Strolling along Rue de Turenne, a street filled with concept stores and chic boutiques (not to mention the mouth-watering Jacques Genin chocolatiers), you’ll be hit by an irresistible wave of sweet cinnamon, courtesy of Fringe Coffee’s home-baked buns. The conspicuous café suits its name, situated on the fringes of both the labyrinthine Marais and its edgier sister, the Canal Saint Martin area.
On a quiet Sunday morning, I ventured along the empty République backstreets, which were inconceivably quiet given that, a day earlier, the city was rocked by gilet jaunes demonstrations and ongoing Eurostar strikes. Joined by early risers with a penchant for ‘coffee, food, photography’ (the café’s self-styled slogan), I headed to Fringe to get my breakfast fix.
The café is cosy and minimalistic, relying on the rotating photography exhibitions to decorate the small space – a lovely feature for regular visitors, as no visit feels the exact same. On this occasion, the café was adorned in snowy vistas from photographer Ingibjörg Torfa’s Hundslappadrífa exhibition, a perfect match for the crumpled paper-style lampshades.
Wooden tones dominate the interiors, with every table graced by a vase of flowers. Coffee-table books fill the shelves, free for customers to browse through, and jazzy blues play in the background – perhaps the café could incorporate music into its slogan? It does hold the occasional acoustic session, after all.
While the cinnamon buns are super tempting, I had already indulged in a French pastry that morning (as you do), eager to make the most of my short stay in the city. Instead, I decided to opt for one of their Scandi-inspired specialities: tartines, or open sandwiches. The avocado tartine, though small, makes up for its slightness in flavour. Silky smooth slices of the millennial fad are delicately spread atop homemade seeded rye bread – crafted from a secret recipe, I’m told, after nosily requesting. Topped with a scattering of sesame seeds and sea salt, the toast is warm upon arrival and worth every cent of the €6.
As its name suggests, this spot takes its coffee seriously, but those who aren’t partial to a caffeine hit (myself included) won’t be disappointed by the tea selection. Arriving in a glass teapot, my Earl Grey was divine (and that’s coming from a tea-obsessed Brit).
The space was full by 11am, about the time that other establishments open on a lazy Sunday morning, and doesn’t let up until closing time – a sign, no doubt, of its excellence.