Intelligentsia aside, this is definitely one of the top people watching spots in the city. Sit yourself at one of the outdoor cafe tables with your paper, cigarettes, coffee and croissant and you'll watch all of Paris and its tourists walk by. The menu is filled with items that are recognizable to tourists around the world as French cafe food: sandwiches, onion soup, omelettes, salads. And lots of wine and coffee too. I splurged on a Croque Madame, a salad and a glass of St. Emilion as my final meal on a recent trip to Paris. Sure it's touristy, but it's still an institution. And it was very close to my hotel. And I had very little time to eat before rushing to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar back to London. Cafe de Flore was it.
The Croque Madame was classically made with a crusty layer of melted gruyere. The sunny side egg was a perfect sauce for an otherwise dry sandwich. The salad was simple, dressed with a lovely mustard based vinaigrette that reminded me of Ina Garten's recipes. And washing it down with a St. Emilion while watching Paris go by...c'est magnifique.
So the Croque Madame was $23. So what? It was worth it. Afterall, eating is a sort of existential nourishment isn't it, Mr. Sartre?