When in Rome do like Romans, and when in Paris do like Parisian. This is the most obvious reason why you should spend some time sitting at a café, whether in a sunny afternoon or a rainy morning, for a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne, to rest or to work. French cafés are not just coffee shops, but a statement and a way of life. And the perfect choice for a snack or a full meal. In the last thirty years, I’ve spent quite a number of days in France strolling around this amazing city and have built my list of favorites at different cafés and restaurants. The list is always changing as I find new places every visit. I know some menus change according to season and, unfortunately, these favorites may not be available all-year-round. But if you see them listed, I strongly recommend trying them out. I bet you will not regret it! Having said that, I present you my current top 10 choices from cafés in Paris.
1. Le Select – 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, Montparnasse
I absolutely love walking around Montparnasse streets, and if I’m in the area at lunchtime, invariably, I choose to have a steak tartare aller-retour. I’m a big fan of raw dishes and boeuf tartare is no exception, I just ask aller-retour (gently seared on the edges), because this is the Parisian way.
2. Café Des Deux Moulins – 15 Rue Lepic, Montmartre
From regular local-coffee to world-famous tourist attraction. In the 2001 film, this is where Amelie Poulain works and to honor this, they have set a small area with film memorabilia, including the garden gnome. I like to sit here and enjoy a Crème Brulée with a coffee on the side.
3. Coutume Institut – 60 Rue des Écoles, Quartier Latin
With seven shops in Paris, this is the best choice for a relaxing break with a nice coffee during the day. My favorite is inside the Finnish Institute, near Sorbonne. Perfect to sit with your computer and do some work while sipping excellent coffee.
4. Juice Lab & Co. – 25 Place des Vosges, Marais
This is the perfect spot to start the day off with a breakfast bowl or to stop for a refreshing snack in the middle of the afternoon. Everything is very fresh and you instantly feel an energy-boost to face some time strolling around the city. I love to have a “Wake Me Up!” in the morning, with its perfect blend of citric fruit and Jasmin tea, or a sweet “Date Me” as a pick-me-up later in the day, with almond milk and dates.
5. Wild & the Moon – 138 Rue Amelot, Marais
This is my favorite address of W&M! The natural atmosphere is just what I seek whenever I need some time to think or a couple of hours to work. The colorful drinks are hard to choose from and when paired with one of the bowls, you have the perfect choice for a light lunch on busy days. If you have a chance, don’t miss the wild bounty!
6. Scoop me a cookie – 38 rue de Bretagne, 3rd Arrondissement
They have the best cookies in Paris! An unbeatable mixture of crunchiness and gooeyness and my favorite is “Give Me More,” with a touch of caramelized hazelnut to die for. Not to mention the ice-creams! On a sunny afternoon, a cookie and a London Fog ice-cream (surprising mix of vanilla and Earl Grey tea) are the perfect pre-dinner snack.
7. She’s cake – 37, Rue du Roi de Sicile, Marais
I don’t see myself as someone with a sweet tooth, but sometimes all a girl needs is a sweet bite. And this is the perfect spot for that. Following a basic recipe, Sephora, the owner, was able to develop little pieces of heaven. My favorite is the Honey-Moon, with lemon and honey. These are worth-consuming calories!
8. Bouillon Pigalle – 22 Boulevard de Clichy, Pigalle
This is not exactly a café, but the boeuf bourguignon is so good that I had to add it to this list. Since it opens at noon and closes at midnight, it’s a good choice for a late lunch or late dinner. But I have to warn you that they do not take reservations and usually have a considerable line at the door. I give you my word, it is worth the wait.
9. L de Liza – 14 rue de la Banque, 2nd Arrondissement
When you don’t feel like staying indoors, grabbing something to eat and enjoying the outdoors at one of Paris green areas is a great idea. And this is my choice! Next door to the fancier Liza restaurant, this is a small Lebanese bakery, where you can find sandwiches and wraps. I’m passionate about Middle-Eastern cuisine and love to grab some sfihas, kebbes, and falafels, and munch around.
10. Breizh Café – 109, rue Vieille du Temple, Marais
This is a Breton jewel in the heart of Paris, and if you have never tried a true gallete de blé noir (a buckwheat crêpe), this is your chance. Everything here is made with premium products from Brittany by a Breton chef. My favorite is definitely the spinach one with an egg sunny-side-up. Don’t forget to order a legitimate Breton cider to go with it. Just because I like being a little different, I will wrap up my list with 11 recommendations, instead of the usual 10. This is because the last one is very special to me and my favorite of all at this time.
11. Holybelly – 5 and 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 10th arrondissement
If you want to have breakfast, any time of the day until 5 pm, go to number 5 and try the black rice porridge (unbelievably delicious!). You can also have just a chilly beer or relaxing coffee. If you want to have a heartier meal, go straight to number 19, where you can share small portions with a friend or go for the daily special (but always, always have the smoked pork croquettes). Whatever you choose, you will have an amazing experience.