The French enjoy their coffee. This is good, it shows that they are not entirely devoid of human emotion. The bad news is that, like the vast majority of mainland Europe, they do not enjoy lingering over coffee. Go into a café and ask for a coffee and you will be presented with a shot of espresso. This takes almost sixty seconds to drink, any longer and it will be cold. So whoosh, the coffee is gone.
Sometimes, you've bought the international edition of The Guardian and you want to do the crossword. And you'd like to do this with an occasional sip of coffee. So, what is the solution? Drink lots of espressos? Never sleep again? Die of a heartattack in the café?
OR you can go to Starbucks*. Here, you can spend a vast sum of money (between 4 and 5 euros for a medium drink) for a coffee which you can enjoy over the course of half an hour. However, nothing in this world is perfect and such coffees are always presented in paper takeaway cups. I don't know why. The French don't know why.
Until last Saturday, when approaching the bar and asking in my best French for some coffee and a muffin, the girl at the encounter replied, in much better English, with a question: Would I like "cups like this", pointing at the takeaway ones, or "cups like that", pointing at the stack of fresh, new porcelain mugs. I was overwhelmed. A tear came to my eye.
Coffee. In an actual cup. Civilisation. At last.
Oh, and I managed to opened a French rules bank account. A far more complicated process than it aught to be, involving a meeting with a bank manager, a questionnaire about my investment habits and the commitment to one day actually be earning money. All, this and they will only be charging me the cost of a coffee per month
*If you live in or around Paris, because they only exist in Paris and Versailles right now. I believe there is a store opening in Lyon soon, and perhaps one in Marseilles.