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20 Best Traditional Cafes and Brasseries in Paris [Historic Spots]

20 Best Traditional Cafes and Brasseries in Paris [Historic Spots]

Nothing is more enjoyable than taking a couple of minutes in a day to sit inside one of the thousand beautiful cafés in the romantic city of Paris. Whether in a banquette or on a terrace, people-watching remains a cherished pastime in France.

Paris is well known for the charming spots spread all across the city. There are musicians, artists, and writers who frequent most of the traditional cafés and have done their best to maintain romance and glamor.

A trip to Paris remains incomplete without a visit to the sidewalk cafés. It is not possible to imagine the city without them. You cannot live in Paris without the cafés and the chalkboard menus in French.

While you stroll in the city, coffee, Croque monsieur, or croissants will keep you company. It is one of the things you miss most when you are away from Paris.

If you are wondering where the best cafés in Paris are, here is your complete guide. Let us look at the historic spots in Paris that are a must-visit.

Traditional Cafés in Paris

1. Café de la Paix

A cafe outdoor

Address: 5 Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris, France

Café de la Paix was opened in 1862 and rapidly became a popular tourist attraction after the International Exposition of 1867. It’s proximity to the opera made this café a popular spot for kings, princes, and paupers alike.

The iconic café has been known as a historic site since 1975. It was a setting for several poems, films, and paintings. It was even the setting for one of the scenes in the animated film, The Aristocats. The café has unique interiors and is close to Opera Garnier, which makes it look similar to a museum instead of a simple café. It is one of the best local cafés in Paris.

It has an ideal location and is frequented by tourists. The café was once a favorite of well-known French writers like Émile Zola and Guy de Maupassant. It is extremely famous and a must-visit when in Paris. It is acclaimed for incredible service and excellent food.

See RelatedBest Night Tours in Paris

2. Brasserie Lipp

Brasserie Lipp
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France

Opened in 1880, the Brasserie Lipp is like nothing else in all of Paris. Its fantastic ambiance and affordable prices catapulted this establishment into popularity amongst poets and locals alike.

In 1965 the Brasserie Lipp was the site of the abduction of a Moroccan anti-monarchist politician. The incident, known as the Ben Barka Affair, became a political scandal that permanently changed France–Morocco relations.

It is a historic spot in the city and has been featured prominently in several movies. It sponsors an annual literary prize named after the previous owner, Prix Cazes. Brasserie Lipp ranks pretty high up on the list of top Parisian cafés.

With more than 120 years of history, the café is not only about food and service, there is much more to it, and it is one of the best cafés in Paris.

It is a historic site and is frequented by tourists and locals alike. Whenever you are in Paris, make it a point to visit this classic café. It speaks a lot about the rich history of the city.

3. Le Select

Le Select
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France

Le Select is a classic Parisian café in the busy area of Montparnasse. It lists famous clients, including Picasso, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Picasso. They used to take their coffee breaks with the sun shining on them on the terrace. It is one of the best sidewalk cafés in Paris.

The café has mosaic tiles on the floor, and the one thing that sets it apart from other cafés is the absence of smoke in the air since smoking is banned indoors.

4. Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris, France

The origins of Les Deux Magots name comes from a fabric and novelty shop that sold lingerie. The shop was named after a popular play of the 19th century, Les Deux Magots de la Chine. In 1873, the shop changed its location. Soon after the Les Deux Magots became a café but the name remained the same.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre lounge at this café which is now a posh hangout for travelers. It is frequented by the rich and famous in Paris. It once enjoyed the reputation of being the literary and intellectuals meeting place. This café is considered one of the literary cafés in Paris, and to date, it remains one of the best cafés in Paris and one of the best places to visit in France.

Sit on the terrace with a newspaper and your favorite cup of coffee. Pablo Picasso, Albert Camus, and Ernest Hemingway used to visit this café frequently.

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5. Bar Hemingway

Chairs outside of a bar

Address: 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France

Bar Hemingway needs no introduction. It is located in Hotel Ritz and was a favorite destination of James Joyce and Sartre. It is the world’s smallest and most famous bar. Bar Hemingway is not a traditional café but a bar that needs a special mention.

The bar pays a special tribute to the famous American author through a wall display of 25 original photos from A Moveable Feast. It is said to be the birthplace of the Bloody Mary cocktail, a drink that Hemingway was known to enjoy. This fact has been disputed by some, but that shouldn’t deter you from settling in amongst the leather upholstery to try one.

The café has unique wood paneling and leather stools that feel like a movie set. This is the place to be if you want to enjoy luxury and feel like a celebrity.

6. Café de Flore

Café de Flore
Irina Kzan / Shutterstock.com

Address: 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France

Located across the street from Les Deux Magots, the Café de Flore has existed since World War II, and very little has changed. The oldest coffee house in Paris, Café de Flore, is known for its famous clientele. It was established in 1880, and its name was taken from the sculpture of Flora.

