It’s rainy today; and tucked inside with a cup of coffee, my thoughts turn to simple, warm moments in Paris – a neighborhood café, new acquaintances, lingering over a glass of wine.
I was in Paris visiting my friend Sandy and her dog, Sam. We walked the few blocks to Au Bon Coin, a cheerful French café wrapped around the corner of rue de la Collegiale in the Latin Quarter. Just as red-and-white checks wrap around their business cards, checkered curtains adorn the entry and windows. Gingham and wood, humorous and fine art ceramic pichets of red wine and elegant recycled wine bottles filled with water – a welcoming scene.
Our table wasn’t ready, so they invited us to step back behind the pastry case and offered delicate flutes of kir, while the young servers reached around us to pluck bottles of wine for guests. We were seated next to two women, who reacted to Sam’s presence with the typical American raised-eyebrow, wide-eyed dog in a restaurant shocked expressions; yet by evening’s end, we were offering French travel lessons for their next trip. “Lucky”, a New Delhi native, and Rachel were company workers from the Silicon Valley.
We begin with kir and a small plate of olives. Then, the pichet of red wine, the carafe of water and an avocado-tomato salad. Voila! Add boeuf and pepper cream sauce, pommes frites, and, of course, more wine. The café was filled with young people, mostly, dressed in black, thin, lively but discreetly sharing conversation.
During other visits, we found the same pleasant atmosphere, a kind of neighborhood haven less known for gourmet fare than for its inviting atmosphere, an ideal spot for sharing news over a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a chilly day.
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