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Dueling Cafés

Les Deux Magots (6 pl. St-Germain-des-Prés) and the neighboring Café de Flore (172 bd. St-Germain) have been duking it out on this bustling corner in St-Germain for more than a century. Les Deux Magots, the snootier of the two, is named for the two Chinese figurines, or magots, inside, and has hosted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, James Joyce, and Richard Wright. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone du Beauvoir frequented both establishments, though they are claimed by the Flore. The two cafés remain packed, though these days you're more likely to rub shoulders with tourists than with philosophers. Still, if you're in search of that certain je ne sais quoi of the Rive Gauche, you can do no better than to station yourself at one of the sidewalk tables—or at a window table on a wintry day—to watch the passing parade. Stick to a croissant and an overpriced coffee or an early-evening apéritif; the food is expensive and nothing special.

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