Cafés in Paris have long been known as places to sip and be seen—even as early as the 1700s when famous clientele like Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire would sit for coffee breaks. While there are many to choose from, here are a few beloved spots to get you started:
Café de la Paix
Opened in 1862, this famous café was declared a historic site by the French government in 1975. Sitting across from the Paris Opera Garnier, expect a high-end atmosphere, classic interior décor, and formal wait staff, in other words, it’s not a place to head to in your jeans, or on a budget. The Prince of Wales Edward VII once visited its space, and the Café de la Paix was beloved by writers and artists like Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Jules Massenet and Robert Service.
Tip: If historic cafés piqué your interest, you may also like Le Procope. Founded in 1686, it is the oldest café in Paris and once hosted icons like Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.
This classic Parisian café, originally established in 1923, offers a reasonably priced menu and a casual vibe, with worn wooden tables, wicker chairs, and friendly servers. Legends like Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald would once take coffee breaks here, and you’ll find a nice selection of liqueurs as well as items like freshly shucked oysters.
Les Deux Magots
Though it originally started out as a drapery and then as a wine merchant, this famous café grew into its own in 1914, and quickly became a Paris hot spot. Oscar Wilde was known to stop in for tea, and before WWII, it evolved into a hub for writers and artists. Philosopher, novelist and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir would meet here every morning, though these days it’s more of an upscale hangout for tourists and locals.
Le Café Tournon
Nestled close to the Luxembourg Gardens, this swanky café is known to attract celebrities, journalists, and politicians. In the ’50s, African-American writers and artists like James Baldwin and Richard Wright were known to gather here, and Austrian writer Joseph Roth once lived above the café. It’s also famous for being home to jazz band Duke Ellington’s Paris début. Today Chef Patrick Canal’s menu incorporates local, fresh cuisine and features dishes like duck confit, a foie gras tasting plate and dry sausage.
Café des 2 Moulins
More of a recent legend, this corner café rose to fame after appearing in the 2001 movie Amélie (where the main character worked as a waitress). Tourists still seek out a chance to sip a coffee or one of its classic French dishes like warm goat cheese and calf liver, its main patrons are neighborhood locals. On a nice day, grab a seat outdoors and people watch.
If you’re interested in cafés that specialize in coffee beans, check out:
Café Verlet: This coffee shop has been around for 100 years, and features more than 20 varieties of freshly roasted single-origin beans and house blends.
Merce and the Muse: A hip, New York City style café with lightly roasted beans, and a barista who trained with the famous Coffee Collective in Denmark.
Le Cafeotheque: Owner Gloria Montenegro gets beans through trading directly from small plantations around the world. Beans are roasted daily and brewed on the highly respected La Marzocco espresso machine.
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Author Bio: Laura is a freelance writer who loves to travel and regularly writes for Luxury Retreats, the world leader in personalized vacations around the world, including prestigious villas in France, Hawaii and the Caribbean name a few. Laura’s favorite destinations include Maui, New Orléans, Dublin, Banff and anywhere in Atlantic Canada.