After an awestruck afternoon in la Palais Garnier, (it must be a dream to attend a performance there, parading your fashionable way up the grand staircase to your plush seat under Leurox’s fictional (or is he?) Phantom’s chandelier and Chagall’s strikingly whimsical ceiling), I sprinted through a downpour of summer rain to “the nearest cafe” – which ended up being the Cafe de la Praix. I sat with a window to the Opera unaware of the Cafe’s historical significance as I read my book and sipped an overpriced cappuccino under the ornate golden decor. It was not until an online search later at home that I realized where I had sat.
Charles Garnier designed the Cafe in 1862. Oscar Wilde had his last lover’s quarrel here before his death, probably while sipping absynthe. Hemingway wrote many of his passages for The Sun Also Rises here, perhaps while comfortably sitting at the window to the enclosed terrace. Marlene Dietrich caused traffic jams on the Place de l’Opéra with her frequent appearances at the Cafe.
So there was I earlier today, reading my Hemingway book, unable to resist temptation and ordering an $18 chocolate eclair, then watching the endless traffic go by through the heavy rain that ushered me through the Cafe’s doors.