Yeah, I know, well over 13 years in the City of Light and I cannot for the life of me remember having gone to the Café de Flore for a coffee or for anything, for that matter. Quel honte! Ok, well not really honte, but I was surprised at myself. I suppose I have just spent most of my café exploration energy on finding less touristy places in the city to indulge in. But speaking of touristy, I was delighted to find that the Café de Flore was not just jam-packed with tourists, there was an equal balance of Parisian natives who walked through those doors.
I met my friend Kasia Dietz there for a café and a good chat. The coffee is fine, I had a café crème, Kasia had a Mariage Frères tea. But I don’t think the reason one would go to this iconic address is because they would serve particularly incredible beverages. One goes there for the atmosphere. Which « falls well for me » as we say in French, because I pick my cafés, coffee shops and restaurants first on ambiance and second on what they serve. Ambiance is everything for me. IF I were to go somewhere and not enjoy the aesthetics of the establishment, then I have no reason to be going out, since I can create just as delightful aesthetics at home!
There was an interesting amount of elderly men who were quite flirty, or at least trying to be, with us, as we tried to fend off their intrusion into our conversation. I suppose since we were speaking English we were bound to be a target for something! But they were charming in that weird creepy older man kind of way, and they wore hats. Hats are chic.
The servers had an animated way of conversing amongst themselves, without taking care to speak with posh jargon, which I actually kind of enjoyed, because they felt free enough to say amongst themselves things like « Je m’en fou » (I don’t give a shit), and thus brought down the snobbery of the place to a level that it should be at. It’s not a snobby place and shouldn’t be thought of as one. It’s slightly eccentric (judging from some of the Parisian clientèle that comes in) and I hope it always remains that way, because that what must be the element that has contributed to it’s legendary reputation, its eccentric clients that have graced it’s benches for decades and decades.
I’m not going to give you a historical rundown of this place, I’ll let other blogs do that… But I will say that I can now feel comfortable recommending it to people who want an authentic café experience in the Saint Germain quarter, without sounding like someone who hasn’t been around Paris very long.
So go, enjoy your non-snobbish-legendary-café experience. I did!