I don’t know about you, but any pastime that has me drinking copious amounts of coffee and eating my weight in light, buttery, and oh-so-delicious, French croissants is right up my glutinous alley. And that’s probably why one of my favorite things to do, whenever I’m in the French capital, is to visit some of the most famous cafes in Paris.
Not only is the food and ambiance totally alluring in 99.9% of these divine cafes (perhaps not the price but whateves, nothing is perfect), but many of these fantastic little eateries are also steeped in a wealth of history that has transformed them into living, breathing time capsules.
Because let’s be real:
Paris is an OLD city. Therefore, some of these iconic, Parisian cafes have been around so long, that they have enjoyed the patronage of some uber-famous clientele, like Picasso and Albert Camus, who probably debated nothing less than the finer points of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness; all while sipping on a coffee or getting wasty pants beyond belief. Either or.
Embrace your inner starving artist and grab yourself a seat at a quaint little table that is nestled along a picturesque, Parisian thoroughfare; a charming bistro where you can quietly sit, watch the city slowly saunter by, and sip on a rich, delicious latte as you while away the hours.
And while I can’t promise that spending some quali-tea (get it?) time in one of these world-famous Parisian cafés will turn you into either a literary or artistic genius, I can promise that you’ll enjoy some delicious beverages, devour some delectable pastries, and even make your friends SUPER jealous of the fact that you got to dine where none other than Picasso once did.
So if you’re ready:
Let’s do a tour de force of some of the most famous cafes in Paris!
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1. Les Deux Magots
Opened in ye olde 1885:
This swank AF, ultra-chic café in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is probably THE most iconic café of them all.
It’s basically the famous Paris cafe that all the other Paris cafes on this list want to be like.
Once a favorite haunt of literary giants like Albert Camus, Ernest Hemmingway, and James Joyce:
This cafe eventually became so popular amongst Paris’ burgeoning crowd of writers and intellectuals, that Les Deux Magots actually started its very own literary prize, and has continually awarded this honor to new, up and coming French novelists since 1933.
You too can get in on this thin slice of immortality since Les Deux Magots doesn’t just cater to the ultra-famous but welcomes slightly more “normal” diners too!
If you’re looking for the perfect place to kick start your day, then grab a seat at this eatery’s exquisite terrace and order one of their amazing espressos, for an epic dose of caffeine that you won’t soon forget!
They also serve some wicked awesome breakfast dishes that are named for the very authors who used to frequent this foodie hot spot back in the day (My fave is Le Petit Dejeuner JP Sartre, which includes 2 danish pastries, bread, butter, jam, fresh orange juice, and fresh yogurt or a fruit salad).
And while the food is definitely top-notch, the ambiance is pretty epic too.
I mean, the interiors here practically ooze class with simple dark wood decor, fresh white table cloths, and an impeccable standard of service that seriously makes you wonder if you ever really have to leave.
And btw, the answer is yes, sadly.
I mean, you don’t have to go home…but you can’t stay here.
If you’re lucky enough to stop by during the winter, then be sure to order their hot chocolate.
I promise you will NOT regret it.
Address: 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés
Nearest Metro Station: Saint-Germain-Des-Prés
2. La Rotonde
Ornate, over-the-top, lavish, and extravagant are probably just a few of the super snazzy adjectives that literary icon F. Scott Fitzgerald would have used to describe La Rotonde after dining here.
If you’re looking for a glimpse into the lifestyle of the rich and famous of the jazz age, then you’ve just found it at this classic, Montparnasse eatery.
Founded by Victor Libion in 1911:
The smart but cozy decor here is enhanced by cushy leather chairs, wood paneling a plenty, and chic, modern lamps that create a discreet but welcoming atmosphere.
This sophisticated, Parisian brasserie also serves an assortment of decadent delights for breakfast (served between 7:00 am and 11:00 am).that include freshly baked croissants, hot chocolate, coffee, eggs, etc.
