Penny here from Travellati Tours. In my last post, I described a conversation I had with my friend François about the nature of the coffee shop in America versus the café in Paris. I mulled over the idea and came up with some important points for you to know about the Parisian café:
1. A Parisian café is so much more than a coffee shop. It is a restaurant and a bar, a stop in the morning and the place to gossip after work. It is where revolutions are planned and masterpieces written. The café is the social fabric of French society.
2. Many patrons stand at the bar to drink their espresso because it is cheaper than taking a table – often by a Euro or more. Beware to the guileless tourist who takes his espresso from the bar and then sits down at a table with it!
3. Learn the language of coffee. In France, un café, un café express, or un express, is an espresso. That's what the French drink, so that's what the simple word "café" refers to. If you like the taste but not the strength of espresso, order un café allongé and you'll get an espresso in a large cup which you can dilute with hot water. For something like American coffee, you can simply ask for un café américain. It’s not exactly the same, but close. If you also want milk, add avec du lait. They will give it to you on the side. This is not the same as un café au lait, which is only drunk by the French at breakfast and contains hot milk. Sugar is easy – it’s always provided.
4. The Parisian café has a long history beginning with the opening of Café Procope in 1686 in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The literary class frequented the café, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Balzac, and Hugo. Café Procope exists to this day.
5. The café is a place to see and to be seen. The New York Times writer and author Elaine Sciolino writes, "The French imbue everything they do with a deep affection for sensuality, subtlety, mystery and play." This is true of the café so don’t wear your yoga pants to coffee.
Enjoy an espresso with us in Paris. Join us for our Papa’s Paris Tour slated for June 17-25, 2017, by November 30 and save $1,400. You will thank yourself!