Friday, August 16, 2013

PARIS - The Cafe Pages

A peek into four different cafes and four different experiences.


La Pause Beaubourg
Streetside, under the striped awning



La Pause Beaubourg, Paris Cafe by DG Hudson


Leftovers of Love

At Le Pause Beaubourg, we witnessed the emotional aftermath of a romantic breakup when a guy in his twenties had a meltdown right in front of us, live and just across the aisle. He maintained a running one-sided conversation/rant with his sympathetic friend. He, the rejected victim of his love, was besotted with the unfairness in life. His own lack of restraint and the response from the staff at the restaurant rather surprised us. He waved his hands about, put his head in his hands, and he couldn't sit still. He cared little for the other diners. His heart was broken. Understandable.

In most circumstances, or in many cities, the poor lover would have been hustled out. But in this cafe, no one complained and no one was bothered. Instead, a few of the staff patted the 'poor guy' on the shoulders as they went about their work. Perhaps on another day, this 'poor romantic' worked in this cafe.

There must be a story in this scene, somewhere. And a villain. . .

Observation: Love conquers all, but it exacts its cost along the way.


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Cafe Louis Phillippe
by the Seine River


Cafe Louis Phillippe, Rainy Night Paris, by DG Hudson


Camaraderie

Facing the Ile Saint-Louis, le Cafe Louis-Phillippe sits in the same square as the Hotel de Ville, a space it has occupied since 1810. Like many others walking by the Seine River, we wanted French cafe cooking and shelter from the rain. The golden glow of this restaurant drew us in.

Paris rain found us sitting under a full-sided tent style tarp next to a group of mostly male office workers. 'Undercover' sidewalk eating makes sense in Paris and we stayed dry and cozy. Good service, good wine and helpful, friendly staff. Cafe Louis-Phillippe is situated in an area popular with urbanites as well as tourists. After dessert, the rain had stopped, leaving a smell of fresh streets and dampness.

Observation: The love of good food and good company is universal. Rain doesn't stop that.

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Cafe des Arts et Metiers
Latin Quarter


Cafe des Arts et Metiers, Latin Quarter by DG Hudson

What's going on?

In the Cafe des Arts et Metiers, one young waiter with a friendly attitude, kept spilling things on a young couple a few tables away from us. Their backpacks made them appear to be students. They seemed to be talking earnestly or arguing. . .was this sensitivity to a moment, or did the waiter not like what the young man was saying to the young girl? The spill seemed to be more on the guy's side of the table when it happened. . . Interesting to note that the waiter had impeccable touch when he waited our table, but I later saw him observing the couple at the table.

Observation: In Paris, never underestimate the value of having the waiter on 'your side'.

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Le Voltaire Restaurant


Le Voltaire Restaurant, Paris, by DG Hudson



Resistance is Futile

As we sat waiting, we watched Madame Hostess establish her claim on the cafe turf. She nodded to us and seated us in a table perfect for observation and facing the door. In came a young woman, likely a tourist by her abrupt insistence that she be served only wine, no food. The hostess or proprietor told her in no uncertain terms that this was a Restaurant! Restaurant! and not a place to just drink. She sent her away.

Then a woman-of-a-certain-age came in with her shopping bags, plopped them on a tabletop and sat down. Our efficient hostess watched, then approached, told her to remove her bags and wait to be seated. A bit of feminine huffiness ensued. After an apology by said customer, Madame Hostess let her stay.

Now, Madame came to our table to take our order. We ordered the German beer that she recommended, and a quiche. She liked our choices, even smiled at us, as we ordered in our basic French. Guess we passed muster. The 'old French bistro' style decor survives in this cafe and adds to its attraction.

Observation: In an area with high tourist traffic, there may be more sensitivity to tourists' behavior. Be aware.

***

These 'Cafe Pages' are based on true events observed in Paris. Interesting people do catch my attention.

