Parisian experience. The service may at times be snail’s paced and the food may lack culinary fireworks but the food and service are entirely secondary to the to-die-for location. If you are in Paris the Café Marly is well worth checking out.