Total Pageviews

Saturday, June 8, 2019


Voltaire (with his arm raised) was a regular at Café Procope, an establishment opened by Sicilian chef known mainly as Francois Procope.
When this left bank coffee house/restaurant was founded, King Charles, a grandson of Louis XIV had just ascended to the throne of France.  It became the hub of the artistic and literary community in the 18th and 19th century Paris.  It was then a place where only gentlemen of fashion were allowed in to dine and or drink coffee, the exotic beverage that had previously served only in taverns.  Throughout the 18th century, the brasserie Procope was the meeting place of the intellectual establishment, and of the nouvellistes of the scandal-gossip trade, whose remarks at Procope were repeated in the police reports.
Not all the literary Encyclopédistes drank 40 cups of coffee a day like Voltaire, who mixed his with chocolate, but they all met at Procope, as did Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones, Thomas Jefferson, La Fontaine, Voltaire, Danton, Marat, Robespierre, Napoleon Bonaparte, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Gambetta, Verlaine, Rousseau, Redmond, Diderot, Verlaine and Anatole France.

A plaque at the establishment in St. Germain des Pres along rue de l’Ancienne Comedie in the 6th arrondissement, claims that it is the oldest coffeehouse in the world and the most famous center in France of the literary and philosophic life of the 18th and 19th centuries...”

The longevity claim is almost true as Le Procope closed in 1872 and reopened in the 1920s (allowing women patrons to this day).
In 1988-89, Café Procope was refurbished in an 18th century style.  It received red walls, crystal chandeliers, 18th century oval portraits of famous regulars of that day.
If you find yourself atop Pont Neuf over the Seine and in dire need of a cafe espresso simply keep walking where the bridge meets the left bank at Rue Dauphine; then turn south on Rue de l'Ancienne Comedie until you arrive at Le Procope, the oldest coffeehouse in Paris.

No comments:

Post a Comment