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The best outdoor bars in Paris

Where to find the best drinking spots in gardens, on rooftops, by riversides and on terraces

Le Zyriab by Noura

A beautiful terrace on the roof of the Institut du Monde Arabe, which is remarkably quiet outside of lunch and dinner times. Le Zyriab by Noura isn’t just a high class Lebanese restaurant, it’s also a daytime café open to all. Elegant outdoor tables topped with parasols offer a sublime view over the Seine and the Ile Saint-Louis, with the Notre-Dame cathedral in the background. The staff are very friendly, happy to let you spend an afternoon reading on the cushion-strewn banquettes. Drinks aren’t cheap, and given the price of a Perrier of a coffee (excessive at €6), splash out on something more interesting...

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La Bellevilloise

The Bellevilloise is the latest incarnation of a building that once housed the capital's very first workers' co-operative. Now it competently multitasks as a bar, restaurant, club and exhibition space, hosting regular film and music festivals on the top level (where there's a fake lawn with deckchairs and a massage area). Enjoy brunch in the Halle aux Oliviers or decent views of the quartier from the charming terrace; downstairs the club-cum-concert venue has launched some of Paris's most exciting new bands, and on '80s nights you can hardly move for the thirtysomethings living it up like they were 20 again...

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Café Beaubourg

Just in front of the Pompidou Centre, the very pretty Café Beaubourg makes the most of its lovely terrace on the corner in this animated pedestrian area. The clientele is a mix of bright young things and tourists who come to enjoy the sun-filled location on fine days and evenings. Founded by the Costes brothers, this is a very chic little establishment. The décor is all white and red and the sofas are very comfortable (even the outdoor ones). The bar-restaurants is a success, even though the service can be disappointingly impersonal...

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The Marais

La Palette

La Palette is the café-bar of choice for the beau-est of the Beaux-Arts students who study at the venerable institution around the corner. Don’t be surprised if you stumble across young couples stealing kisses in the wonderfully preserved art deco back room, perhaps overcome by the art on the walls and the sprit of decadence. And perhaps trying to distract themselves from the prices: a glass of Chablis here sets you back €6, a demi €4.50. But you’re paying for the vintage of the place as much as the drinks; these premises were once frequented by Jim Morrison, Picasso and Ernest Hemingway...

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St Germain des Prés


A hotly anticipated venue, the rooftop club of La Cité de la Mode et du Design has finally opened, adding another layer of excitement to the site that already houses Wanderlust. Behind the venue are Lionel Bensemoun and Jean-Marie Tassy, founders of Le Baron and Calvi On The Rocks, a popular annual electro-rock festival in Corsica. The vast rooftop terrace offers a superb panoramic view over the surrounding quays, and an almost exotic atmosphere with a wooden DJ booth like a beach hut playing chillout world music, deckchairs, big communal tables and a table football set...

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13th arrondissement

Ô Paris

One evening on the terrace of this bar and you too will be singing ‘Ô Paris, c'est beau Paris!’. Formerly La Mer à Boire, its view takes in the whole city. In one glance you can drink it all in, from the Eiffel Tower to far beyond. High above the whirlpool of humanity below, the terrace of Ô Paris nestles on a little square of land, paved and planted with trees, where you can enjoy some sunshine and calm away from the hum of the city. Largely populated by senior citizens leafing through the papers and local kids running around between the tables, this is a homey and welcoming spot...

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Les Ombres

The full-on view of the Eiffel Tower at night would be reason enough to come to this glass-and-iron restaurant on the top floor of the Musée du Quai Branly, but new chef Jean-François Oyon's food also demands that you sit up and take notice. There is a reasonable prix fixe at lunch...

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South-west Paris

Péniche Antipode

In 2002, the Abricadabra theatre company transformed this boat moored on the Canal de l’Ourcq into a floating café, with shows for youngsters during the day and plays and concerts for adults in the evenings. In this enchanting Peniche (houseboat), kids 3-8 years old are entertained and educated by screenings, mimes, songs, comedies, shadow puppets and more – and the actors’ antics contain many a nod and a wink for the adults’ amusement. In the evenings, the Peniche alternates gypsy jazz, rock, reggae, blues or funk concerts with improv or theatre sketch nights...

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19th arrondissement

Terrasse de l'Opéra

The summer terrace of the Opéra restaurant, set up on the big square behind the monument – 1,500 square metres at the heart of Opéra Garnier, divided into five smaller areas equipped with lights, speakers and heaters. As long as you can afford it, it's the perfect way to enjoy the building without been seen from the street. There are simple red chairs on artificial grass, lounge chairs and low tables, banquettes and parasols.Chef-barman Judicaël Noel has created a refreshing range of cocktails and fresh fruit smoothies just for summer: peach, banana, pear, orange, pineapple, raspberry and strawberry flavours...

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Chaussée d'Antin

Café Marly

In the arcaded terrace overlooking the Louvre’s glass pyramid, this classy, Napoleon III-style hangout (reached through the passage Richelieu, the entrance for advance Louvre ticket holders) is in an unrivalled location. One would expect nothing else from the ubiquitous Costes brothers – it’s just a shame about the beer prices. It’s €6 for a Heineken, so you might as well splash out €12 on a chocolate martini, or perhaps a Shark (vodka, lemonade and grenadine). Most wines are under €10 a glass, and everything is impeccably served by razor-sharp staff. Brasserie fare and sandwiches are on offer too...

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1st arrondissement
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