I'm actually quite pleased to be in the 20th Arrondisement rather than one of the more fashionable first eight, which are flooded with tourists. This area (Porte de Montreuil metro station) is very much part of the city, and yet very much a neighborhood.
I'd been somewhat sick, and when I finally checked into the hotel, it occurred to me that I hadn't eaten all day, except for half a chocolate croissante (very stale, as it turned out) at Waterloo Station, where I caught the Eurostar. So I looked around the neighborhood and finally noticed a sign that said pizza, and thought maybe I could manage to eat a couple of slices of pizza. In fact though, I decided on some spaghetti, plus a salade verte (nothing but lettuce, as it turned out, but under the circumstances that was probably just as well), and a bottle of eau minerale.
I sat at a table outside at first, feeling rather apologetic about wanting to order so little, but Madame suggested that since I was having dinner, a table inside might be better. She was very nice, and when I left complimented me on my French. (I eventually learned that both she and several of the customers spoke English considerably better than I speak French.)
Many of the customers seemed to know each other quite well. There was a bearded elderly professorial looking gentleman sitting at an end table and continually smoking. He was quite friendly with a younger couple with a very large black dog. The professor at first scolded the dog for begging, but then a few minutes later fed him some scraps from his plate.
They all obviously knew Madame quite well.
I went back to eat there again last night, and the old professor was sitting at the same table. I suspect that he gets there early each evening to get his table (or Madame saves it for him), and he spends the whole evening there, eating his meal, drinking a little wine, and smoking a pack of cigarettes.