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Parisian café    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Parisian cafés serve as a function of social and culinary life of the Paris. They have been around for centuries in one form or another, the oldest one still in operation is "Café Procope" on Rue Buci, since 1686.

Paris cafés are the meeting place, the neighborhood hub, the conversation matrix, the rendez-vous spot, the networking source, a place to relax or to refuel, the social and political pulse of the city.

The café business sometimes doubles as a “bureau de tabac”, a sidekick tobacco shop that can sell you everything from metro tickets to prepaid phone cards.

Typical Paris cafés are not “coffee shops”. They generally come with a complete kitchen offering a restaurant menu with meals for any time of the day, a full bar and even a wine selection.

Paris cafés crystallize the quintessential Parisian way of sitting undisturbed for a couple of hours, delightfully watching the world go by. Some of the most recognizable Paris cafés include Café de la Paix, Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, Le Fouquet’s, Le Deauville, as well as a new wave represented by Café Beaubourg, Drugstore Publicis and many more.

Cafe de Flora

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See other photo on Cafe De Flore


Café de Flore

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Café Marly

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Café des Deux Magots

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Cafe Charbon

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Le Marceau - +33 1 47 20 01 95 

Brasserie Lipp

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Giorgio Armani France - +33 1 45 48 62 15 - 

De la Ville Café +33 1 48 24 48 09 - 


The perfect lunch spot in Paris? For David Sedaris, it's a food court of course


From Saturday's Globe and mail

July 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM EDT

David Sedaris isn't big on cafes or museums. But he knows his way around Paris flea markets: 'You want to follow the rich people and keep following them.'

In the decade David Sedaris has lived in Paris, he has brought the City of Light to life in his own irreverent way. The American writer was named humourist of the year by Time magazine when Me Talk Pretty One Day — a collection of essays, many dealing with his escape to Paris and Normandy — was published in 2001. His just-released collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, currently climbing the bestseller lists, also offers his own take of the fabled city. This interview is part of an ongoing series on people inspired by place.

So many of us have romantic ideas about living in Paris. Does being there ever feel like a dream to you?

You know, there's a fellow named Adam Gopnik who wrote a book called Paris to the Moon. There's a section where he's talking about crossing the Pont Neuf, I think, at sunset on a winter's evening. And he talks about how the beauty of it just absolutely stops him and stops his heart. I remember when I read that it made me cry. I copied it down in my diary because it was the perfect description of that feeling and of that time of day. And Paris is so beautiful that, even after 10 years, I stop sometimes and I am just overwhelmed.

You have a hilarious story in your new book about tourists arguing outside your window.You see that a lot in Paris, because it's exhausting to travel around with somebody and it's so fraught. Hugh and I just got back from Brazil. He has this really irritating habit of walking and reading at the same time, but if I say anything about it, then he's going to get mad — and then I have no idea where we are, so if he storms off, I'm just left. That's what our travel arguments are about. But in my neighbourhood in Paris, the streets are so maze-like, people are hungry and they're tired and you often hear, "Oh, for Pete's sake. Why don't you just ask somebody?" Or someone claimed that they could speak French. But it turns out that when they said they could speak French, they meant that they took Spanish for a year in high school.

You live on the Left Bank.

Yeah, in the sixth. This just seemed like the best apartment. All I do is go to the movies — and if I fell down my stairs, I'd be at the movies. I'd say that within a three-block radius of my apartment there are five theatres.

Are there other places, besides the movies, where you hang out in Paris?


You don't go to cafés?

Oh, God, no. You know where I go? I go to food courts. As much as I hate them, they feel comforting to me. There's this food court in this hideous mall underneath the Louvre, and when someone comes to town and says, "Let's go out for lunch," I say, "I've got the perfect place."

Visitors must love that: They come to Paris and you take them to a food court.

You know, when you live in Paris people always say, "Oh, tell us some secret place." And all the things I love about France are not people's ideas of France.

There's one place that I like to take people that I think is charming and surprising: the puppet show at the Luxembourg Gardens. Even if you don't speak French. The puppet theatre has been there forever and the sets are beautiful and it's Guignol — a very violent, Chinese-looking puppet who just throws himself into The Three Little Pigs or whatever story you've got going. Guignol just comes and takes over. It really is charming and the children are incredibly excited and they chant Guignol's name. You buy your ticket and you wait for your number to be called and when you go in, you tip the person who shows you to your seat. Then there's 10 minutes of puppet show and then intermission and they sell ice cream.

Other than that, my Paris is Picard, which is a frozen-food store. Everything in the store is frozen except spaghetti and ice cream cones. They have a special method for freezing. They have meat and fish, and they have TV dinners. They've got all kinds of vegetables and pie crusts. People think it's horrible, but I swear to God, every French person goes to Picard. The American going to Paris thinks, "Oh, let's go to the organic market" — and see other Americans. The French people are at Picard buying frozen food, believe me. That's where they are.

