“Café de Flore” – A Legend of the Left Bank

Spring is definitely around the corner, gently nudging away weeks of endless rain.

The sun  is finally flooding Paris generously, with its healing golden light and warmth.  Having had a low count of Vitamin D, due to diminishing sun-rays, I decided to enjoy the glorious blue sky by lazing away the hours under the hot sun at the Café de Flore “terrace”, with a close friend.

People watching is the thing to do at this famous Café, which was home to many eminent and legendary intellectuals, writers, artists, philosophers, during and post World War II.

The Left Bank café”s, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, were the literary heart and soul of Paris – the Café de Flore, with its classic Art Deco interior, and Les Deux Maggots, being the most illustrious.

Sartre and de Beauvoir would hold court with other literary contemporaries, while debating and discussing  their philosophy of existentialism, Marxism, and her feminist ideology, encapsulated in her sensational book “Le Deuxième Sexe” (“The Second Sex”).

It also happened to be Paris Fashion Week.  Café de Flore was jam-packed with everyone and anyone involved in fashion.

Sipping from our glass of red wine, we passed the time admiring the beautiful, gazelle-like, reed-thin, coltish models chatting, discussing, and gossiping about the fashion show they were in that day.  Top Topic was John Galliano’s dismissal from the House of Dior – SAD.

A tall, dignified lady, with the reddest long, wavy hair was walking towards someone awaiting her at the entrance of the café – it was Grace Coddington, the Creative Director of American Vogue, and right arm of the fearsomely capable Anna Wintour.

Coddington is a graceful woman, who possesses what is commonly described as emotional maturity.  She is cool, calm, and collected.  There should be more of her temperament at the helm of Vogue magazine.  Cool!

Sitting next to my friend was an imaginatively dressed man in his late thirties, wearing low slung, faded blue jeans, with his longish greying hair pulled up on a rather large head – he reminded us of a Mongolian warrior.

He seemed very self-assured and was talking animatedly to his friends.  People kept stopping to congratulate him on his success – he turned out to be the talk of the town – the highly talented Turkish designer Hakaan Yildrim.

His fashion show in Paris was so impressive that his show was visited by top names in the fashion world, such as ex French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, the model Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, and last but not least, Leonardo di Caprio who was among those attending his party – not bad for a newcomer.

After a lot of nudging and indecision, we decided to order “Le Club Rykiel”, the Club Sandwich named after neighbouring fashion designer Sonia Rykiel, which is “sans pain” – a slimmed down version of the really, really, really delicious, authentic version, with layers of toasted bread sandwiched between a stuffing of sliced, white chicken breast, tomatoes, lettuce, sauce, and a bunch of delectable French Fries – Yum.

We felt righteously good about not adding an inch, and were thankful to “Flore” and Sonia Rykiel for offering the calorically low sandwich.

Off-course, on the other hand, we made up for the lack of calories in the “Clubby”, by greedily devouring their “Millefeuille au caramel”, a delicacy we highly recommend at this historically prestigious café.

We have often encountered contemporary artists, writers, and philosophers, like Bernard Henri-Levy (who when in Paris usually lunches daily at the Flore), as well as the well-know model and celebrity Inès de la Fressange, the actress Anna Mouglalis (who played Simone de Bouvoir in a bio-pic), Pierre Bergé (YSL’s partner), Jane Birkin, the ex-wife of singer, songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, as well as many international writers and actors who frequent this establishment – which makes the experience a delight for people watchers.

The Café de Flore is undoubtedly our favourite café, where one is immersed and enriched in the cultural, intellectual, and social ambience of the day, as well as remembrance of the glorious period of the literary excellence of the past.

Café de Flore –

We salute you…….


One thought on ““Café de Flore” – A Legend of the Left Bank

  • 6th March 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Fascinating…one just wants to keep reading more…


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