As I walk out the front door of my apartment building, I see La Palette (at 43, rue de Seine 75006) is just to my left–one of the several well-known cafes on the Left Bank (note the lit up artist palette as their signage). Actually, a busy one too. But for some reason, I haven’t claimed it as my ‘go to’ cafe. Here is a brief description of La Palette that I found on their website: La Palette is not only a unique café-restaurant to Paris but is also an iconic establishment. It serves to those seeking an original and hip atmosphere. Dating back to the Bohemian stage of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, La Palette is the Parisian Café to discover.
Instead, for decades now, I have claimed Les Deux Magots (at 6, Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres 75006) as my first stop once I have hit the cobbled streets after my plane has landed.
And, once I sit down and order a drink, I know I have ARRIVED…I am in Paris! Lately, I have also claimed, and mentioned in another post, Les Editeurs (at 4, Carrefour de l’Odeon 75006) as one of my favorite cafes too. Although Les Editeurs does not have the history as so many cafes on the Left Bank do, it has people and transport action to observe while I slow down my time, either on my own or as a savored visit with a friend(s).
Here is a view of not only Les Deux Magots but its view upon the Eglise of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, one of the oldest churches in Paris. Between the cafe and the church, the cafe added even more seating under a green canvas canopy, lending shade for more customers.
The activity is often palpable from Les Deux Magots’ vantage point. The other day, just in front the church, there was a small band gathered and the music lifted the spirit of the day.
Cafes used-to-be known for being intellectual hubs, but that use is no longer reported. These three institutions known for their intellectual/literary positions in the 20’s form a triangle on Boulevard Saint-Germain. Cafe Flore and Les Deux Magots, along with Brasserie Lipp. Here is an article relating the ties Hemingway had with these 3 as well as a few other legendary locations in Paris: https://infos.parisattitude.com/en/bar-hemingway/
Besides the announcement to myself that I have indeed arrived in Paris, cafes definitely serve as a social place for a meet-up. In fact, on Wednesdays at 5PM, I have a regular meet-up group at a cafe.
As you probably know, there are meet-up groups in all parts of the world for a variety of activities. The one I go to started out to be a French-English conversation group but generally I only hear English being spoken by people from various countries. I see regulars every week attending and then some who stop in when they are in Paris, even just for their few weeks’ visit. Always welcoming smiles, helpful advice, solving the world’s problems (HA!) discussions. If you would prefer a different conversation, you can make your way to a different end of the table. Our meet-up group can be found on the website: http://www.meetup.com
If you have visited Paris, you know that with one drink purchased, you can sit for hours. With the meet-up group you are asked to buy one drink, since the cafe has kindly offered their space to be used for this meeting time.
Of course, sitting alone is perfectly acceptable at a cafe too. The street action flowing, or should I say hustling and bustling by, is enough to keep you entertained, if not also your devices or a book you brought along to read. Even the time can be used for reflection or writing, for instance, too. When I am sitting solo, it is not uncommon for someone to start-up a conversation with me.
Cafes also offer food…some better than others. Try Cafe Varenne, for example, at 36, rue de Varenne in the 7th and on the corner of Varenne and rue du Bac. Menus on their website: http://menuonline.fr/cafevarenne
Or, the outdoor cafe in the Luxembourg Gardens near the Medici Fountain is shady and sweet as a destination or a stopping point after a stroll around the park. The food so-so.
Les deux Magots and Les Editeurs, both closer to me than Cafe Varenne are also not just my ‘watering holes’ but serve me some food, now and again, too. Cafes are great in that their food service is continuous. So, if you find yourself off from the regular lunch/dinner hours at restaurants, head to your neighborhood cafe for a bite to eat.
These are by no means all the cafes in my neighborhood, nor the closest ones to me. I can count at least a dozen within a couple of blocks of my apartment.
How many cafes in Paris? Well, when researched, I saw various numbers. In the thousands, as best I can report. What seems to be accurate is they have decreased in numbers over the years but not so much that you won’t note their numerous presence!
I couldn’t help but notice the cafe waiters taking a break when I was on my way home from Les Deux Magots at the end of the day this past weekend. When they stood up, after finishing their break, they did a proud pose ‘in uniform’ so I could snap this photo.
I believe wait-persons are so used to customers lingering that they come across as ignoring you when you need to pay the bill or when you want to order another drink, for instance. But, again, it harkens back to this idea that you are allowed to ‘own your chair/your spot as long as you want and they ‘Do not Disturb’.
As I started my walk home, this is what I started to see. A closer look at Saint Germain des Pres church, a historic fountain, and the lovely garden just to the left of the church with some visitors taking pleasure in the quiet.
A CNN Traveler’s decent list of cafes and coffee shops in Paris: https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-cafes-and-coffee-shops-in-paris
An article by Paris by Mouth about ordering coffee in Paris: https://parisbymouth.com/primer-ordering-coffee-in-paris/
Paris by Mouth’s website (www.parisbymouth.com) also has a list of cafes in Paris by arrondissement. For some reason I don’t see the 6th arrondissement listed.
If you have traveled or live(d) in Paris or, I am sure in other towns and cities you live in or visit, do you have a favorite cafe to suggest?