All posts by savethepariscafeteam

Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Parisian Waiter, by Claude Corbin

©Claude Corbin

White shirt, black pants, white apron—and a perfectly balanced tray: the iconic Parisian waiter. Captured at the charming Le Square Trousseau.

Follow Claude on Blogspot.

Le Square Trousseau, 1 Rue Antoine Vollon, Paris 12ème

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My Favorite Café Is…Le Nemours

Story and photography by Richard Nahem

I’m not sure exactly when Le Nemours became my favorite café but I think it’s when I moved here in 2005. Before that it was Café de Flore, when Saint Germain des Pres was my go-to neighborhood when I first started visiting Paris in the late 1970s.

I think part of the reason why I like Les Nemours so much is because it’s the gateway to my favorite place in Paris, the Palais Royal. Beyond the terrace of Le Nemours is a hidden world not known to most tourists, with magical gardens and almost infinity rows of symmetrically planted trees plus limestone passageways with mosaic tile floors inhabited by the chicest fashion and vintage shops in Paris.

Le Nemours sits on a plaza behind the Louvre, Place Colette, named after the infamous author Colette, who lived in the Palais Royal in the 1950s.

Waiters at Café Nemours still wear the classic uniform of a black vest and pants, white shirt, and a long, white apron.   ©Richard Nahem
The café enjoys a prime location in the elegant Galerie de Nemours. ©Richard Nahem

I had to do some preliminary research for this article, so, on a warm summer morning at about 11a.m., I planted myself on a French café chair of white rattan with a pattern of pale blue squares on the terrace of Le Nemours. My immediate view to my left was the Palais Royal Métro kiosk designed by artist Jean Michel Othoniel in 2000, a whimsical kaleidoscope made of gorgeous colored Murano glass spheres and brushed aluminum. On my right were the handsome limestone columns of La Comédie Francaise, a theater institution steeped in history from the time of France’s greatest playwright, Molière. What better view can one have at a Parisian café?

My view of La Comédie Française.  ©Richard Nahem
Classic rattan café chairs made by Maison Gatti, which has been making  café chairs for generations.  ©Richard Nahem
The whimsical Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre Métro kiosk by artist Jean Michel Othoniel. ©Richard Nahem

Waiters still wear the classic uniform of a black vest and pants, white shirt, and a starched white apron rolled at the waist, hanging down about mid-calf. I ordered a café noisette and a few moments later the waiter placed my coffee on the table with a glass of water. The coffee was typical Paris café coffee, at best on the lower scale of mediocre but that’s not the point. In case you didn’t know, it’s not about the actual coffee at French cafés; it’s about the ambience and the experience.

The ambiance at Le Nemours. ©Richard Nahem

While slowly sipping my noisette, I perused the crowd. It was unusually crowded for that time of the day considering the off hour—too early for lunch and too late for a morning croissant. It was an odd potpourri of businessmen in close-fitting summer suits; tourists wearing shorts, tank tops, and sandals having a late breakfast probably because of their jet lag; a punk-like couple looking hung over, donning all black with partially shaved heads and maroon-colored Doc Marten boots; a middle aged Parisian women in casual chic. Any student studying sociology could have written a graduate thesis by just observing.

It then suddenly dawned on me that there’s an unwritten democracy at a French café: Anyone can sit at a table as long as you can afford a mere 2.50€ for a noisette; no one will bother you.

There’s an unwritten democracy at a French café: Anyone can sit at a table as long as you can afford a mere 2.50€ for a noisette. ©Richard Nahem

Upon leaving, I stood up and took one last look at the bold gold letters spelling L-E-N-E-M-O-U-R-S, the tall columns with elegant lanterns hanging in between, and the white and pearl gray striped awnings, all which again confirmed why Le Nemours is my favorite Paris café.

©Richard Nahem

One last thing: a little movie trivia. Does anyone remember the opening scene from The Tourist, a silly, trifle of a film from 2010? It’s a shot of Angelina Jolie sitting at Le Nemours, while Johnny Depp is spying on her.

©Richard Nahem

Le Nemours, Galerie de Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 1st arr.

