Monday, January 26, 2009

Where celebrities have dinner in Paris...


If you've been to Paris, or have opened any Paris guidebook, then you've probably heard of Le Procope, a restaurant that claims to have been the first café in Paris. The place opened in 1686 and has an incredible history (the list of "celebrities" of all times that had coffee or dinner there is fascinating: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or Robespierre, Danton and Marat - "top guns" from the French Revolution time! - see Wikipedia for more info). The funny part is that you can still find the name of some famous people above a few seats. For example, I was sitting next to the seat of Jean-Paul Belmondo - a famous French Actor in the 60's and 70's - but I also saw where Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre got to seat or even former President Jacques Chirac.

80 comments:

  1. It's my second-fave restaurant in Paris! Eric, this shot of is one of your best. You have an unfailing eye. And I figured you wouldn’t keep us waiting tonight!

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  2. I have heard about this, but I am surprised that there isn't a table with your name on it because there should be.

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  3. Alexa: again you! You are so quick on the draw. Congrats.

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  4. I was trying to type so fast (and I am NOT a fast typist, I hardly know what I said. How often do you suppose Jacques actually sat here?

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  5. What I love about this shot—you would have no idea where you are if Eric didn't tell you (or unless you were a regular at Le Procope—I wish).

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  6. Ok Ok, I am back down to earth after losing again, ready to congradulate the winner and new champion, ALEXA!
    Hooray to you from here in Phoenix!!!!!Well done. How you ever wrote something lucid while knowing someone else could beat you out is beyond my skills.
    That snake in the grass Cali wrote to me and said she may not be around to play....and I believed it. Talk about playing poker! I will have to forgive her as she makes me laugh.
    When I go to CDG next month, I am going to leave a note on Procope's wall about Alexa's win and Cali the constant bridesmaid being runner up.

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  7. Congratulations, Alexa! Do you realize what you've won tonight ?
    I'm afraid Lynn spent too much time in another room watching LOST...

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  8. Hooray Alexa!!! : )

    Condolences from cali and PHX. : (

    I thought I might have a shot at GF but I got caught up in other things and missed it completely.

    Eric!! I love that you finally got to go to Le Procope! We talked about it when I met the PDP crew at General Lafayette. It's where I had my "Thanksgiving Dinner" and I won't ever forget looking out at the Ancien Comedie Francaise as I ate. Of course, I can't speak for the rest of the menu, but my dinner was very good. Amongst all the historic items, I never noticed the little name-plates, though, and so I missed what you did not. Meaning that, once again, you've embellished the Parisian experience for all of us! Merci, merci!!

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  9. I really wasn't going to be in Phx, but I have the sniffles so am not up to much but playing PDP GF! I would NEVER lie to you, well, not a big lie anyway!

    Someone throw me the f***ing bouquet already!

    Congrats Alexa.

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  10. PS, and I will send one picture that I take to Alexa and one to Cali.
    If you BOTH don't make it to the picnic, you BOTH have to send me your tear stained acceptance speech, or designate your stand in to read it.

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  11. You know what, ladies? That was big fun to read all your last few hours comments here and on FB, all waiting for the Crown Fight...

    Back to your post, Eric, don't you think Belmondo was also famous in the 80's, the 90's' and still is..."un homme et son chien"?

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  12. AAARRRGGHHH! ....sigh...
    Thib's right. I was lost in LOST.

    Well done Alexa! Fantastic finger work there. Techniques to be noted for next year for sure.

    I hereby, verbally and, later to be written into the constitution by Phs, relinquish my coveted crown, as last year's winner, to this year's very lovely and worthy winner of 2009.....drum roll.........ALEXA!!!! (tumultuous applause in background).

    Post winning interview:
    "So Alexa: Many congratulations then. How do you feel? Do tell us how your crown is decorated."

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  13. Yes, Thib, I was going to say that if I'd known, I'd have asked to have had my dinner with JPB!! But, you must explain,what is this "un homme et son chien" - it certainly doesn't come across into English literally, I don't think.

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  14. I think he is referring to a movie that JPB was in from 2008?

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  15. Ooops that's meant to read Phx not Phs of course. Er...I hope it doesn't invalid the handover? Do I have to do it again, for the sake of Abundance of Caution, in the presence of lawyers, three journalists and one very bad instant camera still as proof?

