Joie de vivre in English translates to the joy of living, and the French café is a perfect place to start with finding just that. From our time living in Provence, cafes and bars were always filled with friends and family all completely content and present in that moment of time.
French novelist Balzac described the French café as the people’s parliament. With so much life and activity already happening at 7 in the morning, it’s clear to see why. The tables are already filled with morning chatter, the smell of fresh pastries and caffeine fills the air and everyone is enjoying a few moments to themselves before the day starts. As you look around, there’s so much life to see. There’s no heads buried in laptops or work calls dominating the room, yet instead you’ll be surrounded by real conversation, the clinking of cups and the rustling of newspapers.
The saying, joie de vivre, is so effortlessly pulled off by those sitting in the cafe and can teach us a thing or two about life. It’s a place to treasure the company of others, but most importantly, one can find the greatest pleasure in passing time by simply watching the world go by. It’s one of the few places left that demand you to leave your phone in your pocket and to pull out your book or paper rather than your laptop. In other words, the french café pulls out a chair for us so we can slow down and be present in the joys of now. This attitude, and a lack of takeaway coffee cups, is what keeps the French street and café culture alive. If we don’t allow ourselves to find happiness in these daily pleasures, the grass will always be greener elsewhere and we risk seeking out joy in possessions rather than people and moments. So make sure tomorrow, you walk a little slower, look around a little more and sip on your coffee a little longer.