The streets of Paris are lined with cafés that look practically identical. With their red and white wicker chairs, round tables, ashtrays, and people-watching wine-drinkers, it is nearly impossible to pick which one to visit. However, when you step off the main streets you quickly discover the wealth of precious cafés hiding along empty side streets. From walls lined with books to kitchens built in vans, these five Parisian cafés are that little something special that every traveler dreams of finding. Pick your favorite or visit all five and enjoy Paris the way locals do.
L’Improbable — 7 Rue des Guillemites
This is truly a place of oddities; when you stop by, take some time to explore the café. Little treasures await those who are willing to discover them. For example, see if you can my favorite sign hidden amongst the assorted décor, informing customers that “tout est normal ici” (everything is normal here).
Cafeotheque — 52 Rue de l'Hôtel de ville
Coutume Café (Instituutti Finlandais) — 60 Rue des Ecoles
Though one table is a laptop/tablet free zone, they do have free Wi-Fi and you will see students filling the rest of the tables, writing essays and staring at French textbooks. This café is in the heart of many popular Parisian destinations (the Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co, Musée de Cluny, La Sarbonne, etc) and is worth a visit when you are in the area.
La Belle Hortense — 31 Rue Vieille du Temple
The bar itself is too small to fit a kitchen, but fear not; you will not go hungry. They serve an incredible selection of small plates from the always-crowded restaurant, Les Philosophes, across the street that will remind you why Paris is famous for its food. This spot is built for the literary dorks and wine aficionados out there, but every traveler will find something to love about this hideaway bar.
Used Book Café — 111 Boulevard BeaumarchaisThis is another literary themed café that book lovers will love. Don’t be fooled by the oversized department store, Merci, just a few steps above the café; this is still a must-visit for any travelers in Paris. The book-lined walls and ornate chandeliers will cause you to pause and have that moment of “oh my gosh, I am actually in Paris right now, this is amazing.” The French woman that runs the café is constantly smiling ear to ear and will tell you her favorite items on the menu as soon as you sit down. They do serve coffee and wine, but I recommend trying one of their iced teas or fresh squeezed lemonade. Better yet, enjoy a proper afternoon tea with the day’s flavor of scones made earlier that morning.
In conclusion: Paris is full of surprises
Though you’re guaranteed to enjoy your trip in Paris for the sole reason that you will be in Paris, these cafés will add that extra umph that will make your time in Paris unforgettable. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some undiscovered cafés of your own! Be sure to tell us about any discoveries in the comments below. Bon voyage!
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