All photos this page: ©Richard Nahem

RICHARD NAHEM is the creator of the popular blog Eye Prefer Paris, with three weekly posts about art, history, fashion, food, shopping, architecture, and restaurant reviews. He also writes about Paris and European travel and his articles and photos have appeared in The Guardian, Romantic Paris, Passport Magazine, Travel Agent Central, Luxury Travel Advisor, France Today Magazine, and Bonjour Paris. He recently edited the National Geographic Walking Tours of Paris Guidebook. Richard also leads private insider tours of Paris via Eye Prefer Paris Tours, showing clients the Paris they never usually see on their own.

Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Le Cinquante Huit, by Deanie Houghtaling

©Deanie Houghtaling

Follow Deanie on Instagram @focusonfrance

Le Cinquante Huit, 58 Rue Montorgueil, 2ème

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Return to the Saint-Régis

by Janice MacLeod

September in Paris is called “la rentrée“—or “the return.” It’s a return from a month-long vacation most Parisians take over August, as well as a return to school. September is like January in other places—when we launch it, enroll in it, and begin it. Having a long vacation seems to do what vacations are designed to do—first relax us, then reinvigorate us for the year ahead.

Photo: Janice MacLeod from her book, A Paris Year

Early in the mornings of September, I walk to the Saint-Régis Café on Île Saint-Louis—the island in the middle of the Seine and of Paris. I sit among the bronzed locals who are revisiting projects previously abandoned for the beach. We sit together in silence, staring at our screens or notepads. One gentleman is refining a menu, another is writing an essay, another is working out math problems, which doesn’t seem like a romantic notion until you see his numbers. They are so ornate that I want to frame the page. As for me, I sit with my journal and work out the next quarter—articles to be written, correspondence to organize, chapters to complete, and of course, dreams to pursue. It’s a full but quiet room. The most conversation you’ll get is a friendly nod of recognition. It’s like a library but with clinking glasses and a buzzing espresso machine. As the brunch crowd filters in, we filter out.

I saunter down the main street of this small island town and do some window-shopping. The French call this “lèche-vitrines,” or window licking, which is exactly what you want to do at the chocolatier, boulangerie, and at Berthillon—the ice-cream shop. I end my stroll at the tip of the island. Here, the river splits, giving you the illusion that you are steering your own ship, which is, I suppose how September itself feels. Summer is gone and you’re happy about it, delighted to get back to work.

As I turn to go, I notice the tops of the trees have begun to turn yellow. A new season has begun and I could not be more pleased. Let it begin!

Café Saint-Régis, 6 rue Jean du Bellay, 4th arr., 01.43.54.59.41

Photos this page by Janice MacLeod, from her book, A Paris Year.

JANICE MacLEOD is the illustrator and author of the New York Times best-selling book Paris Letters, and her latest book, A Paris Year, part memoir / part visual journey through the streets of Paris.
Discover her world at janicemacleod.com
Visit her Etsy shop
Like her Facebook page

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

After My Rendez-Vous, by Patty Sadauskas

©Patty Sadauskas

Rewarding myself at Les Deux Palais, after a stressful appointment at the Prefecture. Wouldn’t you?

Discover Patty’s world at genuinefrance.com
Follow her on Instagram: @geniunefrance and @parisonadime

Les Deux Palais, 3 Boulevard du Palais, 4ème

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Andy Warhol was Here, by Geoffrey Guillin

©Geoffrey Guillin

Seen on the bar at Le Pure Café, an old Campbell’s Tomato Soup can. They use it for bits and bobs. No one is sure how this old can of American soup came to be at a Paris café. Maybe Andy Warhol brought it?

Discover the universe of Geoffrey Guillin: Website | Instagram

Le Pure Café, 14 Rue Jean-Macé, 11ème

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Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Parisian Curves, by Claude Corbin

©Claude Corbin

Shot at Le Saint-Severin, early morning in the Latin Quarter, before anybody arrives and messes things up.

Find Claude on Blogspot.

Café Saint-Severin, 5 Rue Saint-Séverin, 5ème

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Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
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Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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My Favorite Café Is…The Tournbride

by Janice MacLeod

In the second installment of our series, “My Favorite Café Is…” bestselling author and artist Janice MacLeod shares her perfect place with us.

For the first two years in Paris, I was like Goldilocks, traipsing all over the city in search of the best café. A place I could call my own. One café would have a cozy atmosphere but terrible coffee. Another would have great coffee but terrible food. Then I came upon the café that was just right: Café TournBride in the 5th arrondissement.

