Sunday, November 14, 2010

My favorite café on Blvd St. Germain

The décor of Le Rouquet on the corner of Blvd St. Germain and Rue des Saint Pères dates back to 1954, when the owner, now 74, was in her teens. Le Rouquet is just up the street from Les Deux Magots and the Flore, but it's a whole different feel. Indeed, La Patronne is a little embarrassed if you say that hers is "one of the three." But she remembers when Sartre and other great figures of the literary world would stop by in the 1950s, and she notes that Hachette, Gallimard and Seuil are still in the neighborhood, so she still gets editors and writers connected to those great publishing houses. Until the 1980s, Le Rouquet would stay open until one or two in the morning and you can imagine the Godardian atmosphere, but these days it closes around 9:30 at night.  The terrasse is big, but can get pretty noisy if there's traffic, and usually there is. The food is not great (but it's not so hot in the others, either). One plus is that everything is a little less expensive at Le Rouquet, especially if you stand at the counter, which I don't recall ever doing -- or being able to do -- down the street.   But the main reason I go to Le Rouquet is for the lights and the atmosphere inside, which remind me of my first trip to Paris, which was when I was three, in 1954. - CD


Anonymous said...

I'm also a fan of Le Rouquet, but it was completely remodled/redocorated around 2004, like so many other Parisian cafes, and in so doing, they destroyed much of the "Godardian" atmosphere that was once very present. As a result of the remodeling, they removed the pinball machines and removed any trances of 1950s/1960s Paris...they also increased the prices a bit while not changing the menu or quality. I still recommend this place and a stroll down Blvd St Germain and some side streets. As for old, classic Paris, I think you have to go to the 10th,11th, 18th-20th arrondissements to find that.

Christopher Dickey said...

I knew there was something missing. Of course! The pinball machines. And I totally agree about the Paris of yore living on in those double-digit arrondissements. But in this neighborhood, I think Le Rouquet is a standout.