#simplygreycoffeetour beautiful places Paris

A Simply Grey Coffee Tour: Three

April 24, 2015
If there’s one perfect place to really “café it,” I would have to say that it would be Paris. (So all of you coffee and café lovers need to get on over there, okay?) My goodness, I never knew my love of cafés, or espresso for that matter, or croissants for that matter, or sugar cubes for that matter, or cute little café tables for that matter, or EVERYTHING THAT IS COFFEE AND PARIS for that matter – until I was there and I just knew. This was truly the way to café 😉  
If you’ve never been to Paris, let me just tell you- there is a café practically on every single corner, and they’re all good. And it doesn’t feel at all ‘commercialized’ – does that make sense? Like, every café is what it is… each one authentic. One of the things I loved most about Paris was that so much of the culture seemed to revolve around relationships and conversation… the cafés were always occupied, whether it was by groups of friends, business meeting groups, dates, or a single person enjoying the tiny table to themselves, it was always bustling and in the absolute best way. And it didn’t matter what time of day – people sat at cafés at all hours… even drinking coffee late into the night. 
During our time there, I did not witness many quiet moments at the cafés. Paris is definitely a city and a ‘moving’ one at that (at times it reminded me a bit of NYC, only a lot cleaner and friendlier), but I also never got the feeling that it was “go go go” in the sense of “I’m working myself to death” but rather “go go go” in the sense of “I’m making sure to live every single moment to the max.” Not only was this so refreshing, but a good reminder that ‘busy’ does not always mean ‘stressful’ or that you can’t be present. Sometimes ‘busy’ can simply mean you’re busy living, soaking up all of the moments, all of the flavors, all of the smells, all of the sounds, all of the sights… for as long as you can. Not once did I see anyone looking at their phones while sitting at a café, not once! I really felt encouraged to live life while in Paris. (Maybe it was all of the caffeine?)
For as bustling as it was, people really took their time while at cafés. So much in fact that Christian and I quickly realized we would need to slow our roll… people took their time to order, I swear the cooks took their time back in the kitchens, and the waiter/waitress really only came over to your table if you flagged him/her down. People came to cafés to drink, maybe grab a quick bite, and to converse. They mostly sat next to each other, facing the street, and would lean in close to talk. I loved this 🙂 So different. 
Going to Paris has been a dream of mine for a long, long time and being able to experience it with Christian was awesome. Back when I graduated high school, my dad told me that as a graduation gift I could either get a new car or he’d take me (along with the fam) to Paris. When I chose the car he was shocked and said he thought for sure I would have chosen Paris… that’s when I told him, “Dad, no offense but I don’t want to go to Paris with my little brother and my parents.” haha 😉 It was completely surreal to sit at café after café with Christian right beside me… what a dream! At one point when we were sitting at a table, he said to me, “I want you to come back here tomorrow, on your own, to write and take time.” I can’t tell you how much I love and truly appreciate the fact that my husband “gets” my need to be still with my thoughts and to fill the pages of my journal… it gives me such a grateful heart!
I totally wanted to take this water glass home – how cute, right?!

It’s a miracle that I didn’t gain 2487520 lbs on this trip, considering the amount of times we stopped to experience a new café (but also re-visit our absolute favorite – I’ll share more about this in next week’s recaps) but as you might have guessed, we also did a TON of walking too… so it all evened out in the end 😉

We did a lot of talking and conversing while café-ing but we also did a lot of people watching. It hit me, during one of my people-watching-moments, that people here did not seem to care about the opinions of or being noticed by passerbys. I’m going to do my absolute best to NOT offend anyone with my next few statements but it’s something I noticed, something I journaled about while there, and something I think is interesting to think about. Often times, here in the states and in my observations, I feel like a lot of people go places to be seen. And surely that’s not the only reason people go to the places they go to but I will say that in Chicago, it often felt this way… that people would go to bars, restaurants, and coffee shops and pay more attention to others who might be looking at/noticing them versus putting 100% of themselves into the conversations they’re having with the people they came with, or the book they brought, or the journal they intended to write in. 

Paris was not this way and once again, it was so refreshing to witness. They didn’t care about what others might have been thinking of them because no one else outside of their group was even paying attention to them (except the American, observing and journaling… #fortheblog) 😉

The coffee in Paris was much stronger (my kind of coffee!) and rich in taste, but most cafés offer more than just coffee, right?! After more observing, Christian and I noticed that a lot of people were drinking a beer called 1664 so of course we had to try it. We loved this beer so much; I’m hoping we can find it at World Market or something!

So basically what I’m trying to say here is that every café I visit now will be compared to all of the cafés of Paris. I mean, I’m ruined. But because I would never be able to quit coffee, and because I seriously LOVE doing this coffee tour linkup with my sweet girl Nelle and with all of you… I suppose I’ll keep on truckin’ 😉 
Once a month, Nelle (from Simply Love) and I come together to share some of our favorite moments from some of our favorite cafés and coffee shops. Our hope is that you will join us too, on the last Friday of each month by linking up to share a few of your own personal favorite spots from your own town or travels. 
Simply Grey Coffee Tour

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  • This was a beautiful post in every way. I wish i was a mouse in your pocket just to experience the S-L-O-W down and the conversation where it was them and no one else.
    When I was 15 my sister bought me a black and white portrait (from Target's world market they do every year) that featured two women at a café in Paris. I always wondered what it would be like to experience that. Thank you for sharing this in perfect detail!

