Hoping to show off the charms of Canal Saint Martin to my mum, whose “beloved Paris” really only includes the Haussman boulevards and cobbled streets of the centre, I wanted to take her to a lunch spot right on the banks of the canal.
A quick Google search later, and we were on our way to Le Sésame. It was everything I had hoped for and more. A cheerful little place with coral awning outside and light blue walls inside, it was the perfect refuge from the rain. We certainly felt a lot more cheerful ourselves when we emerged an hour later.
The menu offers a tempting selection of simple but filling dishes. A large portion of these are available as either a small (around €7) or large plate (around €13), meaning the menu is flexible for whatever levels of hunger. I opted for the vegetable curry and rice: a thick orangey number with aubergines and red peppers which was absolutely delicious. A homemade honey and ginger lemonade provided a refreshing accompaniment.
Mum’s flavoursome vegetable soup came with two little slices of crusty fried bread, and her Cobb salad was judged “top notch”. Next time, I plan to dig into one of the thickly packed, seeded bagels that I spotted being delivered to the table next to us.
As well as the individual options, the team au Sésame create a whole menu out of the set menus themselves. There are two to choose from at breakfast (€7-12); three at lunch (€8-15); some tasting menus; some apéro deals, plus a brunch ‘formule’. This café-restaurant really does cover all bases.
Beyond the trusty food choices, Sésame regularly holds ‘vernissages’ (art previews) as well as more permanent exhibitions. A programme on their website also suggests they occasionally host live bands too.
Another insight provided by the website was that, for a large part, the café is run by a team of girlfriends. A video montage showing them preparing drinks and sandwiches whilst smiling and hugging each other, to the soundtrack of ‘More Than a Woman’ by the Bee Gees, almost had me running out the office of my internship to hand in my CV…
Above all, Le Sésame says ‘fresh’. Opting to ditch the bare light bulbs sported by so many hipster establishments these days, in favour of the colourful décor and star-shaped night lights, it’s obvious these girls aren’t trying to be anything they’re not.
51 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris
+33 1 42 49 03 21