Hues of golden brown and soft beige glaze a warm from the oven croissant. Flaky yet crisp on the outside, the inside is filled with moist, delicate layers that melt inside the mouth releasing a subtle yet distinct buttery flavor.
Paired with a café au lait one is transported to the Café Terrace on the Place du Forum in the city of Arles, France ~ the setting of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting Café Terrace at Night.
A Romantic Setting
Sitting outside a café sur le trottoir savoring a cappuccino and croissant drinking in the sights, enjoying each gentle breeze that drift by is a pleasurable experience. Picture a brick façade with striped awning covering small bistro style tables and chairs set in front of large, picture windows. Fashionable men and women linger and sip from small cups with tiny plates of pastries and linen napkins lying on their laps as they lean into easy conversation.
Inside the café is cozy with a sophisticated air and counter displays showcase a stunning array of the finest hand made pastries. Artisinal breads rest in baskets hanging on the back wall creating a gallery display of freshly baked baguettes and pains de campagnes while the smells of butter, sugar and coffee mingle together amidst the din of tinkling cups and light chatter.
Rendezvous with History and Culture
True Parisian boulangeries-patisseries in France guarantee authentic gourmet pastries, breads and cakes are created. Hand crafted French desserts are made using time honored methods and many share similar characteristics.
Choux pastry, made with only butter, water, flour, and eggs, appears puffy and is used to create éclairs, profitéroles and crullers. Other tasty favorites include madeleines, and tarte tatin, each one distinctly different yet mouth watering and delicious. Crème Brulee is sumptuous and delicious vanilla custard with a caramelized topping of ‘burnt’ sugar. Délicieux!
Light and flaky pastries are achieved due to high butter content. Other delectable desserts like fine custard or Crème brûlée are sumptuously creamy. Layered dacquoise cakes require much time and dedication, each layer prepared separately with care. And all French desserts are elegantly presented with such attention to detail they appear as delicate ornaments on display. The complicated methods used require a large amount of time and a high degree of skill.
An Authentic Experience
Enjoying these French wonders at a local café in the neighborhood is a welcome diversion on a weekend afternoon, but to follow the likes of Picasso, Hemmingway, Hepburn and Jackie O. and visit a café sur le trottoir in Paris is even better. There is no more luxurious way to savor true French patisseries than at a café on the elegant Avenue des Champs Elysées and experience the savoir-faire of French culture. Lounging into the evening brings glasses filled with Beaujolais and waiters sporting crisp, white aprons and formal posture. As a start and finish to glorious days spent touring the beauty and wonder of France, Parisian Cafés escalate the experience with joie de vivre.
Editor’s note: Sadly, a great many of these cafes are closing, undergoing modernization or being bought out by corporations. There used to be over 45,000 of them 100 years ago, now, there are only around 7,000 of them. When you visit Paris, be sure to visit an authentic cafe to keep the tradition alive. Have you been to a cafe in Paris? We’d love to hear about your experience!
by Lee Anne Michayluk