Both these cafes are on rue des Eaux-Vives, but there the resemblance stops.
The Marcel is a French chain which opened up its (first) Geneva branch on Friday. As you can see from their menu, the prices in Geneva are more expensive. Not a lot more, but given Paris’s reputation for expensiveness, I’m curious to know if this was necessary.
The Marcel is dark and very noisy. Even though, along with everybody else there today we shouted, I could scarcely hear my companions. Chou is light and quiet.
The Marcel seems to be making an attempt at an Anglo-Saxon cafe, both in style and menu. For us this didn’t work. The coffee doesn’t stand up to the better places in Geneva and we found the food disappointing. One of us had The Full English Breakfast at 19CHF. It was crowded onto a plate too small for the food, but at the same time we could see it was substantially smaller than such a dish would have been in Australia. Notably it came without toast, though toast was listed as an ingredient. I might add that the cafe latte was approximately half a glass of coffee, with about an equal amount of froth.
The biggest disappointment was the cinnamon roll, which had almost no cinnamon taste and was heavy going. One of my companions who declined to taste it said it looked industrial which made me wonder what its pedigree was. Certainly at 7CHF, I would much rather have had two of Paradiso’s light cinnamon rolls. A bagel with cream cheese and avocado was okay, not special, but safe. I am undecided on whether a few pomegranate seeds scattered through worked.
No doubt The Marcel will cope with these comments. It was packed and presumably is going to thrive.
Chou has all the grace and delicacy that The Marcel lacks. Everything on its (small) food menu is refined in looks and taste. Coffee from a barista whose pedigree includes Paradiso and Boreal is at the best end for Geneva. Tea is good quality with a better range than in most cafes which focus on coffee – and therefore think that they don’t have to cater to tea drinkers – and your pot is refilled, for which I am most appreciative. The decor is light and for anybody looking for a lovely place to read a book whilst taking some refreshment, this is the place for you.
No doubt there is room for both these places. I hope I was never young enough to think that having to shout through a meal is acceptable, but maybe I’ve just got a bad memory. For me, it’s Chou every time….I leave you with their exquisite apricot and matcha tea sweet temptation: