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The 21 best cafés in Paris

From quaint old-school joints to third wave coffee shops, here’s how to get your caffeine fix in the kingdom of café culture

La Fontaine de Belleville
La Fontaine de Belleville
By Megan Carnegie |
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The quintessential Paris experience involves cafés, red wine, bread and cheese – preferably all at once. Cafés have been a key part of the capital’s identity for centuries: they are the city’s nerve centres, for discussing, debating and people watching.

Weekend or weekday, day or night, rain or shine, expect to see wicker chairs and round glass tables crammed with people catching up with friends, sipping espresso, chain-smoking, reading or simply taking in the city, a glass of wine in hand. You may be intent on dining in all the best restaurants in Paris, visiting all the coolest attractions and museums, but you simply cannot leave without sampling the world-famous Parisian café culture.

The city has seen an influx of trendy third wave coffee shops in the last half-decade – and with it, the Parisian taste for finer blends and beans. Meanwhile, the old-school establishments, with their steadfast menus and expansive terraces, have changed very little. We’ve picked the finest of these fabulous coffee shops and cafés for your browsing pleasure. Pull up a chair, order your preferred brew and watch the world go by.

The best cafés in Paris

1
Fondation Cafe1
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Fondation Café

icon-location-pin Le Marais

What’s the vibe? Chris Nielson came to rue Dupetit-Thouars by way of Sydney’s Mecca Espresso, London’s Prufrock Coffee and Paris’s own Ten Belles. With that kind of CV, the coffee here is, of course, excellent. At a teensy 15m2, Fondation Café is only just bigger than the standard Parisian apartment, but space is made up for with a terrace seating sixteen, which is bathed in light for most of the day. Decorated with warm and stylish Swedish furnishings, the minimalist décor gives due attention to the brilliant coffee being made. No Australian flat whites here: Nielson keeps it French with espressos, café crèmes and filters – allowing for crucial iced lattes in summer.

What should I order? A slice of toasted banana bread and a flat white.

Time Out says
2
Fringe Coffee
Fringe Coffee
Bars and pubs

Fringe

icon-location-pin Le Marais

What’s the vibe? Make Fringe one of your must-hits: owner, photographer and coffee lover Jeff Hargrove frequently invites artists from all walks of life to exhibit their work and paint on the walls of his minuscule Scandi-chic joint. It features a series of speciality Parisian roasters and is the perfect spot to hole up for a productive, caffeine-fuelled afternoon.

What should I order? A Kenyan espresso (with a fruity-chocolatey aroma) and a traditional Danish open sandwich.

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3
Restaurants, Cafés

La Fontaine de Belleville

icon-location-pin 10e arrondissement

What's the vibe? The founders of the Brûlerie de Belleville restored this twenties bistro with immense care, preserving its imposing mirrors, gorgeous ceiling and paintings, while adding new hand-painted tables and Maison Gatti rattan chairs. No more crap beer, bitter coffee or subpar sandwiches – these are ethical, artisanal products at their best. Expect local craft beers and coffee from the Brûlerie itself – best enjoyed on its sunny terrace, which dominates the crossroads between the rue la Grange aux Belles and Juliette Dodu. The gentle atmosphere of the area shines through at this little haven, making it the perfect place to enjoy a book and breakfast before work.

What should I order? A boiled egg, toast and a filter coffee.

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4
Ten Belles
Ten Belles
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Ten Belles

icon-location-pin Canal Saint-Martin

What’s the vibe? Superior barista Thomas Lehoux’s café is perfectly located just off the funky Canal Saint-Martin. The discrete pinewood storefront is decorated with plants and herbs, a few rickety stools sit on the pavement for determined smokers, and it’s invariably packed, often with a long line queuing outside. The food is prepared in a shiny kitchen out at the back, and is handled by Le Bal Café, a cool address just off the Place de Clichy, one of the rare restaurants which takes its coffee as seriously as the wine list. Don’t be surprised to see sausage rolls, salt beef and cauliflower soup on the menu, as chef Anne Trattles is English and used to work at St John’s in London.

What should I order? One of the guest coffee blends and as many baked goods as your stomach can handle.

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5
KB CaféShop
Puxan Photo
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

KBCaféshop

icon-location-pin Pigalle

What’s the vibe? Looking out over Pigalle’s leafy Place Lino Ventura, KBCafeShop (which stands for Kooka Boora) is modelled on speciality coffee bars in Australia, which is why you’ll see Antipodean favourites like a creamy flat white, long black and mochaccino on the menu, plus a whole host of iced coffees that are served all the year round. KB doesn’t roast its own beans, working with the dynamic team at Café Lomi, but they change the range every couple of months. They are also very keen on fresh milk for the lattes and cappuccinos, brought in from Normandy.

What should I order? A super smooth cappuccino and a slice of marble cake.

Time Out says
6
République of Coffee café restaurant snack
Restaurants, Diners

République of Coffee

icon-location-pin République

What’s the vibe? Formerly of two neighbouring bars in the 11th, Café Chilango and Chambre Noire, Mexican chef Mario Flores rustles up a weekly changing menu of burritoes, quesadillas and guacamole with seasonal organic fruit and veg. The interior is every Instagrammer’s dream – big glass windows, charming Parisian furnishings, white tiled walls, mirrored ceilings and flowers on each table. Coffee comes from excellent merchants The Beans on Fire, but expect regularly rotating blends and providers. The filter coffee is a very reasonable and a chai latte would go well with a pumpkin bread, cheesecake or cookie. There’s even viennoiserie, a rarity in third wave coffee shops.

What should I order? A €3.50 filter coffee and a freshly baked pastry.

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7
The Hood
Eileen Cho Photography
Restaurants, Diners

The Hood

icon-location-pin Folie-Méricourt

What’s the vibe? From the outside, The Hood still echoes the junk shop it used to be. A bit of rusty metal and then the sign ‘Parfumerie – cadeaux – bazar – ménage,’ reminds us that rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud was a bustling street in the former working-class area. The Hood's offering is Brooklyn to the bone. From speciality coffee to their co-working space, right through to the folk music – they even host concerts. The coffee comes from the Brûlerie de Belleville – the hot ticket – and the banh mi, buddha bowls and pandan cakes prepared with love by the French-Vietnamese chef Khânh-Ly.

What should I order? A slice of pandan chiffon cake and an espresso.

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8
Café Marlette coffee shop petit déjeuner préparation bio shopping gâteaux
Restaurants, Cafés

Café Marlette

icon-location-pin Faubourg Montmartre

What’s the vibe? This rue du Faubourg Poissonnière joint does delicious Coutume coffee and a wide range of freshly made, often organic food. Open from 6am to 6pm, they also do a brunch menu and sandwiches to go, such as the classic Prince de Paris ham and Comté. All dairy comes from the famous Fromagerie Beillevaire, suppliers to a handful of prestigious Paris establishments. Stick around for the homemade cakes too. It’s also worth noting that a filter coffee here costs €4, when many other cafés charge an unflinching €6.50. 

What should I order? The almond financiers and a filter coffee.

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9
Café Lomi journées du café latte art
© Café Lomi
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Café Lomi

icon-location-pin Mairie du 18e

What's the vibe? Hidden away in an unfashionable part of the 18th arrondissement, from the outside, Lomi looks like a bland modern building, but the café attracts a strong local following, with a colourful mix of mums and babies, building workers and students hunched over laptops, local businessmen and coffee fanatics making a pilgrimage: Lomi is also renowned in the coffee fraternity for its roasting. For a change, there are more women than men behind the bar, with a lady barista and a Japanese patisserie chef who trained at William Ledeuil’s Ze Kitchen Galerie restaurant.

What should I order? A latte: Aussie barista Paul Arnephy won the Latte Art award for best artistic use of milk in coffee designs.

