Clark: We’re from out of town.
Man giving directions: No shit.
from National Lampoon’s Vacation
Cafés are as common as postcards in Paris. Today, after seeing St. Chappelle and Notre Dame, we turned our noses up at overpriced, tacky-looking places inundated with tourists and crossed the river. At the end of Pont Marie, we spotted Cafe Louis-Phillipe. If there is a cuter cafe in Paris, I’ve not seen it.
Louis-Phillipe sits on a shady corner, and its cozy glass-walled terrace is surrounded by pretty bushes and geraniums. Inside, we were shown a table, and I slid into the green banquette lining the wall, and Mike sat across from me on a green and yellow striped wicker chair.
If only I could have taken out the camera and snapped pictures of every patron! It was a painting of Parisians, and here we were, a couple of Napervillians, in their midst.
Next to Mike sat a beautiful twig of a girl, nibbling on her omelette. Her shoes! Black suede platforms, peep toes, ankle straps…. gorgeous!
At another table sat a couple our age, but they didn’t look like us. Madame’s sleek pewter hair was pulled back with a clip, revealing her dangling crystal earrings. A frothy white scarf circled her neck. Monsieur, in a muted black and white checked linen jacket, wore a crown of gray curls circling his balding tonsure.
An Al Pacino circa 1980 look-alike in a gray tee shirt, his salt-and-pepper mane swooped back, leaned in to converse with his fellow motorcyclist, whose helmet sat on an unoccupied chair.
An elderly gentleman with a fluffy gray beard and a gray cap sat alone. I imagined he was a retired professor of art, living in a nearby apartment, out for his daily stroll and dejeuner.
At a corner table, a trendy thirty-something with short blond haircut and an impeccably-trimmed black beard dined with a woman in a simple white linen bouse.
Businessmen, some in crisp shirts and ties, some in sport coats and scarves, held both their forks and knives at once while they ate their entrecôte or poulet.
Across the narrow street at the Chez Julien, a wedding celebration was in full swing. The bride, a willowy blond in a short white sundress, and her groom, tanned and handsome in a gray suit, and their wedding guests danced to “Hava Nagila” played by a three musicians.
All around the cafe, bottles of vin rouge and vin blanc and carafes de l’eau sparkled in the dappled sunlight. A waiter squeezed through the cluster of tables, holding a tray of cafe cremes above his head.
No one else carried a Baggalini, or wore a Nike shirt, or struggled to converse with the waitress. And it was wonderful.