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La Palette
43 Rue de Seine, 6th
Tel 01 43 26 68 15
M° Odéon

I have stopped many times for coffee or a tartine (open-faced sandwich) at this popular neighborhood café in the heart of St-Germain-des-Prés’ art galleries, always sitting on the vast sidewalk terrace to get in the maximum people watching. But in winter that’s harder for Arizona-blooded types like myself, even with the heaters, so we sat inside, in the room hidden behind the zinc bar. La Palette has been around since 1903, and since it’s a historic monument even the iron arms of the awning are original. It was supposedly a place where artists and their agents or gallery owners would meet up. I don’t think much has changed. There are always tourists, but they’re definitely outnumbered by locals.

There were two plats du jours when I went, a pork chop dish with frites and a white fish dish with fennel (maybe dorade?). I got the latter and seemed happier than my friends. It’s not haute cuisine, just simple, inexpensive cooking and a large wine menu by the glass for lunch under €15. Service is friendly if a bit slow…we were going to order dessert but it took so long for our waiter to return that we changed our minds. Tant pis! If you want to sit with all of the cool kids, try and get one of the few tables in the bar area (call or get there early). Otherwise you can always brave the chill on the terrace under the heat lamps.

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