Friday, 19 April 2013

Chez Sophinette, 184 rue Cardinet, Paris

Chez Sophinette, Paris, 19 April 2013.
This small little café adjacent to my hotel, the Abrial, on the Rue Cardinet, Paris, looked a bit like a snack bar when I first passed by. There were 'meal deal' posters on the window, which is always a bad sign in my books. So, I weaved my way towards the Rue Brochant where, the night before, I had spotted a nice little café, but, alas, it was closed, so I walked around the block and went back to the Chez Sophinette.

It was a small place with tables by the window and a servery, behind which a rather attractive French woman was busying herself with whatever people who work in cafés busy themselves with.

"Bonjours!" I said with a smile, adding that it was the only word in French that I knew, but then, as I sat down to await my breakfast, I realised that I was mistaken: there were loads of words, especially if you took into account all those French words that have made their way into the English language, like 'entrepreneuer'.

I ordered tea, fresh orange juice and bread and jam, having turned down the traditional croissant, which, incidentally, the girl behind the counter DIDN'T pronounce in that awfully pretentious way that English people do: 'cwass-orr'. I hate that and found it refreshing that the French don't pronounce it that way, just poncy English people. I might be wrong, of course, and would only know the truth if I conducted some kind of survey by asking random Parisiens to say 'croissant'. Needless to say, I couldn't be bothered.

Petit Dejeuner – a small breakfast on a small tray, but then came the bread!
The breakfast was pleasant (see photo). A pot of hot water, a trendy tea bag (English breakfast), a can of fresh orange juice – rare to see these in the UK and, I have to admit, I thought she'd handed me a fizzy drink, like Fanta, but no, it was genuinely fresh, 100% orange juice with no added sugar. The bread was amazing. Not a slice of bread but a kind of crusty baguette thing smothered in strawberry jam. Oddly, I'd asked for marmalade and she told me I could have apricot or strawberry, not understanding, perhaps, that in England marmalade is predominantly made from oranges. Later, as she prepared my baguette she confirmed that I wanted 'red fruit'. Why didn't she say strawberry? The breakfast arrived on a small melamine tray and was nicely presented.

Within seconds of my arrival, others turned up and made similar orders as I gazed out of the window hoping that my toothache wouldn't return. The previous evening I'd gone out for dinner in a local Italian restaurant, not far from Chez Sophinette, and was in unbearable, jaw-breaking pain. So bad that I got the bill and left and, as I write this from my hotel room (room 406) I can still see the half bottle of Valpolicella with a cork stuck in the top. It's wasted and I should have left it in the restaurant. I had the choice: painkiller or wine? In the end I opted for the former.

The view from Chez Sophinette's window was not good: building sites, cranes, that sort of thing, and a busy road in front of it all, but that was the only down side and I'm guessing that once the building work is completed, the view will be much better. This was, effectively, a snack bar, not the sort of place to get cosy while reading a book, in my case, Cycling Home from Siberia by Rob Lilwall, which I finished on the Eurostar home.

The bill for my petit dejeuner was EUR4.50 – very reasonable. Downside? Not many, but it could have been a little cosier in my opinion.