If you’re feeling particularly HUNGRY after an epic night out on the town with some rogue flappers from the wrong century, then skip the single pastry altogether and order their set breakfast entree which, for €18, offers guests a hot drink, a fresh-squeezed juice, fresh slices of bread or a viennoiserie (croissant or pain au chocolat), and either organic eggs (served scrambled, in omelet or fried) or 0% fat Fromage blanc, that is served with red berries coulis or honey.
Truth be told though:
You really can’t go wrong when dining here for either lunch or dinner since you’re in for a treat regardless of when you stop by.
I should definitely mention that of all La Rotonde’s menu items, they’re most well-known for their delicious desserts, including devastatingly delicious molten chocolate lava cake, rich lemon basil macarons, and creamy, creme brûlée.
Feel free to skip the savory items altogether and live by the age-old adage, “Life’s Uncertain, Eat Dessert First” instead.
La Rotonde is practically right next door to Le Bon Marché, a fantastic Parisian shopping spot that is absolutely adored by all the aspiring fashionistas out there.
Making a pit stop at la Rotonde is a great way to fuel up before you max out your credit cards and shop until no one will give you any more credit (kidding, definitely don’t be THAT person. We promote only the MOST responsible of tourism here at Girl with the Passport. LOL.).
Address: 105 boulevards du Montparnasse
Nearest Metro Station: Vavin
3. Cafe Tournon
Just steps away from the ethereal beauty of Luxembourg Gardens is the ever swanky, Cafe Tournon.
Routinely filled with the city’s most elite journalists, politicians, and celebrities:
This historic, Saint-Germain eatery was first made famous by Duke Ellington, who used to play jazz music here with his band.
Cafe Tourney is more commonly known amongst locals for its wide selection of regional wines and market-fresh, earthy, home-cooked, French cuisine.
Perfect for either a mid-afternoon cappuccino or an evening meal.
However, definitely try to get here as early in the day as possible since this cafe tends to run out of some of their more popular dishes, like the immortal, Beef Bourguignon
While Café Tournon may be one of the more discreet, lesser-known cafés on this list, what truly sets this place apart is the fact that it sits in a rather touristy location but is routinely frequented by locals.
And if you travel even e little bit:
Then you know that Locals in a cafe = win!
Because trust me:
Being one amongst the locals definitely means that you’re onto something good.
Especially in a city like Paris:
Where every other food establishment is an overpriced tourist trap of epic proportions.
What, need more convincing?
Well, in addition to being a top, local hot spot, service here is also impeccable, so you’re sure to be well taken care of.
They have a plentiful supply of coffee that is just waiting for you to dive right in.
Address: 18 Rue de Tournon
Nearest Metro Station: Odeon
4. Cafe de Flore
Located right across the street from rival Les Deux Magots:
Cafe de Flore is another immortal eatery that is celebrated across the city for both its long history and its wealth of famous clientele, including philosophers like Sartre and de Beauvoir.
Known for being one of Paris’ oldest coffeehouses:
Le Cafe de Flore was first opened in the 1880s and has changed little since World War II with its bold, red booths, wide mirrors, and small, street-side tables.
Because a little friendly rivalry never hurt anyone, Café de Flore actually started their own annual literary award just one year after Les Deux Magots.
I guess imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, huh?
If I’m 100% honest, the food here is a bit simple and a little pricey when compared to some of the other cafés on this list.
I’d recommend stopping here for a quick coffee just so that you can bask in the history of it all, before moving on to other restaurants with better prices and infinitely more intriguing menu items (trust me, this place won’t be on anyone’s budget guide to Paris).
Address: 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Nearest Metro Station: Saint-Germain-Des-Prés
5. Ladurée (Champs Elysées)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock of cultural isolation, then chances are that you’ve heard of the immortal macaron purveyor, Ladurée.
They do have stores all across the globe, including locations in New York City, Los Angeles, and London, so there’s a solid chance that you’ve at least heard of this divine creator of all things macaron.
