The French don’t do take away coffee. You’ll never see anyone holding a paper cup (except perhaps a couple of tired au pairs out the front of Starbucks – a life saver). If you want a coffee, even a quick one, you’ll find a cafe and sit for only the time it takes to down an espresso – or café au lait if you’re not in a rush. People don’t eat on the run either. I think it’s a similar mentality to the breakfast table ritual: if you need to do something, even quickly, you may as well sit and enjoy it. Probably why the French have such a reputation for being so indulgent. But it doesn’t really seem to take longer, so given the chance everyone should definitely indulge in the simple things more.
One of my absolute favourite things to do, especially in France, is to sit at some little café with a coffee and a book. I love listening to the foreign chatter, people watching and just soaking into wherever I am. One of my most treasured memories from France was sitting in my usual spot at my favourite café – Café de la Fontaine, with a croissant, my book and a coffee I’d finally learnt how to order correctly, when the church bells clanged out from across the square. I think this photo might be from that morning.
When I first started going there I was shy and would stumble over the order, but eventually after becoming somewhat of a regular, the manager warmed to me when he realised I wasn’t just a tourist looking for free wifi. The waiters took turns at trying to teach me French. It became a little haunt where I could sneak off to for some caffeine and peace and quiet, or if it was late and everyone was home and the kids were in bed, it was a great place to savour a glass of wine. One of the best meals I ever had was the seared duck there, it was incredible, and the staff used to sneak me little treats like lemoncello or raspberries and cream. I think the manager was fostering hopes I’d become a permanent fixture and marry the junior waiter – but alas, the sweetheart wasn’t my type and our love never really blossomed. But my love for the cafe, and it’s little treats certainly did.