Monday, July 10, 2006

There goes the neighborhood

A new cafe has opened up downstairs from us. When I say downstairs from us, I mean, as in directly downstairs from us. As in the people who work in the back have to use our entryhall to get into the kitchen. As in, our wireless connection on the fourth floor reaches the cafe, I can blog over an afternoon espresso, which how about that, I just happen to be doing at the moment. For those in the US, you might say, big whoop, but as finding a cafe in France that has a wireless connection is still not very common, this is definitely a big plus of having this cafe downstairs.

The cafe replaced a former bar that looked so depressing that I never stepped into it. It was dark and had no windows, and had old mustachioed fat men drinking cognac at seven in the morning and reading Le Parisien. I don't think women were welcome, in any case I certainly never tried. The new place is airy, with those wonderful windows that French cafes have that open up in summer so that you can sit inside but still feel like you are sitting outside, or else in winter you can still people watch. It has a beautiful mahogany bar, horse wallpaper, quiches (including a vegetarian offering) and decently priced coffee and wine by the glass. It also has tattooed waiters.

Now, I have nothing whatsoever against tattooed waiters, it's just that in my experience the arrival of tattooed waiters in cafes means a possible Silverlake-ization of the area could occur in the near future.

On a recent Saturday morning, while enjoying a coffee on the terrasse of said cafe, we suddenly jumped as trombones started blaring. The dog, sitting otherwise quietly underneath our table at our feet, began to bark at three men across the street, wearing funny straw hats and suspenders and playing instruments. After about a minute of music, one of the men picked up a loudspeaker, greeted the residents of the neighborhood, and proceeded to talk about the difficulties of the area and how the increase in rent has caused twenty percent of the local businesses to shut down in the last three years, and how important it is that we the people of our neighborhood patronize our local shops. The Tunisian bakery that closed in February immediately sprung to mind.

That, added to this recent article, means I have a feeling that the times they are a-changing up here in our cozy little corner of the seventeenth arrondissement....


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