It had it all—great coffee, cozy atmosphere and delicious traditional French cuisine. Plus, it’s location on the pedestrian-friendly rue Mouffetard makes it the perfect perch for people catching. Being here makes me feel like I’m in a timeless Paris—the version you see on all those postcards. People still sit and write letters, read the paper, and catch up on the latest gossip. I often linger here with my journal—sipping, dreaming and listening to French words flutter by on the breeze.

I plan on putting in plenty of time here, and at the end of my days I’ll likely haunt it ever after. We all must find our place in this world. Here in Paris, I believe I have found mine.

Café TournBride, 104 Rue Mouffetard, Paris 5th arr., 01.43.31.42.98

Photo: Janice MacLeod, from her book, A Paris Year

Photos this page by Janice MacLeod, from her book, A Paris Year.

JANICE MacLEOD is the illustrator and author of the New York Times best-selling book Paris Letters, and her latest book, A Paris Year, part memoir / part visual journey through the streets of Paris.
Discover her world at janicemacleod.com
Visit her Etsy shop
Like her Facebook page

Editor’s Note: Café TournBride has a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor for earning consistently high reviews.

Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Coffee and a Bearded Man, by Janice MacLeod

©Janice MacLeod

This sweet café moment was captured by Janice MacLeod, and is from her book, A Paris Year. Reprinted by permission.

Want to submit a photo for our weekly column,
Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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Edith’s Café Spotlight: Le Castiglione

[Trouvez ci-dessous la version française]
There are cafés in Paris where the mere sound of the name evokes an emotion before you’ve even taken a sip of your coffee. On a cold, rainy Sunday morning in May, I was desperately searching for an open café when I stumbled upon Le Castiglione just near the chic place Vendôme. Since I didn’t want to go broke for the price of a coffee, I decided to drink mine at the bar, which is usually less expensive. Comfortably seated at one of the plush red velvet stools, I mused about the name of the café. Castiglione, of course, takes its name from the nearby street, rue de Castiglione, which was named in honor of the battle won by a then young and dashing Napoléon during his military campaign in Italy.

But there is another Castiglione. Not the name of the besieged city this time, but of a beautiful, young Italian woman. Bonaparte may have won Castiglione the city in the name of France, but Castiglione, the woman, won Napoléon in the name of her own homeland, Italy. This was during the second empire of Napoléon III, nephew of the first Napoléon. Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione was much adored by all the men of Paris, and vanquished the heart of Napoléon III. Many say her influence over the emperor helped establish the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Such was the power of her beauty.

Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, by Pierson

Like Narcissus, Castiglione was likewise obsessed with her own beauty, and had many hundreds of portraits taken of herself in various costumes and scenarios by court photographers Mayer and Pierson, photos which still survive today. But her beauty lost its own battle with time, and she lost her joie de vivre as a result. She would only go out at night, afraid people might recognize her, and veiled all her mirrors in black, so she would not have to witness her fading beauty and advancing age. She ended her years in a lonely basement apartment with her many dogs at 26 Place Vendôme, succumbing to madness in the end. Outward beauty is nothing it seems without inner beauty—that is to say a minimum of culture, an appreciation of the deeper things of life.

That brings to mind a third Castiglione: Balthazar Castiglione. He codified the “beauty inside/out” principle, and it was he who wrote the guide of the perfect gentleman, a bestseller in Europe in the 16th Century. He even had his portrait painted by Rafael, the artist whose many Madonnas defined beauty for the era.

This elegant café, awash in red, is the ideal place to think about the importance of beauty in your life. And speaking of the perfect gentlemen, Thierry my waiter is the real thing. Everything here is a notch above; there is even a “Happy Coffee Hour” where, if you take your coffee at the bar before noon, you’ll pay only 1.60 euros instead of 1.80 euros.

As I sipped my coffee, I was suddenly seized by a desire to say hello to Mr. Balthazar Castiglione. So, I quickly paid and dashed under the raindrops towards the Louvre museum, where his Raphael portrait hangs. Café Castiglione must be like a magic filter through which beauty shines and draws you in, because one minute I’m sipping an ordinary coffee, and the next, I’m strolling in one of the biggest museums in the world, surrounded by the most beautiful art in the world. That’s one special café! —Edith de Belleville

  • Where? 235 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1st arr.
  • When? Open 7 days; 7am-11 :30pm
  • How to go? Métro Tuileries, Concorde line 1 or 12
  • When? from 7 to 2 oclock in the morning
  • What do drink/what to eat? Happy Coffee Hour: Coffee before noon at the bar is only 1.60 euros. View the menu. 

