Paris is full of more or less typical cafés, and it sure is the city where they are the most numerous. But which one to choose? A trendy one, a comfortable, original one? The one with the best meals and pastries? Choosing is difficult, and the best thing might be to choose one from which you can observe people, and not time, passing by. A selection of the best cafés of the City of Lights should help you find the right spot to watch life in Paris.
1) Paname Brewing Company
41 bis, quai de la Loire, 75019
This café almost stands on the Canal de l’Ourcq to present you a viewpoint between earth and sea. On sunny days, you can observe from your table the sun shining up in the water and the people rushing to the quays. The menu is modern and the establishment makes its own beers, called « Oeil de Biche » (Doe’s eye), a « Bête Noire » (Black Beast), or a « Barge du canal » (Channel’s barge). Try some! To go with the beers, the PBC follows the present trend and proposes home-made street food: only classics, like tacos, burgers, pizzas, or brownies, but imagined in a new way.
This café is the perfect place to stop in summer, but it may be hard to find a seat past 6 p.m.
6, rue des barres, 75004
Crédits : ©Julian Walker
Near the Shoah Memorial and the Seine, this café enables you to take a breath and have a break between two speedy visits. Its main advantage is its location, in an almost unknown street, which means it is not assaulted by tourists. It is just behind Saint-Gervais Church, well away from the tourists and the agitation of the city. You could almost believe you are in the marketplace of a small country village. The menu is along the same lines with simple but tasty meals. Thus, you can enjoy salads, pies, and other homemade classics. The prices are attractive for the area, with a three courses meal starting at 15€.
3) La Sardine
32, rue Saint-Martin, 75010
La Sardine was elected Best Bar in 2014 and it remains a safe place to have a breakfast, a coffee, or a cocktail, depending on the time. You must also try the meals and the appetizers such as the tapas or the ham and cheese plates (between 12,5€ and 16€). The large choice of wines enables you to spend the whole afternoon on the terrace without getting bored (but your wallet will definitely get lighter). The terrace extends on the Place Sainte-Marthe, so you will not be squeezed together. The numerous colored chairs and tables allow you to come with your friends and enjoy the sun until late in the afternoon. Make sure to choose the right evening, because they sometimes organize concerts.
4) Le Café Marly
93, rue de Rivoli, 75001
To have a coffee just in front of the Louvre Palace but away from the herds of tourists and their cameras is exactly what the Café Marly proposes you. From the archways you can observe both the people going around and the splendid architecture of the building. The very name of the café comes from the Cour Marly of the Museum, which houses 17th century sculptures, which you can observe from the restaurant’s windows. The menu is up to the prestige of the location. You can have a complete breakfast, with a big coffee mug to watch Paris waking up. For lunch or for dinner, you will hesitate between the 16 first courses (lobster’s salad, tomato and goat’s cheese cake, foie gras …) or the 16 courses (truffles ravioli, roasted Saint-Jacques, sea bass filet …).
5) La Place Verte
105, rue Oberkampf, 75011
In this famous night-living street, there are still cafés opened all day long and which are more than just a clubber’s meeting point at night. The Place Verte is a haven of calm before the agitation of the night, the ideal place to spend the afternoon under the sun and watch people pass by. If there is no room on the outdoor terrace, try the table soccer inside with your friends. During your sunny afternoons, you can choose a café gourmand, a sangria, or a glass of wine; they are not expensive. If you happen to be hungry, ask for the menu; it has worldwide inspiration. Between the shirashi, the curry lamb, or the burger, you can travel around the world from your seat in La Place Verte.
6) Café Beaubourg
43, rue Saint-Merri, 75004
Crédits : ©kygp
This café is located in its namesake area, Beabourg, in the 4th district, but not just anywhere in the area : in front of the Centre Georges Pompidou. During the day with the street artists or at night under the lights of the Centre, this café’s terrace is a wonderful place. You can enjoy the show with some roasted, steamed shrimps or a roasted chicken. If you stop by in the afternoon, take a smoothie, a cocktail, or a beer; it is even better under the sun.
7) Le Censier
101, rue Monge, 75005
Near the Place Monge, in the Latin Quarter, this café manages to avoid the crowds rushing to the nearby metro station. The Café Censier, though, took the habits of those of the Place Monge: they close late, they have a huge terrace invading the pavement, and they begin early. It is often full of students and proposes attractive prices (around 10€) and light, traditional, or classic meals (Caesar salad, pot au feu, cheeseburger …). To go with those meals you can have a homemade dessert (2,50€) or a beer, a cocktail, a glass of wine … This is the time to get up and start chatting with your neighbors … the pavement is large enough!
8) L’Eté en Pente Douce
23, rue Muller, 75018
Crédits : ©coolmonfrere
This café is named after a French film taking place in the South of France. It very clearly urges you to take it easy and slowly in life .. not to hurry. But you can hurry to go to this establishment in the 18th district; it is worth it. The colorful decor is an invitation to relax and to travel. The terrace is very calm since there are not many cars in the street. The menu is very complete, and every course, from the meats to the fishes or the vegetarian meals, is of good quality. You can savor Niçoise-style stuffed vegetables, stuffed peppers, or gravlax salmon. As for the drinks, the classics are at your disposal for a coffee or a glass of alcohol with your friends, always served with professionalism.
9) Le Pause Café
41, rue de Charonne, 75011
No need to wait for a break to go to this café in the 11th district. It is open from 7.30 a.m. to 2 a.m., so the staff may be a little bit tired. The menu follows the Parisian rhythm with a very complete brunch (18€), homemade burgers (14€), or the daily special (13,90€). The terrace is often full since the bar hit its hour of glory when Cédric Klapisch shot his movie When the Cat’s away in 1996. Film lovers come here to see the place and soon become regular customers. It is better to arrive before the crowd gets in if you are looking for a bit of quiet.
10) Péniche l’Improviste
36, quai d’Austerlitz, 75013
Crédits : © Sylvain Courant
This café is indeed on a barge. The boat counts three floors for a unique and complete concept. There is a club, a bar, and a restaurant, which means you can first have a drink, your dinner, and then go dancing without even going out of the building! They organize events every week to please the curious and to entertain the regular customers. On Sunday, from 12 a.m. you can have a musical brunch (25€) a buffet with cold and hot, salted and sweet foods. But do not come unannounced, or you might not find a seat. Every Thursday evening a thematic party takes place, often about jazz. On the other days, the menu is very complete and proposes French foods and drinks. The view over the docks and the Seine is astonishing.
11) La Liberté
196, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012
Crédits : © Panoramas
From another country and another time, this café seems to have dropped from the skies directly to the middle of the 12th district on pure casualty. Its yellow wall reminds us of a Cuban bar which would not have changed for 50 years. All kinds of individuals gather in this bar, but always in a friendly atmosphere. The very cheap prices are the reason so many different people come here: students, retired persons, and everything in between. Located between Bastille and Nation, this café is the perfect place to begin the evening with your friends or family. If you are lucky, you may even enjoy your beer in front of one the many concerts organized by the owner. If you are not, you can spend time playing chess, chatting, or simply watching people pass by.