Chic Paris #1: Holybelly

Photo by Nico Alary
My first tip for anyone visiting Paris is to ignore the obvious tourist traps. Sure, it's nice to pop into Colette, but when it's packed to the brim with camera-wielding voyeurs, it feels less like fashion's favourite concept boutique, more like an Apple store. Of course, I understand the allure of stopping by the plucked-from-a-postcard landmarks, but I promise Paris has a whole lot more to offer.

Much like London and New York, Paris is a hub of creativity, with sparks flying in design, music, and everything in between. Le Marais is the undisputed capital of cool, punctuated with niche bookshops, organic foodie spots and, naturally, great coffee/brunch joints. It's a great place for style-conscious first-time visitors on a budget. It's also got hipster/basic bitch written all over it, but don't let that put you off.
Photo by Nico Alary

Thanks to a tip-off from the Hip Paris blog, at the top of my list is Holybelly, a Pinterest-ready café with spades of style. Nestled away beside the Canal Saint Martin – an idyllic spot for sickening selfies with your significant other, if you're so inclined – Holybelly is bustling, energetic, and too good to miss. 

Set up by Sarah Mouchot and Nico Alary back in 2013, Holybelly is inspired by cafés in Melbourne, serving up Belleville coffee and tasty food in a relaxed environment. Alongside all-American seasonal brekkie staples, the kitchen caters to every craving with traditional French dishes and Southern comfort food classics.

On our trip, my boyfriend (a total coffee snob) and I made two trips – one for a perfect al fresco flat white and one for a scrumptious pre-Eurostar lunch. We are eternally searching for cafés as brilliant as Brickwood in Clapham and Holybelly certainly did not disappoint. What sets it apart from the city's myriad tea salon, patisseries and cool kid coffee hangouts, is the wonderful customer service, the welcoming atmosphere and, naturally, the incredibly tasty food. It's also rather Instagramable – I mean, they have cacti in espresso cups outside, what fash gal feed wouldn't benefit from that?
Photo by Nico Alary

Food-wise, I indulged in BBQ beans, thyme buttered mushrooms and poached eggs on toast, with a whopping serving of Holybelly's homemade hot sauce. My boyfriend stayed true to his American roots and ordered some pimped-out pancakes, topped with fried eggs, bacon, Bourbon butter and a river of maple syrup. They are every bit as naughty, and delicious, as they sounds. 

Naturally, they don't take bookings but you can leave your name with Nico and then take a little stroll around the surrounding area – Artazart bookshop is just around the corner – until your table is ready. Then you can just sit back, relax, and tuck into the best brunch in Paris. The only hard part? Choosing just one dish. 

Holybelly, until next time. Check out their website and follow on Twitter here
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