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EDITH DE BELLEVILLE is a licensed tour guide in Paris, and the author of Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes (Éditions Erick Bonnier) available in French at Fnac.fr Amazon.fr and Amazon.ca


VERSION FRANÇAISE

Il y a des cafés à Paris dont le nom seul vous donne déjà à réfléchir avant même d’avoir bu votre café. Un dimanche en mai alors qu’il pleuvait et qu’il faisait froid comme en hiver, je cherchais  désespérément un café encore ouvert. Le café Castiglione se trouve juste au coin de la chic place Vendôme. Ne voulant pas me ruiner pour un café,  je décidai donc de m’installer au comptoir. Assise confortablement sur mon tabouret recouvert de velours rouge, je me mis alors à rêver au nom de ce café. Castiglione, bien sûr, c’est le nom de la rue juste à coté. La rue Castiglione fut baptisée en l’honneur de la bataille gagnée par Napoléon Bonaparte lors de sa campagne militaire d’Italie quand il était jeune et beau.

Mais il y a une autre Castiglione. Elle est également italienne et ce n’est pas le nom d’une ville assiégée mais d’une femme jeune et belle dont le corps sculptural faisait fantasmer tous les mâles de Paris. Bonaparte a conquis la ville de Castiglione mais la Castiglione elle, a conquis Napoléon au nom de sa patrie, l’Italie.

C’était au temps du second Empire et l’empereur c’était Napoléon III, le neveu de Napoléon premier. Comme Narcisse, Virginia di Castiglione était folle de son corps et s’est fait prendre en photo des centaines de fois. Et puis elle a perdu sa bataille et s’est avouée vaincu quand sa beauté s’est flétrie. Elle est devenue vieille, pauvre et abandonné de tous. Enfin, abandonnée des humains car elle fini sa vie dans un soupirail avec ses nombreux chiens au 26 place Vendôme. Elle ne sortait que la nuit de peur qu’on la reconnaisse. Elle a recouvert tous ses miroirs d’un voile noir pour ne plus se voir. Elle est devenue véritablement folle. La beauté extérieure c’est bien mais cela n’est rien si on n’a pas aussi la beauté intérieure c’est à dire un minimum de culture.

Balthazar Castiglione par Raffael. Balthazar Castiglione by Raffael.

Ce café rouge et élégant est vraiment  le lieu idéal pour rêver de l’importance de la beauté dans votre vie. Thierry qui tient le bar lui aussi est un vrai gentleman. Il y a même un « happy coffee hour » et vous paierez seulement 1,60 euros votre café au bar au lieu de 1,80 euros si vous le buvez avant midi. Mais comment sont les toilettes me direz-vous ? Elle sont à l’image de ce café chic et elles ne vous décevront pas.

Et tout d’un coup un troisième Castiglione me vient à l’esprit: Balthazar Castiglione. Il fut le premier à codifier le principe “être beau à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur”. Castiglione a écrit le manuel du parfait gentleman et son livre est devenu un best seller au XVIème siècle dans toute l’Europe. Le peintre Rafael a même fait son portrait.

Et si j’allais dire bonjour à Monsieur Castiglione ? Sitôt mon café bu, d’un pas alerte et sous la pluie, je me dirige vers le musée du Louvre pour admirer le tableau de Rafael. La vie a Paris est vraiment extraordinaire. Le café ici est un philtre magique. Grâce à un simple café, vous vous retrouvez à déambuler dans le plus grand musée du monde. C’est ça l’effet fantastique des cafés de Paris !
—Edith de Belleville

  • Où ? 235, rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris
  • Quand ? 7 jours sur 7 ; 12h00 à 23h30 (petit-déjeuner : 7h à 11h30)
  • Comment y aller ? Métro Tuileries, Concorde line 1 or 12
  • Que manger, que boire ? Happy Coffee Hour : 1,60 euros votre café au bar avant midi. Voir la carte

Guide-conférencière à Paris, EDITH DE BELLEVILLE est également l’auteure de Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes ( Éditions Erick Bonnier ) un livre disponible à la Fnac.fr Amazon.fr et Amazon.ca

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A Place to Be Alone, with Others

by Janet Hulstrand

When people ask me what they should be sure to do while they’re in Paris, I always say the same thing: “Just be sure you leave some time to simply wander—walk, sit in a park or café, and take some time to just watch the world go by.”