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  16. I feel like Barack Obama on election night! (Okay, perhaps that's a bit of a stretch.)
    Cali -- I will throw you the bouquet, but—sorry— NOT the crown!
    PHX -- even if you didn't win GF either, you get to be in Paris next month—and if that's not a consolation prize, I don't know what is. I just wish I knew I could be at the picnic to give that acceptance speech in English ET francais. A long shot, but who knows?
    So does the crown now come with Krazy glue, so it's attached until this time next year?

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  17. Well, they did in the US with Obama, but I'm not THAT strict.

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  18. It's a wonderful shot, Eric! Did you take more pictures so you can show us the inside of the restaurant? I'd love to see it. I wonder how it could be the first cafe in Paris, since Paris has been there so much longer! But it's so historic, I'd love to go there.

    Congratulations, Alexa!

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  19. OH. Invalidate not invalid. Dear God! Oh now I've blasphemed aswell! Get the lawyers on the phone.

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  20. Alexa, no I'm afraid there is no crazy glue, whatever that may be. The crown is left blank - and a little bit sparkly - though for your own decorating pleasure.

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  21. Gee you are so fast Alexa, that it looks like I am answering you about the crazy glue.

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  22. Goodness I quite forgot to say in the excitement: Eric the shot is superb. Just look at all the colours brought out through the reflections. I love it. To see where Sartre sat....oooh I'm so jealous, I really am. Adore Sartre.

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  23. Thanks for your congrats, all!
    Lynn -- you are as gracious in defeat as you are (undoubtedly) ebullient in victory. I am only grateful that you are so into LOST, or the crown might still be on your lovely head, probably tilted at a provocative angle to entice our gallant gallic hero.
    Thib -- do I realize what I've won tonight? Well, bragging rights, for sure. Beyond that . . . ??

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  24. Great Jumping Jehosephat, Lynn - the peaceful transition of power within PDP may now be in grave jeopardy of permanent, unstoppable and irretrievable dissolution - don't you think?!! (Oh yeah, the lawyers are here!). In an abundance of caution you'd better get right on it and thus prevent another political upheaval certain to result in revolution - after all, all we have to do is to look back at the history of our three nations to know that rebellion is the one common thread that binds us all to one another and the future.

    Or, you could just go back to watching Lost.....

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  25. Carrie, "un homme et son chien" is the last movie with JPB, released only afew weeks ago.
    It's quite controversial as Bebel is playing an old man who has not all his mind after having had a brain accident... Which is exactly what happened to him in the real life some time ago

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  26. Completely aside from the history: SO AMAZING! And then with the history: OMG I'M IN HEAVEN!

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  27. Thanks, Thib.

    I went to IMDB to check out the film and they say it was just released in France on the 14th. There was a glowing review of it. It sounds powerful. I'd really love to see it - I hope it comes to America.

    I tried Wikipedia to understand the name Bebel, but it didn't say anything about it there or on IMDB (which is a great film site to check out). Is this a nickname? Specific to him, or common? What does it mean? So many questions!! : ) If you get a second sometime I'd love to know about the name, too.

    Merci!

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  28. lol Alexa - gracious in defeat yes; is there any other way? :) I think we still need to know how you are decorating your crown.

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  29. Carrie I have to wait another year to try for the crown again ... and another week for LOST. Groan.

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  30. Yeah, Alexa - what's on that thing? Lynn and I need to know! Lynn - not to worry - once you've worn the crown, you are royalty forever! I for one, genuflect before your gracious regal presence. ; }

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  31. My, my, I like that a lot, Carrie, thank you. I could get used to this, lol.

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  32. Where's Michael by the way. I miss him!

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  33. Congratulations, Alexa!!

    {I confess, I scrolled straight past Eric's photo caption to see who won - is that bad? But I went back and read it after that - err, well, after reading your comments - priceless!!}

    Lynn ~ commiserations, gracious one. And a nice manicure will never go astray. The new series of Lost hasn't yet started here in Australia, but I shall be Krazy-glued to the telly when it does!

