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Sunday
Oct192008

Café Hugo

22 Place des Vosges, 4th.
M° Bastille or Chemin Vert
Tel. 01 42 72 64 04

Review site

Beneath the arches of the 17th-century Place des Vosges, this little café is the perfect spot for a quick snack of onion soup or a club sandwich, an espresso in the morning between museum visits (the Maison Victor Hugo is next door and the Carnavalet Museum of Paris History just down the street). They have a huge terrace, enclosed and heated in winter (the smokers have their own separate terrace), and a newly annexed "bar" area for quick stops during meal times. The atmosphere is cozy, if a little cramped (it is Paris, and the Marais district isn't known for its spaciousness), with the waiters in their traditional black and white penguin suits.

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Reader Comments (5)

Staffed by people equal parts manic and incompetent, Cafe Hugo takes the prize as the single worst "dining" experience of my life. As we were starving from a long day of walks around the lovely city that is Paris, my girlfriend and I looked past the obvious tourist clientele and utter lack of charm, as we desperately needed a meal and a rest. We should have know what we were in for when it took 20 minutes for a waiter to acknowledge our presence, despite a staff of at least five running around and bickering without seeming to actually accomplish anything. Ravenous, we even maintained our composure during the shouting match between a waiter and kitchen staff members that only a second waiter prevented from being a fist fight next to our table. Finally, after a 30 minute wait for a bowl of onion soup and a bottle of red (seriously? Half an hour for average onion soup? In France?) we thought it could get no worse. A collision between a waiter and bus staff, resulting in one poor customer next to us being covered in coffee, without a hint of an apology, sealed the deal - these unpleasant people were getting none of our business.

Amazing how it takes the simple thought of losing a few euros for customer attentiveness to kick in. Less than 30 seconds after leaving, the "gentleman" manning the bar chased us down, insisting we must pay for the privilege of being treated as a class beneath cattle. After a heated argument, the choice between parting with 20 euros or facing the inevitable assault charges with dozens of witnesses, all of whom speak better French, against me, I capitulated. Given its prime location, it is a shame that Cafe Hugo will no doubt stay in business and thrive on the unsuspecting. Thank goodness for sites such as this, where I can warn wise people away from a horrific restaurant and group of people.
January 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertg0610
TG0610: Sorry to hear you had a bad time. It sounds like there was some sort of drama going on that day among the staff. I stop here regularly (at least once a month) and have had occasional slow service, but nothing at all like what you describe. For future reference, you should always leave as soon as something seems odd. There are enough other cafés in the area that, after 10 minutes of no waiter taking my order I would go elsewhere.
January 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
Oh dear, that really does sound like you caught them on a particularly bad day. I, like the other reviewer, have visited this cafe many many times. In fact, it is my FAVOURITE place to stop for coffee in the whole of Paris. I love to sit outside, reading a book for hours with no distractions, drinking Cafe Creme (which is exceptionally wonderful there), and watching the world go by. Occasionally getting up to walk around the square and peer into the gallery windows, lost in my thoughts. In fact, the times that things get stressful and anxious in good ole blighty, the thought of being back at this cafe some time soon is the only thing that calms me down... it's my favourite daydream on bad days.
May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate
I love Cafe Hugo. I'm sorry you had a bad time.. Waiting when you are hungry is hard and they should have been better. However the location, and the amazing onion soup is worth it. Maybe its nostalgia with me but every time i'm in Paris i make sure I go back. I was there two years ago and it needed a paint job, but hey its rustic now!. I'm looking forward to taking my mum this summer. Can't wait x
June 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteph
Well, years ago it was called "La Chope des Vosges," so these places don't stay in business forever!
October 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

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