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If you’re arranging a stay in any of the hostels in Paris it likely means you are going to be involved in some serious sightseeing. But as you rush in and out of museums and galleries, don’t forget to take some time out to indulge in something else the city is extremely famous for – its café culture. The café-bars of the French capital are renowned throughout the world, and there is good reason for it. As is well documented, however, the city’s café culture is quite unique, and it pays to be aware of some local etiquette.

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On first glance, in high profile places coffees can appear a little expensive, but when you consider you’ll be able to take your time, relax, read, write postcards or just watch the world go by, it doesn’t look all that bad.

No Smoking

As in any public place now in France (including most of the hostels in Paris), smoking isn’t allowed in cafés. There are, however, usually some open-air tables where you can still light up. If you are offended by the smell of smoke, stay inside and select a table that won’t be impacted by travelling fumes.

Grab a Bite

Many cafés in the city also serve snacks, so you can enjoy delicious pastries for breakfast, and soups, baguettes and other light bites at lunchtime. You can often also purchase a simple three-course meal special.

Not Just Coffee

Even though the term café means coffee, the cafés in France are now called café-bars. This implies they serve all kinds of drinks, both hot and cold, and you can purchase anything from water to beer or wine.

Service Charge

Service and taxes are always included in the price on the menu and there are no hidden additional charges. Obviously, if you would like to leave an additional tip that’s your decision, but keep in mind something will have been included in the purchase price.

The Parisian Way

The concept of sitting in a Parisian café evokes images of love and’times gone by’. The culture originated when life in the city was far more leisurely and people could afford to devote plenty of time whiling away the hours. That luxury is no longer available for the normal person, and in the past 50 years there has been a massive decline in the number of cafés in the city. It may even be argued that the culture now relies for the most part on visitors and tourists staying in the hotels and hostels. In Paris today, for sailors, the pace of life is such that a coffee break is short and sweet.

While traditional cafés may be in decline, they certainly won’t disappear, particularly if visitors do their bit to preserve them. Find the best café (there’s any number within walking distance of all the hostels in Paris), then just sit back and enjoy! It’s the Parisian way, after all.

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