France: Ballad of the Sad Cafes

Even more than the British pub or the American corner drugstore, the French café has always provided a haven within which whole lives could unfold. It is a unique national institution that combines club, office and home-away-from-home. "It is where the Frenchman entertains guests, conducts business, writes his poetry and novels," says Roger Cazes, owner of the elegant Brasserie Lipp on Paris' Boulevard Saint Germain. "It is where, if he is famous, he goes to be seen, and if he is not, he goes to watch. It is where he discusses art,...

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