I say this even if the person asking me is only going to be in Paris for a day or two. It seems to me to be even more important if you only have a little bit of time in Paris to have this very Parisian, and most wonderful experience—that is, to take the time to do “nothing” and just enjoy the beauty and the inherent interest of the world surrounding you.

The French have a word for this kind of thing: flâner is the verb, and it is variously translated. Most often it is translated as “to stroll,” with secondary definitions including to lounge, dawdle, wander, or loiter. Harriet Welty Rochefort, in her book, Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French, has a chapter called “Hanging Out Without Feeling Guilty.” It seems to me that this is the best way to describe what it means to flâner that I have ever heard.

Each summer, I assign the American students in my literature class in Paris to find a café that looks sympa to them, and then to spend at least half an hour there. (“Longer is better,” I say.) I tell them they don’t have to order more than a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine if they don’t want to, or can’t afford to. Then they are to spend at least some of their time there writing about what they see, hear, observe, or think about. I give them this assignment fairly early in their month-long stay in Paris because I want them to know that this is something they can do in Paris even if they are there on a very tight budget. And I want them to understand through personal experience that it is indeed one of the most wonderful things Paris has to offer them—and everyone.

Watching the world go by. Photo: Patty Sadauskas

That is, to have a place to go where you can be alone with your thoughts, but surrounded by the interesting display of humanity around you. A place where you can take the time to relax—read, write, think, and watch the passing parade. Perhaps most importantly of all, to not be hurried away by anyone, but to feel truly welcome.

A café doesn’t have to be old in order to be a very pleasant place to pass the time, but sometimes that is part of the charm. My own favorite café in Paris is the Café Bullier, on the corner of Boulevard Montparnasse and Avenue de l’Observatoire. This café has been there for a long time: Hemingway referred to it in A Moveable Feast (as the “Bal Bullier”). When I sit in the Café Bullier, I like to find a seat from which I can look across the boulevard to the Closeries des Lilas, now famous as one of the cafés in which Hemingway liked to work. But what I like most about the Café Bullier is the warm accueil I always experience when I am there, whether I’ve come for a leisurely cup of coffee or glass of wine, or a meal. (The service is always both professional and friendly, and the food is always good too.)

Because of my love for Parisian cafés, as well as cafés elsewhere in France, I avoid going to Starbucks when I am in France. I have nothing against Starbucks in general, but I do feel like there are plenty of Starbucks in the world, and that when in France, it’s better to support local, independently owned cafés.

After all, they have played such an important social function for such a long time—and to me, this being able to be both alone and surrounded by people, to do your work in peace and calm, and to not feel rushed about leaving is truly one of the greatest things about Paris.

Of course one of the reasons Parisian café owners are able to allow us this wonderful luxury is that there are so many of them—so many cafés, so many tables, so much space in which to do this. There is not the need to “turn tables” as there is in other places that are both more crowded and—let’s face it—more mercenary.

But Parisian café owners have to be able to earn a living too. So shouldn’t we all be helping them do that?

Because Paris just wouldn’t be the same without them.

JANET HULSTRAND is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher who divides her time between France and the United States. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and she writes frequently for Bonjour Paris, France Today, France Revisited, as well as for her blog Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road.

Le Quartier Montorgueil: A Village of Cafés

by Amy Thomas

Author Amy Thomas kicks off our series, “My Favorite Café Is…” with this tour of the Montorgueil District.

There was at least one time in my life that felt like I was living a Hollywood script: when the in-house recruiter of my New York-based ad agency strolled into my office to ask what I thought of Paris. Fast forward six months, and I was living the dream—I had gotten transferred to Paris.

I chose my apartment in the second arrondissement for its proximity to Rue Montorgueil, a delightful pedestrian street that is chock-a-block with marchés, fromageries, fleuristes, patisseries, chocolatiers and other temples of food and drink. Naturally, the classic French cafés were plentiful—about a dozen alone on “my” little stretch of the street.

