28 February, 2010

Cafe de Flore and Cafe Deux Magots

When we came here in the 1980s, we had decided to see the Louvre. But first we would sit for an hour or two and have a drink at the Cafe Deux Magots and watch the people pass by. With our innate sense of inertia, the people watching won out and the Louvre got left somewhere dangling. However, we loved the waiters racing down the street, the magicians and the mimes along with all the so-called celebrities, of whom I did not recognize a one.

And so in our romantic attachment to reliving a happy experience, we went back to Les Deux Magots. We easily found a seat, not outside with the wind and cold temperatures and huddled smoking bodies, but next to the window inside. Now, of course, there were no magicians, no mimes, no waiters racing down the street with their wine bottles balanced on a tray, just a lot of cold people who had heard that this was the place to be. Or was it? The place to be, I mean.

We did see a man eating pate and he had bread on his plate. Would he spread the pate? Would he cut the bread? And so I stared as I usually do when I find something interesting. He did not cut the bread but tore it into pieces, then he took a piece of pate, put it in his mouth and followed it with a piece of bread. He must be well educated, as is said here, because he knew the etiquette of eating pate and bread.

We also saw what looked like an advertisement being filmed, or maybe it was just a guy who worked for television doing an interview at the cafe. Who knows, but we had fun guessing.

Bored we decided to go to the Cafe de Flore, practically next door, though everyone claims it's across the street, which turns out to be little more than an alley. This was sardine time. The place was packed and Dick was dizzy, so we needed to buy some food. We waited a bit and finally found a place to sit down, where I've said in another blog I had a whiskey and Dick had a sundae with lots of chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. Here, however, people dressed in Valentino and Givenchy were piling in and pushing their way into the inner sanctum. We left about half an hour later and noticed that Le Flore was packed, but Deux Magots was almost empty. I mentioned this to Dick while taking some photos, but by this time he was doing battle with Paris traffic and the conversation was dropped.

Later I picked up a book by Adam Gopnik who discusses this problem at length. Apparently sometime after we had been here in the '80s, Deux Magots lost favor with the IN crowd, whatever and whoever that is. Not only does everyone who is anyone go to Cafe de Flore, but they go inside and upstairs. Because let's face it, why would you sit downstairs with the rabble?

So if this is important to you, and you want to see Julie Roberts or Angeline and Brad, then fight your way to a table upstairs. If, however, you want to watch the people go by, outside on the terrace at either Cafe Deux Magots or Cafe de Flore is the place to be.

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