Café Culture

"...in Paris, life's a café."
("Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light" by David Downie)

In the two and a half months that I have been here, I have come to discover that all of Paris is set up as one big stage, where all the inhabitants (and tourists) are both the actors and the audience. Bars, restaurants, and cafes are all set up with chairs facing the large windows leading onto the street. When you walk down the street, you can feel the stares--people looking at your outfit, what you're doing, how you're doing it, etc.

Oftentimes, people silently stare and will not bother you or even show the least bit of personal recognition; however, in regards to certain things, people have absolutely no boundaries when it comes to giving advice/sharing their opinion with you. This creates an interesting cultural misunderstanding between Americans and the French because of a completely different idea of what is considered public and private life. Whereas sharing one's name with a stranger is considered private life to a Frenchman, having someone share their strong opinion about what you are doing and how you are doing it is completely normal and not seen as interfering.

In Paris, there is a "cafe culture." You enter, say bonjour (a necessary action never to be skipped), and seat yourself....preferably right in front of the large windows with a perfect view of the street traffic. Once you order a drink, you are free to sit there for as long as you desire...all day if you like! There's something about sitting and people-watching that gets ideas flowing. For this reason, I always keep a small notebook and pen in my purse to jot down random thoughts. It's no wonder why so many great thinkers/philosophers/writers came to Paris to write.

That's why lately I have been so bad at writing regularly on this blog....I'm never at home in front of my computer!


1 comment:

Monica said...

"I'm never at home in front of my computer" you said.
I think you're in the best place possible, one of the many parisian cafes watching people and life as it goes by!