France, Paris. The leaves are falling from all the trees along the Champs-Elysées. Surely it is not autumn yet? Summer has not even begun let alone finished, yet the flash of orange and red leaves marks the end of another chapter. Another season is threatening to pass, and we are all are left wondering, “what happened”.
All the Parisians have returned to work and their lives with stories of fun, family and frivolity and I am still trying to find a good, reasonably priced coffee in this city of 12 million people.
Some people (like me) needed to stay in the city through summer. How would everything function otherwise? How would all the tourists survive? Who would make and serve up 7 euro crappy cappuccinos? These are the questions we all battle with daily, living in the ‘most beautiful city in the world’.
As a foreigner living in Paris there are days where everything is viewed with a wand of pink lip gloss and other days – EMO black eyeliner. I feel like I am in constant battle with the local species (The French), and their negativity – it really is a constant battle between good and evil.
Yes, the monuments look less impressive with a grey backdrop and as the sky threatens us with rain at any moment I begin to think about the seasons changing and what is ahead and what new challenges winter will bring. I have already learnt that umbrellas are downright dangerous as you navigate up, down and through metro stations, along foot paths avoiding the rained out dog poo going to get your 7 Euro cappuccino but these are not the issues Parisians are complaining about.
Which brings me to the top 3 favourite topics that the French complain about. It had to come eventually… So, drum roll please, in order of frequency, they are:
- The weather. Regardless of whether it is hot or cold -the French are definitely related to the British (or visa versa!)
- Their jobs . Yes, this is a universal complaint however is multiplied about constant complaining about how far work is to their domicile, how they get to work, which metro line takes them to work and how packed it is and the fact they even have a job – seems to be a topic of great distress.
- Politics. The topic in general and how France is doomed or not doomed depending on your political persuasion – but normally ‘doomed’ seems to be the favourite flavour.
However, I really think the French have better things to complain about. For instance, the effort required to purchase a decent coffee in the whole of city of Paris (you saw this coming didn’t you?) Yet I seem to be the only one in this whole country who is constantly complaining about this. So much so, I really think it is getting on everyone’s nerves. As if I care so much about the weather, my job earning tuppence and a political situation which well, seems doomed depending on who I speak to.
We visited Amsterdam recently – only 3 hours away by train. What a surprise when I found out it is evolutionary light years ahead of the French in the coffee department. Real milk, creamy coffee at a reasonable price. Not much to ask, from a metropolitan city but nevertheless I was surprised. A bit of pride is needed to get France out of this quagmire of dismal coffee and I feel I, along with those who came before me, must expose this great injustice to the French. I mean, what would be more satisfying than sipping on a creamy, flavoursome flat white whilst delicately pulling apart a freshly baked pain a chocolate? No wonder Parisians are so grumpy, they are missing the Ying that should really go with their Yang.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I have been on the search for my non UHT milk, freshly brewed bean coffee. I have scoured the internet, visited forums, stalked coffee connoisseurs on Instagram and eventually came up with a list. Yes, a list of the top 10 coffee houses in Paris. I had a list and that was the start of my coffee adventure. I have discovered brave foreigners who have tried their luck in sourcing, roasting and brewing their own beans in France and if I believe what I am reading, are turning the tide when it comes to ‘coffee education’ in Paris.
But not quick enough for me…non, non, non Madams and Messiers.
As I sit here, craving one of these ‘real examples’ of coffee from one of the crowded establishments on my Paris list, I look out of my apartment window and see rain. I think of the 30 minute metro ride avec umbrella and the associated pedestrian/dog poo hopscotch walk to obtain my ‘cup of Joe’. But what do I do? I think of what the French would do? The national sport of going on strike seems futile in such a situation or is it? So I decide reluctantly to resort to the french press sitting right here, at home. The next coffee outing – an expedition, a feat of great proportions on such a day will have to wait – till tomorrow.