Café Paris
Image by Morten Batbukt under Creative Commons License.

France, Paris Guide (D): Café Paris

Paris is home to thousands of cafes; there is a café on practically every street corner you turn, in every square you stumble across, on every boulevard you stroll along. True, it’s easy to find a café in Paris, but it’s not always easy to find a good café. Use this comprehensive guide to find your way to the best coffees, teas, cakes and patisseries that the city has to offer.
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Attractions Map

Guide Name: Café Paris
Guide Location: France » Paris
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Destinations: 20
Sight(s) featured in this guide: La Caféothèque   10 Belles   L’ébouillanté   Delyan   Café La Fusée   Le Loir dans la Théière   Soul Kitchen   Kooka Boora   Patisserie Viennoise   Les Petits Plats de Marc   Coquelicot   L’Arobase   Sugarplum Cake Shop   Café Charbon   Café Verlet   Le O’Paris   Brasserie Printemps   La Palette   Café de Flore   Les Deux Magots  
Author: Emma Wilson
Author Bio: Soon after graduating with English literature, my itchy feet got me on a plane to Istanbul where I started teaching English, dabbling in freelance journalism and trying to unravel the mysteries of the Turkish language. A year later, circumstances inevitably brought me back to the love of my life, France. Now living in Paris, I fill my days with teaching, writing and enjoying the wonderful French food and wine little too much…
1
La Caféothèque

1) La Caféothèque

The flagship of Paris’ coffee revolution, this is a coffee purist’s paradise. The venue clearly states its purpose by the gleaming coffee roasting machine that takes pride of place in the window and rumbles away from open til close. The café doesn’t have a particularly appealing exterior, but step inside and you’ll find three calm, spacious salons with a tapestry of irresistible aromas wafting through them.

La Caféothèque is the brainchild of Gloria Montenegro, former Guatemalan ambassador, who has made it her mission to oust the acrid swill that is often served in Paris’ cafés. She imports from small plantations in all of the world’s coffee hotspots and operates on a principle of direct trade with the producers.

The trained baristas that staff the coffee shop zip around behind the two bars handling the Marzocco espresso machines with easy expertise. They are always more than happy to guide you through the slightly overwhelming menu.

The café is not only a coffee shop but also functions as a venue for lectures, conferences, expositions and workshops on coffee-culture, the details for which can be found on the website.
2
10 Belles

2) 10 Belles

Dive off the main street running alongside Canal Saint Martin and you’ll find this little gem. It’s a tiny place with simple pinewood décor, a snug mezzanine, cute fold-out stools and ‘real’ coffee. When you manage to tear your eyes from the counter’s ravishing display of freshly baked scones, almond slices and chunks of marble cake the size of doorsteps, you’ll notice the shelves lined with packets of coffee beans from Guatemala, Ethiopia, Honduras and Kenya. The dynamic French owner Thomas Lehoux appears to be the fountain of all coffee-related knowledge, gained from his extensive experience in Paris’ barista scene. He only opened 10 Belles in September 2012, but it took off immediately and he has enjoyed a constant flow of coffee-loving customers since then.

Food-wise, aside from the fabulous cakes, you’ll find a lunch menu consisting of sausage rolls, sandwiches and salads with prices ranging from 5€ to 7.50€. The Englishness of the menu is explained by Anne Trattles’ presence in the kitchen. She’s an English-born, Paris-trained pastry chef who started work in the café in June 2013.

Both the food and coffee menu undergo a complete re-haul every few months in order to keep in tune with seasonal produce.
3
L’ébouillanté

3) L’ébouillanté

With an eye catching electric blue exterior, this delightful café boasts a lovely location in a leafy cobbled street on the edge of the Marais district. From the tables by the shop front window you can look out at one of Paris’ stunning churches. Before the café opened in 1977 the space was used as an artist’s studio, a history which is commemorated by the quirky melange of posters of past Parisian art exhibitions which plaster the walls.

The café offers a good variety of teas and coffees (between 2.50 € and 5.50 €), but also some interesting alternatives to your usual hot drinks, such as milk flavoured with honey or vanilla and hot, spiced orange or apple juice. Along with your drink of choice you can have one of the café’s delicious home-made cakes, all served with a healthy dollop of crème fraiche.

