There’s no place like Paris - except Cardiff, of course. But if you do want to escape the everyday and enjoy some French delicacies, then Cafe Du Chat Noir may be your new go-to if you need a taste of something a bit different.

Selling French and Mediterranean cuisine, the café in Wellfield Road's hidden gem arcade has been run by the same people for eight years and is still going strong. Open for just three-four hours every day, on four days of the week, Café Du Chat Noir is, by nature, a lunch spot and is definitely one to organise a trip to in advance so you don't miss out.

Described as “the Everest of Cardiff French cuisine” by one TripAdvisor reviewer, it seems like somewhere you can’t not visit if you live in Cardiff. The business also describe themselves as the city’s “number one French restaurant” on their website, so I just had to go and see what all the fuss was about. For the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox sign up to our newsletter

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The restaurant is located in Wellfield Road, and from the outside it definitely evokes that classic French simplicity you get in the heart of Paris, and beyond. From the plants outside to the warm lighting inside the restaurant, it’s one of those places where you feel instantly comfortable and at home.

Cafe Du Chat Noir sign at a small French cafe in the arcade off Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff, run by chef Stuart Boltershome.
Café Du Chat Noir feels crucially authentic, as you step into what feels like a different world in the arcade off Wellfield Road, Roath.
Woman walking past Du Chat Noir, a small French café in the arcade off Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff, run by chef Stuart Boltershome.
Wellfield Road's arcade where you will find Café Du Chat Noir

The décor is the perfect blend of French sophistication and Cardiff cosiness all mixed into one, and without a doubt, the most authentically French-feeling Cardiff café I've come across. It’s a sunny Friday afternoon in April when I visit. Although I’d heard great things about this spot online, I’d never actually seen it in person.

Following Google maps on Wellfield road, I’m told that I’ve reached my destination, but looking around it was nowhere to be seen. It was only when I spotted the arcade with the flower shop - John Henry Flowers - that I saw some outdoor seating leading into Café Du Chat Noir, not dissimilar from classic courtyard cafes you’d find in the middle of Paris.

I hadn’t booked ahead and as it was so busy, we couldn’t get a table inside - which seemed to demonstrate its popularity. There’s a soft musical atmosphere, with classical music being played on the inside, which drifts through to the outdoor seating area.

Sitting outside, the world slows down for a minute as people peruse gently through menus, enjoying calm conversations. Get the best user experience with WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

The view through the window at Café Du Chat Noir, a small French café in the arcade off Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff, run by chef Stuart Boltershome.
The view from the inside of Café Du Chat Noir
People inside Café Du Chat Noir, located in Cardiff next to the specials menu displayed on a blackboard
The atmosphere feels calm and collected in this classic French-style café

The service was amazing - with the waitresses who served us greeting us with a smile, and they seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, which always makes a difference to a business when the staff are happy to see you. I ordered a lemonade which came in can and was super refreshing, and the regular Croque Provencal, with tomato, cheese and herbs for £8.45 and it was worth every single penny.

Typically, Croque Provencal is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, topped with béchamel. It's popular in French cafes and bars as a quick snack that is more extravagant than your typical sandwich and deeply comforting.

I’m no French food connoisseur in any sense, but I was completely impressed by this dish. I’d never eaten it before, and at first when it came out I wondered if it might be a bit heavy for a lunch option, or so cheesy I would be in a food coma for the rest of the day, but it was nothing like that.

The cheese was crunch on the outside and quite runny when you cut into it- the perfect combo. The tomatoes tasted really fresh, and I could definitely detect a light kick to to the food as well that seemed to be coming from the herbs.

Dish Croque Provençal at Café Du Chat Noir with salad on a plate on Wellfield Road, Cardiff city centre
Croque Provençal at Café Du Chat Noir
Dish Croque Provençal at Café Du Chat Noir with salad on a plate on Wellfield Road, Cardiff city centre
The meal was a solid 10/10 at Café Du Chat Noir

It was deliciously crispy, buttery and rough all at the same time. It had almost the same kind of texture as a lasagne - obviously bar the pasta and huge mix of vegetables, it was a super filling lunch but I left still feeling energised for the rest of the day. It also came with a gorgeous salad with watercress, tomatoes, peppers, onions, radish and a lovely French dressing and I will absolutely be going back to try it again, as well as more of their menu.

My friend also ordered an iced latte, which she finished almost in seconds, noting: "It was rich infused coffee with the perfect amount of sweetness from the shot of vanilla." Sitting outside a café with the sun managing to shine through was actually such a simple joy, and definitely made me more excited for spring. If you’re looking for a place to go to enjoy the nicer weather we are surely due over the next few months - this is it.

And in true Parisian style, my table was actually in an ideal corner to people watch. There were lots of people heading through the alleyway into the different spots, and it was so nice hearing the sound of laughter outside a café and people going about their day. An older couple sitting next to me noted while sitting there that last time they had tried to visit, and if I heard them right - it was so busy they couldn't get a table. "This was a very good shout", the man said to the woman sitting across from him, as he enjoyed his food.

Someone else left the café, exclaiming: "This was amazing", so it was clear to see that it was delighting everyone who set foot in the door. And although I’d seen rave reviews about the café, I still couldn’t help leaving feeling surprised at the high quality food that’s on offer.

I think being on holiday is more of a mindset than anything else, but it wasn't just the food which left me feeling as though I'd been transported out of the UK. The best thing about this place was the overall vibe, not just the staff seemed to carry, but the customers too - and the relaxed, authentic atmosphere seemed to brighten everyone's mood almost within an instant of them arriving.

Café Du Chat Noir is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and open from 11:30pm-3:30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 12:30-3pm on Sundays, so definitely check the opening times before you go, or ring in advance to book a table if you are planning a visit.