Ma Puce, mon lapin, ma biche, mon chou, ma poule, ma caille, ma cocotte…
These hidden terms of French endearment appear from the most unlikely places to surprise you inside Ma Cocotte, the restaurant designed by Philippe Starck in the heart of Paris’ enchanting antique and flea markets (aka, Les Puces).
As you bite into your roast chicken, a little hidden love message ‘Ma Poule’ (hen) appears on your plate. Take note as you dive into your bowl of hot chocolate, ‘Mon Amour’! ‘Mon Lapin’ (my rabbit) is displayed on the wall, perhaps replacing the portrait of a loved one?
It’s this playful spin on words and tongue-in-cheek style humor employed by Starck that make this place unique and injects a brand new mood into the Paul Bert & Serpette Antique Markets.
From the street view there’s nothing fancy to see; with the exception of the terraces and the outdoor clock, the restaurant appears as a large industrial style building blending in with the market surroundings. Outside, trendy Parisians wait for a table and antique dealers gather for chat. Random antique chairs scattered about contribute to the eclectic picture.
The restaurant spans two floors. On the ground floor, an open bustling kitchen, tables filled to the brim. Climbing the metal stairs to the first floor, you enter what feels like a chic living room. On a cold winter’s day the décor is like a warm embrace: an open fire, soft pink powdery tones, white-washed wooden floors, the aroma of après-dinner cognacs all make this an ideal Sunday cocoon you won’t want to leave.
And it’s not just the interior that stands out chez Cocotte. The food and the menu built on traditional French cuisine are just as inviting. Take the small sharing plates to start; shavings of multicolored radish with herbs and fromage blanc are just as good on the eye as on the palate. Sardines in a box served with fresh grilled, crusty bread will whet the appetite (and we haven’t even gotten to the starters yet.) Crevettes with mushrooms and roquette or artichokes en vinaigrette are stars on the starters menu. Comfort foods such as split roast organic chicken, beef parmentier (shepherds pie), and le classic cheeseburger add much needed weight to stomachs ravaged from antiquing.
The list of wines is comprehensive, including wines from the main regions of France and a few appearances from the new world. Chocolate mousse, strawberries and espresso are a delightful finish to the meal.
Looking around is a tasty treat on the eye too. Photo collages and playful images decorate the walls. An eclectic mix of books and furniture gathered from the surrounding markets give this salon a unique and curious style. Elegant and effortlessly styled Parisians gathered with friends enjoying lunch blend into the décor.
A quick sneak around and back for another espresso, I cannot help but marvel and wonder; is this a bistro, is it a canteen, or a very stylish living room? Who’s to say, only – it works, it’s delicious and a great place for a Sunday lunch. The perfect place to start or close an afternoon hunting for vintage treasures at the nearby Paul Bert & Serpette antique markets.
On a final note, on weekends there is a ‘no reservation policy’ so if you do venture, be prepared for a short wait, but it’s certainly worth it. And if you’re not in the mood for venturing so far north a little bird tells me a new winter outpost is opening any day soon in the 15th. Merci, Ma Cocotte!
106 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Tel: +33 (0)1 49 51 70 00
Métro: Garibaldi / Porte de Clignancourt
Perhaps you could plan a trip to visit the flea markets after your meal, if so we suggest checking out Girls Guide to Paris’ post about them
Don’t miss this video by Vogue with Hamish Bowles when he visits this famous flea market in the search for new treasures
Handbag designer and Parisian blogger Kasia Deitz also takes us around the markets near Clignancourt through her recent video together with the airline KLM
Written by Aisling Greally for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Aisling Greally. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.