So I take them there and I take them to the Monoprix, a supermarket that sells clothes and stuff too. And to the movies, where we see an American movie.

That's your tour of Paris?

Yeah, and they all say, "We can do this at home." And I think, "Yeah, but you're not home." It doesn't fit in with their idea of what Paris is supposed to be. But all of that stuff is quintessentially French.

What about flea markets — you go there, don't you?

Yeah, I do. There are all these special flea markets that pop up around town.

Is the skeleton you write about the best thing you ever bought at a flea market?

Hmmm. The skeleton is really good. I got this Danish rocking chair at the flea market. If I could buy 10 of them, I sure would. It was a pretty extraordinary piece of furniture, I thought. And I've got some really good paintings. Twice a year, there's this flea market called the Marché du Jambon. It's a ham market and a big antiques show. Antiques and ham. I try to go there.

For the antiques or the ham?

Both. And the one at Clignancourt. I really have to say there's something wrong with you if you can't find something you want at Clignancourt. Maybe you can't afford it, but there's something wrong with you if you can't find something you want. It's broken into different territories and what I always tell people is to get off the subway at Porte de Clignancourt and follow the rich people. Do not follow the poor people. Do not. Every woman I know has had her pocket picked there. A friend of mine who works as a tour guide was knocked to the ground and kicked. You want to follow the rich people and keep following them. There's a little Kasbah section and most people stop there. They don't know that if you go on, there are territories upon territories. It just gets better the farther into it you get. It's huge.

A lot of people think of Paris as a great place to shop.

It is. I absolutely love to shop. I cannot think of anyone who loves it more than me. Whenever people come to Paris, my first question is "Who do you need to buy presents for?" When they say nobody, I just write them off. Even if Christmas is nine months off, I mean come on, you're going to go home, you're going to buy Christmas presents on Christmas Eve at Sears when you were in Paris nine months earlier and you didn't buy anything? If somebody wants to go to museums, I can't help them. But if somebody comes to Paris and wants to go shopping, I think I'm actually a really good person to know.

What's special about shopping in Paris for you?

It's like the flea market: There's something wrong with you if you can't find something you like. I don't care if it's clothes or paintings. I don't care if it's kitchenware. You can go to this place on the Right Bank called A. Simon and you can buy copper pots. When I go back to New York or to London, there are so many chain places, and in Paris there are still so many shops where there's just one of them. Paris is loaded with places like that.

What do you think is the most common misperception about Paris?

I think that has to do with rudeness. I think people don't understand that there are a number of things that are said and that have to be done in order for anything to start. Sometimes I'll see Americans in a store in my neighbourhood and they've gone right to the front — they don't understand that there's a line. Maybe they just weren't paying enough attention. "I want that in the window!" They don't understand that you begin by saying hello, and you don't just say hello. You say, "Hello ma'am," or "Hello, sir." You have to do that in Paris. You have to say "madame" or "monsieur." You have to remind them what sex they are. There are these pleasantries that have to be exchanged. It's like the American South that way.

I always think it's funny when people say, "Well, they said, 'Hello, how are you?' but they didn't mean it.'" Aren't you an adult? Nobody means it. You just do it. It's all part of the conversation. It's a prelude and it has to be done. But so many people who think that the French are horrible just don't acknowledge that part of it. They just want to skip straight to the transaction part. There are some people who can be pretty unpleasant, but no more than anywhere else.

Parisians are known for leaving town in August. Do you?

Yes. But there was an August I was in town and it was actually sort of wonderful. But not if you're on vacation — August in Paris feels like Sunday.

David Sedaris Paris primer

David Sedaris grew up in Raleigh, N.C., but has lived in Paris for the past 10 years. The 51-year-old is the author of seven books and the co-author of several plays and has three CDs of his work (one of which was nominated for a Grammy). He also contributes regularly to The New Yorker and This American Life on NPR.


There's a café called La Croix Rouge [in the 6e]. Get a Croque Madame — it's made on pain Poilâne and it's just a really good croque.


I always liked the 15th because everybody else hates it — they think it's really ugly. It's just super-normal, it's a lot of new buildings.


Stitches. You'd be amazed at how good the health care is. The last time I went to the hospital, I just walked in the front door — two minutes later, I was in a private room on a Demerol drip. They didn't even ask my name. Or mayonnaise in a tube: That's always a good little thing to bring back to people.

Deluge of fine wine dismays the French

Jason Burke in Paris
Sunday September 17, 2006
It is the ultimate irony. For the wine growers of Bordeaux, already suffering a financial crisis, the season has been too good. Though the quality appears to offer hope of salvation, the quantity of the 2006 vintage is causing problems.

