While Paris is famous for, well, a lot of things, one of those things is cafés. They’re iconic. They’re beautiful. They’re everywhere. Where to begin? I chose to begin with the new wave cafés that aren’t typically Parisian. Most of them have been opened by young entrepreneurs with appropriately hipster coffee shop names and designs. (Fun fact: “hipsters” are known as Bobo’s in Paris–stands for Bohemian Bourgeois. Perfect, right?) I love classically Parisian cafés but these new wave cafés are the ones I tend to frequent more. Something I learned at SCAD was the perfection of spending all day in a café; doing work, reading, eating, etc. That’s what I look for in a great café. A place I can set up camp with my laptop, a book, or even art supplies and sit for hours. So, with that being said, here are my top 6 favorite cafés that I have found so far in Paris that fit the bill.
- Le Pavillon Des Canaux
This is the most unknown and most awesome café EVER. Not so unknown that you can go on a nice Saturday and easily get a seat, but still, you probably won’t find it in most guide books. It’s kind of out of the way in the 10th/19th area, but it is so worth it. It’s basically an old house that is still a house but also a café. Each room is still it’s original purpose but in a redone, super artistic, fresh way. Take your house iced tea to the living room, dining room, bedroom, kitchen, even bathroom! Each room is unique with multiple seating options and something cool to see. 10/10 would recommend.
2. Bleu Olive Epicerie and Café
Ah Bleu Olive! This is my go-to café. It’s right by my school on Rue Grenelle near Le Tour Maubourg metro stop so it’s easy to pop in between classes. They have hot and cold coffees, teas, sandwiches, etc. They also have to-go coffee. Sit and work or have fun with the coloring pages they have for kids (or adults, whatever). The shelves are stocked with well designed glass jars full of dips, sauces, and preserves for sale, as well as teas. The two men who run it are very friendly, although you might have to occasionally ask for something more than once (although that’s really par for the course in Paris).
3. Fragments Café
A Marais staple, this tiny little café is tucked away on a side street (as all the best are). More cute baristas serving good coffee. Laptops are ok! Yay! Get lost in your own little world while picking at a decadent piece of flourless chocolate cake. They don’t really have many breakfast options though, so don’t go there thinking of getting a real meal. The coffee and teas are wonderful though.
Next door to the famous Shakespeare and Co. bookstore is this little gem of a café. It’s a perfect meeting place for friends (great location to then just stroll) or to sit and aimlessly read all the books you just purchased next door. On a hot day, take one of their homemade, mint lemonades to go or sit outside and eat a giant sushi. Yes, they have those sometimes. In the summer they also serve ice cream. The café itself is pretty small, so get there early and claim your seat! Bonus: all the baristas speak English!
5. Le Cairn
Le Cairn is a coffee shop and a naturopathie (they sell natural stuff), and for anyone reading this that goes to AUP, it’s right on the way to the library in the 7th. A mother-son team run it and they are both super friendly and accommodating. I got a to-go latte and it was honestly one of the best lattes I’ve ever had AND cheaper than most cafés I’ve been to in Paris. The interior is cool and modern with a peaceful grey scale theme. Everything is gluten free too, which is not something I look for, but hey, good to know! They also sell tea and coffee drinking products as well as lots of homeopathic remedial type things.
BONUS: Maison Plisson
Ok, admittedly, this one doesn’t really fit my description above of cute, hipster cafés that you can work in, but I decided to make an exception for Maison Plisson. It is cute and bobo-y but you can’t really work all day in here. It’s relatively new, only opened within the past year or so. When I visited Paris in April, it was already up and running but when I came back again in early September, they had a whole beautiful, outdoor covered patio–great for people watching. It’s in Le Marais which is rife with cafés and boutiques and galleries, but I believe this place deserves distinction.
Maison Plisson is not only a café. It’s also a patisserie and a kind of grocery store (next door). The café part is filled with warm light and beautiful servers. The coffee is great and the baked goods are fresh. Sit down in the patio for a noisette or line up for a fresh pain au chocolat. Next door is where you can stock up on all the well-designed mugs, aprons, bags, and carafes seen in the cafe. It’s also where you can get freshly sliced meats and cheeses, fruits and veggies, and pretty much anything else you might find at a grocer. I highly recommend the Sunday brunch where the chef explores some new menu ideas.