If you knew Kati, you would know that the first place she wants to head to when visiting a country, city, or town is a café. She. Loves. Them. I like them as well, but not as passionately as her.
Having lived in France for a bit, she loves the café culture there. It’s known throughout the entire world. It’s one of the major centers of European travel and one of its biggest cities. People from the world over know of it and know its name and even if you’ve never been, you can probably name a few landmarks. That’s how popular and iconic of a destination it is. Known as the “City of Lights” and the “Capital Of Fashion”, Paris is truly a world city that is known for many things. Aside from its legendary landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe, Paris is also known for things like art, fashion, and of course, food. Café culture is not only a big part of the culinary scene in Paris, it is essentially a way of life. Parisians take their coffee seriously and treat it like a fundamental part of their day. From the popular cafés of the 1920s where famous artists and writers spent their days, to the modern and almost scientific approach to coffee, cafés in Paris have certainly evolved. If you find yourself roaming the streets of Paris and you’re looking for your caffeine pick-me-up, check out some of these best cafés.
Café Le Nemours
The name of this particular café comes from the French author who created the famous 1958 romance film, Gigi. Upon walking up Café Le Nemours, you’ll notice the striking presence the building has. With its large neoclassical columns in the front and the stone façade, you’ll feel like you’re walking into an important business meeting rather than getting a cup of coffee. But for Parisians, sometimes getting a cup of coffee is in fact, important business.
Café Le Nemours is all about location, and its location at the Comedie Francaise (one of France’s most important theaters) means that not only will you be getting a delicious cup of coffee, but you’ll also be doing a little sightseeing. If you’re into doing some sightseeing, this is the place. From smartly dressed businessmen to exquisitely dressed women and even backpackers, the location of Café Le Nemours truly is the beating heart of Paris.
A fun fact: Cafe Le Nemours was the filming location where Angeline Jolie was having a coffee in the movie The Tourist with Johnny Depp.
La Fontaine de Belleville
Take a step back in time and feel what it might have been like to grab a cup of coffee with Paris’s most famous people of the 1920s. The creators of La Fontaine de Belleville have plenty of experience with the coffee world having opened a previous spot elsewhere. If there are truly coffee experts out there in the world, the people who started La Fontaine de Belleville are experts. Building off personal relationships with producers, roasters, growers, and even machinists, the people at La Fontaine de Belleville don’t stop to bring you absolute quality in everything they serve.
La Fontaine de Belleville is located in a restored bistro that has been around since the 1920s, preserving it with intense care from the massive mirrors and windows to the interior painting and walls. Everything served here is artisanal and ethically produced as well.
Holybelly is a perfect Parisian coffee bar that offers more than just your run of the mill coffee experience. Holybelly is home to amazing baristas who know everything there is to know about brewing and roasting coffee so every cup is just as good as the last. Holybelly is the hip and new Paris eating experience where you’re likely to find old school hip hop blaring from the speakers and young Parisians hanging out on the leather sofa in the back.
What sets Holybelly apart from other cafés is that they are one of the only cafés to serve a proper London Fog. Holybelly also has some of the best brunch spots in town, serving elevated brunch classics all day long.
During the turn of the century, Parisian cafés often not only served coffee but were also essentially bars, serving alcohol like beer, aperitifs, and cocktails. Cravan aims to bring that old-school feel back to life while also being a modern and contemporary place. The building Cravan is located in is actually a protected site and features an original countertop surrounded by striking art nouveau décor.
Come by in the morning or afternoon and enjoy a coffee and sandwich while you do a little people-watching on the terrace and come back in the evening and enjoy a few cocktails and finger food.
KB Café Shop
The people at KB Café Shop bring the modern and the contemporary styles and influences of coffee making with them to serve the people of Paris. KB Café Shop is more of a modern-style that you’ll find around other cosmopolitan cities rather than your “classic” Parisian-style coffee shop. KB Café Shop is modeled after specialty coffee shops in Australia which is why you’ll find some things here that are a little less commonly found around Paris. If things like flat-whites, mochachinos, and iced coffees are more your style, this the spot in Paris where you’ll find the best specialty coffees.
The atmosphere here is more current. High ceilings, big windows, and a spacious terrace offer the sense of a little more room and space. It’s the type of spot where you’ll see young professionals and students on their laptops enjoying their lunch and afternoon caffeine fix.
