The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                               PAGE FOUR

café life PARIS  A Guidebook to the Cafés and Bars of the City of Light

                                                                                                                         a book  by Christine and Dennis Graf

café life PARIS book cover"To understand Paris, you must sit in a café ~ perhaps at a sidewalk table beneath lush plane trees facing a broad boulevard or historic square. . .You must let the sense of the city soak in.  Above all, you must take your time.  The hours spent at a café ~ hours of watching, thinking, idling ~ aren't wasted.  They're part of the ebb and flow of the French day, giving it rhythm and meaning." -  Angela Mason, "Coffee or Killing Time"

We couldn't resist using this quote,  found at the beginning of Chapter 3,  as we prepared to write a review of this month's book selection, café life Paris.

This seven-inch square paperback is more than a guide to the 'in' cafés of Paris ~ it is a fascinating record of the famous and infamous in the world of the literati and intelligentsia who made so many cafés and bars their writing rooms, gathering places, hangouts and refuges away from, perhaps, their dreary Paris apartments, but certainly from a solitary existence.  In their heyday these same cafés became magnets for those who hoped to catch a glimpse of some renowned author, playwright, artist or other glamorous figure.  That may still be the case today.

We must mention the superb photographs of Juliana Spear whose work also adorns Thirza Valois' Romantic Paris.  Once again, her photos are artistic and provide the oh-so-Parisian spirit that captures our imaginations, especially that luscious cover photo!

Read about Le Café Marly at 93, rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement ~ yes, at the Louvre ~ with elegant columns and carved arches soaring to a vaulted ornate ceiling ~ columns that separate tables in the exterior corridor.  The view is the courtyard of the museum with people arriving and departing through the famous pyramid of architect I.M.Pei.  Or, at another of our most favorite museums, enjoy refreshments surrounded by elegantly draped tall windows, expensive oil paintings and tapestries, a fresco by Tiepolo, Oriental carpets, and fine silver.  This is Café du Musée Jacquemart-André at 158 bd Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement, and it is indeed a café experience that is très chic!

If you are imagining yourself in the company of the famous and infamous of the past, Café de Flore is for you.  In the very upbeat 'seventh', you will find this corner café that was considered headquarters for Jean-Paul Sartre and patronized by Simone de Beauvoir, Picasso and such intellectuals and writers as James Baldwin.  The art déco lighting, warm colors and waiters dressed in crisp black and white with bow ties combine to create a comfortable, well-worn ambiance.  And, the book tells us that the 4-euro espresso is strong and good!  Near the Sorbonne in the stylish 6th is the Café de la Mairie, and it is considered the neighborhood café of the wealthy people who live here.  It sits in the shadow of the church St Sulpice (now quite well known to those who have read The DaVinci Code or, more recently, seen the film).   The clientele, the book tells us, is quite upscale and well dressed, which might make you think twice about dropping in wearing jeans.

Whatever café style you prefer or whatever mood you are seeking, you are bound to find the perfect café in this lovely, information-packed, pretty little book.  The authors, who also gave the world Café Life Rome, Café Life Florence, and Paris by Bistro: A Guide to Eating Well, have thirty years of experience in the café life of Paris.  They not only provide the fascinating history of each of the cafés they include in their book, but they don't neglect menu selections, prices, architecture, décor, neighborhoods and stories about the people in the past who made these their favorite haunts.

This book is a must for your next visit to Paris, especially when your itinerary sets aside time for people watching and relaxing ~ possibly at a café that you discover suits you just perfectly!

café life Paris - A Guide to the Cafe's and Bars of the City of Light
published by Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., 46 Crosby Street, Northampton, Massachusetts 01060
ISBN 1-56656-621-5 in paperback, $20.00 US / $27.95 Canada



Whoever said it was the end of the three-hour lunch may have to eat their words.  An exciting new concept that combines cultural training with gastronomy has hit Paris:  the Three-hour Lunchtime Seminar.

Interactive, educational and fun, theses 'mini-seminars' are created and presented by Barbara Pasquet James, Paris-based cross-cultural trainer, travel editor and original co-author of's Paris City Guide geared to business travelers. 

Over a gourmet lunch at an upscale Paris restaurant, participants are immersed for three hours (typically from 12 noon to 3 PM) in a range of topics which include everything from navigating a French meal (and 'eating French'), communicating and conducting business effectively in France and with the French, to entertaining and decorating with a 'French flair'.

One seminar, for women only, Seduction and the Art of the French Woman, is packed with beauty, diet, shopping and flirting/keeping-your-man secrets à la française.

The latest and sure to be the most popular is L'Art de Vivre, an amalgam of highlights from the other seminars that covers the French arts of eating, drinking, dressing well, seduction, entertaining, decorating, conversation and more.

U.S.-born Pasquet James, a former university teacher who has been training European and American executives for over a decade in Paris where she lives with her French husband, says that learning this way was a natural for Paris.  Not only is the city home to over 12,000 established eateries, but the French are known for their love of convivial exchanges over wonderful food and drink.

Though clients are primarily Americans visiting Paris and France on vacation or business, newcomers as well as seasoned ex-pats can benefit from the training.