You’ll find lunches of soup, salads, quiche and crepes with prices between 6 € and 16€ as well as a copious Sunday brunch at 21 €.
4
Delyan

4) Delyan

With perhaps one of the most extensive tea lists in Paris, Delyan is a must for tea-lovers. Prices start at 4.40 € for the house classics and go up to 11.10 € for certain items on the specialist list. There is also a choice of coffees and hot chocolates for those who aren’t tea fans, and of course a selection of sumptuous home-made cakes served in generous portions. I would highly recommend the melt-in-your-mouth clafoutis.

The old wooden floors, sage-green walls and bookshelf stacked with yellowing editions of the classics create a homey environment. Take the narrow spiral staircase up to the cosy second floor where you can nab a spot on the sofa and gaze out at Paris through the old French windows.

The café also does very reasonably-priced lunches of salads, quiches, pasta and soups, and on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays there is a 20 € brunch from 12:00 – 15:00.
5
Café La Fusée

5) Café La Fusée

This enchantingly scruffy venue epitomises French bohemian charm. A cheerful red and white striped awning adorned with multicoloured bulbs shelters the animated chatter of the heated terrace. Inside you find an old mahogany bar with enormous bundles of saucisson dangling from the low ceiling above it. Small groups claim the wooden tables while solo customers perch on bar stools cradling their midday glass of wine.

You’ll find the usual range of hot drinks (2 € for a coffee to 3.80 € for grog) and a choice of cookie, brownie or muffin to nibble at alongside. For later in the day there are also wines, aperitifs and cocktails all at wonderfully low prices. Breakfasts range from ‘le petit’ at 2.80 € (coffee, toast, butter and jam) to ‘le grand’ at 12.50 € (coffee, pancakes, eggs, cheese and ham).
6
Le Loir dans la Théière

6) Le Loir dans la Théière

Blink and you miss it, it’s the sort of place that you’ll only find if you’re looking for it. Behind the unimposing exterior you’ll find two rooms crammed with a motley assortment of rickety wooden tables and old leather armchairs. The café takes its name (which translates as ‘the dormouse in the teapot’) from the unfortunate character who features in the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. This theme is playfully continued with paintings of the famous scene on the walls of the café.

Aside from its quirky appearance, the café has the added attraction of making and selling some of the best cakes in town, including the spectacular lemon meringue tart which has become something of a trademark. All cakes are priced at 7€, but you do get an extremely generous portion. Coffee prices go from 2.50€ to 4.50€ and there is a selection of teas and tisanes at 5€. You’ll also find quiches and omelettes all at 9.50€.

Beware of teatime queues at the weekend.
7
Soul Kitchen

7) Soul Kitchen

Cosy and totally adorable, you’ll find it hard not to be charmed by the old stone walls, painted terracotta tiles and pretty decorative details. There are magazines at your disposal, and the playful ‘challenge of the day’ etched up on the backboard for which the prize is a free Madeleine.

The café was opened in October 2012 by sisters Isabelle and Sophie, the cooks, and their university friend Anaïs, who takes care of the management. It should be commended firstly for being one of the rare Parisian venues that is allergy and vegetarian conscious. Among the selection of freshly-baked goodies there are always several gluten-free options, and they also offer alternatives to milk for coffees. The lovely lunch menu (which changes daily) always includes one or two vegetarian dishes out of the three. They get their fruit and vegetables from local sellers and all the dry ingredients are organic.

Alongside breakfasts, lunches and tea time snacks, you’ll find coffees and teas between 2€ and 4.50€, with a cappuccino only at 3.50€, fresh juices at 3.50€ and a choice of white, dark, Mexican or Oreo hot chocolate between 3.70€ and 4.20€. Every day the lunch menu is posted on their website so you can see if anything takes your fancy beforehand.
8
Kooka Boora

8) Kooka Boora

Here’s another of the new wave of ‘proper’ coffee shops springing up all over Paris. Owner Nicolas Piégay found his inspiration in the coffee specialists of Australia, which explains the presence of flat whites, mochaccinos and even iced coffees. Prices range from 2.50€ to 4.50€. Alternatively you can try the fresh fruit juice creations which are made for you there and then from the fruit crates lined up along the counter.

