Les Halles, ZA Restaurant and Print-On-Demand Books

It’s a strange concept and maybe something that I thought could only exist in Tokyo, being as Tokyo is very much a city of the future… But no, there it was in the heart of Paris, a city that, if anything, has its roots firmly planted somewhere in the 18th century, if not further back in time. If Tokyo is the living future, Paris is very much the living past.

ZA (http://za-paris.com), is where we found ourselves under the new canopy of Les Halles right smack in the middle of downtown Paris. We wouldn’t have experienced this strange mix of high and low tech unless the nearby Lego store hadn’t just opened (Daddy needed a fix, don’t ask).

The concept at ZA includes some of the things that are becoming more and more popular at trendy diners — conveyor belt-like table that whisks your food out, waiters with iPads that take your order, and quinoa salads are the order of the day. They even have an application where you can bypass the waiter and put in your own order on your connected device.

The menu is a bit blah. Nothing spectacular or particularly memorable. Mom ordered a roast beef sandwich and Dad ordered a lentil and quinoa salad. Baby was pretty quiet, enjoying big smiles from our waiter and the host, as he almost always does.

For all of the high-techness of ZA, there is a twist: an onsite, print-on-demand bookstore.

More fascinating than the conveyor belt tables or iPad wielding waiters is the fascinating  GIANT PRINTER! Seriously, this thing looks like something straight out of a super-sized Kinkos. Apparently, ZA keeps an updated list of a select few books that you can have printed out and bound while you eat your lunch. There are new books available every month from every major genre. Of course, the books are only in French  which doesn’t help out non-francophones.

More pressing than the printing of literature over lunch was the pressing of our sons’s bladder, as he let it be known to everyone in the retro-high-tech confines of ZA with a high-pitched squeal. I whisked him off to the industrial stainless steel-covered bathrooms where I didn’t find anything to change him on… so… channeling our inner contortionists, we were able to use the side of the sink for a diaper change.

Lucky for everyone it was only a #1.

We didn’t buy a book this time around. Maybe next time when my French is a bit better and our son is old enough to truly appreciate the wonders of the nearby Lego store.

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