There is nothing more French, or more specifically – Parisian – than taking a few moments out of your day to sit with an espresso in one of the city’s thousands of cafes. Paris excels when it comes to café culture, from sitting out on the terrace of the historic Café de Flore to popping in to your favourite local bar for a classic grand crème and a croissant.
Indoors on a cozy banquette or out on a sunny terrace, drinking and people-watching is one of the most cherished past-times in France. The cafe makes a great refuge on rainy days in Paris, too. While there are charming and unique spots all over Paris, this list includes some of the classics – famed artists, writers and musicians frequented many of these traditional Paris cafes, and most have done their best to retain that old-Paris glamour.
Find here a selection of the most iconic coffee shops in Paris and find out for your next vacations the places where to go in Paris.
Le Café Tournon
Two steps from the Luxembourg Gardens, this swanky spot is filled with the city’s journalists, politicians and celebrities. The Saint-Germain neighborhood’s jazz scene got its start here, where Duke Ellington used to play with his band. Known for its selection of regional wines and market-fresh cuisine, Le Café Tournon is great for a mid-afternoon cappuccino or an evening meal.
Some will come to the Finnish Cultural Centre’s Coutume Instituutti – sister branch of Le Coutume Café – with a burning desire to discover what actually constitutes Finnish cuisine. Others, because they need a cool, calm, open space in which to type their emails over a cup of coffee. Visitors of the first kind may come away disappointed: the menu is still very small (the venue had opened only one month prior to our visit), and of the fusion variety. The friendly staff inform us that things may expand in the future.
The Caféothèque is where the coffee revolution in Paris first kicked off seven years ago, created by the doyenne of ‘coffeology’ Gloria Montenegro, a former Ambassador of Guatemala, today an unofficial ambassador for quality coffee from all over the world.
From the outside the café looks quite poky, but once inside you discover a rabbit’s warren of intimate salons.
The cosy backroom behind Caféothèque’s boutique has a piano, a big trunk filled with kid’s toys and one wall lined with dozens of drawers containing their stock of unroasted coffee beans from all over the world. The next lounge is decorated like a comfy living room, with customers quietly reading – books rather than Kindles; it’s that kind of place. A gallery space hosts art exhibitions dedicated to coffee, then there is a bar where the baristas work with a showcase of tempting cakes and quiches. The biggest surprise is the last room which boasts a mur végétal tropical with 20 different coffee plants growing out of the wall.
The oldest café in Paris, founded in 1686, Le Procope was once frequented by such emblematic 18th century figures as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. With its chandelier-clad high ceilings and walls lined with antique paintings, to visit this café is to step back in time. Come in for a café and stay on for their scrumptious coq au vin.
Les Deux Magots
When Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir weren’t debating across the street at Cafe de Flore, they were lounging here, at this now- upscale hangout for tourists and the Paris elite. Grab a newspaper and a café crème, and plant yourself on the sunny terrace while you imagine the days when Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso rubbed elbows in this very spot.
If you’re planning a trip, but still don’t know where to go in Paris, look for traditional Paris cafes or the most iconic coffee shops in Paris. This glamour cite is beautiful, but the Parisian lifestyle is so well reflected in such places that you’ll feel part of the city! Take photos, take notes, and keep memories. You’ll always want to remember passing by the coffee shops in Paris.