My Paris Café

Café Gabrielle

Probably one of the things that I love most about Paris is its café culture. It might surprise you to know that in the late 1880’s there were some 42,000 cafés in Paris, whereas now there are a mere 7000. Yet that still means there is almost one on every corner.

When I arrived in Paris recently, I went to a nearby café to wait until my rental apartment was ready. It was lunchtime when the cafés are frantic with activity as business people flock to take advantage of their two-hour break for “le déjeuner!”

I was right off an overnight flight and while my body may have been transported at an alarming speed across a big wide ocean, my brain was still somewhere over Newfoundland, so dragging my bleary self, suitcase in tow, into a cramped and high-spirited environment was a little intimidating.

However, those feelings disappeared when the owner of the café warmly shouted from across the bar, “Mesdames! (I had come to Paris with my closest friend), “Bonjour et bienvenue!” And within seconds, a smiling waiter was by our side leading us to a small round table by the window! Perfect.

See insert of what we ate for our first lunch in Paris! A smoked salmon salad with avocado, and little toasts with melted Gruyère cheese accompanied by an arugula salad topped with jambon de Bayonne, or French prosciutto. 

Très Très Yum.

This began our relationship with Café Gabrielle –  a friendly café/bistro that embraces you, named after the owner’s daughter apparently, located at the corner of Avenue des Villiers and Rue Jouffroy d’Abbans in the 17th arrondissement.

It became ground central for our daily life. We went there for our morning coffee, or lunch just before we tackled more of the sites, and for the occasional dinner when we were too tired to cook or eat out somewhere farther away.

This is what French people do. They have “their café” in their neighbourhood and it is a grounding influence in Parisian life.  It is also the best place for people watching and some days are definitely more interesting than others!

Of course, café culture goes back centuries in France, a setting acting as a living room for its political, social, cultural, and intellectual life. There are the famous cafés such as Le Select, Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots where the likes of Hemingway, Sartre and Picasso hung out, but those have a decidedly tourist feel to them now. And take my word for it, the coffee is usually terrible!

Claiming a café of your own is all part of the Paris experience in my view, where it’s also doesn’t hurt to make friends with one of the waiters.

Some Paris waiters can be aloof and superior but not so with Miquel. We looked forward to seeing Miquel  who always served us with a smile, often stopping to chat for a minute or two when things were slow. Being a waiter is highly valued profession in France and Miquel enjoyed being asked for his opinion while making recommendations about wine and the daily menu!  And we always took his advice!

Do you have a favourite café in Paris?

http://www.cafegabrielleparis.com

 

 

14 Comments

  1. Michelle Woolley on October 21, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Diana – I just love reading your stories! But they do cause me to miss Paris. And the photos are delightful. And yes, it’s true that the French do appreciate when we make the effort parler en français… Au revoir!

    • Diana Bishop on October 21, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Michelle, Thank you so very much for your note. It means a lot to me to hear back from readers and have them give me ideas for further blogs. Hope you will continue to connect! Diana

  2. Gretchen Greene O'Brien on October 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    What a TREAT to read about your adventures in Paris with my cousin Shardie! I look forward to reading the next instalment! Gretchen

    • Diana Bishop on October 21, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks for the comment Gretchen. And yes it is always so much fun travelling to Paris with one’s BF. I will be writing about that in a future blog. Thanks for reading!

  3. Patti Smith on October 21, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    I love your cafe story, Diana – it reminds me of many happy hours spent under the trees in the Tuileries Gardens. So, no, I don’t have a specific cafe I recall fondly, however, the waiters (as you pointed out) were always helpful when I was choosing my afternoon treat. I can still see the merry-go-round and the children laughing while riding their ponies, smell the late summer/early fall air and remember the taste of the tarte au pommes. Looking forward to more of your Paris tales!

    • Diana Bishop on October 21, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      Patti,
      How kind of you to read my blog and send me this note. I really appreciate it. It was as if you were describing my current visit. That’s what I love also about Paris. A lot of it never changes. I took a ride on a carousel just the other day at Montmartre! Look forward to future comments!

  4. Anne Armstrong on October 22, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Diana,

    It was such a pleasure meeting you and having our wonderful chat! I love your blog and can’t wait for the next!! Paris – oui, oui, oui! A la prochaine fois!

    Anne

    • Diana Bishop on October 23, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Anne,
      Thank you so much for this note.. and for subscribing to my blog. Love to hear your experiences in France too! Diana

  5. Keith Gibson on October 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Diana,

    I so enjoy reading about your newest adventure. It is wonderful to learn of your experience in the land you love so. I look forward to hearing about your next experience.

    Sincerely, Keith

    • Diana Bishop on October 29, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Thank you Keith — and I am honoured that you are one of a handful of men (of a certain age) reading my blog! Much appreciated.

  6. Luci on November 2, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    We stsyed in Le Marais. It was a colourful and vibrant neighbourhood. We stayed in a lovely one bed apt 3rd floor walkup. There were several bistros and bakeries and we tried as many as possible. We didnt find s fav one but rach corner seemed to have an interesting offering. Ahhh there was Angelines. It was touristy but an elegant bakery/bistro w quiche, hot chocolate to die for and the pastries!!!

    • Diana Bishop on November 3, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Luci,
      Thank you for your note. I do love Le Marais too. I have stayed there as well and found it an enchanting place. I will be writing about my favourite market there in the coming weeks.

  7. flopping on November 29, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Peⅽulіаr article, totally what I needed.

    • Diana Bishop on November 29, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      I will take that as a compliment Rachele.
      There is a promotion on for New Subscribers to my blog — A new book called DRESS LIKE A PARISIAN! You can register on my website at wwww.womanofacertainageinparis.com
      Thanks for reading and sharing. I welcome your comments! Diana

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