Tag Archives: cafes

Virtual Cafe Crawl Through Paris.

“The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay, I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café.”

-Oscar Hammerstein II

If a mighty caffeine hit is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. I’m inviting you to join me on an almighty cafe crawl through Paris’s left bank, as I desperately try to find the cafe where I used to hang out back in the Summer of 1992.

By the way, I apologise if our tour darts and criss-crosses all over the place. This is a virtual tour and you’ll find me curled up in my ink-stained writer’s chair inconveniently parked in Australia.  So, the dots could well be scattered all over the map.

“You can’t escape the past in Paris, and yet what’s so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn’t seem to burden.”

-Allen Ginsberg

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m desperately trying to find the cafe I hung out at with my friends in Paris.

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Our cafe located somewhere near St Michel.

So, after much preambling, you’re invited to join me on a cafe crawl through the Left Bank. By the way, I can’t help wondering whether we’re being joined by the ghosts of creatives past…Hemingway, Cézanne, Picasso, Braque and Jim Morrison. Who knows?

Our first stop is La Palette at 43 Rue Seine on the corner of Rue Jacques Callot in St Germain. It has a large terrace overlooking Rue Jacques- Callot. The restaurant’s façade and the interior of the second salon, are registered as historic monuments. The second salon has a larger back room with dining tables, and is stylishly decorated with ceramics from the 1930s-40s. Meanwhile, the bistro is traditionally a gathering place for Fine Arts students, nearby gallery owners and artists. La Pallete was frequented by Cézanne, Picasso,  Braque and later by Ernest Hemingway and Jim Morrison. Today’s celebrities include Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts.

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Our second Stop is Les Deux Magots. Its outdoor terrace is apparently a great spot to soak up the atmosphere of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. From there, you can also see the historic Saint Germain des Pres Church and Abbey. The nave and bell tower date back to 1014 AD, while its foundations date back to 543 AD. So, definitely worth checking out.

Les Deux Magots was founded in 1812 at 23 Rue de Buci and in 1873, it moved to Place St-Germain-des-Prés. In 1885, the shop gave way to an alcohol-serving café, which took on the name.

The Café started playing an important role in Parisian cultural life and Verlaine, Rimbaud and Mallarmé, to name a few, were regulars at the café. In 1933, the cafe launched its Prix des Deux Magots award. This is a major french litarary award presented to new works, which are generally more off-beat and less conventional than the more mainstream Prix Goncourt.

Les Deux Magots has also been frequented by numerous famous artists including: Elsa Triolet, Louis Aragon, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Picasso, Fernand Léger, Prévert, Hemingway and others, the café hosted Surrealists under the aegis of André Breton, and Existentialists around Sartre and Beauvoir.

Our next stops are going to be a lot quicker…

3) Cafe Dauphine 17 Rue Dauphine

4) The Luxenbourg  4, Place Edmond Rostand

5) Cafe Le Depart 1, Place Saint-Michel 75005, Paris

6) Cafe de Flore  172, Boulevard Saint-Germain

7) Cafe Le Buci  52, rue Dauphine 75006 PARIS

Finally, I stumbled across Cafe Conti at 1 Rue de Buci. Finally, this could be it. I have emailed the details to a friend, hoping he can see or remember something I can not. 

By this stage, Geoff is also home from work and I’m handing him the photo album and the laptop to help playing spot the difference. Did my photo match the image? We couldn’t be sure and in the end, all we had was eye-strain.

In a way, I hope it is. However, because it closed this year, I’d rather it was somewhere else. I’ve always wanted to go back and enjoy another cheap cafe au lait watching the crowds pass by. I’m sure my friends are still sitting there, looking exactly as they did 24 years ago.  After all, haven’t you ever noticed how memory does that. It freezes moments in time for eternity.

By the  way, speaking of Cafe Conti, it’s recent claim to fame is its dog. Or, perhaps I should be saying that the dog is famous. His name is Orson and he’s an exceptionally cute Cairn Terrier. You can read about his travels here: Orson Paris dog and there’s also an exceptionally cute video.

So, that ends our rather exhilarating yet exhausting cafe crawl of Paris’s Left Bank. I hope none of you objected to me appropriating Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum and transporting it from Arles to Paris. For me, it’s the ultimate French cafe scene. I had to use it.

Do you have a favourite cafe in Paris? Please share. I love a good story served up with a coffee and a French pastry is an extra special bonus.

Thank you for joining me!

xx Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share 22nd May, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share. I apologise for adding two posts to the link up but I added the Chocolate post by mistake and being well past my bedtime, I’ll have to leave it be.

This week I’m asking you to fasten your seat belts for what’s not quite a 1000km drive from the NSW Central Coast to Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We’ve driven up here for the weekend for Geoff’s sister’s 60th Birthday.

So, in addition to offering you the usual choice of tea or coffee, I’m also offering you a glass of bubbly sarsaparilla, a popular Queensland drink (which could well be root beer in the States).

However, before we get too settled on the Queensland side of the border, I thought I’d fill you in on the previous week.

Last Monday, I finally had an ultrasound done on the lump on my arm. While the lump felt noticeable enough, it proved quite difficult to pick up on the ultrasound, which is a good thing. It meant that it showed no sign of being a cyst and is probably a lipodema or bubble of fat. That was naturally quite a relief as I was concerned that a weird lump on the arm could be a secondary for much bigger troubles lurking somewhere else.

What a relief!

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A Cappuccino & A Mookie…What more could I want?

On Wednesday, I caught the train down to Sydney to for an appointment with my neurologist. That was all expected to be pretty routine. However, the appointment is not the story.

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Meeting My Mookie, Koi Dessert Bar.