The seminars are held year 'round, and the price includes a multi-course gourmet meal with wine.  Extra drinks ad coffee are not included.

For further information, please contact The French Side web site or send an email to  The telephone in Paris is

Traveling in France with 'KB' 

On several past occasions, we have had the pleasure of publishing anonymous hotel and restaurant
  reviews generously provided to us by ' KB' of Connecticut.  We appreciate her good taste and travel savvy
 as she explores France and provides FRANCE On Your Own with her objective and insightful opinions
of places to stay and dine ~ or, on occasion, not to! Following are a few of her most recent contributions. 

Languedoc-Roussillon - We flew to Montpellier [from Paris]...Our first stop was to be Auberge du Vieux Puits at Fontjoncouse in the Aude.  Early on they confirmed two days (a Friday and Saturday) then canceled the Saturday (a weekend regular must have called).  So, we canceled the whole thing.  That area is too remote to wander around in on a Saturday night seeking food and shelter.  However, our daughter and son-in-law have been there and report as follows:  Accommodations are new and well kept.  The food, of course, is the drawing card. (Two Michelin stars in a village of 119 people half way between no place and nowhere).  It is excellent, they both said, but almost too much.  There were with ten friends cycling and developed hearty appetites riding all day, but not hearty enough for the quantities of very good but very rich food presented. [Address: Avenue Saint-Victor, 11360 Fontjoncouse - Telephone:  Fax:] 

We stayed at La Villa d' Eléis in the Hérault in the town of Siran.  Its location in Siran is not readily apparent, but since the town has only about 570 people, one finds it fairly soon.  Parking, which is inside the walls, could be a squeak if the hotel were full.  We stayed in room 'Lapin', which I would not choose again.  We did it from a photograph. It's roomy and quiet but seemed rather uncoordinated decoratively. Our plumbing was modern, but there was a malfunctioning washbowl. There was a little terrace to sit outside on, but with no view except of some neighboring property, and in late April the breeze was cool.  Returning, I would specify the room called 'Eléis'.  It's a pretty, attractive thing with a pleasant view of the countryside.  The food is wonderful, worth going out of the way to enjoy - everything fresh, beautifully prepared and carefully served.  Madame Lafuente is an able chef.  Siran is in the center of an interesting area - much to explore. [Address: Avenue du Château, Siran 34210.  Telephone:  Fax::  Email:]

Brittany - In 2004, M. Guillo (Auberge Grand ' Maison in the Côte d'Armor) had a Michelin star. In 2005, not even one fork!  Maybe he died or offended the reviewer.  [In 2004]...our food there was divine.  Everything served was perfect - as good as Arpège in Paris.  The only trouble was that one's capacity was not great enough.  And, breakfast in the attractive dining room was as good as dinner had been.  Our bedroom was charming, the fabrics stylish and all was very quiet.  The bath was new and impeccable ...Parking is across the busy street which is not ideal - one lugs luggage a distance.  By noon the next day the little parlor was absolutely stacked with people waiting for lunch. {Since 2004] M. et Mme Guillo [may] have gone, but...the food was superb and the accommodations not at all common. [Address: Mur-de-Bretagne 22530.  Telephone:  Fax:]

Château de Talhouët © Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.We're back here [Château de Talhouët].  Talhouët, as always, the epitome of beauty, calm, elegance, impeccable taste and comfort.  A hard act to follow.  One's hope is that nothing ever will change, which may be too much to expect, but one can hope.  There is a fairly new book, French Country Hideaways by Casey O' Brien Blondes, published by Rizzoli, which reviewed thirty places; good photos and text [saying] Talhouët worth the money. [Owner: Jean-Pol Soulaine  Address:  Rochefort-en-Terre 56220 Telephone:  Fax: Web: Email:

[Photo copyrighted property of Cold Spring Press 2006.  All Rights Reserved.]

French Classes in Paris ~live in your teacher's home 

Beginning this month (June, 2006) “Sing and Play”, a non-profit association founded by Eliane Delage, PhD, in 1999, is offering a new program: one-to-one French classes at your teacher's home.  She will also cook for you and show you around Paris if you like.

You just need to buy your ticket to Paris and pay for a week or several weeks’ classes (from 1400€ a week for 15 hours of French lessons and full board and lodging), and Madame Delage will take care of you!  You may choose between literature, everyday French or business French classes.

Vach'Art Exhibit in ParisA lovely residence on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs

             A member of the Vach'Art Exhibit                       A residence on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs

There is a supplement if you wish your teacher to help you visit Paris (highly recommended).  They can customize a special program for you (i.e., 3 afternoon visits and 4 free afternoons) or more classes (a crash course). Don't hesitate to send an email to Eliane Delage who will answer all your questions.

“Sing and Play” continues workshops for children and/or adults in various languages (French, English, etc.)  ~ songs and games, art or drama classes or language classes. You may visit Sing and Play's web site at or write an email to  Or phone (0)1 45 56 96 09 (Paris).  "Sing and Play" is mentioned in Message's book entitled ABC's of Parenting in Paris and in several publications in Paris (i.e., Le Fabert, guide de l'enseignement prove).

[Photos above copyrighted property of Eliane Delage 2006.  All Rights Reserved.]

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