Parisian (and French) Cafés

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Parisian (and French) Cafés


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Old 23rd May 2020, 07:12 AM
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Default Parisian (and French) Cafés

I have long observed an interesting linguistic enigma. English language writers commonly refer to the Parisian, and generally French, love of Cafés, Café life, etc. But, in actual fact, there are not many places actually called Cafés in France, and those that exist are more like tea rooms or tea and sandwich shops, often inhabited by women past that certain age. Where people actually do hang out are in bistros, brasseries, tabacs, and even restaurants.

It also seems to me that starting around 5 years ago, especially in Paris, there started to be places called Cafés that were really bistros and brasseries. Sort of, if this is what they want, well who are we to object.

And, a related anecdote. A friend came to visit us with his 15-year-old daughter on her first trip outside the US. On their first night here we asked the jet-lagged daughter where she would like to eat. We suggested a few bistros, pizza places, etc. and she seemed quite agitated at all the suggestions. We then asked her what she wanted, since nothing we could suggest seems to please her. Her response was, "a delicatessen, you know, like the european delis we have at home." Perception, expectation and language.

Now, if the cute little cafés in the village would just re-open...

Smeg, Peasant, this is your issue to argue over today.

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Old 23rd May 2020, 08:10 AM
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This is an interesting example of the wide range of terminology used to describe various types of establishments here in France. What your friend's daughter thinks of as a "delicatessen" is often referred to here as a "traiteur" (although that term is also used for what would be called in the US, a "caterer").

And I'm not at all sure what the legal distinction is between a "bistro", a "brasserie", a "bar" (also very popular here - especially Sunday mornings after church) or a small restaurant. Some boulangeries have (or had) a couple of tables so that customers could enjoy their pastry with coffee or tea. And the shop we go to which sells prepared items (boeuf bourgignonne or cassoulet or blanquette de veau) to go used to be referred to here as the "traiteur" but now is called the "charcuterie."

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Old 23rd May 2020, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by berkinet View Post
I have long observed an interesting linguistic enigma. English language writers commonly refer to the Parisian, and generally French, love of Cafés, Café life, etc. But, in actual fact, there are not many places actually called Cafés in France...
I have two cafes within a two minute walk of my home.

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Old 23rd May 2020, 09:35 AM
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We have three "cafés" within a 10 minute walk: a café-tabac, a café-PMU and a café brasserie.

I think the traditional cafés (only serving drinks) struggle to make a living these days. They need something to bring customers in (tobacco, betting, food...). The future is looking bleak for them after "déconfinement".

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Old 23rd May 2020, 09:46 AM
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Good point, Lydi. I think traditionally, a "brasserie" was affiliated with a brewery (hence the name) - so more like a British "pub" (originally "public house").

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Old 23rd May 2020, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peasant View Post
I have two cafes within a two minute walk of my home.
Starbucks and Costa don't count.

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Old 23rd May 2020, 09:51 AM
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Having said that, Starbucks, Costa, and Mc Dos are probably the most popular places for a coffee in France.

I blame the Americans.

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Old 23rd May 2020, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
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Starbucks and Costa don't count.
I know that, but do you?

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Old 23rd May 2020, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smeg View Post
Having said that, Starbucks, Costa, and Mc Dos are probably the most popular places for a coffee in France.
You must be living in a strange part of France if you believe that.

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