Everyone from George Orwell to Emily In Paris have found themselves down and out in the Fifth Republic. Suffice to say: whether you’re washing dishes with a sadistic sous chef breathing down your neck or fretting over the meaning of a kiss, France can leave the best of us red-faced.
However, there are also a few Gallic habits that could make our lives easier.
One is taking the time to have a sit-down coffee, even when a frantic day is tempting you to get takeaway.
As photographer (and Paris local) Patrick Colpron once pointed out on Instagram, defying life’s demands tastes damn good – and can help steady you to face them.
“Café life is when you just take the time to love a little instead of rushing from place to place. It is when you can afford to wait 15-20 minutes to have your order taken for a simple coffee and another 15-20 minutes to have it brought to you… The time it takes to fully enjoy the simple pleasure of another person’s company, a fresh newspaper or a good book.”
Another reason food and drink tastes so much better in Paris, according to Gary Prebble, the owner of Sydney French restaurant Bistro St Jacques, is the city’s “passion for food and going out to eat and drink.”
“It’s not just the hospitality providers,” Prebble tells DMARGE.
“It’s the customers’ attitudes that makes it a party and something special.”
“It’s a very American idea [which Australia has to a degree imported] that the customer is king sh*t of everything, but the French have another way… maybe the chef does know how the meat is best served…”
“Instead of a customer controlling every aspect of the experience, let the providers do what they do and trust them, and see where that goes.”
Also key to having a more meditative coffee experience, according to Prebble, could be to put your phone down.
“I am 50 years old, so I grew up without social media and phones etc, and I am quite shocked at how much people rely on the use of these devices to legitimise their experience today.”
“I think this can contribute to significantly increased neuroses. I always have the feeling it takes people out of the experience of being there, and that is probably antithetical to a great hospitality experience of immersion.”
Prebble leaves us with one final way Australia can learn from France’s hospitality culture: “It’s good to go deep into something and not to follow whatever the latest fad is saying you should do. This is always what quality cultures do, Japan (food/ engineering), France (food/wine), Germany(soccer/engineering), Italy (racing cars).”