One of the most pleasurable experiences during your trip to Paris might be that quiet afternoon you spend sitting on your own, sipping coffee and writing in your journal or working on your novel. You can relax, watch the interesting characters go by and reflect on all you have seen in this beautiful city.
Paris is the perfect place to sit in a café and absorb your surroundings, and doing so is an essential part of Parisian culture. Look around you and you will see many other Parisians doing the same, lingering over cups of coffee and sweet French pastries, talking or pondering life. Taking your time and chilling out in a café for a while will teach you more about Parisian culture than you could ever learn in any guide book.
Here are some of the best spots to drink coffee, write and people watch in Paris.
Le Sancerre, Abbesses
This café is set within Abbesses, which is an edgy neighborhood located just below Montmartre. While Montmarte was the historical hangout of Van Gogh, Picasso, Modigliani and many other significant artists, it has become more touristic in modern times, while the real heart of the bohemian community has moved towards Abbesses.
When you set yourself up at a table on the terrace of this café, you will have a perfect view for watching the people walking along the Rue Abbesses, the main street of this neighborhood, which has a multicultural bustling energy.
Le Procope, St. Germain des Pres
This café is the one of the oldest, continuously operating establishments in Paris, so you might expect it to have turned into a tourist trap. However, it still has its original elegance and historical charm. This beautiful café, which originally opened in 1686, has hosted many great minds through history including Victor Hugo, Balzac, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Also, Robespierre, Marat and Danton met to ferment revolution in this café. The atmosphere created by its rich history makes this café a great place to cozy up with a drink and a delicious meal.
Café de Flore, St Germain de Pres
Enjoying a coffee and a croissant at one of the shady tables on the pavement of this great Parisian literary café is an essential travel experience when visiting the City of Light. The prices are quite steep, but it’s worth it just to absorb the atmosphere. This café has been a popular spot for the Rive Gauche intellectuals to gather for over a century and it was a favourite of Jean-Paul Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir.
Le Select, Montparnasse
The neighbourhood of Montparnasse has changed a lot since its zenith during the Belle Epoque when it was a popular hangout for bohemian artists and other chic members of society. However, these days it is still worth checking out and observing the vibe of the neighbourhood from a table on the terrace of Le Select. This café was frequented by Henry Miller, Picasso and Hemingway and the décor of the café hasn’t changed much since 1925. This café will give you a glimpse into quintessential Left Bank life, with students who are pondering politics and philosophy, businessmen having meetings and glamorous Parisian women taking a break from shopping.
Au Petit Suisse, Near Luxembourg Gardens
Just across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens you will find this sweet little café with old-fashioned cottage architecture. This café is popular no matter what the season. In the winter it is a particularly welcoming and cozy place to sit and write, and it offers hot mulled wine and good food. In the summer, the terrace opens up and gets plenty of warm sunshine. This much-loved café has been around since 1791 and is named after the Swiss Guards of Catherine de Medici.
These are just a few examples of beautiful cafés in Paris where you can sit and write, watch the people and soak in the atmosphere. However, there are so many more to choose from so be sure to wander and explore this beautiful city and perhaps find your favorite Parisian café.
There are truly a number of beautiful places to see in Paris. Those who haven’t been to Paris should seriously consider planning a vacation there, as it is an immensely mesmerizing city. Paris is also a fairly popular travel location for Australians, as it can be reached in less than a day via airplaine. If you’re a New Zealand native who has never been to Paris, then it might just be time to start saving up for a trip there. At the very least it can’t hurt to go online and research some of your travel options.
About the Author: Sophie Williams is a Canadian writer who is living abroad in Paris. She is endlessly fascinated by the beautiful cafes and unique hotels in Paris and the history hidden within their architecture.