Having lived in France on and off for a few years I have come to realise that the coffee you choose (whilst enjoying the sun on one of thousands terraced café’s watching designer clad women and their tiny pooches stroll by) says a lot about you. When I first arrived, ordering in a café was a stressful affair never quite knowing what to ask for and always puzzled as why I hadn’t got what the lady sitting next to me was drinking. Café culture is such a huge part of French life so here’s my coffee dictionary to help you get that caffeine fix abroad;
Un café. A classic strong espresso coffee which basically does what it says on the tin. It’s a French staple served country wide and if you’re lucky you can still get one for less than 1 euro. I’ve seen my work colleagues shot at least 10 in a day so if insomnia and regular toilet trips are your thing, keep sipping!
Un café allongé. Twice the size of your espresso for only 20 cents more, a café alongee is the slightly watered down baby brother to the espresso. Wise locals who want to sit and watch the world go by will order a café allongee because its bigger thus lasts longer and it seems to be the drink favoured by spotted Prada clad French teenagers who haven’t quite developed the chest hair for an espresso.
Une noisette. Basically it’s an espresso coffee with a tiny tiny shot of frothy milk, so perfect for those who find espresso a little too strong. It’s a classy lady drink 😉
Un crème. The crème is the classic French creamy coffee, but it comes with a bigger price tag of up to triple what a regular espresso would set you back. It kinda says “I’m not man enough for an espresso but I’m rich so bring me my coffee waiter.”
Whatever you do please don’t order un cafe au lait (i.e. a milky coffee). If you do, you might as well slap a huge sticker on your forehead and scream “I’m foreign rob me now!” and you’re probably ensuring that your waiter spits in your coffee or takes 35 minutes to bring it out. Ohh and sorry but no Frenchman would ever be caught dead drinking hot chocolate!
This post was written by Lorna Stokes, part of the travelettes team from 2009 to 2013. Originally from the UK but currently based in Brussels after stints in Canada, Peru, Italy and a job for the French military, she’s always had an unquenchable thirst for exploring new places! She’s still travelling the world with her family so catch up with her adventures on Instagram & Twitter.