August 31, 2010
Paris Walks Part 2 - Two Cafés on the Boulevard Saint Germain
When we’re in Paris – we walk. Apart from being a little trepidatious of using the Metro, we have lots of time and everything is just so beautiful, I wouldn’t want to miss it by being underground.
I’d done a lot of reading about Paris in the 20’s. Hemingway’s "A Moveable Feast", "The Autobiography of Alice B, Toklas", Morley Callaghan’s "That Summer in Paris" And I am also a big enthusiast of Kiki, Man Ray, Foujita and the gang. Some of their favourite places to drink and write are in Montparnasse, just south of today’s walk. But two famous restaurants are on today’s trail.
Café De Flore - 172 Boulevard St. Germain
Historically, this belle époque café was the former hangout of big thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and the Existentialists and André Breton and the Surrealists, plus Trotsky, Apollinaire and writers like Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote,and Lawrence Durrell. This landmark café is noted for people-watching from the terrasse and coffee, hot chocolate, croissant, welsh rarebit, quiche, croque-monsieur can be enjoyed for a inflated price. French intelligentsia and film star still stops in. Upstairs, play readings are held on Mondays and philosophy discussions on the first Wednesday of the month, both at 8pm, in English.
They’re open from 7:00 in the morning to 1:30 the following morning. Their website and e-mail seems to be defunct, but they can be reached through the phone:
telephone: 33 (0)1 45 48 55 26
Les Deux Magots - 6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Found just next door, Les Deux Magots is the rival to The Cafe de Flore. This is another of Paris’s most famous cafes. Oscar Wilde frequented Les Deux Magots. Maybe he conjured up The Happy Prince while sipping a wine. Maybe Saint Exupery imagined his Little Prince here. Sartre, Hemingway and Apollinaire patronized the place and Dora Maar met Picasso here. Taking its name from the wooden statues of the Confuscian wise men which still oversee the room, these two “magots” are the only remains left from the old silk shop that in 1885 became a bar. Salads, eggs and cheese plates, deserts and sandwiches made from that criminally expensive Polaine bread are available. The Deux Magots literary prize has been awarded to a French novel every year since 1933.
They’re open from 7:30 in the morning to 1:30 the next day.
phone 33 (0)1 45 48 55 25