Perhaps something to do with its ‘Aussie’ influence, the café has a very chilled out feel to it. Customers are welcome to sit and while away an hour or so with a book, laptop or newspaper. It is ideally located in a quiet corner of Pigalle, facing out onto a leafy square from which you can just glimpse the gleaming white domes of the Sacré Coeur.

Liquids aside, you can get scrumptious cakes, salads and sandwiches, all very reasonably priced.
9
Patisserie Viennoise

9) Patisserie Viennoise

Take half an hour to stop in at this little haven just a stone’s throw away from Boulevard Saint Germain. First opened in 1928, to this day the patisserie-cum-café specialises in traditional French cakes and pastries. The selection is, however, by no means limited; whether you want gooey, chocolaty, crunchy, fruity, nutty or syrupy, you’ll find it here, along with the usual range of coffees and herbal teas between 2€ and 4.30€.

If it’s not a cake you’re after, the café also offers salads, basic pasta dishes and lovely sandwiches that you can have as part of a formula (6.50€ for sandwich + drink, 9.50€ for sandwich + drink + dessert). Make sure you go with cash, as the café doesn’t accept cards.
10
Les Petits Plats de Marc

10) Les Petits Plats de Marc

Just off the enchanting Rue Mouffetard, this little mezzanine tea salon is the ideal place to take a break from your wonderings. It has a black and white tiled floor, big old beams that span the ceiling and a selection of Marc’s home-made jams on display above the wine wrack. There is a semi open-plan kitchen at the back where you can just see the jovial chef dashing from one counter to another, occasionally reaching up a hand to grab one of the countless jars of ingredients that line the shelves.

In terms of tea, the café offers the classics, the exotics and the infusions all at 4€, as well as a selection of rather decadent coffees and an old-style French hot chocolate at 4.20€.

However, the thing that really makes this place worth a visit is Marc’s ‘petits plats’. Whether you choose to indulge in one of the wonderful sweet tarts with your tea (5€ a piece) or an equally delicious savoury tart for lunch, you won’t be disappointed. The recipes are simple and classic but beautifully prepared with organic ingredients sourced from the local markets.

Marc also conducts cookery workshops here once a month. Email for details.
11
Coquelicot

11) Coquelicot

You’ll be hard pushed to resist the alluring scents of baking bread that drift out from under the red awning of this traditional café-bakery. Before taking a seat in the little upstairs café, take a minute to feast your eyes on the stunning bakery display of crusty breads, airy croissants, immaculate strawberry tarts and colourful macarons. If that fails to whet your appetite, have a browse of the extensive lunch menu which includes all the usuals and more, from croque monsieur to salads to quiches and also a choice of wonderful gratins. The café also does breakfasts from 4.80€ to 13.95€, weekday brunches at 17.95€ and the more indulgent weekend brunches at 20.05€. For lovers of the full English, it’s worth noting that this is one of the few Parisian cafés to serve bacon. The coffees, while nothing special, are very reasonably priced for the area, ranging from 2.05€ to 4€, and teas at 3.85€.

The charming ladies at the counter make you more forgiving of the slight kitsch-ness of the venue.
12
L’Arobase

12) L’Arobase

Located just behind the vast François Mitterand Library, if you want to escape the tourist hoardes and elevated prices of central Paris, this is the place for you. Although slightly off the beaten track, this little café enjoys a more or less constant stream of customers, attracted by the relaxed atmosphere, lovely home-made café food and the jaw-droppingly cheap coffee prices. It’s the kind of place where you are welcome to while away several hours chatting, reading, working or even sleeping. Enjoy the assortment of books, comics, magazines and newspapers or take advantage of the free wifi, the printer at 10 cents/page and the computers at 75 cents/15 minutes.

