The French are different. If you want authentic, there is no fast food, quick bites, or grab ‘n’ go. Meal time is leisure time.
Around 7:30 pm, I grabbed my bag and sketch pad and headed out from my flat, opting for the 15 minute walk instead of another metro ride. I was alone for basically the first time since I got to Paris and wanted to enjoy the city by myself for a few minutes. The walk down St Germain was easy and I ended up at Café de Flore- somewhere I have been wanting to check out since last winter.
I walked inside and they told me to sit anywhere that was open. I contemplated between a seat tucked in the back patio or a table outfront. I took the seat outfront and am glad I did.
I took out my drawing supplies- a fine tip pen and some paper and began sketching and doodling, waiting for my waiter. When he came, I ordered a glass of rosé champagne- because cheers to Paris- and tried my best to mentally translate each item on the menu to decide what I wanted. I ended up going with my original plan- the French Onion Soup (l’ognion soupe), along with fromagerie blanc (white cheese), and bread.
I ate, drew, and sipped while enjoying the lively neighborhood, the people speaking french around me, the saxophonist playing La Vie en Rose (while a little dog barked at the instrument with all his might).
As I took my time enjoying Paris, the french couple next to me took interest. While one was in the restroom, the other asked me about my drawing. I was sketching the Eiffel Tower and he joked about it being right in front of us. (He knew I spoke English from earlier when they quickly asked me something in French and could see my confusion.) We got talking and I explained how I traveled here from California and what the rest of my trip entailed. When his girlfriend returned, she gushed to me about Italy, wanted to know my thoughts on France and its people, and couldn’t believe I was 18. She was so excited for me to be traveling and said that it was fun for me and “good for my heart.”
I paid my bill and was sad to leave my new friends. I told them it was a pleasure to meet them and they said they enjoyed talking, and the woman looked at me very sincerely and said in her best english “thank you for your… amazing grace” and with my hand on my heart and genuine happiness to see these people, I blushed, smiled and thanked her with one more “merci” and “au revoir”.