Fleurus: Pierre and Eric Laurie Fox PESSEMIER Acrylic on wood 6.5 x 9.5 inches
There is nothing quite like an espresso in Paris. All coffees are not equal: one must find a café that cleans their espresso machine daily. Otherwise, the bitterness of old oily coffee spoils the taste of the new. We have a few choices in our immediate vicinity:
The Hippocampus (seahorse), a jazz bar on the weekends, serves coffee and croissant in the morning. It’s in our building, so we like to keep our oar in the water there. On Friday morning this week they hadn’t yet gotten their croissants, and sent us out to pick them up. We got two for free.
The Tourne Bouchon, a delightful hole in the wall that serves coffee and croissants, beginning at 6 AM on market days, serves lunch and early dinner until 8. On Sundays, we go there for coffee with the organic market crowd, who’ve been up since 2 AM. Towards the end of the market, the entire sidewalk fills up with diners at mismatched tables and chairs for lunch that lingers until six, at least.
The Petit Lux has a wide variety of pastries, and Bruno makes a perfect noisette, an espresso with just a dollop of hot foamy cream. From a fabulous butter croissant to pain au chocolate, pain au raisin, abricotine, or chausson au pomme, all is deeeelish. Xavier is there, and Yannick the florist, always asking us what’s new.
The Fleurus is our usual hang-out, with excellent espresso and good croissants. Harika adores Pierre and Andre, the proprietors, and she gets to sit in the booth sometimes. Right now, I am painting some sketches as I prepare to paint a picture of the place, on commission.
Here, a young man at the bar talked about how important it was to drink coffee in a cup or glass. “Starbucks,” he groused, “throws an overpriced coffee at you in a paper cup!” Ask Starbucks for a ceramic cup and it is dug out of the confines of a cold closet, with no regard for temperature. A North African man talked about coffee from his country – never would anyone accept a coffee in a paper cup. The whole idea of drinking coffee in Paris is conviviality – to connect with other people. “To go” is a rare request, but it is not unusual to see the waiter walking down the street with two cups of espresso (ceramic of course) and sugar on a tray.
We drink at the bar for conversation. Monsieur G lets us know how France and America differ (he likes America, where his son owns a restaurant). The Tunisian grocer comes in (they are all from Djerba) and greets Harika, pronouncing her name like the fishermen did, and she cries and leaps with joy. Mario, the tennis pro at the Luxembourg Gardens comes in for a quick coffee then goes outside to smoke. Pierre passes us the newspaper.
I am reminded of how men used to go to bars in America to visit and relax , and I hum: Set ‘em up Joe.