March 10, 2017

French Friday: Café de Flore

March 10, 2017 (069/365)

"Cafe De Flore speaks of love, its joys, its pains and its dramas
- to love and to lose."  ~ Vanessa Paradis

Le Café de Flore was, and perhaps still is, one of the most fashionable café in the world. French actress, Simone Signoret wrote in her memoirs: "I was born in March 1941 at night on a bench of the Café de Flore." Singer/Actress Juliette Gréco moved to Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 1946 and immersed herself in the neighborhood's post-war bohemian lifestyle. Jean-Paul Sartre said that she had "millions of poems in her voice" and she became the Muse of Existentialism at the Café de Flore where she also met Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau. 

In the 1960s, the café became a meeting place for filmmakers and actors, including Roger Vadim, Jane Fonda, Jean Seberg, Roman Polanski, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Yves Montand, Catherine Deneuve, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Fashion designers like Yves Saint-Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, and Karl Lagerfeld began frequenting the  Café de Flore in the late 60's; Lagerfeld can still be see there on occasion. 

Everything here feels special, even the placemats designed by Hergé who illustrate the Tintin comics.

These days, the café's website says that "Saint-Germain-des-Prés has become the most famous village of France in the World" where once and a while, you can still spot international celebrities. The café's literary tradition also continues with play readings on Mondays and philosophical debates at 8:00 pm on the first Wednesday of each month.

When I'm lucky enough to be in Paris, I love to sit in a café, sipping expresso or a lovely glass of wine while scribbling in a journal. Although there are great terraces all over the city, it is always a treat to visit one of the iconic cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Sure, the prices a bit higher, but along with a beverage, patrons enjoy a side order of literary and cultural history.