One of my favourite things to do when I was at college in Long Beach, California, was to sit at a coffee shop for hours, either talking with a friend or studying. I particularly loved Portfolio CoffeeHouse; They used to have this old, heavy desk, full of drawers. It was the perfect place to plop down with a stack of Art History and theory books from the library and write my research papers, which inevitably, were left until the last minute. I was a good student. :p
I’ve always felt like there was a serious lack of these kinds of places in Paris – communal living rooms where one can have a capp, nibble a scone, and relax. Yes, Paris is rife with cafés, the kind of cafés with little round tables and rows of wicker chairs facing the street. These are great, but they just don’t have the same purpose, vibe, or possibilities of a coffee house.
Much to my delight, I’ve been hearing more and more of laid back coffee shops cropping up here and there. Walking near Centre Pompidou the other day, I stumbled upon one called AntiCafé. The name of the place, the large, floor-to-ceiling window filled with potted plants, and the well-designed “menu” on the exterior had my COOL radar going haywire, so I stepped inside.
I didn’t think anything could be better than my beloved coffee shops back in California, but AntiCafé works bit differently than most business establishments. You essentially pay for your time: 1 hour equals 4 euro, with each additional hour being 3 euro. You might be thinking, “I suppose you also have to purchase a pricey coffee-drink to go with your time?” The answer is: NO! Drinks, both juice and espresso-based, are included in the price, along with small snacks like fruit, chips, bread, small pastries, and any food you wish to bring in yourself. You also have free reign of their wifi, printer, scanner, board games, and books. Perhaps this is quite normal in other parts of the world, but for me, it’s almost revolutionary!!
It’s not just sorta like a communal living room, it actually IS a communal living room! Basically, this place is any modern, work-from-the-internet blogger, writer, graphic or web designer’s dream come true. And if you’re skeptical that charging by the hour is a good idea: They’ve already opened a second location near the Louvre.
Upon arrival, you are given a little card, which keeps track of your time. The kitchen is completely open for guests to raid, and an employee can help you with the espresso machine.
Sometimes I have sudden “visions” of what my future could be like, and this place gave me one of those. I don’t mean supernatural visions, just a visualisation of the possibilities of the future. I could see myself as a professional blogger and general freelance creative person, spending lots of time in this very coffee shop, all of Paris literally surrounding me. I think it’s time to stop moping around waiting for something good to happen – I have to make my own life exciting.
79 rue Quincampoix 75003, Paris
10 Rue de Richelieu 75001, Paris