An Ode to the Parisian Cafe Culture
I lived in Paris for two years and I have to admit I was not unhappy to see the back of it when I left. The french are a breed that take some getting used to and in the end I could not hack the hierarchical slow paced work environment where nothing ever really got done. But their eateries? now they are genius. There are few greater pleasures in life than sitting in a the window of a Parisian Cafe or Brasserie and watching the world go by. It is the ultimate people watching experience, somewhat of a national past time. The seats are laid out theatre style facing the pavement giving optimal position for sizing up the passers by. This says a lot about the French way of life: sitting still, drinking coffee and watching other people rush to and from work. There is a lovely cosiness in these places in the winter and a breezy freshness to them in the Summer. The menu fits all your needs throughout the day, croissants and omelettes in the morning, quiche and salad for lunch and Entrecote and frites for dinner. The wine is served by the Pichet or Pot (pronounced PO) and you will always find a Decent Bordeaux on offer at a cheap price. The waiters are male, middle aged, either surly and aloof or insanely personable, but always professional to a T, no college kids making ends meet here.
These establishments are steeped in tradition and very much part of the fabric of Parisian life. Time spent staring out the window of these places should be are an essential part of any trip to Paris, rather than battling through the hoards crowded round the Mona Lisa, I'd advise you plonk yourself down for several hours with a Pichet or two and really experience Paris.