  • This post displays your happiness – and makes me want to go back to Paris as an adult (I was a college freshman). I totally agree with you that in the US, people often go out to be seen and to see others. I so wish we could all appreciate simply being with ourselves and those we love! I've not had time to read your other posts but have it planned to do this weekend.

  • I love this post, but I just have to point out that the chocolate croissant looks just like the ones they serve at Starbucks! #legit

  • haha Christine!! I can assure you that these were better than any of the Starbucks pastries I've had! (Although I never did see any cake pops…)

  • I'm looking forward to sharing more, Sheryl! 🙂 There was so much to take in. I hope you get to go back one of these days!

  • Haha I meant good for Starbucks, not good for Paris, of course! But I'm sure they tasted better!

  • aw, thank you, Brittany 🙂 I have a Paris-themed kitchen and also have collected black and white/old Paris pictures over the years… always wondering what it was really like. It was pretty perfect 😉

  • Oh for sure – I think ALL of Starbucks goodies look eat-worthy. It takes major self-control each time I go in.

  • Christian Matthew Cullen

    Let's go again! Great post b 🙂

  • gorgeous!! you look amazing and it's so beautiful! and YES! you weren't there more than a few days and realized that you can walk around and not feel judged! i wrote a 50 page senior thesis on the difference between American and European school systems and def. talked about the differences in our culture regarding this! loved reading this- yay! AND we just ordered french bistro chairs for our new house!!!!!! ♥ ♥ have a wonderful weekend!

  • ps: LOVE the top graphic! so much!!

  • So beautiful. In my travels I've also noticed that people from other countries are much better at fully engaging in whatever they're doing- conversing, writing, reading, listening. It's refreshing to be reminded to live in the moment with the people you're with! Your Paris adventures sound incredible!

  • Oh yes! Nothing compares to the cafés in Paris! I love all of your observations about the people and how they were so engaged with each other and living in the moment!

  • I just scrolled back to the croissants way to many times!

  • Oooh 1664 it's a Kronenbourg and is the first wheat ale I had in London – very easy to drink but let me just warn you, a hangover from that in particular is paaaaaainful. Small doses only!!! 🙂 Your photos are awesome and the cafes in Paris are definitely one of the things I enjoyed most there. I think between the people watching, sitting on the sidewalks, awesome 'chocolat chaud' I could easily have lived at a café lol!!

  • Love this post. I've never been to Paris (it's on my list!) but I've heard many people describe it the way you did…a place where people try to enjoy the moment that they're in. I studied abroad in England, and there were many cafes there, but I don't think they have quite the same type of chill culture as much as France does. Definitely something I would enjoy experiencing, especially since coffee shop type places are pretty much my favorite vibe. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  • Ugh…everything about this is complete perfection. Mostly the beer in cafe's part. But I truly loe everything about this! I think I was made to live in Europe!!

  • Yey! Let's share some coffee love. Me too, I never knew I love coffee and cafes until I've seen and tasted one in Melbourne, Australia. I was always on a cafe hunt after that. 🙂

    Can't wait to see what Paris will offer me. 🙂


  • Thank you!! Christian actually took that picture and when he showed it to me while in Paris I knew IMMEDIATELY I would be using it for this post! 🙂

  • You are too sweet, Nelle, thank you! I could totally write wayyy more about the differences between American and European cultures, etc too! I journaled quite a bit about it. I cannot wait to see a picture of your bistro chairs! I hope you post them!!

  • It was totally refreshing… something I tried to bring back with me!

  • Thank you, Julia! 🙂

  • haha!! I know it… they were amazing!

  • oooh! Maybe it's a good thing I was still somewhat recovering from my sickness then because I definitely COULD have had more beers… it was so good.

  • You will LOVE Paris, Emily. I felt like it was one of those places where every single second made it worth the long flight and money to get there, you know? England is on MY list! One of these days 🙂

  • I really think I was too, Amy. Seriously. I told Christian at one point that it was such a good thing I was only now visiting Paris because I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, had I gone when I was in my early 20's, I would have found a way to stay there for a few years.

  • I can't wait to hear about your time there, Laie!

  • You make me SOOO excited to study abroad. Also, my favorite part of this was Christian telling you to go back by yourself the next day to write, so much love between the two of you.

  • chall1018

    I want to go to Paris and visit every one of these little
    cafes. Seriously! It makes my heart happy to hear that people actually sit down
    and have communication! That’s something that’s rare here. My heart is melting
    over the fact that he told you to come back and just sit and write! He gets you
    and I love that. PS – what are you drinking in that red bottle?

  • I was so surprised at how much people ate in Paris. Women were ordering three course meals and not skipping dessert either! I loved it. And their pastries..yum yum.

  • Katie, I am SO excited for you and will most definitely be living vicariously through you! 😉 And then when you decide to stay there, I'm coming to visit! 🙂

  • Lady, GO. Take your man and just go- it was such a fabulous and romantic trip!

    The red bottle was sparkling water… and I took the bottle home with me, haha 😉

  • Really?! Wow!! We did not see that! If anything the portions were really small and most people we were around were only ordering coffee/drinks. The pastries were sooooo good! 🙂

  • Ah this is so awesome! You got some really great photos of all the cafes. I LOVED all the little cafes in Europe, specifically Paris. Thanks for sharing, Emily!

  • Thanks, Kelli! Yes… sometimes as I'm drinking coffee in the morning, I close my eyes and pretend I'm back in Paris haha 😉