CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

August 6, 2008

PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS Part 2


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS
PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS Part 2

To read Procope Café Part 1 click on: PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS: Part 1—Finding photographs: An International Adventure

The Procope’s history is closely linked with eighteenth century revolutionary ideas.
 
Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened Le Procope, a café/ice cream establishment, in 1686. He may (or may not have) adopted the name Procopio from the historian Procopius.

The opening marked the beginning of some serious coffee drinking in Paris.

Procope was originally marketed as a lemonade shop, and its sumptuous décor combined with its air of sophistication attracted a clientele keen to distance itself from the more loutish elements of the day. The name “café” was given to the establishment only when the consumption of coffee outsold that of other beverages, including like cognac.

Shortly after Procope debuted, the Comédie Française opened across the road. The café/ice cream establishment soon became a meeting ground for actors, writers, musicians and poets.

The Café Procope was the first French location that served coffee, which had recently been imported from Austria, where the Viennese “got their caffeine zonks” from the Turks during a lull in the Ottoman siege of their city ca. 1623.

Coffee was considered a subversive beverage in France at the time the Procope opened. It took daring to drink coffee then, but the freethinkers consumed it. Voltaire reportedly drank forty cups of coffee and chocolate (called mocha today) each day.

The Procope Café historically was the meeting place where the socially elite went to debate, to meet people, and to exchange ideas and projects. The first revolutionaries, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) writer, political philosopher; Jean Paul Marat (1743-1793) physician, Danton, Desmoulins and the Jacobins met at the Procope, aiming to find ways to defeat the monarchy.

The roll call of other VIPs meeting there include Voltaire (1694-1778) philosopher, poet, historian, novelist and dramatist; Denis Diderot (1713-1784) writer; Pierre Beaumarchais (1731-1799) dramatist; Revolutionary leader; Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794) Revolutionary leader; Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) emperor; Honore De Balzac (1799-1850) novelist, playwright; Buffon; Montesquieu; and Marmontel. During the 19th century Romantic poets like George Sand, Alfred de Musset or Verlaine used to join the Café Procope. encouraging stage artists, play writers and literary critics to come and have a drink. The “Café Procope” became the first literary café attracting writers like Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695), Poet; and Marivaux.
.
Americans visiting the “Café Procope” include Victor Hugo (1802-1895), writer; Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), statesman, scientist, inventer; Thomas Jefferson, 1790s; George Sand (1804-1876), writer, social reformer; Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), poet and Wayne Sakal (1959).

On June 15, 1790, after the National Assembly had adjourned to mourn Benjamin Franklin’s death, the “True Friends of Liberty” met at the Procope. Monsieur de la Fite, a lawyer, held a memorial service in front of Franklin’s portrait.

It’s said that the Phrygian cap, belonging to Lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte, was displayed for the first time in the Procope.

The building has changed little since the seventeenth century. Its eighteenth century style was maintained when it was refurbished in eighteenth century style in 1989. Especially charming is the ground-floor room outfitted like an antique library. Voltaire’s desk his desk, a testimony of permanence, can be seen on the second floor.

At one point, its specialties were listed as Cote de veau Gorgonzola, Guinea fowl with cabbage, Civet of duck with pasta and Boeuf bourguignon. Menu items include platters of shellfish, onion soup au gratin, coq au vin (chicken stewed in wine), duck breast in honey sauce, and grilled versions of various meats and fish.

Daily, between 3:00 p.m. and 700 p.m., the Procope is available to sightseers who come to look, but not necessarily to eat and drink.

I would enjoy visiting the French café that is considered “the holy grail of Parisian cafes” to fans of French history.

ADDITIONAL READING:

SHALIMAR

TO MATTIE

IMAGINATIVE, ORIGINAL, PURE, PROFOUND POEMS by CHILDREN

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 1

KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY

THE ICE CREAM MAN

LOGGING IN MAINE AND ON THE PERU-BRAZILLIAN BORDER

CHILD ABUSE AND SCRIPTURE

OF FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS

4 Comments »

  1. Hi
    my name is sergio algozzino, i’m an italian comic artist.
    excuse me for my bad english.
    i’m writing a graphic novel on Procopio dei Coltelli, the fondateur of Cafè Procope, and i’m searching documentation, photos etc
    if it’s possible, can you send me some photos of cafè? have you old pictures?
    thanks very much! 🙂
    please, i’m waiting your answer! 🙂

    Comment by sergio algozzino — February 7, 2009 @ 12:57 am | Reply

  2. Thanks for this article, it’s very interesting. I know this café very well, I knew it was an historical place but I had no ideas it was that much !

    Comment by Olivier — March 17, 2010 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  3. […] PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS Part 2 […]

    Pingback by Why Opt to Study a Year in France? | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 13, 2015 @ 1:45 am | Reply

  4. […] else would I have learned about the Procope Cafe in Paris—the longest continuously operating restaurant, founded in […]

    Pingback by Traveling Places Through My Novel | Carolyn's Online Magazine — March 17, 2015 @ 1:31 am | Reply


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