During our recent visit to Paris, we got to rediscover the French capital as if it was a completely different city. No trips to the Eiffel tower, no queuing at the Louvre, no overpriced dinners that disappoint, no angry French people shouting at you for not speaking French. All these awful stereotypes and horror stories that you normally come across were swept away as if they were all fairytales. Sure, there will always be people whose luck is less generous but that can happen in any city. Amsterdam, New York, London or Berlin.
One of the things that struck us the most about contemporary Paris is how the food culture, which is so entrenched in the French way of life is being revolutionized by brave locals and foreigners who are offering Parisians a glimpse into their own food cultures back home. We met Aussies like Tom Clark who have opened wonderful coffee shops such as Coutume, which have truly helped to create a new understanding of specialty coffee amongst the French and we came across French guys like Nico Alary and his girlfriend Sarah who, after spending a few years living in Vancouver and Melbourne, decided to take the plunge and open an Aussie-style brunch café in the city.
Holybelly is probably one of the city’s friendliest and most welcoming venues and Nico does his utmost to personally greet every single guest. Located only a stone’s throw away from hip Canal St. Martin, Holybelly is evidently a magnet for hungry tourists, expats and visitors alike who seek out its refuge to stuff their faces with delicious home cooked breakfasts and lunches. On the day of our visit the sun was enveloping the city in wonderful warmth and everyone was walking around with a smile on their faces.
My friend Meg and I took a seat by the bar and ordered the breakfast special (Meg) and some eggs with sides (me). Needless to say everything about this meal was excellent. The attentive service of the waitresses, Nico’s fabulous barista skills, the presentation and wonderful taste of the home cooked food and, last but not least, the refreshing tartness of the bottle of apple cider that we had ordered.
For Nico and Sarah it was crucial to create a place that people could call their home. A place where everyone is a welcome guest and where you even get greated by name if Nico catches it. They also try and keep things quite local, sourcing a lot of ingreditents from nearby suppliers, including their coffee beans, which come from Belleville. The guys over there made a special blend for Holybelly called Koni, which consists of 40% Mexico, 30% Guatemala and 30% Costa Rica. Needless to say the flat white I enjoyed (a few times) was delish!
If you ever happen to be in Paris and you’re desperately looking for a great place to fill your belly then make it Holybelly!