“Un crème, s'il vous plait”. And just like that, a beautiful, foamy cup of coffee appeared on my stone table. It perched delicately on a saucer beside a miniature spoon and two perfectly white cubes of sugar. It breathed soft aromas into the air. It whispered, “bienvenue”.
Outside, people bustled by, their features softened by the halo of frost on the window. They walked with purpose, but would pause suddenly to stare at a shop front. I couldn't blame them; from each store, something enticing spilled out onto the street such as dozens of red roses, the scent of freshly baked pastries, racks of haggard, leather-bound books.
Meanwhile, people flickered to and from the espresso bar behind me, exchanging pleasantries with the waiters and sipping from tiny, steaming cups. I could tell they were regulars, and was both surprised and delighted by the feeling of community permeating the warmly-lit room as strongly as the smell of espresso.
A strange rustling brought my attention to an elderly woman across the room from me. A newspaper was carefully unfolded in front of her and it draped daintily over the edges of the small round table. She adjusted her magnificent fur coat which cascaded to her heels, and I watched as her red lips pursed with distaste. I could only hope it was not me who had offended her. This was both an very, very French woman and someone I didn't think I wanted to cross.
As the café slowly filled, a distinguished-looking gentlemen joined me at my table with a shy smile. When I pulled the chair out for him, he gave me a surprised look and said what would translate most closely to, "that is quite amiable of you!". He unfolded a newspaper and I cracked open a book and we settled into our respective chairs. This, my friends, est la vie.
Here is to the cafés of Paris.