Are you an observer? Do you try to be aware of your surroundings? Sometimes these events or scenes unfold in front of us like a play. I'm referring to those incidents which are not life-threatening. Have you had a similar experience?

Please share in the comments. Thanks for stopping by! 

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References:

Check the Paris Posts tab at the top of the blog for more Paris photos and Paris - Bistros and Sidewalk Cafés of Interest for more information on the bistros.

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Update: Oct.2013

42 comments:

  1. I liked these little vignettes. And, yes, always have the waiter on your side.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Thanks Shannon! That's especially true in Paris.

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  2. Nice little slices of life. Perhaps that guy had been rude to the waiter before you came in. I'm always amazed by people who are rude to people who are preparing their food. Don't they realize how vulnerable that makes them?

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    1. Evidently not. In Paris, it makes much more sense.

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  3. Oh, i loved this! So delightful - I feel myself in Paris. I identified with Resistance is Futile - Frenchwomen can be rather intimidating, yet completely charming when they're on your side ;)

    I'm linking to this on my post today, as I do not have an inspiration nearly as interesting today! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, Jenna! I see most Frenchwomen as strong personalities, and I do like that.

      When I sought help in the BHV and was persistent, I gained the help of the sales person. Initially, she didn't want to bother with my basic French. But, I kept at it politely and won her over. . .

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  4. Love may conquer all -- but often the victories are bloody. The distraught young man is lucky that the hostess of your last cafe was not present, right?

    Each cafe is a tiny world with its own rules and its own dictators and survivors. Loved this post. :-)

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    1. Good point, Roland! Of course, his being French and in love, may have gained Madame Hostess' pity.

      I love the comment about each cafe being a tiny world (unlike Meilori's which is endless). So very true. Glad you liked it, Roland.

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  5. You always want the waiter on your side or you might end up with unsavory things in your food.
    The attitude of those living in Paris and the attitude of American tourists is a recipe for disaster.

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    1. You're so right, Alex! I just want to enjoy the food, not have a confrontation or annoy the people serving me.

      Everyone can have a bad day now and then, but some make a career of it.

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  6. I don't think I'm much of an observer of people. But give me some animals or some nature and I can sit for hours. You made me want to go to Paris though. One European city I missed while I lived there.

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    1. If I've made you want to visit Paris, then I've succeeded in showing my passion for this city, and the purpose of this posts and others.

      I like animals too, and feel at peace around them.

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  7. Yes, I'm definitely an observer. A people-watcher. (Much easier to pull off when one is wearing sunglasses!)

    I've heard so many people say the French are rude to tourists, but I suspect that when that's the case, the tourists were first to act rude and even worse, entitled. Surely, a good attitude, respect, and manners translates across any language barrier.

    Thanks for the cool post. Very enjoyable!

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    1. You said it well, Susan, a good attitude, respect, and manners should carry us through and it did for us. Only encountered one rude waiter. He only cut into his tip by being that way.

      In fact, the French I met seemed to appreciate the effort of our trying to converse in their language.

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  8. Eating outside is always a treat. It's open and allows for more people watching.

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    1. There were so many to choose from, too. Must be the fresh air.

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  9. I think Roland summed up your magnificent post by saying, 'Each cafe is a tiny world with its own rules and its own dictators and survivors.'

    I am a quiet observer, with the attitude 'live and let live'. We are all different after all and for that reason, we should not judge.

    Oh, and always keep the waiter on your side :)

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    1. Yes, Wendy, I liked that description of the cafe worlds, thanks to Roland. They called it cafe society, after all. What's okay in one world may not be in another.

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  10. I am generally an observer. If I were in Paris I'd probably never stop gaping at people. And I don't speak French, so I'd probably offend someone with my rude staring, be unable to explain, cause a scene, and get thrown out of the cafe. :P

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    1. What a way to extrapolate, LG. Just say pardon-moi, and merci. As long as you know how to say a few words you can bluff it.

