Monday, July 28, 2008

Cafe Talk

A "cafe" in France designates two things: a coffee (drink) and a small place to have drinks (including coffee) and sometimes snacks or light meals. Small villages cafes welcome a lot of people who usually don't just enjoy a small cup of coffee! Red or white wine, commonly referred to as "canon de rouge" for red wine, or "canon de blanc" for white wine, along with Pastis, are usually their best friend. I don't want to pigeonhole but I come from a small village and I was raised in my grandmother's cafe; You see patterns after a while.

You might encounter some local workmen: the electrician, the plumber, the factory workers but also the local drunkard. Life seems slow in small villages so they know how to pace themselves, you see. Not quite the idea of the quaint little French cafe that you had in mind? Well not the typical cafe that you would find in a big city, in the touristy neighborhoods or simply in the touristy regions of France but believe me, there are lots and lots of small villages in France, so what I described here is to me a real typical French cafe, down in the heart of France, la France profonde; And I like it.

As a college student in Lyon (a big French city), I would go with my friends to one of the cafes around my university to grab a coffee and smoke a cigarette (thank goodness I stopped since then) while we stared at everyone behind our sunglasses and shared the latest gossips. The other customers would be of course other students, business people or workers on a break.

Typical drinks that people order in cafes are beer, wine, Pastis, coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, Coke, Orangina or fruit syrups drinks. Depending on the cafe, you can order snack food such as ice cream, sandwiches, simple desserts, small breakfasts (usually a hot drink with fresh baguette or a croissant). But if you've seen the movie Amelie, then you will know that you can also sometimes eat a simple warm lunch and also buy lotery tickets.

I miss the atmosphere of French cafes. One of the cafes I enjoy the most is in Juan-Les-Pins on the French Riviera (la Cote d'Azur), where my parents live most of the time. My favorite spot is the cafe's terrace, where you have a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean. I like to make a stop there in the morning on our way to buy groceries for lunch. I don't know about you, but I can almost hear the seagulls and the waves... 

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