Best of the speciality coffee in Paris

Our trip to Paris was nearly over two months ago, and it’s only now the wedding is over that I’ve actually sat down long enough to look back on it. We snuck away for three nights, getting the Eurostar one evening after work, and had a blissful couple of days, doing not a lot other than either drinking coffee (by day) or wine (by night). I’ve never really been much of a fan of French coffee – way too bitter for me normally – but the French coffee scene is clearly benefiting from English and Australian influences, and we found some great speciality coffee in Paris while we were there.

Telescope: this tiny little (and beautifully minimalist) coffee shop is tucked away on Rue Villedo and is a great spot to go and warm up if you’ve been walking around the Jardin de Tuileries. The barista suggested we each tried a different blend (Kenyan for me, Ehtiopian for J), and I have rarely seen someone take such cafe in blending together an aeropress. Loved it.

Ten Belles: just behind the Canal Saint Martin, this felt as though we easily could have been in Shoreditch on a Saturday afternoon. Surrounded by a mix of English and French voices, and with coffee, sandwiches & cakes constantly flying past, it really did feel like a London coffee spot.

Best of the speciality coffee spots in Paris, feat. 10 Belles, Cafe Lomi, Fondation Cafe & Telescope

Fondation Cafe: this was just around the corner from our airbnb, and while it’s pretty bare bones, it was a great morning stop off for a cafe allonge. I think they had just changed ownership shortly before we visited, but as of September ’16, still great.

Holybelly: the current brunch spot du jour of Paris and it does live up to the hype. Two hour waits apparently aren’t unheard of at the weekend, but we got there 20 minutes after opening on a Friday and had no issues getting a table. Great Australian style coffee and by far the friendliest place I’ve ever been in Paris in terms of service.

Cafe Lomi: the area north of the Gare du Nord has never really had much to recommend it, but having discovered Cafe Lomi I could be prepared to make an exception to return. With beautifully chic black frontage and signage, and a no laptop policy at weekends, this was our last visit before catching our train home – and even at gone 5pm on a Sunday, it was packed full. They roast and blend their own coffee on site, plus you can take away bags of beans with you too, for a drinkable holiday souvenir.

Lisbon and Porto Photo Diary

Oh you guys…. can I go back to Lisbon and Porto now? Going back through my pictures has given me a severe case of post holiday blues.

Tiled houses in Lisbon, Portugal

View through the streets in Lisbon, Portugal

A view over Lisbon's famous bridge

Lisbon is filled with beautiful tiled houses, narrow streets on steep hillsides, and weirdly familiar vistas where you confuse yourself but you could be in Rio or San Francisco. The beaches outside are great (we loved Carcavelos, thirty minutes away by train) and my big regret of the trip is that we didn’t make it out to Sintra and Europe’s most Western point.

Porto's Torre de Sao Jorge

The Douro river as it flows through the centre of Porto

Alongside the river in Porto

Three hours away by train, Porto gets even hillier. Steep hills run down to the wide Douro river, there’s any number of hidden away food and drink spots tucked away in the streets, and one side of the river face is covered in trees hanging off the side. It felt bit like a set from Game of Thrones, and I didn’t want to leave.

Porto's Mercado do Bolhao

Our favourite food & drink in Porto

It’s no understatement to say that Porto is the food and drink capital of Portugal, even if not the administrative. From the whole river bank lined with port houses, to tiny tapas restaurants tucked down winding streets, and the massive Mercado do Bolhao (more on that in a future post), you can quite happily wine and dine your way around the city for some time.

In the brief time we were there, these were our favourite spots for food and drink in Porto:

Cafe Bop: we came here in search of a good coffee and were not disappointed. The cafe wouldn’t have looked out of place in Shoreditch with it’s rows of vinyl, peg board coffee sign and beer on tap, but we were won over by the great americanos and huge bagels.

Cafe Bop in Porto, Portugal - a cool spot for coffee, bagels or beers

Frida: a gorgeous mexican restaurant about 15 minutes walk out of the main city. I convinced J to try the ceviche on the grounds it was really just mexican sushi (a stretch I realise, but he liked it), and then we worked our way through a massive portion of tacos, cooking the meat at our table. Definitely one to book though – we turned up as they opened on a Saturday and snagged a table on the grounds we would give it back in 90 minutes.

The Wine Box: do 425 wines take your fancy? Yeah, it sounded good to us too. Rather than present you with a wine menu, they instead listened to us describe what we liked in a wine, and let them pick for us. And while I’m sure in London they would have used that as a chance to sell you the most expensive wine, ours came out as 3,50 a glass. Again, worth booking if you go in the evening, but it’s super quiet at lunch time.

Ferreira Port House: the tour was admittedly not great, but for 6 euro each we got two very good tasters of port at the end, and we were both surprised to find it was pretty much the first port we had ever enjoyed!

Tasting white and tawny port at Ferreira Port House in Porto, Portugal