Before long, I had my own routine and favorite spots. I was going to les vernissages (gallery openings) on Thursday evenings. To le marché bio (organic shop) on Boulevard Raspail on Sunday mornings. Getting warm baguettes from the boulangerie on my way home from work during the week. And wholeheartedly embracing the café culture any old day:

Mardi, 7h45: Café du Centre
A French lesson with my tutor before work. I found I learned more when I had a pain au chocolat and café crème to inspire me.

Courtesy of Cafe du Centre

Mercredi, 20h: Le Café
A hot date with une salade de chèvre chaud. Is there anything better than solo dining? Anything better than café salads, served with baskets of crusty baguette? In a word, non.

Courtesy of lafourchette.com

Jeudi, 19h: Lézard Café
Not ready to climb the six flights up to my apartment just yet. Oh, look, a table au terrasse. Don’t mind if I do.

Courtesy of Lezard Café

Vendredi, 22h: Le Compas
A late dinner and carafe du vin after my American friend and I got in a cheesy blockbuster at the Cinéma Les Halles. Croques and burgers—the perfect Franco-American finale.

Photo: Edith de Belleville

Dimanche, 16h: Au Rocher de Cancale
After a weekend of flaneuring, Velib’ing, and other favorite Parisian activities, a moment with a book and a chocolat chaud. I really was living the dream.

Courtesy of Au Rocher de Cancale

Each of these spots had their own personalities, of course. And I frequented cafés beyond my own happy universe, of course, of course. Because the cafés are everywhere in Paris. They’re such an important part of life. The stained walls. The dark woods. Those irresistible bistro chairs.

Passing time at a Parisian café is an everyday luxury. They don’t rush you, don’t shame you, they never disappoint you. Instead, they invite you in and make you feel part of the very history and culture that seduced you. Let’s hope it stays that way.

AMY’S FAVORITE CAFES

©Lisa Anselmo

Café du Centre
57 rue Montorgueil, 01 42 33 20 40

Most cafes in Paris have been there for generations, or at least feel that way. This one is a little newer; it’s airy and bright from two walls of windows and has a jam-packed terrace.

Le Café
62 Rue Tiquetonne, 01 40 39 08 00
“Funky” isn’t exactly a word associated with the French, much less a French café but with its dangling globes, shelves of antiques and other unexpected charms, that’s exactly what Le Café is.

Lézard Café
32 Rue Étienne Marcel, 01 42 33 22 73
Lézard serves a relatively varied menu for a café (pasta, duck, prime rib (!)), but more often than not, the young Bobos thronging the giant terrace are there to drink.

Le Compas
62 Rue Montorgueil, 01 42 33 94 73
A fabulous corner location, a boisterous clientele, an excellent late evening option.

Au Rocher de Cancale
78 Rue Montorgueil, 01 42 33 50 29
A classic. While the interior is actually non-descript, the building and café have been around since 1848, giving it a well-worn, cozy vibe. Of all things, don’t miss the beautiful façade.

AMY THOMAS is the author of three books including Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (And Dark Chocolate) and its follow-up, Brooklyn In Love. For two lucky years, she got to call Paris home. She now resides in Brooklyn as a freelance writer, covering food, travel, and parenting.

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Edith’s Café Spotlight: Les Deux Magots

Parisian storyteller, historian, and licensed tour guide Edith de Belleville shares the history behind her favorite places around Paris to sip a coffee or glass of wine and watch Paris go by. We’re launching the series with the venerable Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
[La v
ersion française ci-dessous.]

There are cafés in Paris where you can’t just do whatever you want. There are rules. Les Deux Magots is one of these. But do not be put off by this. As soon as you pass through the majestic revolving door of this mythical café, you’ll understand what I mean. You are now in the hallowed halls of the Parisian Intelligensia.

On the wall are black and white photographs of the famous artists and writers who came before, and sat in the same comfortable banquettes where you are now sitting: Ernest Hemingway with Janet Flanner; the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire; the Argentinian writer Jorge-Luis Borges; the Parisian feminist Simone de Beauvoir; Pablo Picasso with his talented and beautiful muse, Dora Maar. And let’s not forget the wry poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, or Antoine de Saint-Exupery—author of the most-read book in the world (after the Bible): The Little Prince. Yes, the literati used to sip their coffee here.

