Not your typical French café. For one thing, there is an upstairs terrace where I am currently stationed with a view of the busy street and the large Rex movie theater across the street. Brown is the color of choice here, with brown awnings and brown cane wicker chairs. The round tables are slick glass-topped maroon with metal edges. I received a packet of sugar cubes with my espresso, as well as a wine glass of water. The ashtray is clear glass, and the inside is sprinkled with a little ash from the past.
This place is huge and mostly empty, but that's not surprising, considering the time of day. The sky has clouded over and the wind is a little cool for my short sleeves. There seem to be a lot of people wheeling things about down below, either carts and dollies for the nearby businesses or else couples pushing around children in strollers. It's fun to watch people from up above; it seems more clandestine. There are a lot of people on the sidewalks, but I think there are more cars on the street (when the lights are green, that is). Every couple of minutes, when the synchronized surrounding stoplights turn to red, the street becomes deserted for a few moments, and there is a comfortable lull in the noise of traffic.
The trees on this block are rather minimalist in terms of branches, and though they are leaved they are not full enough to block anything. They resemble tall, thin people twisting their upper bodies skyward in wonderment at the green clusters that have sprung up on their arms and oversized, gnarled fingers.
It's really amazing that there aren't more motorcycle accidents, the way they careen about through the traffic. I guess motorcycling tends to attract the quick-reflexed.
The people behind me are having an animated conversation, and they burst into loud laughter every few seconds. It's sad that other people's enjoyment can be so annoying at times.
Hmm, the woman I saw a few minutes ago leaning against a nearby lamppost, apparently waiting for someone, has just sat down in front of me with the person she was apparently waiting for. And now they have decided to go back inside the café before ordering anything. Maybe they decided to find a quieter location after realizing the frequency with which unmufflered motorcycles pass by on the street.
42 Bis Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle
Metro: Bonne Nouvelle
Sugar: packet of 2 sugar cubes
Bonus: glass of water
Copyright © 2003 David Sadegh.
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