Keeping Up with the Parisian Café

In Paris, the café is sacred ground. This is where you go to get your espresso before work, or sit for hours in the late afternoon at a street side table. This is what Hemingway and the rest of the Lost Generation did, as well as many more after them. It’s peaceful for people watching or catching up with friends.

If you meander for long enough, you’ll notice that cafes are on nearly every street corner in Paris. Some have famous roots, but most are just where locals go. Tourists tend to stop in to Café des Deux Moulins  in the heart of Montmartre for some over priced espresso and crème brulee while they try to pretend that they are Amélie Poulain

But, to be perfectly honest, the espresso is rather bland and the cappuccinos are lacking for me. As much as I love Paris, the coffee scene is not what it is like in the United States. All over the country, specialty coffee shops have popped up with breathtaking designs in the foam and coffee so good you can drink it black. For the longest time, this concept did not exist in Paris. However, there are a few rebels in the City of Lights. These rebels aren’t out to overthrow the government, but introduce the city that is stuck in its ways to some pretty amazing coffee.

These new cafes are sleek, and modern, and trés bobo. Le Dépanneur Pigalle, a restaurant/café near Montmartre, is a perfect example of that. With espresso and food served during the day and a host of wine and liquor (plus a DJ) at night, it’s a hot spot for the young crowd in Paris.

But of course, there is something romantic about the idea of casually smoking a cigarette while reading A Moveable Feast with a cup of café au lait on the table. It’s almost like clinging to this nostalgic past. Paris is good about that, though. Keeping its roots as the modern slowly approaches. Until then, I’ll take that espresso with one sugar and a side of Joyce.