Cafe culture

Spotted round the side of St Sulpice. Is it a swan?

I remember the first time we came to Paris. Like the Americans yesterday, we thought everyone was rude and unpleasant. I’m pretty sure we’re used to that now because we love Paris.

But sometimes, like this morning, I’ll sit in a Paris cafe, sipping my grande cafe creme and watch as confused tourists, disgruntled and dismayed, leave, having waited longer than they think reasonable.

The thing we have learnt is that time moves differently in Paris. If you want to be served quickly and efficiently and be out in ten minutes then you don’t want to visit a Parisian cafe. Try Starbucks.

Personally, we think it’s one of the best things, that you leave the hectic world outside once you enter. It is guaranteed that you are there for an hour minimum and you may not be served for 15 minutes. In fact, no-one may even notice you.

Today I watched a man wait by the door, eagerly trying to catch the eye of the waiter in order to ask for a table. He stood in a hat (very similar to mine) and a big ruffly moustache which seemed to bristle with disappointment the longer he was ignored.

I felt very sorry for him. He should have just sat down. While the place was a bit crowded, there were plenty of seats he could have sat on. But he just stood and, gradually fumed. And he eventually gave up.

As he left the cafe, he collected a woman who had been waiting, patiently, outside. He went striding up the road, unhappy and angry. The woman (I assume it was his wife) walked miserably behind him.

The other people who left unsatisfied was a group of four – two women and two kids. They entered all happy and ready to enjoy a Parisian breakfast and sat themselves down at a big round table in front of us. It was all going to be such a wonderful start to their day. They eventually left because no-one took the slightest bit of notice of them.

Mirinda thought it might be that Parisians just ignore tourists. I said we looked exactly like tourists and yet they served us. No, I think it’s because people don’t understand the cafe culture of Paris.

So, we had a jolly good sleep in then wandered slowly down to a collection of cafes, choosing the one we thought looked the nicest (ignoring the young guys drinking beer at 10am outside) and went in.

Mirinda managed to catch the eye of the waiter, saying we were two and he basically made a gesture meaning we could sit where ever we wanted. Which we did. It was then quite a long wait for the waitress to ask what we wanted to order. But we didn’t mind. We had all the time in the world and we were out of the rain. Perfect, if you ask me.

Owing to our Versailles feet, we decided not to stray too far from the hotel today. Apparently having sore feet means visiting a department store which is celebrating its 160th anniversary (Bon Marche, Rive Gauche, to be precise).

We wandered all over, reflecting that it was very similar to every department store we’ve ever been in all over the world. Still…

We also visited St Sulpice, a church which I thought we’d already visited. It didn’t look familiar and it had a wonderful fountain out the front. Mirinda took this photo of me in front of the fountain. I particularly like the way the water looks like it’s in sheets of glass.

Gaz in Paris

For lunch we visited a typical Paris brasserie type restaurant where the customers are squeezed in so tight, it’s impossible to go to the toilet once you’re in your seat.

(A bit of advice to anyone going to eat in a Paris brasserie at lunchtime on a wet Saturday – go to the toilet BEFORE you sit down.)

The Metro, near the Metro

Lunch was lovely. I had eggs Benedict and Mirinda had a very colourful and elaborate aubergine and goat’s cheese on toast. They were both very nice. Actually, this is what Mirinda had. We couldn’t work out what the green striped stuff was but it was very nice and a bit sweet.

Mirinda’s toasted sandwich

The day was, generally, a bit easy going and saw us heading to the movies at 5pm. After due deliberation over the very handy Pariscope (a weekly listing of everything that’s on in Paris) we decided to see Paperboy.

Paperboy is brilliantly acted, well directed, annoyingly photographed and I wouldn’t recommend it to people who go to the cinema to just be entertained. It’s hard going. I loved it; Mirinda not so keen.

The worst thing, though, was the queue before the movie. The cinema isn’t big enough to hold the audience before the movie so we had to queue outside, in the rain. This would have been fine if it hadn’t been for the obnoxious Americans in front of me in the queue, one of whom decided it was perfectly reasonable to light up and smoke a cigarette.

Now, I don’t really care if someone wants to smoke. It’s entirely their business and perfectly legal. However, when these people are completely inconsiderate then I have a problem with it.

They were a couple. She wasn’t smoking. He could have gone over to the side of the road while he had his fag then returned to his place in the queue. Grrrrrrr. Bloody tourists.

Ignoring the rude people before the film, we figured we deserved a street side crepe for dinner – ham and cheese – then a short stroll back to the hotel for an early night. Worked a treat.

At the Metro restaurant

A lovely lazy day. We love Paris.

This entry was posted in Gary's Posts, Paris 2012 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cafe culture

  1. flip100 mum says:

    The first photo looks like one of the swans from Swan Lake taking a lunch break during rehearsals and your photo LOOK out its about to jump!!! very nice one of Mirinda and her toasty looked yummy.
    love mum

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