When I am too wired to sleep in Paris, I slip out of my hotel to follow the labyrinth of cobbled streets to Café Les Editeurs (“The Publishers”). Mannequins stare silently from darkened boutique windows. A man waits for his poodle. A couple stumbles past me arm in arm.
I follow the zigzagging alley to a triangular plaza lined with wicker chairs. I have reached the edge of Saint-Germain-des-Près, a neighborhood littered with bookstores that was once the heart of the city’s publishing industry.
The glow of the art deco lamps coaxes me inside. I take a seat at one of the lipstick-red leather chairs and order a half-dozen oysters and a half carafe of dry white wine much as Hemingway did after completing a rather difficult bout of writing.
My friend, François, first invited me to Les Editeurs “to swallow a coffee.” He wanted to show me the 5,000 books lining the walls given to the café by various publishers. I had met François smoking on the windowsill at a friend’s party. I knew we would be fast friends when, after I had complained to him that I was experiencing a literary dry spell, he suggested I read the humorous (and highly French) novel, The Bathroom, by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.
François recently visited me in New York and became very confused about our café culture. “I ordered an American coffee that took a very long time dripping,” he said perplexed. “And, then they handed it to me in a paper cup!” “Blame the hipsters!” was all I could say. “You do not have cafés,” he said, indignant, “You have additional offices where you pay the price of a coffee to work!” “Have you never been to a Starbucks in Paris, François?” “Of course not,” he told me, haughtily. “It is the place where teenagers get a milk shake in their espresso.”
Next time, I’ll give you a few tips about enjoying French café culture.
In the meantime, sign up for our Papa’s Paris Tour slated for June 17-25, 2017, by November 30 and save $1,400. You will thank yourself!