Sunday, 17 May 2009

There’s A Cafe on The Corner…

DSCN0188  Just a minute away from  from the house, on the way to the library, the market, or the other side of the old town, there’s a large cafe on the corner: the Cafe Plaza. You can eat in the restaurant next door, but in the cafe you just drink – ‘Café, café crème,  du thé, chocolat, Orangina, une bière, pastis?  ‘Oui, Madame!

Cafe In the Morning

I might go there once twice, three times a day to to chill and watch the world after a hard day’s walking, looking,  emailing, or writing. It’s a good place to take stock and think of what you have done and what you might do later in the day. (This is important when only you can motivate yourself  for the large task of writing a novel…) I might go there with Writing Junkie but sometimes she is off on her aventures au bicyclette* so I’m happy be there on my own. DSCN0172 

On market days the cafe and the pavement outside are crowded. On sunny days there is always a steady flow of customers.  On rainy days (there have been a couple) there are less customers, but even then I have joined the regulars to sit under the sun canopy and  drink our petits cafés or our pastis to watch people passing by under their umbrellas.

On a hot day I slip out of my denim writing jacket (good pockets for notebook and pens) and dump my laptop bag.


‘Un café et un verre d’eau, s’il vous plait.’

Oui Madame!

I sit there with the sun on my back, my head shaded by the canopy, drink my café and water, and note the wide range of The Plaza Café’s clientele: 

  • DSCN0189 Some local men at the bar behind me are  arguing and talking in the deep local accent. The Languedoc has its own language so even French is rendered differently.

DSCN0189At the front are three generations  of a Spanish family  with dark strong looks. They gesticulate and talk as they watch their children play football in the square. We are very near Spain here.

DSCN0189Local Gitan people talking, perhaps doing business – the town has a residual population of Romani people who have a distinctive  presence here  in the old town.

DSCN0189There are two affluent looking couples in designer sailing gear who look as though they may be off a boat at the nearby yachting harbour of Marseillan.

  • DSCN0189A group of young women talk over glasses of wine that glitter  in the sun, their  toddlers in strollers beside them and tumbling about their feet.


An elderly couple, very smart in the bourgeois fashion , sip red wine,  On the table beside them are oysters  in a smartly labelled box and a fancy wrapped cake ready to take home for their Sunday afternoon treat.

  • DSCN0189I notice a small girl with hair so shiny that it’s slipping from its ribbon. Her brown feet are tucked into glittery sandals. DSCN0189

I see a man with an orange leather crossover bag carrying a poodle in his arms like a baby.


I note how well the young French women walk – straight backs, hips jutting slightly forward. I wonder if they have deportment lessons in their lycées. I can just see them walking with books on their heads.

All of this goes into my notebook. To this extent it counts as work. Any of these observations might end up incorporated in the novel. I don’t know yet. But they are there for me.

I just remembered something my art lecturer said to me in college. ‘You know how to look, Miss Wetherill. Once one knows how to look, one is never bored.’

Now that is so very true. And so very true here in Agde.

* Read about her bicyclette in her current post.


  1. Oh, how we miss you and la rue Haute! I love your portrait of Cafe Plazza - you really are measuring out your life in coffee spoons.

    Lots of love, Dx

  2. Thank you D for the coffee spoons thought. That's a nice one. I first saw in emblazoned on the wall of Binns Cafe in Darlington. Also thank you for correcting my spelling of Plaza to Plazza. mea culpa...

  3. It's from The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock...

    'For I have known them all already, known them all,
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?'

    But you knew that...Dx

  4. I did rather. been reading TSE since I wa sin France.
    Like the man and the poems


  5. I knew it too but its wonderful to be reminded (have copied the lines into my notebook!)It's almost as wonderful as sitting in the Cafe Plazza with Wendy -almost but not quite. Anyone reading this post will understand just how amazing and diverse the Cafe Plazza and life around it is - quite different from Bishop!
    A fabulous evocation of our local Wendy - which I will treasure.

    A x

    A xxx

  6. Hi Wendy, How I loved eating and drinking in the open air on evenoings as well as daytime in France. You have transported me back to those wonderful times. Keep going I am enjoying it and feel I am there with you. I was also amazed that french dogs are so well behaved they are allowed in hotels.
    Mary x

  7. Debora - Thank you for the full quote - such beautiful, dense words to read over and over - and they do express somehow the thrilling intense esperience here, in the Plazza and other places in this wonderful town. xxx

    Avril - Wonderful friendship, wonderful writing, wonderful inspiration, all counted out in coffee spoons at the Plazza xxx

    Mary - I adore your quirky and interested comments. I often think of you when I write a post. Give my love to all those wonderful people around the table. I bet they are writing some top stories... wxx



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