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November 8, 2023

Amazing Vintage Photographs of Paris Cafés From the 1920s and 1930s

In Paris, cafes aren’t just for sipping coffee or killing time; they define Parisian life itself.
There is perhaps nothing more essentially French than spending time in cafés and watching the passersby over a cup of black coffee or a glass of wine. The cafés of Paris are also inseparable from the life of the artistic bohemia. They are where untold numbers of poems and novels were conceived and where many of the most important art manifestos of all time were written. This is where the painters, writers, and poets met to debate, drink and party together. It was also here in Montmartre and Montparnasse where revolutionaries and politicians were gathered together in clouds of cigarette smoke.

During these evenings, wine was poured liberally along with the fashionable absinthe, “the green fairy”. It had a beautiful color, unusual flavor (it was based on wormwood and aniseed), strong alcohol content, and psychoactive properties. It became hugely popular among the Parisian bohemia. To drink it, one needed to carry out a special ritual. Water was dripped into the absinthe through a special teaspoon containing sugar that was held over the glass.

At the turn of the 20th century, approximately 30 million liters of absinthe were consumed in France every year. When the drink reached the peak of its popularity, it began to be criticized as dangerous, addictive, and hallucinogenic. In 1915, a ban on its production and sale was introduced in most European countries and the United States. Its production was reintroduced in the 1920s.

Parisian cafés have left an indelible mark in the history of Europe. To this day, they are regarded as a symbol of the city and an essential element of its atmosphere. They continue to attract tourists from the entire world.


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