There are large mirrors and red booths with an enviable clientele. This café is a tourist hotspot and is famous for its classic ambiance. It once hosted Sartre and de Beauvoir, amongst many others. Its clientele includes high-profile philosophers and writers. It has also appeared in several movies and music videos.

The café is ideally located at the intersection of two busy streets. It is a perfect place for watching people go about their day.

7.  La Closerie des Lilas

La Closerie des Lilas
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France

La Closerie des Lilas has a rich history as a meeting place for artists of every kind. Francis Scott Fitzgerald once had Ernest Hemingway read The Great Gatsby manuscript to him on the terrace. It’s also been mentioned in songs, paintings, books, and more.

It is highly recommended to stop by the Montparnasse café for the tables. They are named plated after the regulars at this café, including Emile Zola, Oscar Wilde, Paul Verlaine, and Paul Cezanne. You can stop by for a drink or enjoy a romantic, candlelit dinner in the beautifully done banquettes.

8.  Le Procope

Le Procope
Julie Mayfeng / Shutterstock.com

Address: 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris, France

Established in 1686, this is the oldest café in Paris and was frequented by Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire at one point. It has high ceilings with chandeliers, and the walls are decorated with antique paintings.

Many of the best Parisian cafés were considered hubs for the artistic and literary elite and Le Procope is no exception to the rule. The café attracted actors, writers, poets, and musicians. It was also a popular haunt for philosophers, revolutionaries, statesmen, scientists, dramatists, stage artists, playwrights, and literary critics.

Le Procope remains one of the best historic cafés in Paris. A visit to Le Procope will take you back in time and be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Check out the oldest passage while you are at one of the best cafés in Paris.

9.  Fouquet’s

Fouquet’s
Lucille Cottin / Shutterstock.com

Address: 99 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France

Established in 1899, Fouquet’s is one of Paris’s top historic cafés. The café was severely damaged during protests in march of 2019, however the restaurant was restored to its former glory and reopened a few months later.

The café and the hotel are essential destinations for Parisian locals. French President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his electoral victory at this café in 2007. It is also a high-profile venue for Cesar Film Awards after-parties.

When visiting, be sure to take a photo in front of the gold-plated stars at the entrance before you walk inside the famous café.

See RelatedBest Things to do in Paris With Kids

10. Le Café Tournon

Le Café Tournon
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 18 Rue de Tournon, 75006 Paris, France

Only a few steps from Luxembourg Gardens, the Le Café Tournon is a very swanky spot and remains filled with politicians, journalists, and celebrities.

The Parisian café was a well-known spot for American writers and activists of color in the 1950s and 1960s. They were called the Tournon Crowd and came together regularly to discuss literature, art, politics, world affairs, and race.

Its market-fresh cuisine and a classic selection of regional wines are known. The café is perfect for a mid-afternoon cup of coffee or a relaxed meal in the evening. Le Cafe Tournon is one of the best Parisian cafés in Paris.

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11. Le Baron Rouge

Le Baron Rouge
Elena Dijour / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 75012 Paris, France

Those who have had their fill of coffee for the day should head to the Le Baron Rouge wine bar in the 12th arrondissement. This unpretentious establishment is known for its good food and excellent local vintages. Those in the know bring their wine bottles and have them filled from the barrels at affordable prices.

You will find makeshift tables constructed from wine carts and redwood. You will see a lot of young, professional Parisians who stop by for a quick drink here. It usually remains packed on Sunday afternoons, primarily because of the oysters and fabulous Sancerre.

12.  Le Train Bleu

Le Train Bleu
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Address: Place Louis-Armand, 75012 Paris, France

While in Paris, enjoy a traditional French meal while you soak in the action of a train station. Le Train Bleu brasserie was established in 1900 to celebrate the Universal Exposition of the same year in the city. It is a very famous traditional Parisian bistro.

The elegant café is located in the Gare de Lyon station and is a perfect place to stop while traveling to other destinations in the country.

The café has a gold and blue color code with beautifully decorated ceilings. Everything at the café speaks of the grandeur of the Bella Epoque era. You can either take a fixed-price meal or a la carte menu. If not, enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine in the lounge designed with train station romance in mind. It is one of the best cafés in Paris.

13. Café de la Rotonde

Café de la Rotonde
kavalenkava / Shutterstock.com

Address: 105 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France

Victor Libio established the café in 1911. A gathering place for the artistic, famous clientele such as Amedeo Modigliani and Picasso would spend long hours here. They used to pay with a drawing when they did not have enough cash.

