ithin this oriental-cum-occidental space another marker of modernity, the café, derives its commercial attraction from the "exotic" by dint of that eponymous beverage served within its often lavish interior: coffee.

 
Photograph of the Passazh Building by Karl Bulla, 1910

Photograph of the Passazh Building by Karl Bulla, 1910
     

If modern Paris – the city at time of Louis XIV and beyond – could be compressed into a single spatial microcosm, it would be the café. As a lieu of social encounter and of intellectual debate, the café provides a venue for conversation, entertainment, relaxation, and the parleying of revolutionary ideas.

Although it remains uncertain, Petersburg's early-twentieth-century Café de Paris seems to have existed from 1906-1912 (the renowned restaurant Kiuba supplanted another Café de Paris, located at Bol'shaia Morskaia, 16 from 1850-1887). The one found in the Passazh (Nevsky Prospekt, 48) attracted Bohemian types and was frequented particularly by Petersburg's many thespians, who would gather at the café after their performances.

Paris’s first café arrived on the scene in 1675: the Café Procope. Originally at the rue du Tournon, in 1689 it moved to its present-day location at 13, rue de l'Ancienne Comédie, just across from the Comédie française. Theatre and carefree café life occupied adjacent spaces and the two, as in early-twentieth-century Petersburg, often intersected.