To have a glass of wine at Café de Flore has long been a dream of mine and last Friday my dream came true (merci beaucoup Papa!). In fact I had lunch and two verres de vin rouges there, sitting at a table inside and thinking of all those who had passed through its doors before me.
Café de Flore was established in Paris in 1887 at 172 Boulevard Saint Germain in the sixth arrondissement. It became well known after the second world war as the place where existentialists Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir used to meet. It has hosted such literary giants as Hemingway, Camus, Raymond Queneau, Truman Capote and Françoise Sagan, and well known names from the worlds of art, film and fashion such as Picasso, Giacometti, Lagerfeld, Vadim, Bardot, Rochas, Yves Saint Laurent and Lauren Bacall. Today the cafe even hosts its own literary prize, the Prix de Flore. Past winners include Michel Houllebecq, Amelie Nothomb and Simon Liberati.
Café de Flore is a bit of a tourist trap these days and I have read reviews on the internet which are damning, saying the service is rude and unfriendly and the prices are steep. I found the service to be excellent but perhaps that’s because I speak passable French and smile a lot! Yes the prices are steep, but nowhere near as bad as the Champs-Élysées. Perhaps it’s a bit too touristy for some, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to experience an integral part of France’s literary history.