You’ve probably even been inside a Laduree store yourself.
But, trust me:
There really is no location like the Champs Elysées location, which, in addition to creating decadent macarons of every variety, serves up exquisite, seafoam green, classic beyond belief, pastel-hued interiors.
We’re talking an Instagrammer’s playground people since you’ll be swimming in a sea of picture-perfect, pastel decor that is over the top wonderful, but still totally classy
If you want to live like Marie Antoinette for a day (sans the whole off with her head thing), then Ladurée is the place for you.
Just grab a seat, order all the pastries you can possibly eat, wash it down with one of their wickedly wonderful, floral teas, and indulge as you’ve never indulged before.
Because this place is so stinking chic and impossibly difficult to leave, this ethereal wonderland of an eatery also has an amazing gift shop where you can purchase anything from perfume to cosmetics to macaron keychains.
Even though you macarons definitely won’t last a lifetime, you’re piece of Ladurée memorabilia just might!
Address: 75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Nearest Metro Station: George V
6. Café de la Paix
Located right across the street from Palais Garnier:
Cafe de la Paix is instantly recognizable from the animated version of the restaurant in the classic Disney film, The Aristocats.
What, missed that cinematic masterpiece? Yeah, me too since I don’t think it’s some of Disney’s best work.
Cafe de la Paix did snag some much warranted street cred after the French government declared it an official, historic site in 1975 (feel free to be duly amazed).
Now A LEGIT Parisian icon:
Café de la Paix is not only one of the oldest cafés in Paris, but it has also entertained famous patrons like Charles De Gaulle and Victor Hugo.
And in case that’s not impressive enough for you:
Just grab a seat on the cafe’s terrace and savor the mesmerizing views of Paris’ charming Palais Garnier (opera house) from here.
Yeah, you can thank me later because this really is one of the best views in the entire city.
Paris is quite a pricey city to begin with. Therefore, add in a bit of historical grandeur and prices take off into the stratosphere.
While Café de la Paix is most assuredly a splurge, it’s still worth a visit for the views and historical grandeur alone.
I’d opt for the preset course meal if you want to get the most bang for your buck (You can get a set menu with an entree and a starter or an entree and a dessert. And the burrata and tomato soup here are both EPIC).
If you choose to order a cocktail, expect to spend upwards of $20 USD for a single drink.
And no, that’s not a typo, sadly.
Address: 5 Place de l’Opéra
Nearest Metro Station: Opera
7. La Palette
For all you art afficianados out there, this café was actually frequented by none other than Picasso (Insert your amazed ohs and ahs here).
And if you’re a fan of Hollywood celebrities:
Then you’ll be happy to hear that both Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts have also been known to spend time here too.
But, enough about the celebrities!
Let’s get to the food, because that’s what really counts, at least in my humble opinion.
And trust me, the food here definitely brings a whole new meaning to the word delicious.
Not only has La Palette been repeatedly voted the best outdoor café in Paris, but it also comes highly recommended by both Anthony Bourdain AND Andrew Zimmernan.
The atmosphere here isn’t stuffy at all. It’s actually super chill, unassuming, and kind of feels like the cafe hasn’t been updated in decades.
But in a cool vintage way that gives La Palette tons of character and charm.
Not in a gross, heinously retro, rancid mothball smelling kind of way.
And while the prices here aren’t all that budget friendly, I managed to procure a delicious cheese omlette for €10.50, which I didn’t think was too bad (The hot goat cheese on toast is also really good too).
If you’re on a tight budget, then try getting a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee instead of an enormous meal that will cost you about as much as the gross domestic product of a small nation.
If you’re one of those hardcore, partying cool kids out there, then you’ll be delighted to know that La Palette serves absinthe, which will be perfect if you really wanna let that freak flag fly (#justsayin’).