©Edith de Belleville

So now you understand why, in this café, c’est interdit (it’s forbidden) to stare at your smartphone, posting photos to Instagram. Non. Instead, read a book or newspaper, have an philosophical discussion with your well-read friend (chosen especially for this moment), or jot something in your journal (even if it’s just your shopping list). And if you must be on your computer, be sure it’s to write your masterpiece. Because the goal here is to look like an intellectual Parisian from the Left Bank.

Okay, so maybe these are just my rules, but why not take advantage of the atmosphere of this historic place to broaden your mind? Me, I come to Les Deux Magots when I need to stimulate my brain. And when the elegant, amiable waiter brings me my favorite old fashioned hot chocolate, I feel immediately more brilliant.

Whatta view: The Abbey of Saint-Germain-des Prés ©Edith de Belleville

There is just one difficult dilemma that I must solve each time I come here: A table outside or inside? Inside, you can admire the two glorious Asian statutes who gave this iconic café its name. These ancient beauties have been holding court over the many VIPs who have come through the door since 1884. But outside, there is the magnificent view. From the terrace, you can admire the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des Prés, the only example of Romanesque architecture in Paris, which boasts the oldest bell tower in the city. It’s a happy problem to have to solve.

Admittedly, the price of my stylish hot chocolate was not particularly cheap. But from time to time, one must be willing to invest a bit more in his or her intelligence. —Edith de Belleville

  • Where? 6 Place Saint-Germain, Paris 6th arr.
  • When? 7 :30am – 1am, 7 days
  • How to get there? Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés, line 4
  • What to drink? Coffee: 4.80 euros; hot chocolate: 8.50 euros (like liquid pudding; it’s worth every centime)
  • What to eat? The Hemingway Breakfast: 26 euros for a copious meal—includes fried eggs with bacon or ham (or omelet of your choice), fresh-baked bread served with creamery butter and homemade jam, a choice of hot beverage plus fresh-squeezed fruit juice, yogurt or fruit salad; for any time of day: the classic Croque Monsieur with mixed salad (13.50 euros)

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EDITH DE BELLEVILLE is a licensed tour guide in Paris, and the author of Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes (Éditions Erick Bonnier) available in French at Fnac.fr Amazon.fr and Amazon.ca


VERSION FRANÇAISE

©Edith de Belleville

Il a des cafés à Paris où vous ne pouvez pas faire ce que vous voulez. Il y a des règles. Le café Les Deux Magots est l’un de ces endroits. Dès que vous pousserez la majestueuse porte battante en bois de ce café mythique vous comprendrez ce que je veux dire. Vous êtes dans un des berceaux de l’Intelligentsia parisienne.

Elle ne comprend pas mes regles ! ©Edith de Belleville

Sur le mur il y a des photographies en noir et blanc des artistes et écrivains célèbres qui se sont assis sur les confortables banquettes avant vous : Ernest Hemingway avec Janet Flanner ; le poète français Guillaume Apollinaire ; l’écrivain argentin Jorge-Luis Borges ; la parisienne et féministe Simone de Beauvoir et Pablo Picasso avec sa belle et talentueuse muse, Dora Maar. Et je ne vous parle même pas d’Oscar Wilde ni d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, auteur du livre le plus lu au monde ( après la Bible ) le petit prince. Tous ceux qui ont fait la littérature ont siroté leur café ici.

Maintenant vous comprenez pourquoi dans ce café vous ne regardez pas l’écran de votre téléphone, vous n’utilisez-pas votre ordinateur et vous ne téléphonez pas. En réalité ce sont mes propres règles. Mais pourquoi ne pas profiter de cette atmosphère littéraire légendaire pour nourrir votre esprit? A la place lisez un roman ou un journal, ayez une discussion artistique avec l’ami cultivé que vous aurez choisi pour vous accompagner ou écrivez ( écrire votre liste de courses à Paris fera l’affaire ). Le but est d’avoir l’air d’un intellectuel parisien de la Rive Gauche.

©Edith de Belleville

Je viens ici à chaque fois que j’ai besoin d’une stimulation cérébrale. Quand l’élégant et sympathique serveur m’apporte mon chocolat chaud à l’ancienne, je sens immédiatement que je deviens brillante.

