Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Paris Breakfasts Les Deux Magots

You can't go to the Café de Flore and not go to the Les Deux Magots on 68 Boulevard St. Germain. They're side by side and both tempting to the Paris lover. There's an ongoing controversy over which is the preferred café of Parisians, but I'll go into that later. Both offer the best of "petite" déjeuners (breakfasts) and touristy or not, should be visited just as you'd go to the Louvre.

It's a good idea to go on a rainy day, when cafés are less crowded. Rain puts off everyone everywhere. At the Shake Shack last Saturday it was drizzling and the line, normally a 30 minutes wait, was non-existent. In Paris, you'll be treated more attentively by the waiters, and they'll put up with your faux pas if it's raining outside. BTW never call a French waiter, garçon. Only Bonjour Monsieur will do. You're on THEIR premises and better behave accordingly with proper respect or don't bother. It's worth it.

The chocolat chaud at Deux Magots is just as good as Angelina's. Taste is what counts and here it's rich and chocolaty, achieved by grating plenty of dark chocolate bars. That's the secret of any hot chocolate, so forget the powders and throw a bar in your cup, pour hot milk on top - et voilà.

There's a terrific urge to swipe everything off the table so you can recreate your own café. The possiblility of le petit déjeuner at home too tempting. That's why some cafés have onsite stores to indulge your impulses. There are plenty of shops stateside for those who hesitated. I have a café table and chairs from Pottery Barn and I dream of covering it with real café logo crockery.

In May, I was very smitten with Deux Magots' porcelain ashtrays, though I don't smoke. These impulses are unpredictable. I was pleased to find the same porcelain ashtray at Sennelier holding a pan of BLOCKX watercolor. I bought the Naples Yellow, one of Deux Magots' signature colors.

I chose off le carte (menu) not-so petit déjeuner complet includes:Café, chocolat à l'ancienne ou thé Damman
Jus de fruit frais, orange ou pamplemousse
Viennoiseries variées et petit pain du boulanger
Beurre d'Échiré, confitures artisanales ou miel

Artisanales as in the jams are made in a factory with less than 50 workers, so they're more or less homemade. For a closer study of Les Deux Magot carte look here. Any preparatory work you do before going to a Paris café can only help overcome the ever present intimidation and will let you enjoy cafés to the fullest.

How one person could possibly complete this so-called small breakfast is beyond me. This is the "after" picture. I felt compelled to try everything if unable to finish it. Even the Normandy pat of butter (Beurre d'Échiré), got tasted and it's autocollant (label) makes a nice sticker for a Moleskine cover.Excusé moi Monsieur, je suis terminé.
L'addition s'il vous plait?You may get your bill with the tray, but just in case. For the record, we're having continuous Monsoon rainy weather here in New York and there's nothing I'd like better than go sit in a Paris café. Malheureusement, I have to go in to work today, but in 53 days... Bonne journée


  1. Ah, picture this: Minnesota breakfast--

    Two thick bright orange grilled tomato slices, topped with grated parmesan cheese, removed from a black cast iron small frying pan; food placed on a cobalt blue plate next to a croissant, topped with imported fig jelly next to a steaming cup of black coffee in a cobalt blue mug. All of it placed on a silver tray holding a white cloth napkin with a silver fork on top of it. Carried to a dining room table, eaten and savored by an appreciative very-young retired English teacher while listening to the dulcet tones of Mark Knopfler (well, not quite dulcet).

    Ain't Paris, but it's better than nothin' Now off to get what passes for latte in this country!

    Have a good day, all!!

  2. Anonymous12:44 PM

    i just ate lunch... but now i'm hungry again!

  3. I actually did just as you suggest on my first trip to Paris. I found both cafe's to be quite good although I was told to stop smoking at Cafe de Flore - sitting outside! I couldn't believe it!
    I actually bought ashtrays from both as keepsakes, but I will admit that Le Deux Magots just has un place special dans ma coeur... :-)

  4. Anonymous1:16 PM

    I'm amazed that there are still photos coming from your last trip to Paris!! Did you preplan your blog entries and are now unveiling them, bit by bit, til the end of your stash? You certainly got more out of that trip than any ten people would have! ( Does that make any sense??) I haven't been to either of those famous cafes since the mid 90's, but I will go back in October--your excitement is always so contagious.

  5. Anonymous2:19 PM

    No way Laura, I just take pictures of EVERYTHING in sight anywhere, everywhere. And it was my 1st digital camera in Paris...
    It's my sketchbook. Go/Va vite.

  6. Great blog!
    Your illustrations are so nice, bravo!

  7. Dear Carol...I thought of you this morning as i went to buy our baguette, and I thought of you as I filled my cafe au lait bowl...and I really thought of you when my friend brought me a welcome home box of MAISON du CHOCOLAT !!! Thinking of you!

  8. I can almost taste the flakies as they crumble off the croissant...and has to be a #1 weakness...

  9. These pics really make me want to jump on a plane to Paris, i've always had the urge to go and brush up on my French...that is why I dedicate Sundays to playing French music while I eat dinner, to listen to Edith Pfiaff makes it so divine.

  10. Thank you so much for this post... brings me right back to the cafes I visited in Paris last week.

  11. Anonymous3:26 AM


    I am French and have just discovered your blog... I have gone only through a few pages up to now and have enjoyed them.
    Still, would you allow me to specify one point:
    In "petit-déjeuner", "petit" has nothing to do with English "small".
    It means "early", as opposed to the midday meal: "le déjeuner" (=lunch).
    "au petit matin" meaning "early in the morning"
    "Petit" cannot be always literally translated as "small", it can be: short, mean, little, low, poor,...
    and early, in our case.
    Bonne continuation!

  12. parigot4:44 AM

    wonderful blog!
    btw : try " j'ai terminé" with the waiters. it'll work better than "je suis terminé" ;-)


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