A Friday. In September. In Paris.
The morning has been a bit cool, but by noon, the warmth of the sun beckons those winding down from a busy week to search for an inviting outdoor “resto” to partake in “le dejeuner”| lunch.
I am embarking the following week in some French courses (which I take from time to time) and after finding the location of the school, decide to treat myself to lunch in the same area. So I stroll down the street to a restaurant called Café Le Brebant on 32 Rue Poissonnière.
Eating Alone In Paris
At home I would not be tempted to linger over a meal by myself, especially elbow-to-elbow with so many others, but in Paris, I am comfortable doing so. I also appreciate that as a woman and a party of one, I am escorted to a table of my choosing on the terrace facing the sidewalk and the street.
If you can sit or stand still in Paris for a little while, all aspects of Parisian life unfold before you. So once the waitress takes my order, I do just that. People watch.
I appear to be the only observer of the scene as patrons are laser-focussed on each other, oblivious to those around them. This way they forget they are sitting so close together I guess. It’s intense though as people engage, some listening intently. Others discuss, gesticulate and even argue.
Across from me, are four French men, clearly good friends who every few minutes erupt into boisterous laughter. Their good mood is infectious. The wine is flowing and they have ordered pasta dishes to start along with a large plate of plump oysters as their appetizers. With many more courses to come.
Just as my “salade de crevettes”| shrimp salad arrives along with crispy French bread, there is a commotion on the street. Then the sound of screeching tires, an impact of some sort and a car speeding away.
It appears that a cyclist has been clipped by a vehicle that did not stop to investigate. The traffic comes to a dead stop as people from the sidewalks rush to help the man. Not just one or two but dozens of people. Horns blare, the level of voices rise as traffic and pedestrians try to circumvent the area.
In the restaurant however, nobody moves. They look over. But only for a moment. No one appears the slightest bit fazed by the sudden activity or the ubiquitous two-toned sirens as the Parisian police cars add to the melee, along with the arrival of the ambulance. They are already back to their conversations and debates savouring a long lunch.
(The man, I learn, was apparently fine. I HAD to know!)
An hour later, I am still there too, sipping a dark expresso with nothing much on my mind. Well, I guess I am reflecting that moments that seem so ordinary in my every day life take on an elevated perspective here.
In Paris, my senses seem to be on overdrive even with the most commonplace activities, such as walking down the street, looking skyward at the roof tops and yes enjoying a leisurely lunch outdoors on a Friday afternoon. There is just so much to take in!
Have you dined alone in Paris? Tell us about your experience!
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