Address: 43 Rue de Seine
Nearest Metro Station: Odeon or Saint-Germain-des-Prés
8. La Closerie des Lilas
Another famous Parisian café with yet another slew of notable clientele.
If a leisurely stroll through yesteryear is something that you’d enjoy during your trip to Paris, then a visit to La Closerie des Lilas is a must since it really doesn’t get any more historical than this place.
Dining here does come with a hefty price tag since their most affordable dish will set you back no less than 20 Euros.
So, be prepared! However, once you can get past that not-so-tiny detail:
You’ll be able to truly savor the fact that La Closerie des Lilas is the creme de la creme of famous cafés in Paris since literally every famous author, artist, or musician mentioned above has dined here at one point or another.
So, why not add yourself to the list, you devilishly awesome person you?
I mean, the food here is delicious, the ambiance is fantastic, and the staff are professional.
And while their menu definitely isn’t the largest one I’ve ever seen, it’s all good since everything they serve here is done extremely well.
You definitely won’t walk away disappointed.
Because of La Closerie des Lilas’ historic significance, this café has turned into a bit of a spectacle.
You should expect this place to be overflowing with hordes tourists not too unlike yourself.
Lest you forget the cafe’s long rap sheet, I mean, list of notable past patrons, each table comes with a snazzy little brass marker that details exactly who sat at that table in the restaurant.
Address: 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse
Nearest Metro Station: Port Royal
9. Le Procope
Believe it or not:
Le Procope is actually THE oldest café in Paris since it first opened by Sicilian chef Procopio Cutò WAY back in 1686.
Le Procope’s client list includes none other than Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, and Rousseau.
While you can refer to each one of these cafés as a “literary hub” of some sort, Le Procope takes it one step further and proudly proclaims itself the first literary café in the entire world!
That is up for debate, depending on who you talk to.
Be forewarned though:
La Procope no longer serves JUST coffee. Therefore, if you choose to dine here, you’ll need to order a meal along with your beverage of choice.
To save some of your hard-earned cash:
Try ordering from their set menu, which includes a starter and entree, or an entree and a dessert for € 21.90 (I ordered the pesto pasta with fresh vegetables and loved it).
Address: 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie
Nearest Metro Station: Odeon
10. Angelina (Rivoli)
Hi, my name is Girl with the Passport and I have an unhealthy obsession with this cafe.
No, it’s not because of the famous clientele, although both Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn were frequent customers here.
No, I’m a huge fan of their wickedly wonderful chocolate i’africain.
Or as my American brethren fondly refer to it, hot chocolate.
Angelina’s hot chocolate is unlike any other. It’s thick, rich, gooey, almost pudding-like and the stuff that my foodie flights of fancy are made of.
I honestly would probably book a trip to Paris JUST for this hot chocolate since it really is THAT good.
Truth be told, their croissants are pretty epic too.
While you may have to fight the urge to order everything on the menu, the best, and cheapest, way to indulge in as many pastries as humanly possible is to order one of their preset breakfast samplers.
You can order the Angelina Breakfast, which comes with a delightful assortment of bread, pastries (including a croissant, pain au chocolate, raisin bread, and baguette), and eggs.
This preset breakfast option also includes your choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
Be indulgent (since it is PARIS after all) and go with the hot chocolate, ALL the way.
And the decor here? Yeah, it ain’t too shabby either,
Think chic, ornate, and richly beautiful interiors that will make you feel like you’re having the bougiest breakfast of your life.
And in many ways, you probably are. LOL.
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli
Nearest Metro Station: Tuileries
11. Le Consulat
Located just a few minutes from Montmartre’s immortal Sacré-Coeur is this charming little cafe, Le Consulat.
You’ve probably seen this Insta-chic eatery plastered all over your Paris-related Instagram feed.
And while this place is definitely picturesque AF:
Le Consulat is truly known for serving Parisian artistic roylaty like Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso, and, Monet, just to name a few.
