It’s the national pass-time: for the price of a cuppa you are entitled to enjoy the streetside parade for as long as you like. Here’s what’s on the menu:
‘Un café’ is a strong little espresso, and it’s a good idea to ask for a glass of water on the side (une verre d’eau). In the South, a lot of people order a ‘noisette‘: an espresso cut with a drop of milk about the size of a hazelnut, hence its name.
‘Café américain’ is an espresso diluted with water, closer to an American-style coffee.
Add ’deca’ for decaf.
‘Café au lait’ comes in a bowl and contains a high ratio of milk to coffee, order ‘Café crème’ if you want less milk and a normal-size cup. Locals only order coffee with milk in the morning, after that it is just espresso’s and noissettes.
‘Thé’ (pronounced ‘Tay’) is regular tea and ‘un infusion’ is herb tea.
‘Jus d’orange’ or ‘limonade’ will get you a French Tropicana; better to spend the money for ‘une orange pressé’ or ‘une citron pressé’ and enjoy fresh-squeezed.
Several cafés in Nice are starting to offer Italian-style hot chocolate, which is not to be missed. It’s thick, almost pudding like, and with a chocolate that infuses your soul. Nothing like the chocolate-powder-water that most places serve. Try Antonia’s in Place Rossetti.
Visitors from Coffee-centric cities like Seattle or New York might be disappointed in the quality of the coffee in France, but are almost too embarrassed to say it. Some even say that the best coffee in France is Italian… Here is an article that explains it all: Why is Coffee in Paris so Bad?
As the afternoon progresses, coffee moves to Apero time…
Order ‘Coca Lite’ for Diet Coke. Other popular sodas: Orangina and Peach Iced Tea (thé a la peche)
To order a draft beer, ask for ‘une demi’ or ‘une pression’.
It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but you must try the famous Pastis at least once. It comes with a carafe of water that pour into to the pastis, turning it a milky yellow. You sip, add more water, sip some more, add more water… before you know it you’re passing the afternoon like a vrai Provençial.
In the South of France, a glass of cold rosé is de rigueur in the summer, and one of the most affordable things you could order.
Regular cocktails (scotch and soda, gin and tonic) are shockingly expensive: you pay twice, once for the pricey shot and then separately for the mixer.
Tipping: just a few coins based on how long you’ve camped out at the table… the tax and tip is already included in the price.
See Related Page: Best Sidewalk Café’s in the Old Town
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