This week the great wine fairs of France will open their doors and instead of being saved by huge profits on what experts say may be a vintage to rival that of last year - said to be the best for a century - winegrowers are likely to see prices collapse even further. 'Whatever we seem to do we get it in the neck,' said Mathieu Barbier, a Bordeaux-based winegrower. 'All the climatic conditions have been perfect and the grapes are magnificent... but the harvest is so large that prices are just going to dive again.'

Paris Breakfast Blog

Recommended by Paris Breakfasts blogger; I stopped at a sweet little vegan cafe, La Cafetiere Verte,

From: parisfind1

The Foods of France

By James Mellgren

JULY 01, 2004 -- "I eat and drink everything in France and it's never made me ill, which is more than
I can say for Florida…"

-- Jim Harrison

If you pay attention and converse with the right people, you might detect a bone of contention between France and Italy over who really invented food. Or perhaps more accurately, who gave the world food that was worth sitting down to at a civilized table, musing over, arguing about, and ultimately, eating. Much has been written about the young Italian princess Catherine de' Medici who, upon being married off to Henry, the future king of France, brought with her to the French court her cooks, pastry chefs, ice cream makers, all manner of fruits and vegetables unknown to the French at the time, and even the fork which the Italians in turn had received from the remnants of the Byzantine Empire. The debate continues over which country was responsible for things like crème brûlée and mayonnaise (even the Spanish join the fray on this issue), not to mention the concept of eating meals in courses and drinking wine from crystal goblets, all things one takes for granted today in France, and indeed, most of the world. Going back even further, the Romans spread the art of cheesemaking, winemaking, and baking throughout the known world, including France. As interesting as all of this is, it doesn't begin to address the overwhelming influence of French gastronomy over every conceivable corner of the planet, including our own. No matter the genesis of these foods, French food is the great Mother cuisine of Western civilization, just as Chinese food influenced and shaped the rest of Asia. Today, Paris remains the Mecca for foodies everywhere, and for most of us, the mere mention of the city of lights evokes a flood of gastronomic memories as strongly as Proust's madeleine. We must ask the question then -- "Is France still the source of culinary inspiration that it was throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?" Gastronomically speaking, does France still count? We feel that the answer is overwhelmingly "Yes" and we'll explore some of the reasons why.

La Gastronomie Française
"French Cooking is a monument in a permanent state of renovation," say Philip and Mary Hyman in The Oxford Companion to Food. This seems to be a perfect description of the cuisine in France over the past 20 or 30 years as international influences (including ours) have made their presence felt in French eating habits, food production, and retailing. It's true that the industrialization of food production is just as prevalent in France as it is in the rest of the world, sometimes for the good, sometimes not. But what of the handcrafted artisanal foods that France is justly famous for?
In the late 1980's when Patricia Wells published The Food Lover's Guide to France, she posed two questions, "How, in this homogenized world, has France managed to retain its undisputed role as the maker, the shaper, the ruler of Western cuisine? Others challenge it -- Italy notably has a joyous gastronomic tradition and there are remarkable tables in that sensuous country. And elements of American cooking are emerging in many noteworthy ways. But France's cuisine remains the standard by which all others are measured, to which all others are compared."
"The second question is, can all this continue? Already, in the decade or so I have been traveling and living in France, I have seen anonymous chain supermarkets squeeze out small vendors whose produce was fresher and far more attractive. I have watched the trend develop for cheeses whose taste has nothing over Velveeta, and I have mourned as neighborhood traiteurs and charcuteries disappeared in favor of trendy fast-food eateries."
A few years ago, it seemed that while America's artisanal foods were on the rise, the culinary scene in France was on the decline. The rapidly emerging fast-food industry, advances in food technology, and the unwillingness of young people to carry on certain food traditions had eroded this renowned base of handmade traditional foods. In addition, many restaurants in Paris, with one eye toward American and Japanese tourist dollars and the other on the Michelin guide, began serving faux versions of the classic French repertoire, certain that the traveling hoards wouldn't know the difference. Happily, a culinary movement seems to be fomenting and France is reinventing itself. Not content to allow their great gastronomic tradition to falter or worse, take a back seat to anyone else, French chefs, retailers, and artisans have been rediscovering the glories of French cuisine. It can be witnessed in the hand-harvested sea salt, meticulously crafted cheeses, wine vinegars made in the traditional Orleans method, preserves, sauces, mustards, cured meats, confections, and baked goods, wine, and spirits.
Of course, many of these foods hadn't gone anywhere and have been manufactured uninterrupted for centuries, kept alive because of French adherence to quality and freshness. One seeks out and pays more for a poulet de Bresse (the incomparable chickens raised between the Rhône and the Alps) because they taste better. To most French cooks and shoppers, this is a no-brainer, but as the giant superstores and industrial poultry factories squeeze out the small farmers, it is harder for these producers to compete, even in France. Nevertheless, chickens in France still taste like chicken, something that is increasingly difficult to say here, and one encounters more raw-milk cheeses than pasteurized ones in the marketplace.

