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pully Dec 7th, 2009 08:29 PM

eating/drinking in paris
can anyone please advise/clarify for us the following?
we will be visiting paris next year, on our last trip earlier this year we were confused re finding a place to eat/drink in a cafe/restaurant that did not involve sitting amongst smokers.

we do not smoke and prefer to sit way from those who do. we understand there are different prices to sit/stand etc for food/fluid intake??
we would not mind sitting in or out but how can you tell was is what??

are smokers required to sit outside? if you sit inside how much does the price go up?

forgive us if this has been asked before. we were surprised to sit in a cafe to have 2 cappucinos to be presented with a bill for €14. if this is common perhaps we will drink something else, but we do like a nice coffee too,

do you have to get off the beaten track to find reasonable prices?

kerouac Dec 7th, 2009 09:31 PM

1. Smokers are required to sit outside. 2. Prices are often cheaper inside. 3. You should drink something else and/or get off the beaten track.

In Parisian cafés, what they call cappucino is topped with whipped cream. It is not the beverage served in Italy. Perhaps what you really wanted was a café crème, which is much cheaper. All prices for every item must be displayed outside every establishment, so there is no valid reason to be tricked by the prices.

pully Dec 7th, 2009 10:21 PM

thank you for the prompt the prices before you enter, we did notice some had lists near the entrances/window. there were what appeared to be 2 prices near items? would this be for say in or out?
and yes we do like to move from the city too. we loved getting on the train to go to giverny it was a delightful place.

we need to explore and be more experienced re the public transport. thanks again.

tarquin Dec 7th, 2009 11:21 PM

This post reminds me of British friends visiting Rome. For a celebratory meal at a very expensive hotel restaurant, they drank FRENCH wine. In Italy.

avalon Dec 8th, 2009 12:44 AM

Yes the prices are for indoors and on the terrace. There may also be different prices inside.Cheaper standing at the bar than seated at a table. Also in larger bistros and cafes, you may see plain tables near the bar and set up tables further inside. The covered tables are for people ordering a meal , if you just want a snack or baguette, sit at the uncovered tables.

For trips outside of Paris,look up a copy of Annabell Simms, One Hour From Paris.

Gretchen Dec 8th, 2009 12:57 AM

The price could also be for standing up at the bar and having cafe--might be 2E, or sitting down where the price is 7E. Avalon has the best explanation I think.
While I know Kerouac is a native, I have been charged 6E for just a coffee when seated ever so briefly to use the WC--which I also had to pay for!!

isabel Dec 8th, 2009 02:34 AM

If you want a relatively large cup of coffee with milk in it at a good price (2.70€) sitting down then go to Starbucks. I know, I know, blasphemy. If you want a traditional French cafe sitting experience then of course not. But if you just need to caffeinate, sit down and use the loo then it's a good deal. Trust me, every one in there is French (i.e. not many tourists). There are 40 of them in Paris. And the coffee is pretty good (and I don't even like Starbucks in the states).

pully Dec 8th, 2009 03:20 AM

thanks for the replies. we are not fond of starbucks,not many left in oz now, thought they had gone bust?
it is interesting the different ways around the world. we travel i suppose for variety and to experience new things and to relive the things we enjoy.

it is a pity that simple things can sometimes be overly complicated but that is that.
so we seek advice/information/opinion.that is the beauty of these forums.
anybody like to throw some light on this issue, please comment.
nice nonsmoking places to preferably sit and enjoy good coffee with milk but no whipped cream. regards.

Jay_G Dec 8th, 2009 03:33 AM

Hi pully,
Here's a link you might find helpful :

I can't vouch for any I'm afraid, as it's one of my small pleasures in life to sit on my own and drink an espresso or two outside a cafe in Paris whilst enjoying a smoke or three.

Hope it helps.


tod Dec 8th, 2009 04:09 AM

pully - I once ordered a coffee at one of the cafe`s around Place De La Bastille. The waiter actually asked me if I would like it "frothy" or with cream(in French of course so I could only guess at what he was trying to convey). I actually got it with what I thought was frothed milk but, and this is a big but, the coffee was almost non-existant underneath this voluminous airy stuff on top. Maybe that is their version of a cuppicino or maybe I had something entirely different?! Maybe the froth was cream after all?!
All I know it was damn expensive.
I stick to Espresso now.

