Ten of the best Paris cafés
- Credit: Archant
Grab a table and soak up quintessential Paris life in one of these classic pavement cafés
16 Rue Royale, 75008 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 42 60 21 79
The pastel-hued macarons of Maison Ladurée are the ultimate teatime indulgence. Opened in 1862, the Royale café remains a Parisian institution, as one of the city’s first salon de thé and credited as being the first to begin exploring the infinite possibilities with this dainty sweet. Inside, the frescoed ceiling depicting cherubs in clouds and the old wooden clock retains the feel of when the café was first opened. Dip in here for a petit déjeuner and step back a century to when tea was served in dainty cups and saucers and pastries were displayed on silver cake stands.
13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris
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Tel: (Fr) 1 40 46 79 00
Often cited as the first café in Paris, Le Procope was founded in 1686 and led the way in the city’s burgeoning café culture. In its heyday, it was the left bank’s café litteraire par excellence, said to be where Benjamin Franklin put the finishes touches to the American Constitution and philosopher Diderot drafted his encyclopaedia. Today, it’s redolent with history – there is a table perpetually for Voltaire and a glass stand with Emperor Napoléon’s cocked hat on display. Sit among portrait-hung walls and try one of the staunchly traditional dishes like Breton oysters or calf’s head casserole.
226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 42 60 82 00
Chocoholics beware; Angelina’s could prove to be your downfall. Its legendary chocolat chaud l’Africain is so rich that one cup will satisfy one’s chocolate urges for months. Then there’s the famous Mont Blanc cake, the recipe for which has been guarded for more 100 years. Little wonder that this legendary salon du thé, founded in 1903, has been the favourite spot of the rich and famous, tempting the taste buds of Marcel Proust and Coco Channel along with many sweet-toothed gastronomes. Its elegant dining room on Rue de Rivoli is the perfect place for a leisurely coffee break; sink into one of the many leather armchairs and have your treats served to your marble-topped table.
Café des Deux Moulins
15 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 42 54 90 50
This hillside café in Montmartre shot to fame after playing an important part in the 2001 French romantic comedy Amélie, which charmed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. It was here that the heroine, played by Audrey Tatou, worked as a waitress and captured the heart of her leading man Nino. While real life dictates that the lady herself isn’t in situ (although her poster looks down on customers), the romance of the film still permeates the traditional interior that retains its laid-back, edgy vibe.
Les Deux Magots
6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Près, 75006 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 45 48 55 25
Arguably the most well-known café to be associated with Saint-Germain-des-Près’s early-twentieth-century literary scene, Les Deux Magots is said to be where Picasso dreamt up cubism, while prolific writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus made it their second home. In an enviable position overlooking Saint-Germain’s central square, the café remains as popular as ever and you’ll do well to find bag a table under its green awning, perennially choc-a-block with chattering coffee-drinkers, Le Monde readers and tourists watching the world go by.
Café de la Paix
5 Place de l’Opéra 75009 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 40 07 36 36
This timeless institution just around the corner of Paris’s magnificent opera house was built by the same architect, Charles Garnier. Opened in 1862, the café was once a preferred haunt of Émile Zola and Guy de Maupassant, before the Belle Époque heralded the arrival of aristocratic socialites and royalty. Today the café, located on the ground floor of the Le Grand Hotel, still boasts sumptuous interiors and one of the most enchanting terraces in the city. Feast on an elaborate seafood platters and embrace the people-watching opportunities.
13 Rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 40 51 82 50
Sightseeing in Paris can be thirsty work and, if your preference is for a pot of tea, Mariage Frères has several salons in the capital, including one tucked away on a quiet street corner on the Left Bank. The upstairs tea room has an old-¬world charm, with a muted brown decor and a menu listing hundreds of teas that come served in ceramic pots. Delicious pastries help to make a perfect afternoon treat. The ground floor is taken over by a shop, lined from floor to ceiling with large tins of tea, and there is even a museum in the basement devoted to the subject.
Café de Flore
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris 75006
Tel: (Fr) 1 45 48 55 26
Creative souls have long congregated at the Café de Flore on the city’s Left Bank. Held high as a meeting place for intellectuals, artists and free thinkers, the café’s intellectual connections (Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus were faithful patrons) have not only cemented its reputation as an inspirational hotspot, but have also led to the foundation of the renowned Prix de Flore literary prize. Enjoy a terrace view on the iconic Boulevard Saint-Germain or take up a table inside to be treated to the spectacle of classically dressed waiters with trays aloft, weaving in and out of dark wooden tables set out across a tiled floor.
93 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 49 26 06 60
When you’ve soaked up enough culture in the Louvre’s galleries, head to Café Marly found under the arcades of the Richelieu wing for some late-afternoon refreshment. Its huge see-and-be-seen terrace offers a magnificent view of the Louvre’s glass pyramid but is usually packed in summer. Instead wrap up warm for a visit during the winter months or take a seat on the interior’s velvet banquettes to sip artisan tea and feast your eyes on the café’s parquet floors, gilded woodwork and the beautiful clientele.
25 Place des Vosges, 75003 Paris
Tel: (Fr) 1 48 87 94 07
Nestling beneath the arches of Place des Vosges in the Marais district, this elegant salon du thé provides the perfect place for an afternoon stop. The original Carette in Place du Trocadéro dates from 1927, but this smaller and newer addition offers all the prestige of the original, but in a cosier setting. Get a table in the charming salon or find a place on the heated terrace beneath the arcades and then enjoy fresh pastries, tartes and macarons from the in-house patisserie. Whatever the temptations, be sure to save room for the rich and thick hot chocolate, which is sinfully delicious.