      Do you think one of your heroines would let language stop her?

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  11. These are beautiful scenes. Stories in the making. The waiter in #3 sounds like he was in love with the girl.

    I used to be observant while out and about. I can honestly say since my daughter was born I haven't had the opportunity to eavesdrop.

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    1. It's not really eavesdropping if you don't hear the conversation. It's observing or doing research (in my mind). A writer has to observe people in situations that happen naturally.

      When my kids were younger, I didn't have time to notice such things eiher.

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  12. Sometimes the best material comes from real life, doesn't it? My wife and I like to observe our surroundings and the "characters" that interact with each other. I'm sure Paris has plenty!

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    1. Probably any city does, Milo. Just like truth can be stranger than fiction.

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  13. Hi DG - seems like your powers of observation are pretty good - but fascinating to read .. and so very different as you mention.

    Great stories or thoughts here .. lots to draw on - and the style of the cafes too .. sometimes I sit and watch, but quite often I let my brain have some space! though as here that can be rudely interrupted ..

    Fun to read - cheers Hilary

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    1. These are experiences I'll never forget, little moments of Paris.

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  14. how fascinating!!!! and Paris in the rain, what could be more romantic?!!

    i agree with Anne. sounds like the waiter at least knew the girl, perhaps loved her.

    loved reading this :)

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    1. I like to think that was the case, too, since I saw the look of that waiter, when he was watching them. We were in the Latin Quarter.

      Paris is romantic in rain or shine.

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  15. I like these little vignettes. You have keen observation skills. I'm a watcher, too, and am always trying to figure out the "story" at each table.
    Tina @ Life is Good

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    1. Thanks, glad you like them. I do have a few more to come. I started being an observer in art school when they would send us out to sketch people in coffee shops (surreptitiously, that is). There IS a story at each table.

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  16. Lots of passion in Paris! I enjoyed reading your stories and observations. You pictures, as always, are a joy to see. They bring back so many memories!

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    1. Yes, this is after all the city where one will see more people kissing than anywhere else I've been. . .

      (Must be all that perfume the French make - one of my weaknesses - satisfied at the CDG duty free airport shop)

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  17. i never like to come to odds with anyone at a restaurant---if i find it impossible or questionable, then i will exit---but if i stay, i find i can never tip less even if service if awful :)

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    1. Not tipping when the service is lousy is the only way a customer has (other than verbal) to let the waiter and the proprietor know. Rude or inconsiderate service is not acceptable.

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  18. I would've been taking notes at that first restaurant - poor guy :(

    And lucky you partaking of all those French places and their delicious French food and wine! I'm jealous!

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    1. I was mentally doing that, and trying not to let on. The guy having the meltdown never looked around as he was immersed in the moment. His friend had a look on his face that said everyone, 'thanks for being tolerant'.

      I loved being in Paris. It met all my expectations, except for the Metro. I prefer to be above ground.

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  19. The first one sounds a bit like Middle Eastern (and Latin) countries. The people are far more emotional and melodramatic than we're used to. There was something lovely about the description and pic of Cafe Louis Phillipe. I think I'd be most comfortable there.
    Thanks so much for voting in my poll. :-)

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    1. We went to Cafe Louis Phillipe twice. I'd recommend it.

      I don't mind the personal action in cafes. In one, a family was having a birthday party for a young one right next to us. It was quite pleasant watching that one and they sang the happy birthday song, too.

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  20. Intriguing about the spilling waiter. There's a story. And I liked how the staff were sympathetic to the dumped customer lamenting.

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    1. I liked the different personalities the cafes seemed to display, including the clientele.

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  21. These scenarios are much more fastening than watching a kid tug on his mom's sleeve with one hand, wiping his mucous with the other, begging for a Happy Meal at McDonalds.

    Thanks for the fun tour.
    xoRobyn

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    1. I agree, and the food is better too, Rawknrobyn. Good luck searching for the chocolate wine.

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