I’ll say it fast, and get it over with: on our second full day in Paris, we visited a Starbucks.
In our defense, we did not have any indoor activities planned until the afternoon, and had several more hours to spend outside in the still-nippy air. According to weather.com, the temperature that day (March 20th) ranged from 32 to 55 (Fahrenheit), but I’m quite sure that at 10am, it was more around 40 than the more balmy-sounding 55. We were chilled, despite the walking and the sun, and as we passed a Starbucks at the corner of Rue des Petits Champs and Avenue de l’Opera, John suggested we step inside. He wanted a coffee, and frankly, having a warm drink to carry around sounded inviting.
Of course the cafes and boulangeries and patisseries abound in Paris, but none of them offer the American perks that Starbucks does, and which we wanted at that moment – no large and steaming to-go cups, specifically. After spending 4 days in Paris, I am of course an expert, so I feel qualified to inform you that Parisian coffee is (1) tiny and (2) meant to be enjoyed sitting down. OK fine – maybe I am not the absolute top authority on the subject – but coffee culture does seem to be as different from that in America as the other French eating and consumption habits are: VERY. I suppose that perhaps a French person would warm up by heading inside for some conversation or reading, and resume touring the city after a warming break, but American tourists, we had places to go and things to see – so – in we went!
In some ways, this Starbucks looked like every other Starbucks I’ve been in. Same menu, same bags of beans.
Same city mugs.
But some things clearly pinpointed this as … different. There were waffles and pancakes in the pastry display case, and various other strange goodies, instead of just your typical Reduced Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cakes.
I didn’t take a photo of the food, because I did not want to look like a crazy American tourist who visits Starbucks in Paris and then takes photos of it because she’s in a Starbucks in Paris, instead of in America. I’m not quite sure how that worked out in my brain, because of course I *was* a crazy American tourist taking photos of the Parisian Starbucks. Regardless – I can’t show you the food.
However, in addition to the strange food case offerings, this Starbucks sported vaulted ceilings and chandeliers, chairs of leather and velvet, and prettily carved tables, all of which I did photograph.
Those floor-length drapes were also red velvet. It was super fancy.
Despite all the special details that almost brainwashed me into thinking that this place was more special than a regular Starbucks, I could not quite get there mentally, and we left the store with only a single drink – John’s
small tall whatever-special-word-they-use-in-Paris-Starbucks’-for-12-ounces decaf drip. I personally decided that we were someplace unique, on vacation, and if I was going to spend 3 euros on something, it better be interesting and exciting and full of butter or chocolate or mushrooms. I felt proud and strong; I had looked temptation in the face and said No.
However, I also spent the rest of the morning trying various enticements to get John to let me carry his drink – all in vain. By the end, I wished I’d bought a large and steaming to-go cup of tea.
So, what do you think: is visiting a Starbucks in Paris worth a groan of dismay, or a squeal of excitement, or something in between? Does it represent comfort and convenience, or giving in to American over-consumerism? I’m torn, myself. I’m against it in principle, but I sure was glad to use their restroom.
p.s. How many times did I type “Starbucks” in this post? I don’t think I even want to know. We don’t even go out for coffee that much, and when we do we much prefer Peet’s, where we also buy our beans. I think the last S******** I was in was this one in Paris, in fact, and before that … I don’t even know. (Not that I’m anti-coffee-shop; I see the inside of our local Peet’s at least once a week for bean-buying.)