The café has been depicted in paintings and novels. It still remains a somewhat bohemian establishment that is popular with lovers of classic French cuisine. The drinks at the café are a bit more costly now. However, it is worth visiting for a taste of the old Paris feel and Art Deco elegance.

14.  Café des Deux Moulins

Café des Deux Moulins
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 15 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris, France

Several cafes in Paris started as classics, while many others acquired the status over a period of time. Director Jean Pierre Jeunet chose this corner café to host a few scenes for the film Amélie.

The café is named for the two remaining windmills in Montmartre, located just a few streets over. The café is unique in the area because it is in the style of a diner. Unusual for Montmartre.

Enjoy your cup of coffee amidst the constant flashing of tourist cameras here. The café has been a part of several photos and movie stills.

See Related: London vs Paris – What’s the Difference?

15. La Coupole

La Coupole
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, France

La Coupole is an elegant and stylish café that can be enjoyed for coffee, food, and champagne. This café was once a wood and coal store that was transformed in 1927 into the largest brasserie in the city, and it welcomed several artists, including Hemingway.

There is a dancehall in the basement, which is an after-hours treat, and it used to be a favorite of de Beauvoir, Sartre, and Josephine Baker. You can enjoy electro-soul beats, house music, and salsa here.

16. Café du Coin

Café du Coin logo

Address: 9 Rue Camille Desmoulins, 75011 Paris, France

The café has a laid-back vibe and a classic seasonal menu. In no time, it has become a go-to for many locals when the coffee craving strikes. Know for its affordable prices and friendly staff; this local hot spot is sure to please.

The café offers excellent food and drinks throughout the day. You can start with coffee and move to the three-course lunch menu. It is a favorite of local chefs on their day off. This food and drink tour also gives an excellent experience.

17. La Palette

La Palette

Address: 43 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France

Repeatedly declared as the best outdoor café in Paris, La Palette is a popular destination. The café is on the corner of a tree-lined square and is easy to reach while you explore Paris. It is close to Ecole des Beaux Arts.

La Palette has been listed as a historical monument. Famous patrons such as Picasso, Julia Roberts, Hemmingway, and Harrison Ford often visited the café to drink coffee and relax in the lovely outdoor seating area.

See Related: Best Paris Wine Tasting Options

18. Le Chat Noir

Le Chat Noir
4kclips / Shutterstock.com

Address: 68 boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris France

One of the classic Montmartre establishments which is very famous in the city is Le Chat Noir. The famous café was established in 1881 when it started as a nightclub. It has now turned into an attraction in itself and has live performances in the evening.

Immerse yourself in the history of the city while you enjoy your delicious cup of coffee. They also have a happy hour for those looking to have a bit of boozy fun. The café has a vibrant atmosphere and a welcoming vibe.

19. La Maison Rose

La Maison Rose
AlexandraPopova / Shutterstock.com

Address: 2 Rue de l’ Abreuvoir, 75018 Paris, France

It is hard to miss La Maison Rose with its bright color. While you are on the way to Sacré-Cœur, you will notice the pink-colored café standing tall. It was a favorite hangout spot of Pablo Picasso and is now frequented by locals. This café is a popular literary café with a culture of its own. Soak in the city’s rich literary spirit and history at one of the best cafés in Paris.

20. Le Dome Café

Le Dome Café
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

Address: 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, France

Café du Dome or Le Dome Café was established in the 1900s. It has always been known as a gathering place of intellectuals.

This café was once frequented by well-known writers, models, sculptors, painters, and art connoisseurs. It remains a gathering place for literary professionals in America and is a popular spot for artists in the Left Bank area of Paris.

Conclusion

Include the best cafés and bistros in Paris in your itinerary on your next trip to Paris. Undoubtedly, there is a lot to see and do in Paris and while you stroll about the Parisian streets, head to these cafés for a quick cup of coffee.

You never know who you might brush your arms with. Every café has a unique charm and a classic feel. It does not matter how you like your coffee because, in Paris, you get exactly what you are looking for. There is no better place to enjoy a cup of coffee than the famous cafés in Paris.

If you have time on hand, spend your time on the terrace, people-watching and reading. A trip to Paris remains incomplete without spending some time at the cafés that the city is famous for.

Whether it is your first trip or you frequently visit a beautiful destination, visiting the cafés is a must. Enjoy the best food, wine, and coffee with the finest and the most elegant ambiance in Paris.

FAQ

Which is the oldest Paris café?

Le Procope is the oldest café in Paris. It opened its doors in 1689 and was classified as a historical monument in 1962.

When is the least busy time to visit Paris?

If you don’t care for crowds, October to April is the best time to visit the city. It will not be free of tourists, but the crowds will definitely be thinner.

Is Paris safe?

While areas such as Les Halles are considered a little riskier, most of Paris is considered to be relatively safe. 

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