Paris Cafes

 

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Cafe Aux Deux Magots

“One of Hemingway’s Favorites”

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                         September 23, 2019                                                                                                                                 Marlton Hotel, NYC

Way back in about 1991 I wrote a piece about cafes as pertaining to New York and cafes in America, of European and Parisian Cafes, and how the United States was pretty much devoid of these things that were an absolute necessity of Parisian, French, Italia, and European life. I had written of how important cafes were particularly Paris, to the French and Italians, all over Italy, France, Spain, in Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and all over Europe, cafes were at the very center of European social life, and as a matter of fact, an absolute necessity to European life itself, but not of America at the time. Most Americans were totally unaware of this thing called “cafe life,” or the pleasures and necessities that the cafe offered. First and foremost, there is coffee and refuge, to sit, relax, socialize or not. The coffee (Espresso – Cappuccino) was relatively cheap (much more expensive these days).

The Parisian cafe has long been a place to meet (friends, lovers), rendezvous, socialize, read, write, eat, or just contemplate. For many their neighborhood cafe was their living room, eluding to the fact that many lived in tiny apartments or had just one room, the cafe became their living room, and or dining room. Artists and writers have long been inhabitants of cafes, especially writers who for the price of a Cafe Latte could linger for hours writing the great novel and what-not.

Maybe not all, but most Europeans, the cafe is absolutely necessary to living life. Americans, had not been accustomed to the same way of life, and I wrote that original piece in 1990, way before Starbucks, coffee bars, and other cafes ever became a thing. Now, I for one am not a fan of Starbucks, as I’ve been going to any number of wonderful independent cafes for years, and I have never been one to do restaurants or cafes that are part of any worldwide or national chain, “not for me.”

September 24, 2019

                                                                                                                   CAFFE REGGIO 11.15  PM

Well I’m having my 3rd cafe visit of the day. I’m at Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village, the place I wrote that little piece on cafes so many years ago. On that day in 1991, it was a cold Winters day in New York. There was a major snow storm (18 inches) going on, and I was sitting at a window table, sipping my cappuccino and watching the heavy snow fall. It was just beautiful, and was inspiring me to write as I thought of Hemingway, writing at that cafe in Paris so many years ago. Hemingway wrote about it in a Moveable Feast and the image was set in my mind on this day, and so I wrote about cafes. If I remember correctly, it was on a cafe on the Boulevard St Michele in Paris. Hemingway did not give the name of the cafe, but he painted quite a memorable picture. From reading books about Hemingway, I knew that as far as Parisian Cafes were concerned, his favorites were; Cafe Select on the Boulevard Monparnasse, Cafe au Duex Magots, an unknown cafe on the Rue Mouffetard, and the Closerie d Lilas, also on Blvd. Monparnasse, but further down from where Select is.

So, needless to say, I’m quite a fan of Hemingway, the man, and his works. At the time, I was totally enamored of 1920 Paris, the writers and artists, and I’d read whatever I could get my hands on, on the era and subjects. I loved Paris, I still do, but you have a different way of looking at things in your 20s, everything so much more magical when you’re young and discovery things for the first time. And so I was, and my first trip to Paris in January of 1986 absolutely blew away. I was smitten, and I just ate the city up, both figuratively and literally, I ate up Paris. My favorite things to do was going to different cafes for breakfast or anytime during the day. I imagined myself a writer, I imagine myself Hemingway. “Hey, one can dream can’t they?” No I’d never become another Hemingway. I know this now. When you’re young you’re full of dreams, and as they say of young men, “Full of Piss & Vinegar.” Yes I could dream, and especially being the young man with so many dreams, and besides, I was on vacation, and I was going to live it, and enjoy it to the max. And so I did.

I found a wonderful hotel in my Frommer’s Guide, the Cluny Hotel on Boulevard Saint Michele in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank of the Seine. It was a wonderful little hotel in a great location. close to all the great cafes and quite a lot of marvelous bistros, both of which were my two main interest and means of entertainment, and I live in both. I’d get up and go to some cafe on St Michele or St Germain, for Cafe Latte and a Croissant. “What else?” I was in Paris. At this point in time, I didn’t know of the famous cafes of Duex Magots, Flore, or Select, I’d learn of them latter. So in January of 86, any cafe that looked good to me, I’d go into. I did have Patricia Wells wonderful culinary guidebook The Food Lovers Guide to Paris which had me in so many wonderful bistros, even before I went, her writings ( and pictures) made me feel as though I was already there. I read that book feverishly, taking notes and planning my trip, and the bistros I wanted to go to. Yes this book is quite wonderful, and I highly recommend anyone going to Paris, don’t leave home without it, it’s indispensable

I just can’t tell you enough about how much I loved this trip, I savored it with all my being, as I’d done in Rome just 6 months before, I was like a kid on Christmas day, full of euphoria for what I was experiencing. Boy could I eat all up back then. Besides going to cafes, I’d have a wonderful lunch at one of the bistros I’d picked out, and have dinner at another, eating Foe Gras, Escargot, Bouf Bourgiononne and the lot of French Bistro Classics. I ate at Bistro Polidor on the Rue Monsiuer la Prince, La Coupole, and Brasserie Julien on St Denis. I ate Choucroute Garne at the Brasserie on Il Sr Louis, just over the bridge from Notre Dame and the Il d Cite. I ate at a wonderful little bistro for lunch one day by the great big Flea Market at Cligancourt. 

I couldn’t wait to get to the tiny little bar / bistro that Patrica Wells said was the most beautiful bar in Paris. It was the Le Cochon L Orielle at 15 Rue Monmartre. When I got there, I was not disappointed. The place was just as gorgeous as Patricia had decribed, and I had to agree, this has to be the most beautiful little bar in all of Gay Paree, “I just Loved it.”

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

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Me at Le COCHEON L ARIELLE

PARIS

1999

Le Cochon L’ Orielle no longer exist in its original state as it was when I first went ther in 1986, in 1991, and as was when I was there in 1999 (pictured above). You see me in the picture above taken of me and the couple who owned the place at the time. Rhe couple is behind the gorgeous old bar (original) and I’m on the other side. If you look at the picture below, you will see that the beautiful old bar no longer exist and there are tables in its place, with a new smaller bar at the end. Unfortunately this is not the original configuration as it was for many years and the 3 separate occasions when I ate there, once by myself (1986), once with my girlfriend Merceditas in 1991, and here with my buddy Raoul (took the picture) in March 1999.

I do not know when the place was renovated. I always hate to see things like this happen, but having been in the restaurant business for many years, I’m aware of the fact that these businesses have many expenses and that these changes most likely came about as a means of survival, and it’s better that the place is still there, rather than totally going out of business.

The other change is that the 3 cute little wooden booths where I had previously eaten my delightful lunches, are now gone. As you see the counter on the left hand side of the bar with the bar-stools, this is where the booths once were. Also, you can see the spiral staircase leading to a second floor, there is now a dining room that had never existed before. The place has many more tables now, which probably as tripled its seating capacity, thus increasing revenue, and keeping the place alive. However, I really miss the old place.

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Le Cochon L’ Orielle

The GORGEOUS OLD BAR & BOOTHS are GONE

 

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Le Cochon L’Orielle

 

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A TILE MURAL of LES HALLES

Le COCHON L’ORIELLE

PARIS

 

 

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