Café De Flore - History and Facts | History Hit

Café De Flore

Chris Smith

24 Aug 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Café De Flore

Café De Flore is a literary coffeehouse established in the 1880s. It has a rich history of great thinkers and creatives wiling away their days at a table or on the terrace, just like nearby rival Café Les Deux Magots.

History of Café De Flore

Named after a sculpture of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, which stands on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, Café De Flore opened in 1885, two years after the equally iconic Café Les Deux Magots. For over 130 years, the two cafés have existed as rivals just 44 metres apart with their eminent clientele overlapping.

Originally linked to far-right politics, Flore’s regulars were more closely aligned with the left, and new forms of expression, following the First World War. Poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term ‘surrealism’ on Flore’s terrace in discussion with contemporaries André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Paul Reverdy. Later, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir spent whole days in their first floor ‘office’, describing it as “home”.

As crowds gathered at Café Les Deux Magots to glimpse celebrities, in turn the celebrities – including Raymond Aron, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Truman Capote, Albert Camus, and Ernest Hemingway – retired to the comparatively quieter Café De Flore.

Flore also has a strong affiliation with fashion, particularly Karl Lagerfeld who would read Vogue alone for hours at a downstairs table. The café has held shows for Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Paco Rabanne, and launched campaigns for Louis Vuitton and Longchamp.

Café De Flore today

Flore has barely changed since the 1930s with red banquettes, mahogany furniture, and brass railings still on display. Drinks are still served in signature white and green china that matches the distinctive signage out front.

Prices have risen as crowds have flocked, but it’s well worth the price of a coffee to sit in the seats of the greats and remember how the conversations that took place at Flore shaped not only Paris, but the world.

Getting to Café De Flore

Café De Flore is located on Boulevard Saint-Germain with Mabillon and Saint-Sulpice stations a 10-minute walk away. If you’re travelling to the café especially, Saint-Germain-des-Prés station is within a two-minute walk.

A short distance from Café Les Deux Magots. Why not make time for both iconic pillars of Parisian society?

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