Time Out says
10
Café Otto
Café Otto
Restaurants, Austrian

Café Otto

icon-location-pin Place de Clichy

What’s the vibe? This contemporary cool museum cafe in the 18th is run by Rose Bakery-trained chefs whipping up Franco-British classics and an excellent brunch. The space was once a cabaret and then became the largest PMU in France, but it’s now chic and airy, with walls adorned with documentary photography. It’s a no reservations spot so arrive early on weekends or kill time at one of the BAL’s excellent exhibitions and arty bookstore.

What should I order? The apfelstrüdel with apple confit and an espresso. 

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11
Holybelly
Fabien Courmont
Restaurants, Diners

Holybelly

icon-location-pin Canal Saint-Martin

What’s the vibe? One of the city’s best all-day brunch spots, Holybelly attracts freelancers and foodies in their droves. The narrow area at the front gives way to a sober and elegant back room, dominated by a big leather sofa and a pinball machine. The management is a young couple fresh from Vancouver, intent on spreading some Canadian bonhomie through their hip little venue. Dishes are pimped-up brunch classics like fig and caramelised hazelnut pancakes and coffee come from a new local roaster in Belleville.

What should I order? The savoury stack of pancakes with fried eggs, The Beast’s bacon, homemade Bourbon butter and maple syrup.

Time Out says
12
Café de l'Industrie
Restaurants

Café de l’Industrie

icon-location-pin Roquette

What’s the vibe? Like the pullover you automatically reach for on grey days, Café de l’Industrie will always have a piece of our heart. There’s something about the immense high-ceilinged space with its neo-colonial décor, jazz manouche soundtrack and low-key bustle that is immensely comforting. Stick to the original space at no. 16 rather than the newer extension opposite, and enjoy the dark wood décor, crocodile skins, oil paintings and gleaming houseplants. The menu comprises great value classics and you’re unlikely to have to battle for a table even at peak times, with waitstaff who wouldn’t dare hustle you out. Linger and enjoy.

What should I order? A Café Viennois: black coffee topped with a huge dollop of freshly whipped cream.

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13
Le Caféothèque
Puxan BC
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

La Caféothèque

icon-location-pin Le Marais

What’s the vibe? The Caféothèque was their birthplace of the city’s coffee revolution seven years ago, created by the doyenne of ‘coffeology’ Gloria Montenegro, a former Ambassador of Guatemala. At the moment, the Caféothèque stocks and roasts coffee from 23 different countries, but aims to go up to 31 so they can offer a different country every day of the month. It is next door to a vast artist’s residence, La Cité Internationale des Arts, which ensures a lively cosmopolitan clientele, while its picture-postcard location on the banks of the Seine means tourists are always dropping by as well.

What should I order? A single origin Ethiopian espresso and a slice of matcha cheesecake.

Time Out says
14
Coutume Café
Coutume
Restaurants, Diners

Le Coutume Café

icon-location-pin Ecole Militaire

What's the vibe? In the heart of the chic Rive Gauche and few minutes walk from Le Bon Marché, Coutume was the original instigator of the Paris coffee revolution. Part café, part roastery, it supplies beans to over 60 bars, restaurants and hotels across the city. The industrial-style space features a ‘dining table’ made from a stainless steel sink unit, while hidden away at the back is a state-of-the-art roasting machine and beans imported from all over the world. The breakfast and lunch focus is on healthy organic products and includes plenty of veggie options. The ambience is like a wine bar, with the barista playing sommelier, explaining the bean plantations and proposing offbeat mixes like Ethiopian coffee with cardamom or even pepper sprinkled on an espresso.

What should I order? The Ethiopia Grande Réserve, extracted using a Synesso and avo toast. 

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15
thé grande mosquée
CC - ash_crow
Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

La Grande Mosquée de Paris

icon-location-pin 5e arrondissement

What’s the vibe? This vast Hispano-Moorish mosque in the 5th is the spiritual heart of France's Algerian-dominated Muslim population. Take a spin around the stunning green-and-white tiled interior before settling down in the adorable courtyard cafe. It’s all mosaic-topped tables shaded beneath green foliage and scented with the sweet smell of shisha smoke.

What should I order? Hail a waiter for thé à la menthe (poured from high above) and a sweet sticky North African pastry.

