So Patricia Wells talks about bringing your own croissant into
cafe. I have her book....I've got to read that! :-)
The experiences you listed are real eye openers.
I had an experience in Paris of a free table...but not on purpose.
My Mother and I were walking around at about 4:00PM and just
to sit and relax for half an hour. Neither of us had any desire
eat or drink. However, we were on Blvd. St. Germain and there
place to sit, so we decided to sit outdoors at Cafe Mondrian
order a soda just to be polite. We sat down and looked around
the waiter to take our order, but didn't see him. We figured
out in a minute. We started our conversation and before we knew
a half hour had passed, our feet were rested and we were ready
move on, so we did! :-)