Paris, France: Le Soufflot Cafe
16 rue Soufflot, 75005 Paris
This restaurant is very close to the Pantheon, on a street of the same name. Jacques-Germain Soufflot was the architect of the Pantheon (started 1758, completed 1790), so the name is very appropriate, even though he died before the Pantheon was completed. Because this street is so close to the famous Pantheon, it is right on the tourist trail and therefore always teeming with visitors. Many of the souvenir shops and some of the smaller cafes have, sadly, become “generic tourist traps”. But, in our experience, Le Soufflot has managed to escape this fate.
The waiters are really good at switching to English and one waiter, Christophe, even jokes around with customers in English. But, in spite of catering to many tourists, this place hasn’t become a tourist trap like so many of the cafes/bistrots/restaurants in San Michel. Over the years, it’s continued to be charming (compared to our first visit more than 10 years ago) and the food is good. And a small container of peanuts arrives first, with the drinks. On a recent visit, our lunch salads came in big bowls, which fit better on a small table, rather than large flat plates. And tables are pretty small, but that’s nothing unusual for Paris eateries! Many of the tables are set out on the pavement (sidewalk), with the obligatory awning, and then sun umbrellas (which are also good for rain protection).
Big salads are in the 9-12 euro price range and a demi wine about 9 euro, so it’s pretty good value for money. Service is friendly and competent, and people around us were all satisified.
Another point: Can one go back to a place that one liked before and be happy with it again? So often that’s not the case—we harbor a memory and therefore an expectation, and are often disappointed. Not the case with Le Soufflot. It doesn’t seem to have changed at all: in fact, many of the waiters are still the same too. And we’ve been eating there almost annually for many many years, and in different seasons. Great!