No trip to Paris would be complete without spending some quality time sitting on a sunny café terrace. I have a friend in town visiting from DC, and yesterday we decided that this would be the perfect late afternoon event after an exhausting day of market browsing, beignet eating and clothes shopping. We found a perfect spot on the Ile Saint-Louis, took the traditional side-by-side seating arrangement, ordered two glasses of red and watched the world go by.
There are countless reasons why sitting at a café in Paris is such an enjoyable activity. If you like people-watching, there is no better vantage point than a front-row table on a busy (but not too busy) street. The corner of a mainly pedestrian and bike thoroughfare is the best. If the weather is sunny and warm you can work on your tan; if it's cloudy and cold you can cuddle up to your chéri under a warmer. French waiters are never anxious to shoo you away to make room for the next customer. Being able to take your time and not feel rushed is a welcome change from the turnover maximizing atmosphere that plagues many American establishments. What's more, even though the dollar is low, with many glasses of wine costing less than 5 euros a glass, sitting at a café is an affordable way to pass away an afternoon.
As the official pastime of Paris, settling in at a café is a relaxing and enjoyable way to feel like a local. Your only difficulty might be finding that perfect table. At certain times of the day (lunchtime) and in certain areas (touristy) finding a good spot can be tricky. Try wandering down a side street, or in an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood. There it is, over there in the sun, calling your name. Go ahead, answer it!