Traveling in France by car or motorcycle often means getting an early start. On those days, a simple breakfast of freshly baked croissant and a small coffee cannot be beat, but, sadly, patisseries frequently don’t serve coffee. When faced with this culinary dilemma, just purchase the pastry and carry it to the nearest Café PMU.
What’s a PMU?
PMU, an acronym which means Pari Mutuel Urbain, is the French state-controlled betting system. So yes, you can place a bet at a PMU, but more importantly for the weary traveler, PMU cafés are a reliable place for good French coffee. (If you’re looking for something stronger, there’s always a fully stocked bar.) At first glance, a PMU café feels like a neighborhood sports bar, offering the height of local color. You won’t see many tourists here.
Most PMUs don’t serve food, and the proprietors are usually happy for you to bring in your own food and sit at their tables, so long as you buy something.
With more than 10,400 PMU locations in France, most towns have at least one. They are typically centrally located and are open earlier and later than other cafés. Size, decor and amenities can vary dramatically from town to town. Outdoor seating and games such as pinball or pool are not uncommon.