Wow. This place is amazing. I feel as though I'm tucked into a little paradise. Actually, not little at all, this is the largest café/restaurant I've ever been in. I'm in a smaller section in the front, but the main room seems nearly as big as a cathedral without the vaulted ceiling. I'm in a section of nine tables nicely spaced apart and reserved for people who are not necessarily ordering lunch. People like me who want only to drink an espresso and write for about three hours straight. I still have an hour and a half to go.
The main room is all booths interspersed with massive green rectangular columns, or pillars, on the upper parts of which are a variety of images painted by different artists. In contrast, the area I'm in has a couple of nice potted plants; but that's about it. On my table is a little catalog of souvenir products made especially for La Couploe: porcelain, umbrellas, t-shirts, hand-made stationary, all relatively reasonably priced considering this is the only place you can get them.
My table is small, round with a fake wood top edged by a silver ring. The ashtray is glass with an octagonal lip. The espresso cup has the Coupole logo, a nude woman sitting with a stack of books, an artist's palette and a bottle of wine. Everything the Montparnasse artist of old needed to be happy.
I was given a square of La Couploe's own brand of dark chocolate with my coffee and a tube of sugar that has been signed by Jean-Paul Bucher, who apparently owns the place along with some other establishments.
It's very quiet here; all sounds from the street have been blocked out by the noise-proof windows running along the front of the café. A trio of old French men are having a civilized discussion at the table next to me, and an aged red-haired woman at another table is silently flipping through her Madame Figaro magazine. Far off in the distance I hear the clink of dishes in the kitchen. If I concentrate I can hear the subtle whoosh of the air conditioning, like a river that is flowing miles away. On the wall near me is a framed black and white photo of an artist working in his studio.
102, Boulevard du Montparnasse
Phone: 01 43 20 14 20
Sugar: tube of powdered sugar
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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