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  34. Wow, I've eaten here! I enjoyed my evening very much at Le Procope! I even snuck a photo of the bathroom! I didn't see these name tags though! Next time I'm in Paris I'll go back and take a peek!! I was awestruck that a cafe founded in the 1600's still exists today! Canada is such a young country that it is hard to imagine! Karyne

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  35. Lynn & Carrie -- Hard to decide what to put on the crown tonight. Think I'll go for classic: a glittering lit-up ET ET ET at each point, and Jacques Chirac perched proudly in the middle (maybe this will make him feel better after his unfortunate incident avec son caniche déprimé).

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  36. Thib - just wondering - and tying together two different names that serendipitously appear together in our comments - le homme et son chien - I'll bet that by the end of the story that dog was clinically depressed, no???!!!

    Ooohh - tough crowd! ;}

    In all seriousness, I wish M. Chirac the speediest of recoveries - I'm sure he went through an awful ordeal at a vulnerable age, but, I'm still left scratching my head: how much time on the couch does it take to determine that a pooch is "clinically depressed"??

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  37. Future Obama dog faces psych evaluation

    January 22, 10:26 PM
    by C. Y. Bermant, Seattle Political Satire Examiner


    The Obama family wants a puppy, but international events have just increased the complexity of the presidential dog adoption process.

    Former French President Jacques Chirac was attacked this week by his Maltese poodle, Sumo, who as it turned out had been on antidepressants and had been characterized as unpredictable. This incident put the Obama security team on high alert, and will now require any dog prospect to pass a full medical, psychological and psychiatric screening before being given the opportunity to soil the White House carpet.

    White House Chief Veterinarian Dr. Elliott Axelrod told reporters that every candidate for adoption will need to go through a full security check and a risk management evaluation of their breed before they can be approved.

    "Someone just told me that Caroline Kennedy withdrew herself from Senate consideration because she didn't want to deal with the vetting process," Axelrod said. "But she would still have a better chance getting named to the Senate than becoming First Dog, at this point."

    Axelrod acknowledges that the process isn't perfect, and that a dog that passes all the security requirements might not appeal to Sasha and Malia‘s canine preferences. For that reason he has counseled that the First Family adopt fish instead.

    His press conference ended when a reporter asked to see the medical evaluation for former First Dog Barney, who attacked a reporter late in the Bush term.

    “Those records are not available,” he said. “You are barking up the wrong tree if you are suggesting that the former president taught the dog a bite command and then suggested that the reporter use that particular word in front of the dog.”
    This is satire. But when you get the right dog you will know.

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  38. Congratulations, Alexa!

    When will there be an "Eric Tenin" plaque, and who would you like to be plaqued next to?

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  39. This article includes a photo of M. Chirac and his vicious, depressed dog.

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  40. a little of point but I read on Saturday that Malliol's muse died

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  41. Well, if I have anything to do with your glory, Alexa, I will quickly paste your name on the table, take a picture of it, and run out of the restaurant as fast as I can.

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  42. WOW!! It's been a long while since I've even made a comment in here.However I do come and see this site everyday.I just haven't commented in forever.

    How was your Christmas & NYE Eric?
    and the rest of the PDP'ers??

    Fantastic shot Eric!! Ohh this is pretty exciting I bet for any Parisian or visitor to Paris who knows about this restaurant.
    The angel of this one is nice as well.I love the look of old wood and how it just get's more beautiful over the ages.

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  43. Petrea -- thanks for the link. Does that dog look depressed to you? Seriously, what coocoo vet made that diagnosis??
    PHX -- would you do that, really? That would be SO cool! (You wouldn't have to beat a hasty retreat, I'm sure. Just flash your smile & they'll let you do anything.)

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  44. Ah, Procope. I went there with my wife some years back on one of our early Paris visits - I was particularly eager because it was a favorite haunt of Joyce during his Paris years.

    We had a nice dinner, though we received somewhat mediocre service. Certainly would love to go back again next time around though - if only we could become enmarkered regulars...

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  45. It's already in the works, Alexa! I'll let you know what transpires when I get back on Feb 11th.

