Tuesday, April 23, 2013


There is one slight problem with most Parisian cafés. Those teeny tiny tables are so crammed together, you feel like eating or having a glass with strangers most of the time, sharing your personal space and intimate conversations. That's exactly the moment when speaking a different language than people around you is a huge advantage. English usually doesn't do the trick but Czech does. And that's probably the only moment the ability to speak Czech can be useful in Paris.

The café's space problem is not pleasant inside, but it is nothing compared to the terraces when the nice weather comes back to town. EVERYBODY wants his own spot in the sun. We are no exception.

The "speak Czech" part fortunately works outside as nicely as inside.

Since everybody wants to sip their drinks outside, with beautiful weather comes the problem of finding a spot on a terrace. It's no exception to queue a bit.

There is this one place that is different. Well, you usually queue a few minutes as well. Sometimes even waiting doesn't help. That's how great and different this place is. It's the Swedish Institute's (Si.) café. In winter, it's one small room with steam covered windows, cosy tables, hot chocolate and great homemade cakes an sandwiches.

The inside.

In summer, that little "winter" room is still there, plus you have tables in the courtyard, a Parisian palace courtyard.

Not an ordinary courtyard.

You can have a refreshing cup of a cranberry drink or lemonade, a slice of caramel covered cake or if you're more hungry, a bowl of soup or a sandwich witch delicious salmon. And you can actually do all that sitting at a regular size table, which also means chatting with friends without having twenty strangers listening to you conversation. Thank you, Swedish Institute.

This little piece of our joie de vivre lies just around the corner from one of the busiest streets in Paris on Sundays, in the Marais. Go and give it a try if you're around. But I've warned you, you might have to leave disappointed if you're not willing to wait for a table.

And of course, there is much more to the Svenska Institutet than just a mundane café: exhibitions, festivals, classes, concerts... The last big event we went to a few months back was a foodie festival. Four big chefs from the Swedish culinary landscape came to the Si.'s garden and you could taste their twist on Swedish specialities. Very tasty. Go give the Si. a try.

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