We’ll Always Have Paris?

The City of Lights still has some fight left in it.

Place Sainte-Marthe in Paris’s tenth arrondissement Chabe01/Via Wikimedia Commons, Accessed CC by-SA 4.0

Google Street View, I recently discovered, also permits time travel. Take the Café de l’Église, opposite the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul church in Paris’s tenth arrondissement. The most recent Street View capture from March 2023 provides as fine an example as any of a certain mediocrity found in France’s capital, where I’ve lived for the past six years. The restaurant’s awning is crowned by a garish arrangement of fake flowers. In a Parisian corollary to perhaps the worst motif in contemporary décor, the café has also been known to host a human-size teddy-bear at one of its empty tables. The undoubtedly so-so specialties of the day are priced in the high teens, although you can’t entirely make out what’s written on the ardoise.

Click back to 2008 and that same street corner was occupied by a shabby café-tabac called Le Weekend, a masterpiece of twentieth-century brasserie design. It is a stunning afternoon in May. A motley crowd of…

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