Food-wise there are generous salads at 3.50 €, quiches at 3.60 €/slice and stuffed bagels between 4.90 € and 6 €. As well as this there is, of course, the selection of wonderfully gooey cakes, tarts and compotes, of which I would highly recommend the fabulous Nutella cake.

Owner Rodolphe Sirvoe organises free photography and drawing exhibitions in the café every two months where artists can display for free.
13
Sugarplum Cake Shop

13) Sugarplum Cake Shop

This is one for all the North Americans and Canadians who are craving a taste of home. The café was opened four years ago by American and Canadian duo Krista and Taylor who have built up quite a name for themselves in the cake-making industry, and not without reason. In the café you’ll find the full range of American-inspired goodies; muffins, cupcakes, cookies, impressive three-tiered cakes and, of course, pecan and pumpkin pies. Prices are between 2.80 € and 4.50 €.

For drinks you can pick from a selection of teas, fresh fruit juices, iced tea and lemonade, or you can have the baristas whip you up a flat white.

The cake-making pair do wedding and birthday cakes on demand, as well as pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving.
14
Café Charbon

14) Café Charbon

Cafe Charbon is housed in a listed building with a facade dating from 1890. On the wall panels above the large and aged mirrors there are frescos depicting images of the Parisian cabaret of the 1900’s, and the hotchpotch of painted floor tiles mark the different styles of eras passed. The impressive wrought iron chandeliers that hang down from the high ceiling are actually inversed candelabras, and the striking lamps above the bar were apparently salvaged from a Greek fishing boat…or so the story goes.

Civilised and picturesque by day, the epicentre of Oberkampf’s nightlife by night. Drinks are inexpensive and the cafe hosts live bands every Thursday in their ‘concert corner’, to which entry is free.

Coffees are not too expensive, with an espresso at 2 € and a cappuccino at 3.60 €. There are also some surprisingly unconventional options for an old Parisian café, such as a chai tea latte at 4.10 €, home-made mint tea at 3.60 €, and milkshakes at 4.90 €. There are breakfasts between 3.50 € – 10.50 €, and a small but appealing lunch and dinner menu.
15
Café Verlet

15) Café Verlet

This is perhaps the oldest of Paris’ ‘proper coffee’ cafés. It was estabished at the beginning of the 20th Century by navigator and adventurer August Woehrlé, who started a business trading products imported from the colonies, such as rice, spices, teas and coffees. The business has remained within the family ever since, and is now run as a coffee house and tea salon by Eric Duchossoy, a barista and coffee/tea tradesman with 20 years of experience behind him.

The café is rustic without being twee, with simple but attractive window displays of dried fruits and rough weave sacks of coffee beans available for purchase by weight. The menu has a coffee list three pages long, noting the qualities and origins of each, plus a further four pages of teas. Whilst it is primarily a coffee/tea house, there is a small lunch menu with croque monsieurs at 7.50 €, salads at 10 € and quiches at 11 €.

M. Duchossoy does direct trade with plantations who uphold the values of humane and eco-friendly production. He roasts the beans in-house himself for optimum freshness.
16
Le O’Paris

16) Le O’Paris

Le O’Paris is superbly located at one of the highest points in town just above Belleville Park. It’s summertime terrace has a great view out over Paris, the Eiffel tower rising from the melée of Parisian streets. Aside from its fantastic position, the café is also an undeniably cool hang-out. With its dark wooden floors, black banquettes and red walls, it has a certain sexiness about it. The selection of board games and books indicates that you are welcome to stay as long as you like.

Coffees are from 2 €, teas from 2.50 € and hot chocolates at 3.80 €. There are also some exotic fruit juices such as mango, guava and strawberry, and some interesting lemonades. There’s a full bar with beer at 5.80 €/50cl, and fun cocktails created by the barman himself. The menu changes according to what’s available at the market, but you can expect to pay between 13 € and 15 € for a main course. There is also brunch on Sundays between 12:00 and 16:00 and live jazz from 17:00 to 21:00. All food and wine at the café is organic.
17
Brasserie Printemps

17) Brasserie Printemps

Located on the seventh floor of luxury department store Printemps, this is a café that’s worth just coming to have a look at. A spectacular stained glass dome crowns the cavernous space with an enormous spherical lantern as its centrepiece. If you can get close to the three windows on the north-eastern side of the café, you’ll get stunning views of the Sacré Coeur and Paris’ magical rooftop world.