Le Peloton Café
If you’re a tourist and you’re out and about and you’re looking for a quick coffee, Le Peloton Café is your go-to spot. Started by two folks from New Zealand, this café specializes in three things. Coffee, desserts, and bikes in that order. Le Peloton Café is small and offers only a few seats and counter space so as opposed to the Parisian norm of sitting and sipping your coffee, this place is the opposite of that. Grab a coffee and one of their homemade desserts while you continue on your stroll through the Marais or on your way to the museums on the left bank.
Café De Flore
For the literary and history fans out there, this classic Paris café is the one you’ve been waiting to see on this list. Located in the Saint-Germain-de-Pres area the Café de Flore is not only a place to get a good coffee and some lunch but it is a cultural landmark. The property is historically recognized and has had some famous patrons over the years like Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. The Café de Flore’s heyday might have passed long ago but its legend remains. After the Second World War, apartments were and accommodations were harder to come by so many literary icons lived in the hotel rooms nearby and would come to the Café de Flore to eat, meet, and of course; drink.
Café Du Coin
As the name would suggest the Café Du Coin is your local corner coffee spot. The café is one that offers your typical selection of coffees with a calm and cool laid back attitude. The Café Du Coin is small and cozy offering coffee classics like drip, espresso, and cappuccinos. So what sets it apart and why should you bother visiting?
Café Du Coin is open from morning to night offering delicious brewed coffee all day but they also have a seasonal rotation of coffee beans and a seasonal menu so the fare offered here changes on a pretty regular basis. The best part about dining at Café Du Coin is that for Paris, they are pretty inexpensive offering a three-course lunch meal for only 20€including a varied wine menu.
Les Deux Magots
Les Deux Magots is the literary rivalry to Café De Flore. Located right on the bustling Place-Saint-Germain, Les Deux Magots is a cafe that has been in the coffee business for almost 100 years. The café is located in a very bustling part of town so if you can grab a spot outside, this is the premier people-watching place in almost all of Paris. The café is located across from the beautiful Saint Germain de Pres church which dates back to the 500s. Les Deux Magots is an iconic spot in Paris with tons of historic significance as famous literary figures from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway being frequent guests during their time here in the 1920s.
Les Deux Magots is a bit of a tourist hot spot these days and their coffee might cost a pretty penny but consider your visit here both a coffee shop and sightseeing opportunity.
Walking by this café, you might not even realize that it is even a place that serves coffee. The only thing giving it away that it is in fact a coffee shop is the line-up winding out the door. The owners of Boot Café set up shop in an old cobbler’s storefront. The space is a little small, only sitting up to eight people, so the service here is a little more on the take-it-to-go side.
The clientele is generally on the younger side with busy professionals and millennial students stopping by to get a to-go cup of their Chemex pour-overs, flat-whites, and rich hot chocolates.
Coutume Café is one of Paris’s first upscale coffee shops. Pioneering the café motif that is now found elsewhere in many major cities, Coutume Café is large, bright, and brings coffee making to a near science. The baristas and brewers at Coutume Café bring coffee making techniques and styles to perfection and they treat coffee like a serious business.
The café is an industrial-chic style place with exposed light bulbs, brick walls, and running along the ceilings. The young vibrant clientele comes for the espressos, café cremes, and various cappuccinos made with V60, Aeropress, and Chemex brewing machines.
Shakespeare and Company Café
Shakespeare and Company have been around since the early 1920s and is another part of the cultural mosaic that makes up Paris. The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore was Paris’s first English language bookstore and was owned and operated by Sylvia Beach, who was the namesake of the current owner after she took over from her father in 2011. Being Paris’s foremost English bookstore made it a popular place for Paris’s literary scene which included James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway as frequent visitors here.
Wanting to bring the store into the modern age without having to compromise with the original aesthetic of the bookstore, the owners opened up the Shakespeare and Company Café next door. Despite being a bit of a tourist hot spot, the café is managed by Parisian roasters and baristas so the coffee is quality here and their food is just as delicious.
Whether you’re a local or you’re a tourist just visiting Paris for a few days, there can be a lot offered here that can be a little overwhelming. There are a million things to do and see and to experience that it might feel like too much. But luckily there are plenty of places to get a great cup of coffee along with some great food. Sit on the terrace with a fresh croissant and an espresso and indulge in the Parisian pastime of people-watching at these amazing cafés. As we always try to tell you, live a life less ordinary and head to a Parian café.
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