But here’s the best part:
Le Consulat has maintained a lot of its vintage charm and decor over the years, making it a truly enjoyable place to relax and sip on some espresso as you watch the people wander by.
If you’re planning to take some insta-worthy pics of Le Consulat for yourself, definitely try to avoid the crowds by arriving as early as humanly possible on weekday.
Weekends here tend to be insanely crowded, making your photo-op not as #aesthetic as it could be (am I part of the Instagram cult yet?).
But, if you’re here for the foodie awesomeness (in addtion to all the glorious photo-ops):
Then I’ve heard some great things about the Steak au Poivre avec pomme frites, AKA steak and french fries.
It’s rumored to be one of the best steak and fries dishes in all of Paris.
And while I’m a vegetarian and haven’t tried the meaty goodness for myself, dipping into some pomme frites while sitting along their terrace does sound like the perfect way to spend a glorious day in good ol’ Paris (at least to this food lovin’ chick rght here).
Address: 18 Rue Norvins
Nearest Metro Station: Abbesses stop.
12. La Maison Rose
If you don’t know this café by name, then chances are that you can probably identify it from its iconic, pink and green exterior.
This famous cafe in Paris is none other than the immortal pink café, La Maison Rose, which has been the subject of many a famous Parisian photo throughout the decades.
You can probably tell from the building’s vintage, fairytale-like charm and surrounding, cobblestone streets that this eatery is located in Montmartre, THE most photogenic neighborhood in all of Paris.
And aside from being famous in its own right:
La Maison Rose actually served infamous café hoppers and not-so-starving artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Van Gogh.
But wait, it gets better!
Because this place is definitely not your typical “tourist trap” cafe.
A place where you can expect mediocre food, high prices, and poor service.
However, not so at La Maison Rose.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that the Poulet Basquaise here is out of this world (I had their veggie salad plate which was pretty darn lovely)
You can smell it cooking even before they place it down in front of you.
But let’s be real:
It’s Paris, so everything on the menu here is pretty damn amazing. Therefore, order to your heart’s content or grab un petit café if you’re not that hungry!
Snagging a table here can be a bit tricky since they have limited outdoor seating. And let’s face it, grabbing a seat out on the terrace here is kind of sort of mandatory.
But no worries, because I’ve got you covered!
The first thing you need to know about La Maison Rose is that it’s closed on Tuesdays.
If you’re coming just for the photo op, then Tuesday is the best day to do so.
If you’re hoping to actually dine at this pastel pink cafe of wonder, then you should know that they have slightly odd hours that are on Mondays and Thursdays, between 12:00 PM and 11:30 PM, on Wednesdays between 6:30 PM and 11:30 PM, and on Fridays and Sundays, between 11:00 AM and 11:30 PM.
Because you know:
I’m just over here, helping you live the dream, one random hours of operation list at a time (insert thumbs up emoji here).
Address: 2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir,
Nearest Metro Station: Lamarck
13, Le Chat Noir
Another iconic Montmartre establishment that has become just as famous as its iconic patrons (if not more so), is Le Chat Noir.
Opened in 1881:
This famous restaurant started as a humble, cabaret nightclub, where patrons would order drinks while enjoying a live show.
This former epicenter of Parisian nightlife has turned into an attraction in and of itself, offering patrons live performances throughout the evening.
Something tells me that these shows probably don’t quite measure up to the acts that performed here during the 19th century.
But, I digress.
And while the food here is nothing to rave about, dining at le Chat Noir is fun if you want to immerse yourself in the long-standing history of this immortal cabaret.
They do have a great happy hour if you want to chase your escargot and foie gras down with a bit of boozy fun.
Do yourself a favor and order something light, like a cup of coffee, as you take in the cafe’s vibrant atmosphere.
Because the next time you see that infamous Chat Noir poster, you can be all nonchalant about it and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve dined there” (a great place to go if you’re solo traveling Paris).
Address: 68 boulevard de Clichy
Nearest Metro Station: Blanche or Pigalle.