Fromages, Toujour Fromages
The French didn't invent cheese, but when it comes to this most ancient and perfect food, no other country on Earth can lay claim to such a vast array of unique and delicious examples of what has been called milk's great leap to immortality. Start with the incredibly floral and herbaceous chèvre, the diversity of which our country has only recently begun to emulate. To taste a selection of raw-milk goat cheeses like Pouligny-Saint-Pierre, Selles-sur-Cher, Valençay, Crottin de Chavignol, and Chabichou du Poitou is to understand what a seminal experience these cheeses can be. Consider the rich legacy, imitated the world over, of the family of soft-ripened, bloomy rind cheeses such as Camembert and Brie, arguably France's most famous cheeses. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then French cheesemakers should be blushing. Versions of these two cheeses are made virtually everywhere that cheese is made, often with disappointing results. Some French manufacturers of soft-ripened cheeses have set up shop in the United States, notably in Wisconsin, in order to meet the demand for the cheeses here and to control the quality. The lush grass of Wisconsin is similar enough to that of certain areas of France that very fine examples are made there.
The above-mentioned cheeses are perhaps the best known, but the list doesn't even begin to encompass the myriad collection of cheeses, hard and soft, washed rind and blue, from the milk of cows, sheep, and goats that comprise the French lexicon of cheeses. The French have also led the way in guaranteeing authenticity, protecting the names and regional references, as well as the methods of production that distinguish many of the great cheeses. Much of this categorizing originally comes from the world of French wine, as does the often-elusive concept of terroir, or the qualitative influence of the soil, the climate, other geographical distinctions, and the hand of the producer on the ultimate product. While we don't have the centuries of tradition as the French do, our cheesemakers and vintners have nonetheless employed this concept in order to help distinguish our own food products. We'll certainly be seeing and hearing more of this from France, other countries throughout the European Community, and the United States as producers seek to protect traditional foods from the onslaught of industrialization and globalization.

Selling in French
Despite the popularity and familiarity of Italian food, French cooking is still the cornerstone of a chef's training, the techniques of which are employed in virtually every kind of cooking today, even by those who don't know they are using French techniques. Additionally, French products are central to the specialty food business. Imagine, for example, a cheese case with no Beaufort, no Pyrenees sheep's milk cheeses, no Comté, and no Roquefort, easily one of the most widely known blue cheeses of which France has so many. Other essentials include mustard from Dijon, foie gras and truffles from the Périgord, nut oils from Provence, and vinegars from all over.
Over the last couple of years at the SIAL and Anuga trade shows in Europe, another trend has emerged. The great canon of classic French sauces and dishes are being packaged to eat at home, using new technology that captures the dishes' essence and freshness. In addition, the manufacturers are working with classically trained chefs who are using pristine, often organic ingredients to make up the foods. All that is needed to enjoy a superb French meal at home is to heat and serve. It is very likely that we'll be seeing a lot of these ready-to-eat meals imported into the U.S.
French culture is rife with images for promotion, from classic cookbooks to cinema to literature and music, images that immediately evoke France. Who, for example, could hear the voice of Edith Piaf, the "little sparrow," and not think of France. The same is true of the films of Marcel Pagnol, whose character Panisse inspired Alice Waters to name her seminal California restaurant that itself owes so much to French cooking and culture. And of course, there are the indelible architectural icons, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame (to name just two), that are instantly recognizable to any American. Failing all that, we have our own American writers like Julia Child, Patricia Wells, and Richard Olney who have so lovingly written of France and her food traditions.
France's reputation suffered in the past couple of years here in America and that is truly unfortunate for a country that has been such a good friend and ally for the entire history of our country, a history I hasten to add that began when France had already been in existence for a millennia. French culture and traditions are deeply etched into our food, our cooking, our language, our fashion trends, and our arts, not to mention our lingerie. It's time to reexplore the glories of the French table, and what it has meant to our own. When you look around and take note of all the French products you no doubt have on your shelves, you'll agree that the time is right for a French promotion. So put the freedom fryer on the back burner (or better yet, throw it out altogether) and bring on the French fries. This Bastille Day, raise a toast to our bon amies across the water, hoist a French flag (also red, white, and blue lest we forget) and slice off a piece of foie gras (that is before California makes it illegal!) and say salut to the bon gout of French food.

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