The Café de Flore, at the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue St. Benoit, in the 6th arrondissement, is one of the oldest and the most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris, celebrated for its famous clientele.
The classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little since World War II. Like its main rival, Les Deux Magots, it has hosted most of the French intellectuals during the post-war years.
In his essay "A Tale of Two Cafes" and his book Paris to the Moon, American writer Adam Gopnik mused over the possible explanations of why the Flore had become, by the late 1990s, much more fashionable and popular than its rival, Les Deux Magots, despite the fact that the latter cafe was associated with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and other famous thinkers of the 1940s and 1950s. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was known to be a frequent patron of Café de Flore during his years in France in the 1920s
The Prix de Flore, a literary prize inaugurated by Frédéric Beigbeder in 1994, is awarded annually at the Café de Flore.
45/50 Paris after the war
Existentialism became incarnate in the Youth, who was mad with freedom, Juliette Gréco, Boris Vian…Existentialism was a fashion and Juliette Gréco imposed her « long »style. Boris Vian wrote « Le manuel de Saint-Germain-des-Prés », played the trumpet in nightclubs, wrote poems too, he really lived in his times and was one of the principal actors. Saint-Germain-des-Prés was a place to meet people and to become friends., a real laboratory where any proposed his form, his color, his taste, his vision of liberty, because it was all about liberty though. Arthur Koestler, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Lawrence Durrel were faithful, they were members of the PCF (the French Communist Party at that time), of the Pouilly Club of France created by Boubal, anecdotal party which bore the name of the famous white wine served at the Café. The Boss greeted at noon the Surrealist friends of André Breton, and on the evening Albert Camus or the four hussars: Nimier, Déon, Kléber Haedens and Jacques Laurent, while Albert Vidalie and Antoine Blondin began memorable « fights » with hard-boiled or even fresh eggs which spattered either the Prevert’s brothers and their friends of the « October Group », or Artaud or Vian. Daniel Gélin and Danielle Delorme were young and good-looking. It was at the Café where they hid their love, Jacques Tati certainly met them, Sacha Guitry was probably envious.
60’s La Nouvelle Vague
« At that time, it was as if all the Cinema gathered there: writers and their muses, screenwriters, stage designers, almost everyone who participated in the creation »
All the cinema seized the Café: Christian Vadim, Jane Fonda, Jane Seberg, Roman Polansky, Marcel Carné. Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Losey and Belmondo preferred sit outside, as Simone Signoret, Yves Montand or Gerard Philipe did before. Daniel Fillipachi assiduously frequented the Café he knew when he was a little boy, when he came with his dad. Léo Férré never entered the Café without Pépé, his female monkey, on the shoulder. The intelligentsia at that time, those who were famous or not yet were present too: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, Sollers, Sagan, Roland Barthes, Nathalie Sarraute, Romain Gary. Also the World of Fashion, its designers – Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Rochas, Gunnar Larsen, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Paco rabanne, Guy Laroche – as its creatures »: the most beautiful and famous models in the world. Thierry Le Luron, and his accomplices Jacques Chazot, Mourousi and Jean-Marie Rivière, also Régine, Castel and the Botton Brothers came and contemplated the models discreetly. A muddle: César, tristan Tzara, Alberto Giacometti, Dali, Pierre Seghers, Pierre Brasseur, Alice Sapritch, Serge Reggiani, Jean Vilar and Jacques Lacan,a psychoanalyst, extended the tradition of the Café de Flore, in the 60’s.