Croissants in Café Rostand, which is named for Edmond de Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac. The café is near the Jardin du Luxembourg, the second largest park in Paris, which also features in several famous novels: Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and Henry James’s The Ambassadors.
Paris – Fact Check

In Paris, 'un café' is well worth its price

Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Paris – Fact Check In Paris, 'un café' is well worth its price

I like to call it the “Flanerie Challenge.” Can I pass the time from breakfast to the post-dinner drink in a single café, watching the patrons who come in waves?

Tara Isabella Burton
Tara Isabella Burton Travel Writer

I’m not the only one at this Rue Dauphine café in Paris to spend hours at my table: nursing every sugary drop of my €4.40 café au lait. The coffee, after all, is irrelevant. For those in need of a caffeine boost – and maybe a quick chat with the proprietor – a simple espresso can be had at the counter for one euro or less.

The terrasse price of the coffee – almost all cafés in Paris vary their prices depending on whether you’re standing, sitting indoors, or sitting outside, overlooking the boulevard – may feel closer to the cost of real estate than the price of a beverage, but that’s because it is. A single coffee buys you the right to sit at a table, undisturbed, for as long as you like, watching the world go by.

You’d be in good company. Sartre famously spent all day, every day at Café Flore in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, keeping to a strict schedule (writing 9 am to noon, lunch until 2 pm, socializing until 4 pm, writing until 8 pm, dinner until 10 pm), rarely disturbed by waiters (or even the wartime air-raid signals. “Even when the air-raid alarm sounded,” he wrote, “we would merely pretend to leave and then climb up to the first floor and go on working.”).

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