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. Indoors on a cosy banquette or out on a sunny terrace, drinking and people-watching is one of the most cherished past-times in France. 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.
1. Cafe de la Paix Paris
Declared a historic site by the French government in 1975, this iconic café is the setting for many a painting and poem. The ornate frescoed interior and proximity to the Paris Opera Garnier make this classic look more like a museum than simple watering hole. Once loved by French writers such as Guy de Maupassant and Emile Zola, the café is so well-known that legend claims that you will surely run into a friend there.
Address : 12 Boulevard des Capucines, 75009 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 40 07 36 36
Web : http://www.cafedelapaix.fr
2. Le Select Paris
One of the great classic Parisian cafés, this one gets bragging rights for its long list of past clients. Henry Miller, Hemingway, Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald all took their coffee breaks here as the sun draped over them on the terrace. Mosaic tiles line the floor and prop up the wicker chairs found in most traditional Parisian cafés. The one noticeable difference between the cafe’s former and current guise is the lack of smoke trails swirling through the air – smoking is now banned indoors in France.
Address : 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 45 48 38 24
3. Le Deux Magots Paris
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.
Address : 6 place St Germain des Pres, 75006 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 45 48 55 25
web : http://www.lesdeuxmagots.fr
4. Café de Flore Paris
Across the street from rival Les Deux Magots, Le Cafe de Flore has changed little since World War II: red booths, wide mirrors and an enviable clientele. While it has become a hotspot for tourists and upwardly mobile types, and no longer attracts as many students and artists, it still merits a visit for the ambiance. The café once hosted Sartre and de Beauvoir’s passionate discussions, among others.
Address : 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 45 48 55 26
Web : http://www.cafedeflore.fr
5. The Hemingway Bar Paris
Located within the Ritz Hotel, the Hemingway is an old haunt of Sartre and James Joyce, and pays special tribute to the eponymous author with a wall display of 25 of his original photos from A Moveable Feast. Enjoy beers from around the world here, or Hemingway’s old favourite, the single malt whiskey. The wood-paneling and cushy leather stools will make you feel like you’ve just stepped onto the set of An American in Paris.
Address : 15 Place Vendome, 75001 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 43 16 33 65
Web : http://www.ritzparis.com
6. Cafe de la Rotonde Paris
Back when Victor Libio opened this corner café in 1911, starving artists like Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani could spend hours nursing a ten-centime cup of joe, paying only with a drawing if they didn’t have the cash. These days, drinks at La Rotonde cost a bit more than your latest work of art, but the café is still worth visiting for its Art Deco elegance and Old Paris feel.
Address : 105 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 43 26 48 26
Web : http://www.rotondemontparnasse.com
7. La Closerie des Lilas Paris
If not for the glass-roofed area and brass rails, stop by this revered Montparnasse haunt for its tables, which are name plated after the café’s former regulars: Oscar Wilde, Paul Cézanne, Emile Zola and Paul Verlaine, to name a few. Enjoy an afternoon café, or stop in for a drink at the piano bar followed by a candlelit dinner in one of the comfortable banquettes.
Address : 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris
Phone : + 33(0)1 40 51 34 50
Web : http://www.closeriedeslilas.fr
8. Le Procope Paris
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.
Address : 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 40 46 79 00
Web : http://www.procope.com
9. Le Café Tournon Paris
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.
Address : 18 Rue de Tournon, 75006 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 43 26 16 16
Web : http://www.cafetournon.com
9. Le Fouquet’s Paris
Founded in 1899, this café, restaurant and accompanying hotel is the quintessential spot for Parisian hobnobbing. French President Nicolas Sarkozy himself celebrated his electoral victory here in 2007, and Fouquet’s is also a top venue for Cesar Film Awards after-parties. After having your photo taken atop the gold-plated stars on the side walk entrance, slide into one of the plush leather chairs for a drink overlooking the Champs-Elysées.
Address : 99 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris
Phone : + 33 (0)1 40 69 60 50
Web : http://www.lucienbarriere.com
11. La Coupole Paris
As much elegant diner as stylish café, le Coupole can be equally enjoyed for its iced coffees and flutes of champagne as for its shrimp scampi and platters of oysters. The former wood and coal store was transformed in 1927 into the largest brasserie in Paris, and welcomed many a Left Bank artist, including Joseph Kessel and Hemingway. The basement dance hall is an after-hours treat, and was once a favourite of Josephine Baker, de Beauvoir and Sartre. The Tango and Jazz tunes of yesteryear have been replaced with salsa, house and electro-soul beats.
Address : 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 43 20 14 20
Web : http://www.lacoupole-paris.com
12. Cafe des Deux Moulins Paris
While some Parisian cafés start out as classics, others acquire the status through creative means. This local corner café was chosen by French Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet to play host to several scenes in the 2001 film Amélie, and has since paid tribute to it by decking out the place with movie stills, photos and ceramic dwarfs in the restroom. Prepare to sip your Kronenbourg amidst the incessant flashing of tourist’s cameras – maybe even your own.
Address : 15 rue Lepic, 75018 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 42 54 90 50
13. Le Relais de la Butte Paris
This unassuming hangout hidden under the Butte in Montmartre is every bit classic Parisian café during the day as it is happening bar in the evenings. Enjoy a hot tea on the square where Picasso’s Beateau-Lavoir studio once was, while you soak up Montmartre’s bohemian, village-like ambiance.
Address : 12 rue Ravignan, 75018 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 42 52 89 77
14. Le Baron Rouge Paris
If you’re all coffee-ed out, check out this hip wine bar in the 12th arrondissement. Tables are makeshift, constructed from stacked up wine crates and slabs of red wood, and the alcohol flows aplenty. Here, you can rub elbows with real Parisians, mostly young, middle-class folks stopping in for an after-work tipple.
Address : 1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 75012 Paris
Phone : +33 (0)1 43 43 14 32
15. Hotel Costes Paris
The Hotel Costes is a five-star hotel, bar and lounge, opened in 1991 under the direction of designer Jacques Garcia. Situated right in the heart of the Rue Saint Honore fashion district, the Costes is frequented by wealthy jetsetters and those curious to get a glimpse of the elite lifestyle. While not strictly a cafe in the most traditional sense, it made our list because it’s become a contemporary favourite for sipping an espresso, lounging with your shopping bags and people-watching.
Address : 239 rue Saint honoré 75001 Paris
Phone : +33 1 42 44 50 00
Web : http://www.hotelcostes.com