Rather, it provided the justification for me to check out the Koi Dessert Bar in Kensington Street, Chippendale not far from Central Railway. Of course, I had to change trains at Central and so this provided the perfect justification for what really was quite a detour from my appointment in St Leonards, on the opposite side of Sydney Harbour and there are other, much more efficient stations for changing trains than Central but they didn’t have dessert bars. More to the point, they didn’t have a dessert bar run by last year’s Masterchef Dessert guru, Reynold, to tantalise their taste buds and lead them completely astray.

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Reynold…The King of Desserts.

Needless to say, I was completely blown away by my dessert experience which you can read about here: My Affair With Chocolate Mookie

After leaving Koi, I walked around the adjacent streets, photographing crumbling old buildings, posters, graffiti as well as checking out a few of the shops. This used to be the Tooth’s Brewery site and I still remember workers wearing blue singlets and Stubbies (shorts) pouring out onto George Street as I walked past on my way home from work.

The vibe around there is very different now.

It was quite a nostalgic journey and I would have loved more time to head down to Glebe and revisit Sydney University, where I did my degree. So many fabulous memories and seemingly no chance of going back.

Anyway, that was Wednesday done and dusted.

Friday, was spent in the car driving up to Geoff’s other sister’s place in the hinterland behind Byron Bay, which is our base for the weekend and we drive home Monday. We had a wonderful picnic in Surfers Paradise and went back to our niece’s stunning hotel win expansive view across the bright lights of Surfers and out along the beach. Brought back many memories of childhood holidays there.  I’ll be writing more about that during the week and for next weekend’s Coffee Share.

I also wanted to apologise for being a bit off the air of late. The A-Z Challenge took a lot out of me and writing about some difficult times for me, raised many questions and dragged me down further than I’d thought. It is great to be a survivor and overcome your hurdles but I am still human. That so-called process of “moving forward” is actually much more complex than we’d like. It’s great to get an ink pad and stamp “better” on our foreheads,  but perhaps “Work In Progress” would be a more honest and realistic descriptor.

It’s done me a lot of good to get away and have such a change of scenery this week.

Anyway, how was your week? I don’t have Internet access at the moment and am posting this by connecting my  laptop to my husband’s phone. I didn’t want to miss you all, even though I’ve slacked off lately.

Hope you’re all doing well.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share. Please click here for the Linky

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Watch Your Step: Coffee in Sydney’s Surry Hills.

If ever there was a sign written for me, this was it!

Somehow, as I was walking along Devonshire Street in Sydney’s Surry Hills, these words leaped out at me. Hit me straight between the eyes.

Bang! Rowena, this message is for you!

Watch your step! Tread carefully. Don’t rush and definitely don’t trip…an excellent life lesson really.

I don’t know if you believe in serendipity, signs, fortune tellers and all of that but if you’d met me in the flesh, you’d know this sign was put there for me. Me of “broke my foot walking on grass” fame: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/oh-christmas-boot/

I also had a spectacular stack in Surry Hills last year where I thoroughly grated my knee, despite using my walking stick at the time. Not to be deterred, I didn’t jump straight back on the train but marched up a rather steep Albion Street up to Crown Street and enjoyed a wonderful lunch after buying an industrial strength stick-on dressing. That scrape was so bad, I needed antibiotics.

Nasty! Nasty! Nasty!

Devonshire Street, Surry Hills outside the Sly Cafe.

Devonshire Street, Surry Hills outside the Sly Cafe.

Moreover, I have to admit that when I stumbled across the sign, I was actually rather lost and completely off-course. Yet again, I couldn’t quite work out how this jumble of streets somehow interconnected. I had actually been heading for Albion Street and although Devonshire Street is still in Surry Hills, it’s almost in a separate universe.

So you can understand why this sign spoke to me in such a personal way…especially as I wasn’t meant to be there.

But who am I to argue with destiny and what was “meant to be”?

Or, in the words of John Lennon:

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

I know I really should be writing about the cappuccino and toastie I had there. They were great and very well priced.

However, I wasn’t in Surry Hills as a food critic…more of an explorer.

I had a medical appointment at 2.30 PM at Royal North Shore Hospital (which I must confess is nowhere near Surry Hills but at least, it is in Sydney) Applying my carpe diem seize the day approach, I like to drop the kids off at school and go off on a few detours before these appointments. Take what you could describe as “sanity breaks”. These days, that means sneaking off to Surry Hills, where my ancestors lived after arriving from Ireland back in the 1850s. I started out exploring their old nooks and crannies and now just find myself wondering around discovering quirky odds and sods and almost feeling at home.

This brings me to another discovery at the Sly Cafe, they had the most amazing light fittings cut out of old crystal glassware. This has given me a few ideas for our place. We’ve had to ditch our light covers after installing the you-beaut electricity-saving light bulbs Geoff bought. With all my vintage tea cups and “stuff”, I thought something like this would fit in extremely well at home.

Light Fittings, Sly Cafe.

Light Fittings, Sly Cafe.

What I like about Surry Hills, and this certainly applies to the Sly Cafe, is that you have an experience. While my food and drink were great, what I really loved was the ambiance. That there were so many little things to check out from the light fittings through to the recycled timber etc. It wasn’t some pre-fabricated, mass-produced excuse for somewhere to go.

There’s still more to uncover there because I understand that a sly grog shop used to operate on the premises (hence the name) and that sounds like quite a story. I love intrigue.

Anyway, here’s a link through to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SLYSurryHills

Plus, I’m very pleased to report that the sign must’ve brought me good luck. While all my diversions made me run a little late for my medical appointment, there were no accidents. I remained upright.

This would suggest that it wasn’t just me watching my steps. It was a case of divine intervention!

xx Rowena