Parisian cafés have been celebrated as a place to while away the hours, meet friends and discuss the issues of the day since the first one, Le Procope, opened in 1686. Known for having served such luminaries as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin they still serve visitors daily. Oscar WIlde, Jean Paul Sarte, Fitzgerald and Picasso nourished the legend, hanging out at now mythic establishments; Le Café de la Paix at Opéra, Le Selecte and La Rotonde in Montparnasse, and Les Deux Magots in Saint Germain des Près. Tuck into the nearest neighborhood café for an entertaining moment watching butchers and janitors share riotous gossip with philosophers and socialites over a 2€ “express” or a neat shot of something stronger at every hour of the day.
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More than coffee at the café
Cafés are the cornerstone of Parisian life. Locals start the morning standing at the zinc bar where the daily “express” is cheaper and can be quickly paired with a fresh croissant. At lunch, coworkers fill tables for a fast, filling croque monsieur, steak tartare, goat cheese salad, or special of the day. In the afternoons it’s back at the bar for a “little glass” with the neighbors or a quick, easy dinner. The literary Café de Flore and the famous Café des 2 Moulins from the film Amélie are destination cafés worth visiting. When entering a café, it’s best to ask where to sit and at meal times, waiters may refuse to serve just drinks. At any other time of the day, the table is yours and you can sit there for hours watching Paris stroll by.