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  46. Eric...I agree with Cali and the others--you deserve at the least a brass nameplate for all promoting you've done for your fair ville. Next time I'm in Le Procope, I'll ask to sit under the Eric Tenin plate. How's that sound? This photo is well-conceived and achieved. :-)

    BTW...was there a contest? I'm always the last to know. lol

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  47. Eric -- I'm with Cali, coltrane, et al. Never mind Jacques et Jean-Paul & their respective chiens—next time I'm in Le Procope, I want to see the Eric Tenin plaque!

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  48. I can't tell from the photo if the dog's depressed, Alexa. But how much damage can that little fluff-ball do?

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  49. Very lovely photo, the colours are nice and warm.

    I too would like to see more photos from here, it sounds as a very nice place.
    I have always avoided Le Procope because of the guidebooks. I can understand thats a huge mistake, and I'll go there when I'm next in Paris (March and May).

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  50. Congratulations Alexa ! You have to change your profile picture so we can see you wearing the crown.

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  51. Carrie, "Bebel" is the usual nickname of JP Belmondo.

    I didn't know about Chirac and his dog. I must say I'm not sure who's the most depressed: the man or his dog?

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  52. Fascinating story, Eric and a lovely photograph. As to Jean-Paul Belmondo - he and Yves Montand always seemed to be the epitome of the luscious Frenchman...

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  53. Thanks Shell! I won't tell you about LOST but..it was gooooood!

    So. We need to lobby for a plaque for Eric Tenin at this esteemed restaurant. We need a pic of that one for sure, here.

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  54. Oh, I remember that cafe! We went there when visiting Paris a couple years ago, and I absolutely loved the place! The dessert was magnificent... :)

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  55. This kind of thing really amazes me.

    I've heard that Sarkozy doesn't go to this restaurant though. He prefers more branchés restaurants on the rive droit.

    Don't know if it's true.

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  56. You know what Eric, that's exactly the kind of picture I like. The angle is perfect, and I like the reflection on the plaque.
    But to be honest, I would have prefered to see Sartre's plaque, who wrote, to me, the best plays ever. Or yours, who created the best blog ever. ;)

    I've never been there but would like to. Next PDP gathering? After Les 2 magots, we should!

    I didn't know about the Chirac's story either Thib!! How can you know that, you, Europeans and Americans?! LOL

    And to conclude: Félicitations Alexa!! To be honest I didn't even try to be GF. I was studying and didn't want to compete: it would have distracted me!
    Wear it with pride Alexa, you definitely deserved it after all the "simple GF" you won over the past months. (Just to let you know, if you need someone to stand in for you in May (only for the French speech!), I'm ok!) LOL.

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  57. I'm with Guille Eric; you should go back and get the Sartre plaque for elle et moi.

    GF Queen Alexa your crown is looking superb.

    Guille; didn't even try...pah!... yeah right. (!)

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  58. I definitely think there needs to be an "Eric Tenin" plaque there! Glad you had a good night, Eric!

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  59. {Lynn, Oh rats, I think I have Lost envy! Fortunately it starts here in a couple of weeks, so the wait is nearly over. You've upped my anticipation even more!}

    An Eric Tenin plaque sounds lovely. How cute that Eric shares his initials with the Eiffel Tower. Hence I was a bit confused when Alexa said she might put a glittering lit-up ET ET ET on each point of her crown ...

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  60. Great photo, great contest.

    You know, we could make a plaque and nail it into the table and nobody would know the difference. Just think "There's a famous guy I don't know" and then seek you out! Ok, I exaggerate a little. They'll know who you are!

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  61. I'm reading here about the contest: the intrigue, the intense competition and, more specifically, the lust for the CROWN. I think of the location of Le Procope. An image appears in my mind: David's "Death of Marat". (Marat was murdered a short distance from Le Procope--by a woman.) Beware, Alexa! Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!

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  62. Jeff -- Uneasy . . . and heavy! I have multiple Eiffel Towers up there AND Jacques Chirac (with bandages but without the nasty little pooch).
    Don't worry, though. I'm tougher than I look—and I always keep the door locked when I'm in the tub.

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  63. And, of course, congratulations.

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  64. Long time since I have come to visit Eric. Last year and this year are shaping-up to be harsh.

    Anyway I want to wish you a happy new year and obviously from what I see you are probably having a good one so far. Take care.

    Clo.

