Café des Arts

August 21, 2002 - 7:00 p.m.

One of the giant metal lights hanging from the ceiling is swinging slightly. It's shaped like a polka-dotted rust-colored evening gown still on the spool with holes where the polka dots should be. Closer to the front of the café is a row of similar lights except fatter and squatter and slightly crumpled, as if they had crashed to the ground at some point and were put back up without getting the dents pounded out first.

The place resembles a diner or an upscale fast food restaurant. The tabletops are bluish asphalt in appearance, and the chair cushions are blue vinyl with a yellow band around the back cushion. There is a variety of ashtrays here; the one on my table is white plastic and has a little picture of a racing car driving straight at me above the word "Roadman," but the bottom half of the word is uniformly missing on each of the four sides.

My espresso came with a packet of sugar cubes and was served to me by a man who is now sweeping out the place, which is relatively empty; a pop soul group of young men is serenading him from the overhead speaker as he goes about his work. Outside, a line of slightly overlapping square white umbrellas offers protection from an increasingly darkening sky.

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Café des Arts
234 bld Raspail
75014 Paris
Metro: Raspail
Phone: 01 43 21 20 56

Price of an espresso: 2 euros
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
Please send your questions or comments to: david@undergroundparis.com