In the late 1870’s, Les Hydropathes was a literary club in Paris where the symbolism movement fomented. For the less historic modern version , you can go to Shibuya and visit the stylish brasserie of the same name. Les Hydropathes is in the basement of the Parco department store. After browsing in the nearby Logos, which has a great collection of photography books, you can relax in the chic, moody, but casual atmosphere of the cafe.
I went with my friend Vincent, one of the French teachers at my school. And we spoke a combination of 33% French, 50% English, 11% Japanese and 1% Pig Latin. Vincent is an excellent English speaker but he patiently listens to me mangle French. Neither of us knew what hydropathes meant. We figured it had to do with water and sickness. When I wikied it (can i verbify ‘wiki’ like we do ‘google’? Is ‘verbify’ a word?) I found out about the Parisian club it was named after and also that hydropathe also referred to water with curative properties. In the case of this cafe/bar, the medicinal water probably refers to the largest collection of Belgian beer that I have ever seen. About 50 different Belgian beers lined the wall and were described in the menu.
Alas, it was the middle of the day and we both had to return to work, so we settled for cafe au laits. I was gently chided for ordering it iced and drinking it with syrup. He had his hot and bitter like a proper Frenchman. What can I say, I’m a cool sweet guy, and that’s the way I like my coffee (in the waning hours of summer anyway).
So in short:
What’s on the menu: pastas and salads
Specialty: more Belgian beers than you can shake a mug at
Ambiance: comfortable chic contemporary retro, unpretentiously moody
Service: the guys were friendly and went out of their way to speak English
Clinetele: in the afternoon it was all women, some sitting alone writing soul-baring sonnets and small groups of well-manicured darkly-clad women in hush-toned banter.
Ideal for: meeting friends for a quick drink after a day of shopping and perusing books