Time Out says
16
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Café Charlot

icon-location-pin Le Marais

What’s the vibe? Café Charlot is one of the most lovely old-school cafés in the Marais, thanks to its magnificent old-fashioned bakery shop front with intact wrought iron and its retro ambience. Located across from Marché des Enfants Rouges, the terrace is often packed with hipsters basking in the sun. Inside, large round leather benches match the old-fashioned counter, while wooden panelling and wine bottles in perfect alignment give it an authentic air.

What should I order? As many €1.10 espressos as your system can ingest  this is people watching par excellence.

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17
Shakespeare & Company Café
Shakespeare & Company
Bars and pubs

Shakespeare & Company Café

icon-location-pin Quartier latin

What’s the vibe? There are literary winks and nudges a-plenty at this cosy spot, a 2015 addition to the celebrated Shakespeare and Company bookshop. The shelves are stocked with cookbooks, literary classics and second-hand novels, a loaf of Catcher in the Rye bread sits on the counter while a lattice-topped Love and Squalor fruit pie nudges up against a more prosaic lemon tart. Bob’s Bake Shop provides the short menu of soup, salads and sandwiches, and there’s smoothies, juices, Postcard Teas and Café Lomi coffees too. It’s not a place to linger, given the near-constant queue of customers angling for one of the few small tables inside. But on warmer days, the large sharing tables on the front terrace are a delight.

What should I order? A latte, a slice of pecan pie and a brand new book.

Time Out says
18
Café Craft
Café Craft
Restaurants, Snack bars

Café Craft

icon-location-pin Canal Saint-Martin

What's the vibe? In a quiet street just minutes from the Canal Saint-Martin, Café Craft is a refuge with high-speed Wi-Fi, studious atmosphere and minimalist yet welcoming design inherited from Brooklyn and Scandinavia. Café Craft trumpets its coffee credentials, claiming to serve the best in Paris – theirs is made from beans roasted by the famous Café Lomi. For blood sugar, there are sweet and savoury pastries.

What should I order? The red fruit crumble and a flat white.

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19
Café de Flore
© Time Out Paris / Oliver Knight
Restaurants, Diners

Café de Flore

icon-location-pin Saint-Germain-des-Prés

What’s the vibe? Bourgeois locals crowd the terrace tables at lunch, eating pricey club sandwiches with knives and forks as anxious waiters frown at couples with pushchairs or single diners occupying tables for four. This historic café, former HQ of the Lost Generation intelligentsia, attracts tourists and, yes, celebrities from time to time. There are play readings on Mondays and philosophy debates on the first Wednesday of the month, at 8pm, in English.

What should I order? A classic hot chocolate: an intensely-flavoured jug of thick, warming cocoa. No fancy twists, no extra cream, it's and worth every centime of the €7 price tag.

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20
Les Deux Magots
Time Out

Les Deux Magots

icon-location-pin Saint-Germain-des-Prés

What’s the vibe? If you stand outside Les Deux Magots, you have to be prepared to photograph tourists wanting proof of their encounter with French philosophy. The former haunt of Sartre and de Beauvoir now draws a less pensive crowd that can be all too m'as-tu vu, particularly at weekends. Visit on a weekday afternoon when the editors return, manuscripts in hand, to the inside tables, leaving enough elbow room to engage in some serious discussion.

What should I order? Not known for its affordability, stick to a €4.70 filter coffee and order milk on the side - some of the fancier coffees are up to €10.

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21
Café Beaubourg © C. Griffoulières - Time Out Paris
© C. Griffoulières - Time Out Paris
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Café Beaubourg

icon-location-pin 4e arrondissement

What’s the vibe? Known more for its prime location than its fare, Café Beaubourg is right in front of the Centre Pompidou on the corner of this animated pedestrian area. The clientele is a mix of bright young things and tourists soaking on the rays on the fair-weathered days and nights. Décor is all white and red and even the outdoor sofas are very comfortable (a rarity even in cafe obsessed Paris).

What should I order? A glass of rosé at apero o’clock.

Time Out says

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