In Paris, it is impossible to think you have visited the city without having sat at the terrace of a café for a while. The act of “être en terrasse”, being on a terrace, as they say, isn’t just a simple consequence of a beam of sunlight that pushes the people to rush at the many round tables around the capital, but should rather be considered as a philosophy, a typical Parisian way of sharing common areas. The terrace is a restful asylum, a reassuring setting.
To sit on a terrace « à la parisienne », that means foremost to look at the moving city around you and to become a spectator of a never ending bustle. This turmoil can be oppressing if you live it from the inside. You can only understand the magic of such an activity from the outside, catch a glimpse of all the tangled threads of which is made the urban landscape to better understand all the meshes. The terrace of a café is the ideal tribune for seeing this out of the ordinary show.
Paris being a historical city, the streets and pavements are narrow, the alleyways tiny. There are only few places where you will really feel isolated from the world. So much the better! Because it is exactly what gives the terraces their unique character. You will hear your neighbour’s conversation while observing life in full swing right in front of you. The passers-by come and go, you see more and more faces and, if you stay long enough, you will even be able to distinguish the inhabitants of the neighbourhood from passing visitors. And even better: by trying different terraces, you will be able to feel the uniqueness of each place you’re in and their distinctive atmospheres.
Some people will praise the magic of “well isolated terraces, far away from any cars or passers-by”. Don’t listen to them! That is the real pleasure of Parisian terraces: to observe the city. And Parisians are most likely some of the best over the world concerning this little game. A quite idle pleasure, that’s for sure, but without it you could never really understand Paris as it is.
Parisian terraces, the best way to discover the city and its inhabitants…