The cafés in Paris form a part of the city’s culture and overarching lifestyle that is intoxicating. Many of them have been standing for years, adding to the history of the surroundings and telling stories with every cappuccino served. Regardless of the length of your visit, be sure to make some time for a café experience that will speak volumes about the city that has been charming travellers for centuries.
Travel to: France
Here are a few of our own picks for the best café experiences in Paris, although it’s going to be a challenge to stumble into one that doesn’t leave you wanting more.
One of the main reasons why you simply have to visit Le Select is because of its history. Famous artists and writers such as Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller were known to visit regularly. Perhaps they frequented the café to garner inspiration for their next works? One can only wonder, but there are plenty of historical anecdotes within the café to help your imagination wander. It’s a non-smoking venue and still maintains its old world charm with beautiful wicker chairs and mosaic tiles.
- Style of café: café and brasserie, serving the same menu all day with possible special additions
- What to order: breakfast or brunch for something savoury, profiteroles for something sweet
- Address: 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 6th Arrondissement
It’s no mistake that Parisians cafés generally put their chairs facing the street, because one of the highlights of a Parisian café experience is people watching. Therefore, while there may be more historic, more attractive and more trendy cafés which one could visit amongst the thousands in the city, due to its amazing location at a crossroads on the vibrant rue Montorgueil, LB Café offers an incredibly fascinating window into Parisian life. This lively market street in the heart of the city is a hubbub of activity throughout the day, however, I’d recommend coming for apéro, the quintessential French pre-dinner drink. Get a glass of rosé or démi pint of beer and take in the spectacle of chic locals meeting up with friends, parents tugging their children home from school, and lovers embracing after a long day’s absence at work. The cherry on the gateau? Its prices are also very reasonable in an otherwise pricey area and there are plenty of dining options in the area for afterwards. – Lily, Je t’aime Me Neither
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole
A beautiful building covered in wisteria welcomes you as you approach Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole. The building dates back to 1512 and used to be home to the head priest of Notre Dame. Sitting outside affords you the opportunity watch the world pass by alongside a delicious meal and great cup of coffee. Sitting inside, you’re treated to a cosy escape that is brimming over with character and charisma.
- Style of café: roadside café with indoor and outdoor seating
- What to order: orange duck breast for something savoury and crème brulee for something sweet
- Address: 24 Rue Chanoinesse
Cantine Merci is a more affordable and healthy option as far as Parisian cafés are concerned and it’s surrounded by greenery. Indoor plants fill the space with their fresh scent, while outside there are potted plants in the courtyard that complete the extension of space through the extensive glass windows. Everything is tastefully put together from décor to menu, and each ingredient is fresh and seasonal, ensuring you get the best of the current flavours in each dish.
- Style of café: fair trade concept café
- What to order: risotto of the day for savoury and cheesecake for sweet
- Address: 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
For a first time traveler to Paris, I’d recommend Hexagone Café in the Montparnasse neighborhood. The shop is tucked in a small street with very little traffic so there are very few tourists there. The coffee shop itself is tiny but bright, the coffee is outstanding and made from beans they roast themselves. Everything from the pour-overs to the espresso drink is delicious, though I am partial to their nutty cappuccino. After you leave, make plans to go to Des gâteaux et du pain, one of my favorite bakery in Paris.- Estelle, 37 Chocolates
La Crêperie Bretonne
Paris is famous for crepes and they should be considered a “must-have” during your stay in one of the most romantic cities in the world. And what better way to romance your taste buds than with something sweet, light and delectable? There are a number of crepes being made fresh all over the city in crêperies, by street-side vendors and in other restaurants, but this is one such café that steals the show when it comes to variations, quality and service. It’s a family run business that has been in operation since 1937 and there is true passion in the crepes they make.
- Style of café: crêperie café
- What to order: camembert crepe for something savoury and rich in flavour, a chestnut cream crepe for something sweet
- Address: 56 rue du Montparnasse
When I have friends visiting Paris for the first time, I like to take them to La Mascotte, on rue des Abbesses, in my neighbourhood of Montmartre.
The front operates as a café where locals come to have an espresso or a glass of wine, and watch the world go by from the sidewalk terrace. The ambiance is casual and friendly with a little bit of French teasing thrown in. In the back is a beautiful brasserie that serves well-crafted French classics, such as gorgeous shellfish platters, deliciously bubbly snails, and perfectly seasoned steak tartare. – Clotilde Dusoulier, Chocolate & Zucchini
If you’ve got the time, try and visit each of the cafés we’ve mentioned here and let us know which were your favourites. Did we miss one that absolutely needs to be on the list? Tell us!