Flowery Art Nouveau wall tiles dialogue quietly with Guimard’s sensational verdigris entrance to the Châtelet Métro station, seen through windows daubed with leaves and clusters of grapes. Black-and-white photographs of turnip-nosed Brassaï types—Le Béarn regulars—hang above Formica tables squeezed against banquettes in burgundy leatherette. According to the fabricator’s stamp, the beautifully pitted, crescent- shaped zinc is from the workshops of a certain Gateau & Keisser in the Paris suburb of St.-Denis. Le Béarn is one of the last places in the city that supports the blue-collar custom, so dear to boiler-suited sanitation workers, of the (one-euro) hard-boiled egg you pick off a wire stand at the bar. For everyone else there are leeks vinaigrette, which look rather like a revolting tangle but are actually nice and sweet; perfectly respectable house-made crêpes with Nutella or chestnut cream; and above-average coffee for this level of zinc.
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