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  65. Petrea, I love this picture of Chirac with his "monster", so funny!
    And the last part of the article is a delight:
    "Recent polls have shown that since leaving office Chirac is now regarded as one of the most popular politicians in France, liked by 70 per cent of people.
    In the last days of his presidency, he was much less popular, liked by just 50 per cent of the population"...
    That's normal, it's because now, we have Sarkozy as President and we regret Chirac. Haha.

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  66. I believe the story is that Cafe Procope was also where the first cup of coffee was served in Paris. Ben Franklin, Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson were all "regulars" in their day!!

    It is actually a very big restaurant with several private dining rooms. I enjoyed my dinner there but I don't think the food is the same quality as some other famous places in Paris. I remember our waiter was extremely friendly and entertaining. He got into a conversation about "Star Anise" with us for some reason and went into the kitchen and got some on a plate and started eating it plain and offered it to us! He said he loved it and chewed on it when he got "nervous"!! Too funny!

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  67. Alexa - "You have an unfailing eye" LOL. Did you really mean that? - "am NOT a fast typist, I hardly know what I said"
    Ah OK, now I understand!!

    Cali "I am surprised that there isn't a table with your name on it because there should be." LOL. I always go there incognito!!

    PHX "When I go to CDG next month, I am going to leave a note on Procope's wall about Alexa's win and Cali the constant bridesmaid being runner up.". I dare you!

    Thib "I'm afraid Lynn spent too much time in another room watching LOST..." Eh eh The power of Facebook!!

    Carrie "Eric!! I love that you finally got to go to Le Procope! We talked about it when I met the PDP crew at General Lafayette." Actually it was my first time there. I always thought it was a tourist trap. And in fact it's not. It's pretty good actually.

    Thib "Back to your post, Eric, don't you think Belmondo was also famous in the 80's, the 90's' and still is..."un homme et son chien"?" Yeah I know, but the critics are so bad, that I did not want to put salt in the wound... For me "Bebel" is L'homme de Rio !

    Petrea "Did you take more pictures so you can show us the inside of the restaurant? " Yes I did, but not that many. It's difficult to capture the atmosphere with a camera I must say.

    Pont Girl "When will there be an "Eric Tenin" plaque ?" When pigs fly...

    Christy " How was your Christmas & NYE Eric?" Nothing outstanding. I actually had to work!!

    Esincli "We had a nice dinner, though we received somewhat mediocre service." Mine was really nice - Smiling waitress (unusual for Paris!!) quick but not too much.

    Coltrane "Next time I'm in Le Procope, I'll ask to sit under the Eric Tenin plate. " They'll go "Who?!

    Monica "I've heard that Sarkozy doesn't go to this restaurant though. He prefers more branchés restaurants on the rive droite." Yes, Monica, so we hear.

    Guille "But to be honest, I would have preferred to see Sartre's plaque, who wrote, to me, the best plays ever" Well Guille, just for you, here it is. But precisely, it's a ugly photo, that is why I picked up the other one. Between aesthetics and interest, I generally tend to prefer aesthetics. Call me superficial!

    Clo. Thank you ;) I hope things will improve for you.

    Tonton "Star Anise" I don't even know what it is?!!

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  68. "Well Guille, just for you, here it is"... Eric, WHERE?! :)

    A student in Art History can't blame you for prefering aesthetics!

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  69. Eric -- I absolutely meant what I said about your unfailing eye! But I was trying to type so fast and didn't look at it before I sent it, so I was sure it would come out completely garbled and misspelled.
    (You don't have to put my foot in my mouth -- I do it very well on my own!) :~}
    BTW, I also love the old books that you can just about make out in this picture. Do you suppose they've been there since the 1600s?

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  70. Oh, forgot to say -- for me, Belmondo is always the Bogart wannabe in A Bout de Souffle.

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  71. I just read the story about Chirac's dog. Why would anyone continue to own a nasty little rodent of a dog that has psychotic outbursts and bites you? Reminds me of a girlfriend I had. After a few of those episodes, I was out of there, Jack. Life's too short for that nonsense, even from a beautiful woman. But, a dog? Get real, Jacques.

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  72. I just want to say thank you for sharing your photos of Paris, and all of the interesting stories behind them. Someday I will go, but in the meantime I will continue to enjoy your blog here. Thanks so much! Sheri

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