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book coverCafé Life Paris

Book Review - Excerpt 1
Continued from page 1

General information about Paris cafés

The following excerpt is taken from the six-page introduction to Café Life Paris:

"In our time people meet at cafés to read, drink coffee, beer, wine, or soft drinks, to talk, flirt, haggle, relax, study, and, more frequently now, to compose on their laptops. A dog may be patiently waiting alongide. Cafégoers log on to the Internet and read the news from their home cities of Boston or Tokyo. Tourists write postcards. We've even seen some people doze off.

"The coffee served in most cafés is basic expresso. It's a dark, rather bitter and thick brew that many people find is an acquired taste. Visitors to Paris often prefer to order it allongé--diluted with hot water, referred to elsewhere as 'café American'--and sometimes deca--decaffeinated.

"There's an arcane system of pricing in most cafés. If you stand at the bar, the price wil be a fraction, often half, of what your drink will cost you if you sit at a table. If you sit outside on the terrace, the price may be still higher. There's a good reason for the difference: café owners have to pay higher taxes on drinks served at tables and terraces than at the bar.

"The old corner café, where little was available but drink and a simple demi-baguette sandwich or croque-monsieur--the traditional toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich--has largely disappeared. To survive, many café owners have had to hire a cuisinier and offer a lunch formule, or menu. It's not unusual to see a small café with a blackboard outside featuring the day's specials. If all you wish is a drink, you may decide to avoid the café at peak hours--12 to 2:00 p.m. for lunch, 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. for dinner--or to look for the few tables that are not obviously set for a meal."

Read Excerpt 2: Café Flore profile