There are clouds on the weather page of the newspaper but absolutely none in the sky, and so I sit in front of the café, happily in the sun, close to the street corner.
Much has happened, in café terms, since I arrived. Two German couples sat down on my left, and a non-French woman on my right made a call in English on her cell phone and then another call in French. Then a French man joined her, and they both ordered tomato-mozzarella salads. The Germans ordered two Perriers, a café crême and an orange juice. They seemed in good humor initially, the women making a few jokes, and then they all lapsed into an eerie silence for the rest of their stay.
When the Germans left, they were replaced by a sole woman who ordered an orange juice without ice. When she paid the waiter (a great waiter, I've seen him serving at the English philosophy discussions that go on here once a month, and he always has a good sense of humor), he exclaimed with a smile, "A hundred euros! How do you do?" Then he made change for her as if he was actually quite used to such things. The prices are high here (it's the most expensive espresso I've seen in Paris), but that's still a lot of change.
There are more waiters than necessary taking care of the outside, guaranteeing efficient service. The couple on my right have been replaced by a trio of foreigners speaking with a Scandinavian accent. One of the men in the group was resigned to sitting on a backless stool until I offered him the chair I was using to hold my camera bag. A Le Monde newspaper hawker comes by, trying to get peoples attention by exclaiming things like "Palestine liberated! Osama Bin Laden still at the disco!" He gets a few giggles, but no sales.
The tables are small, green with three lines circling around near the edge between the words "Café de Flore" and "PARIS" at the top and "JMB PARIS" at the bottom. The tabletop is edged in brass. The cup and saucer, water glass (the water came with an ice cube), round napkin-type coaster, small bar of chocolate and square packet of powdered sugar all have "Café de Flore" written on them in the same cursive lettering as on the tabletop.
A bus honks, long and loud at a taxi in its way and, finally, the taxi moves on down the boulevard. The sun has moved down below the top of the seven-story buildings across the street, and I should move on soon myself, before it gets cold.
172 boulevard Saint Germain
Metro: St-Germain des Prés
Phone: 01 45 48 55 26
Sugar: packet of powdered sugar
Bonus: small bar of chocolate (sometimes), glass of water with an ice cube
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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