Secret corners of Paris: Couvent des Récollets

Sladjana Perkovic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Only two steps from the Gare de l’est, one of the biggest Parisians railway stations, and famous Canal Saint Martin, you will find a real architectural pearl – The Couvent des Récollets (The Convent of Recollets). This former Franciscan monastery, a fine example of French religious architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, was also used for a long time as a military hospital. Today, this place houses the Récollets Centre, an international centre for artists and researchers, the House of architecture and Café A. Since 1974, the Couvent des Récollets is listed as a French historical monument.

From convent to hospital

In 1614, Marie de Medici, the queen of France, laid the foundation stone of the Couvent des Récollets, a Franciscan monastery. In 1790, the monastery was closed and then in 1802 was turned into a military hospital, that was working at full capacity during the both World Wars, and it was still in use during the Algerian war (1954-1962). In 1968, the hospital was closed and almost demolished, before being protected and classified in 1974. From 1990 to 2002, this former convent was transformed into an artistic place, and today it houses the House of architecture and the Récollets Centre, an international centre for artists and researchers. And of course, there is a real gem hidden inside its building walls – Café A, a magnificent restaurant and a bar.

photo © centre-les-recollets

Café A

Café A is an atypical Parisian restaurant and a bar. But I need to warn you. It is not going to be easy to find it. Once in front of the Couvent des Récollets, you have to cross a gate, then cross a courtyard lined with arcades and only then you can open the door and enter in this exceptional place. The works of young Parisian artists decorate a beautiful and vast space of Café A. But, its secret garden is something that is really exceptional about this place. Hidden and protected from the street by a wall, the café'’s garden is a real piece of heaven. Even if Café A is situated near the busiest Parisian boulevards, you won’t even notice it. Here, the atmosphere is peaceful and relaxing. And the food is absolutely delicious.

photo © centre-des-recollets

Practical information

Café A, situated inside the walls of the Couvent des Récollets is open every day from Monday to Sunday. The opening hours are from 10 am to 2 pm. The garden is closing every day at 11 pm. Every Saturday and Sunday, Café A proposes a brunch. The Récollets Centre is often organizing the events, such as the conferences, concerts and projections of short movies.

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