Some Americans might still be boycotting French products, but the feeling apparently isn't mutual. When Starbucks, that bastion of U.S. coffee-drinking culture, took on the original café society and opened its first venue in Paris last week, French customers cheerfully mingled with resident Americans to try out the signature lattes and frappuccinos.
There are few concessions to French tastes: in a nation of diehard smokers, the company has boldly maintained its no-smoking rule. But in Time's highly caffeinated but unscientific poll of French patrons, the enthusiasm was almost surprising. "Bon" or even "très bon" was the verdict on the coffee. The ambience was pronounced "sympa" [friendly], the service "accueillant" [welcoming] though in a country where waiters have a near-statutory duty to be surly that wouldn't seem to be a difficult accolade to achieve.
The only criticism was reserved for the pastries, almost universally deemed too sweet. One bypasser was less than happy with the chain's arrival: "It's the beginning of the end," she sighed. But she was an American.