Postcard from... Paris



Paris is not a city known for its budget appeal. Parisian students, faced with astronomical rent costs and the rising price of beer, keep their budget hotspots quiet.

La Drapeau de la Fidelité is one such example. Hidden down a back alley in the 15th arrondissement, the menu name-checks students as the proprietor's "chouchous" (darlings).

The restaurant, on Rue Copreaux, near Volontaires metro, is small and cramped and invariably packed. The lighting is provided by a string of fairy lights. Steam from the beef broth clouds the windows. There are books on every available surface.

It is no small challenge to run a successful restaurant in Paris with no dishwasher, limited serving staff and a kitchen that closes at 8.30pm. This last, I found to my disappointment, is non-negotiable.

While the food is excellent, many go for the company. The moustachioed Pham Cong Quan is not your typical restaurateur. Before moving to Paris as a political refugee in 1976, he worked as a Professor of Philosophy in Saigon.

His works, listed on the back of the menu, include All Capitalism is Humanitarian and it takes little encouragement to get him to rubbish Karl Marx.