Mais à chaque fois je dois faire un choix cornélien : A l’intérieur ou à l’extérieur ? A l’intérieur, vous pouvez admirer les grandes et antiques statues des deux asiatiques qui regardent défiler les VIP depuis 1884 et qui ont donné le nom à ce lieu iconique. Dehors, il y a la vue magnifique. De la terrasse vous pouvez admirer la superbe église romane de Saint-Germain-des-Prés qui possède le clocher le plus ancien de Paris.

Bon d’accord, le prix de mon chocolat chaud stylé n’était pas particulièrement bon marché. Mais de temps en temps il faut savoir être prêt à investir et payer un petit peu plus pour se sentir intelligent. —Edith de Belleville

  • Où ? 6, place Saint Germain, 75006 Paris
  • Quand ? 7h30 à 1h, tous les jours
  • Comment y aller ? Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés, ligne 4
  • Que boire ? Café : 4,80 euros ; chocolat chaud à l’ancienne : 8,50 euros
  • Que manger ? Le Petit Déjeuner Hemingway : 26 euros (pour un petit-déjeuner copieux) Œufs sur le plat au bacon ou au jambon, (ou omelette nature, au jambon, au fromage ou mixte), accompagnés d’une tartine avec beurre de Poitou-Charentes, boisson chaude au choix renouvelable une fois, jus de fruits presses, yoghourt nature ou salade de fruits ; Le Croque Monsieur avec une salade mixte : 13.50 euros.

Guide-conférencière à Paris, EDITH DE BELLEVILLE est également l’auteure de Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes ( Éditions Erick Bonnier ) un livre disponible à la Fnac.fr Amazon.fr et Amazon.ca.

Rester au courant avec Edith et ses cafés preferés ! Abonnez-vous à notre newsletter, ici.

Introducing Edith de Bellevilles’s Café Series

Parisian storyteller and licensed tour guide, Edith de Belleville

[Trouvez ci-dessous la version française]
Parisian storyteller Edith de Belleville spends a lot of time in cafés, bistros, and brasseries around Paris. A licensed tour guide, Edith is our go-to for the history of Paris, and notably its cafés. She has her favorites, but also discovers new cafés all the time as she bides her time between tours. We’ve asked Edith to share her picks with us—and you can be sure there’s a story in each.

In this upcoming series, Edith will showcase some classic places full of history, and some new and notable places worth a try. Make no mistake; these are not restaurant reviews. You’re going to be taken on a unique journey through time as only Edith de Belleville can do.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for Edith’s favorite places around Paris to sip a coffee or glass of wine and watch Paris go by.

Don’t miss Edith’s cafe recommendations. Sign up for our newsletter on the sidebar menu or on the homepage

Edith de Belleville is an attorney and licensed tour guide in Paris. She is also the author of Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes (Éditions Erick Bonnier) available in French at Fnac.fr Amazon.fr and Amazon.ca


VERSION FRANÇAISE

Photo: Edith de Bellevillle

Il était une fois à Paris…Edith a toujours aimé raconter des histoires sur la ville qui l’a vue naître. 

Quand elle n’est pas en train de faire découvrir sa ville adorée, Edith est attablée à la terrasse d’un café. Nous lui avons donc demandé de nous raconter ses cafés préférés, les anciens comme les nouveaux. Et même si c’est un fait bien connu que la Française ne grossit pas, Edith a bien voulu nous dévoiler aussi les bistros et les brasseries de Paris qu’elle affectionne particulièrement quand elle a (un peu ) faim. Siroter un café ou un verre de vin tout en regardant Paris et les Parisiens, c’est sa Vie Parisienne qu’elle vous fera partager. Restez branché dans les semaines qui suivent et Edith vous fera découvrir  les histoires  qui se cachent  derrière les cafés connus ou inconnus.

Avocate et guide-conférencière à Paris, Edith de Belleville est également l’auteure de Belles et Rebelles, à l’ombre des Grandes Parisiennes ( Éditions Erick Bonnier ) un livre disponible à la Fnac.fr Amazon.fr et Amazon.ca

Rester au courant avec Edith et ses cafés préferés ! Abonnez-vous à notre newsletter, ici.