Cafes of the Left Bank

I’m preparing to leave for my Paris sojourn and making a list of priorities during my stay. After seeing Midnight in Paris this week, at the top of the list “Drink wine in cafes.” Below are my favorite literary cafes and I plan to take a seat and watch the world go by:

Café De Flore today is a popular hangout for the publishing and glamorous world. However, it still retains authentic Paris charm and on a recent visit I observed a french husband and wife sitting on the patio with their petit chien in an animated discussion with a friend who met them for lunch. (The petit chien did not participate in the discussion, however, content to sit underneath the table and hope for a bite to eat.) My favorite lunch choice is the Salade Flore–how do they make a simple chef salad taste so remarkable?

Les Deux Magots
Les Deux Magots: Named for two superb Asian statues inside the café that have been watching over the terraces on the Place Saint Germain des Pres for over a century, Les Deux Magots has been a watering hole for the intellectual set of Paris since 1914. Auguste Boulay, an ancestor of the present owners, created the café “Les Deux Magots” and soon it became the place to “see and be seen” as legendary figures of the world began frequenting the cafe. In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway stopped by the café to talk with Jean Paul Sarte, James Joyce or Janet Flanners. The club sandwich is the best club sandwich in the world and I like to pair it with a glass of vin blanc and sit on the patio.

Closerie de Lilas: Located in Paris’ Montparnasse, at the tip of the Luxembourg Gardens, is La Closerie de Lilas, the lilac arbor.  It has attracted everyone from Henry James to Leon Trotsky to Gertrude Stein and Hemingway—who wrote the Big Two-Hearted River and The Sun Also Rises while sitting in the bar.  My favorite “Parisian” literary café–maybe because it is less frequented by tourists and very popular with Parisians–I could sit here for hours. On my last visit I was surrounded by Parisians  taking long lunches, drinking wine, and discussing politics—I felt so french!  The food is fantastic—from the jumbo shrimp cocktail to the jambon and melon salad, I was in heaven.

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