Paris Glorious Cafe

By: Vasilisa

Paris cafe is not just a place where one comes to drink a cup of coffee. In fact, one doesn't actually come there - the word "come" presupposes a short-time action. People drop in at a cafe to go on living... The story began at times when Paris was not such a well-appointed city. In 1920th people came to a cafe to warm themselves attracted by warm stoves. They sat there infinitely with a single cup of coffee and a book, sketchbook and a pencil or in a company of a good friend or a beloved. Little by little formed small companies of habitues, many of whom went down in history. Some due to their indisputable talents and some due to the fact of their acquaintance with a genius.
French cafe is organized like a theater. The tables are turned towards the street, in summer they are placed right at the pavement. Each of the Paris cafes has its own history and can boast of its own visitors. But one of them has more reasons to be proud of its history than the others. This is the legendary La Rotonde, located at Montparnasse, 105.


Nowadays it is a luxury restaurant, and there's no bitter, hungry and smoky atmosphere of bohemia there...it was over 90 years ago when this cafe opened its doors to public. Nobody thought that it is destined to become one of the most famous places in Paris as well as in the whole Europe.
At that time anise vodka cost 5 sous, a breakfast - 10 sous. Low prices attracted the Bohemia. Besides they got tired of the Montmartre and started wondering across Paris in search for a better place. Picasso was the first to choose the place, and he was followed by Chagall, Vlamink, Kandinsky, Leger and Gijom Apolliner.
There was always hot soup, coal, and warm stoves. The atmosphere was free and easy, although there were some rules: the ladies were not allowed to take their hats off and to smoke. On the other hand, they were allowed to dance on the tables.
Haim Sutin painted his best works at the cafe (at that time they cost a cup of coffee, nowadays they are sold for millions of dollars). Modigliani painted portraits of all the habitues of La Rotonde. His portraits cost nothing to friends and hot dinner of a shot of vodka for the other visitors of the cafe. Jean Cocteau distributed poems, making fun of the snobs, which were destined to enter the history...
When Paris welcomed "Russian seasons", legendary Dyagilev and Nizhinsky came to La Rotonda to order music to young composers (Debussy, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Milhaud, Satie). Young poets Max Voloshin, Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Mayakovsky were also frequent guests of La Rotonde.
In 1903 Gabrielle Chanel sang there folk songs to the rapture of the audience. This is at La Rotonde, where she met her rich sponsor with whom she would live at aristocratic Vichi and become a fashion queen, a personification of style.
Between the two wars the cafe was favoured by the writers, such as Hemingway, Breton, Fitzgerald. They smoked, drank and created masterpieces...
Now La Rotonde is a luxury restaurant. Different visitors, different topics for discussion, different views of the city...but it still preserves the charm of its legendary past!

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