Perhaps you may be one of the unfortunate visitors who have been snubbed at some of Paris’s famous right bank cafes? Never fear. You aren’t alone. There appears to be a trend that, nowadays, if you don’t intend to sit down and consume an entire meal at certain Right Bank ‘cafes’, then you might not get to sit down at all!
A while back, I posted a positive note about our dining experience at the venerable Cafe de la Paix. Located just across from the Opera House, this is a great place for a meal after attending an event at the Garnier Opera House, but don’t count on being able to wander in for a cafe or a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon.
Such was the experience of a group of nine of us (of which my husband and I were the only non-French). Although many tables were empty, for whatever reason, the staff failed to find an available seating for the nine of us. They waltzed us through to the Grand Hotel lobby where an entire set of tables had been set up for an event that wouldn’t take place until the following day. But not a table could be disturbed for our group.
This was, needless to say, quite embarrassing for our hosts. All the more so, because they had wanted to visit the Opera House and discovered at the last minute that the main auditorium was closed for a rehearsal. (This happened after a phone call to the Opera House confirming that the auditorium was open in the afternoon).
We have observed in other Right Bank cafes where potential ‘cafe drinkers’ have been shooed away to save space for the full meal crowd (even if it isn’t during the normal lunch or dinner hours). Should a cafe/restaurant be allowed to include the word ‘Cafe’ in their name if they practice these sorts of restrictions? That’s one for the City of Paris to consider. In the meantime, don’t be too disappointed if a seat isn’t available in the more elegant locales. Paris has tons of cafes and there’ll always be a warm welcome just a few steps away.