Spices and The Oldest Café in Paris

Founded in 1686, where gentlemen of fashion came to drink the exotic beverage we know as coffee

Teas since 1692, and All the Colors of Pepper

Despite light rain all day, I wandered in search of Hôtel de Sully, missing it but finding the Place des Vosges as my consolation prize, and picked up some delicious tea from the people who have been providing tea to Parisians since 1692, as authorized by King Louis XIV, Dammann Frères. One tin of Christmas tea and one of Happy Dreams later, I picked up some gorgeous fresh strawberries and blueberries while wandering the streets towards home.

After a bit of work and checking of emails, Jack and I headed in search of a spice store we’d visited when we were last in town, Compagnie Française des Poivres et des Epices, an artisanal boutique of peppers, spices, salts and sugars in a beautiful square. There are 8 or so white peppers, several red, multiple black, four smoked, so a pepper for any meal. It is hard to choose, but we ended up with a white that’s great with chicken, a red to use for vegetables and a spicy black pepper for everything else. I have a cool antique-looking pepper grinder at home, but the saleswoman says the best way to grind the peppercorns is with a mortar and pestle. So at least I’ll get a little arm workout while preparing my pepper!

Restaurant Procope

The inside of restaurant Procope

Walking home from Saint-Germaine, we were searching around rue de Buci for a place for dinner when I realized we were standing in front of a restaurant we’d been looking for earlier — restaurant Procope, which started its life in 1686. On an earlier visit we’d done a Paris Walks focused on Revolutionary France where the guide mentioned the restaurant as one in which Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, many revolutionary leaders, as well as Voltaire and many philosophers and writers have gathered over the years. Napoleon apparently left one of his hats to guarantee payment of a bill, which he never came back to collect and which is now showcased on the stair landing.

The story of Napoleon and the restaurant holding his hat as a pledge
The infamous hat

In fact, I realized while eating that a letter signed by Napoleon was framed and hanging just behind my head. We had the fixed price menu, which was a DELICIOUS ravioli (seriously, it’s small but so, so good) and (for me) trout and (for Jack) beef. The trout was tender but served as a whole fish and I never enjoy eating the body of a fish when its head and tail are there making it impossible for me not to realize that a fish had to die to make my dinner. So, but for my idiosyncrasies, it was great. Jack enjoyed his beef.

Right behind me I find a letter signed by Napoleon

While we were eating, a group of men all dressed up showed up to gather at what I believe was a private dining area upstairs, and definitely added to the atmosphere.

This man was all in — the only one I saw carrying a sword
Love the hats

Walking Home On A Rainy Night And Enjoying The Sights

The walk home was lovely, strolling down streets strung with lights, crossing the Seine near the Notre Dame, still glorious despite the fire and rebuilding now underway.

Lights strung along a street add just the right ambiance
Yet another gorgeous Paris street
Notre Dame and the scaffolding that will help rebuild it
Another view of the great lady.

All in all, another lovely day in the City of Lights, love, wine, cheese, croissants, strolling, history, and so many other good and delicious wonders. We are only missing our little dog … and of course, our children!

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