PatrickLondon Dec 8th, 2009 04:53 AM

pully, I assume you're Australian.

Would it help to know:

"Long black" = "café allongé" (espresso with added hot water), or "café filtre" (if they do it, which they may not; or they might bring you a cup with one of those ready-made filter things on top)

"Flat white" = (most probably) café crème - espresso with some added whitener, which may be treated milk rather than proper cream. Café au lait is likely to be more milk than coffee. I didn't know about the French approach to cappucino, but it's a useful reminder that French coffee culture is not the same as Italian.

My understanding on pricing is:

Cheapest: standing at the bar
Most expensive: seated outside at a table laid for a meal
And there are variations in between.

StCirq Dec 8th, 2009 05:42 AM

If you order a cappucino in Paris, of course it's going to be more expensive than a regular café crème, which should be about 2 euro. Cappucino is a specialty drink, and not French. And you don't have to go to Starbucks to drink cheap coffee. There are neighborhood cafés all over the place where you can stand at the bar and get a cheap one. You don't have to go outside the city to, say, Giverny, either. Just don't go to obvious fancy places in heavily touristed areas. You can easily tell what a "local" sort of café is by looking at it, and by looking at the posted prices. No one can give you a useful list of cheap cafés without knowing where in the city you'll be staying, and even then it's more a matter of using your eyes and common sense than getting specific suggestions.

I always order a noisette - espresso with a bit of milk in it.

Jay_G Dec 8th, 2009 06:01 AM

I think some people on this site need to relax a touch.

The poster asked (in my view) a pretty innocuous question regarding coffee and cafés in Paris and has had a succession of condescending and (some could say) slightly hostile responses.

The poster is obviously old enough and wise enough to know what constitutes a cappuccino and doesn't need a lesson on where it's from or what he/she actually drank last time they were in Paris.

As for cappuccino being a 'speciality drink' this is absolute nonsense. I must have ordered hundreds of cappuccinos in Paris over the years and have never been charged more than could be expected based on the establishment I was in and none of them ever came with whipped cream on the top. The fact that it's not a French drink has absolutely nothing to do with its pricing.

There are also numerous threads on here asking for café recommendations, so starting up another one with a caveat of being suitable for non-smokers is perfectly reasonable. Dismissing the request out of hand, isn't.

I wouldn't be surprised if pully doesn't come back based on some of the responses and to be honest, I couldn't blame them. Some people need to get down off their blinkered high-horses and show a little more humility.

kerouac Dec 8th, 2009 06:16 AM

Errr.... and you are complaining about hostile responses, Jay_G?

Jay_G Dec 8th, 2009 06:22 AM

Well spotted kerouac. Five points.

Yes, yes I am.

Please tell me how my posts to this thread constitute a hostile response to the original post. Or would you prefer to ignore the points I raise and try and redirect the focus somewhere else?

Oh, I see you've already done that.

Cathinjoetown Dec 8th, 2009 06:32 AM

I generally find cafe creme too milky. I ask for it with less milk or sometimes order a double expresso with steamed milk in a small pitcher on the side. I haven't provided here my fractured French which I use to order--it's grammatically incorrect but somehow I communicate what I want.

WillTravel Dec 8th, 2009 10:36 PM

I did get whipped cream on my cappuccino that I purchased at a cafe on Rue Montorgueil. I can't remember the price, but it must have been reasonable (I have a file in my head for unreasonably priced coffee drinks). They served it with a glass of water too.

That said, Starbucks is a good bet if you also want a bathroom. The problem with picking out a random cafe for coffee and a bathroom is that you can't know the quality of the bathroom beforehand, and sometimes it's a sad surprise.

pully Dec 9th, 2009 12:34 AM

thanks for the replies.
yes we do know the types of coffee and their countries of origin.

our main issue was we would like to sit and drink/eat in a smoke free environment. we are not familiar with the system of different prices for inside/outside/sitting/standing/table cloths on/off, etc??

so we need to ask, hence this forum.
life can be complicated indeed!!
now i wonder if we decide to have a nice cup of tea instead of coffee, how complicated that might be?

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