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Funny thing happens on the way to the trolley. I just miss a Blue Line heading south. Fifteen minutes till the next.

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Notice the St. Tropez French eatery (600 W. Broadway, downtown, #130, 619-234-2560) still ablaze with lights, even now, past seven in the evening.

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Huh. Just time for a quick French coffee.

So I mosey in up to the counter, order a coffee ($1.60), and sit down where I can see the trolley -- so I can hit the road fast.

But what I notice is this long, noisy table. Maybe 30 people all eatin’, sipping wine, and talking up a storm. In French. I have to go over to see what gives.

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Barbara and compagnons

“We’re just enthusiasts,” says this happy lady at the end, Barbara Riggs. “We all love France and practicing our French. So we get together once a month. Third Wednesdays. It’s not expensive. But it is fun. Doesn’t matter how old you are. Just look down the table.”

She’s right. And you can tell, young, old, experts, tongue-tied newbies, even the ones struggling to get beyond “Oui” and “Non” are having fun.

The best news: it’s free. Just pay for what you eat. And the St. Tropez is cutting them a deal, treating their meal like it was happy hour (which normally goes from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday).

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“I paid about $6 for my quiche aux épinards -- spinach quiche -- and $3 for the glass of wine,” Barbara says.

Turns out this happens through the San Diego French Language Meetup Group. They’ve been meeting like this since 2002. Man. I could have had my French down if I'd been coming all this time.

And sipping my café here in this atmosphere, surrounded by signs like “Opéra,” “Pigalle,” “Champs Élysées,” and “Metropolitain” on the walls, you feel like you could be right there in the City of Light, Meetup group or no Meetup group.

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Talking of “Metropolitain,” I get yakking so much, two of the metros pass by. Guess I’ll have to stay another quarter hour before I say au revoir.

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Comments

apez7up Oct. 22, 2011 @ 10:02 p.m.

Love this article!!! My friend and I organize this meetup. Check it out at http://www.meetup.com/french-2/ or www.facebook.com/SDFrenchMeetup or www.twitter.com/SDFrenchMeetup!!! All levels of French welcome and we have meetings every week.

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