Coffee prices go from 3 € for an espresso to 5.50 € for a cappuccino, but if, like me, you are a chocolate fan, you’ll be unable to resist the hot chocolate bar. Yes, an entire bar devoted solely to hot chocolate! Amongst much more, you can treat yourself to a hot chocolate and coconut cocktail, a cinnamon and speculoos Viennese hot chocolate, or a hot chocolate with raspberry coulis. Hot chocolates are priced between 5.50 € and 7 €.

You can also get light meals between 9.50 € and 21.50 € such as beef carpaccio, a cheese platter and Caesar salad, and then cakes, desserts and ice-creams from 8 € to 11.50 €. There is also a full bar and a restaurant menu.
18
La Palette

18) La Palette

This atmospheric café is famed for having been frequented by all the greats of Parisian bohemianism, including the likes of Cezanne, Picasso and Braque and then later Ernest Hemingway and Jim Morrison. The café has a display of the various artists’ pallets and paintings, all signed, which used to be routinely exchanged for food and drink. Even the walls themselves bear work from the brushes of the celebrated regulars of years gone by, interspersed with 1930’s ceramics painted with scenes of Parisian café life.

As French as French can be, the dimmed lights, age-mottled mirrors and bow-tie clad waiters give a sense of gravitas to the place. You can also enjoy the large, heated terrace which is sheltered by a big green and white awning crowned with an array of flourishing pot-plants.

The status of the venue is reflected in the prices. You can expect to pay 3€ for an espresso and 6.50€ for a cappuccino or hot chocolate. There is also a full bar, including cocktails and absinth at 12€.
19
Café de Flore

19) Café de Flore

Possibly Paris’ most famous café, Flore boasts a list of big name customers past and present as long as my arm. The café, which takes its name from the little sculpture of the goddess across the street, started out in 1887 as the workshop of the great French poet Appolinaire, and fast became the heart of Parisian literary and artistic life. References to Flore can be found in the letters and scribblings of Europe’s great thinkers, such as Beauvoir, Sartre and Signoret. In the 1930s the café was more or less exclusively occupied by the up-and-coming literary geniuses of the era. It later became the haunt of cinematic artists such as Roman Polanski and Brigitte Bardot, not to mention fashion giants Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy.

History aside, the café has a very extensive drinks list with wine prices between 35 €/bottle and 2500 €/bottle (if you’re feeling frivolous). There’s a selection of teas at 5.40 € supplied by the venerated tea house Mariage Frères, and all the usual coffees from 4.10 € upwards. The light meals on offer include sandwiches, omlets, salads, patés, cheese platters and (naturally) caviar, and ice-creams and desserts for after. The breakfasts at 25 € are comprised of a hot drink, patisserie and fresh fruit juice.

Get yourself a spot in the sunshine on the terrace, soak up the atmosphere and try not to think too much about the price of your cappuccino.
20
Les Deux Magots

20) Les Deux Magots

The next-door-neighbour of Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots is another of Paris’ classic ‘cafés de luxe’, and it wears its traditionalism with pride. Largely due to a clientele composed of the likes of Rimbaud, Sartre, Picasso and Hemingway, this café is also inextricably linked with Paris’ literary and artistic scene. It was founded in 1884 and gets its name from the two Chinese figurines that to this day remain as a trademark feature of the café’s otherwise traditional décor.

The café has a full bar, including cocktails, and the coffee prices start at 4.40 €. Try the café’s famous old style French hot chocolate at 7.30 €. As well as the proper restaurant menu where you’ll find all the classics, you can also get smaller meals such as sandwiches between 7.80 € and 23.30 €, omelettes from 10.90 € and cheese and charcuterie platters from 6.80 € to 19.20 €. For those with a sweet tooth, have a go at the rather exclusive selection of tarts, cakes or Pierre Hermé macarons.

Once again, given the café’s renown, expect to pay a little more than the average.

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