Meet your tour leader Suzanne at our Paris Meet and Greet on February 21.
One Vast Café
From the 17th century to today, cafés have been an irreplaceable feature of life in the French capital. Some of the earliest Parisian café patrons were traders at the great St-Germain fairs, and foreigners who frequented the Turkish-style coffeehouses around the St-Michel bridge. At establishments like the Procope, near the Comédie-Française theatre in the 1680s, the café was a place to see and be seen. Over the centuries Parisians of all stripes gathered at cafés elegant and humble. Paris, said historian Jules Michelet, was “one vast café.”
Cafés were also places to debate and exchange ideas. Michelet and some modern scholars see coffee drinking and the rise of the coffeehouse/café as helping fuel the Enlightenment, the French revolution, and the spread of scientific, artistic and philosophical ideas in France and Europe. Across the centuries, Voltaire, Robespierre, Manet, de Beauvoir, Baldwin and many other writers and artists have been associated with cafés.
These “third spaces” were no less important to those unknown to history, or to us today. Cafés have been escapes from the cold, de facto offices, places to meet friends and lovers, or refuges where one can simply sit and observe. When we go to them, for whatever reason, we are taking part in the comédie humaine.
Why Take Our Paris Café Culture Tour
This tour will be a fun yet in-depth dive into Paris Café Culture past and present. You’ll enjoy
- the fascinating stories of famous and not-so-famous Parisians on custom walking tours with novelist Lisa Pasold
- a guided visit of the lovely Musée de la Vie Romantique to better understand 19th-century cultural life
- a cooking class with the incomparable Frédéric, who will help you prepare a delicious meal to savour together
- time to enjoy Paris’s many distinctive cafés
We’ll study these thinking/drinking spaces through the works of the prolific writers Honoré de Balzac and Emile Zola—the first a consumer of prodigious quantities of coffee, the second obsessed with food and the way it is bought, sold and eaten.
Join other bons vivants for a relaxed yet stimulating exploration of Paris café culture through art, literature, history, and food.
Why Travel with Suzanne and Lisa
Suzanne is simply the BEST travel guide! Her professionalism, depth of research, thorough knowledge of each destination, flexibility, and sense of humour, are unequalled in my travel experience. Having toured with Suzanne on eight trips, I especially appreciate her ability to consider each participant’s preferences rather than adopting a “one size fits all” approach.
— Susan, Ontario
Ready to Book?
To learn more or book your spot, email Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free 1-800-387-1483.
- Check out our webinar on The Early Days of the Paris Café with Lisa Pasold
- Listen to Lisa’s Improbable Walks podcast episode about Zola
- All tour registrants get our extensive further recommended reading list of fiction, nonfiction, talks, and more
The tour name is indebted to the book The Café as a Cultural Institution in Paris, Italy and Vienna, ed. Ritter et al.