Paris cafés are nostalgic, charming, and dreamy, just like in this photo of a Paris café by night.
Paris cafés are beautiful too and they’re so easy to come across that they become part of your sight-seeing. Whenever you want to have a rest or are hungry, there will be one there right in front of your eyes, inviting and surprising.
Many of the cafés in Paris became famous for their intellectual clienteles. Let’s follow their footprints and experience the atmosphere these talented individuals left behind.
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Angelina is known primarily for its almost pudding-like hot chocolate (chocolat l’africain) and for its Mont Blanc dessert (or Mont-Blanc aux marrons) of puréed, sweetened chestnuts topped with whipped cream. The name comes from Mont Blanc, as it resembles a snow-capped mountain.
Angelina’s entrance appears modern with delicate, bright, airy, unassuming touches that beautifully display its signature pastries and chocolates.
Its interior was designed by French architect Édouard-Jean Niermans in the Belle Époque style: gilded ironwork, art gallery-esque wall murals, ornate mirrors, soft lighting, marble tabletops, and mosaic floors. It became an institution frequented by Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn.
La Closerie des Lilas
La Closerie des Lilas is located in the quartier Port-Royal. It was one of the places frequented by 19th Century intellectuals such as Ernest Hemingway, Émile Zola, Pablo Picasso and Oscar Wilde.
The outside of La Closerie des Lilas looks like a leafy fortress. The inscription on its sign is in lily pink.
Its interior décor is polished but still keeps the rich retro feel. You’ll find mosaic floors, mirrors and wood.
La Palette is located in the quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés – Odéon. It is decorated with ceramics from the 1930s and numerous paintings, including a famous painting of the young owners. La Palette was frequented by Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Julia Roberts.
Les Deux Magots
Les Deux Magots is a famous café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris. Its historical reputation is derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists, intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and young writers, such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht and the American writer Charles Sutherland.
Inside the Deux Magots, two statues gaze serenely over the room. They represent Chinese “mandarins,” or “magicians” (and “alchemists,” depending upon one’s philosophical point of view). These two oriental gentlemen are the source of the name. “Magot” literally means, “stocky figurine from the Far East.”
The benches still have their original red moleskin and the mahogany tables have passed the test of time. The waiters, dressed in black and white, are an important part of the décor of this historic place.
Café de Flore
The Café de Flore is one of the oldest and the most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris. It is located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement.
Café de Flore became a popular hub of famous writers and philosophers. Georges Bataille, Robert Desnos, Léon-Paul Fargue, Raymond Queneau were all regulars, and so was Pablo Picasso. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was known to be a frequent patron of Café de Flore during his years in France in the 1920s.
The classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little since World War II.
The nearest underground station is Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
The Café Procope is the oldest restaurant of Paris in continuous operation.
Cafe Procope plaque describing it is the oldest cafe in the world. It reads: “Café Procope. Here founded Procopio dei Coltelli in 1686 the oldest coffeehouse in the world and the most famous center of the literary and philosophic life of the 18th and 19th centuries. It was frequented by La Fontaine, Voltaire and the Encyclopedistes: Benjamin Franklin, Danton, Marat, Robespierre, Napoleon Bonaparte, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Gambetta, Verlaine and Anatole France.”
Voltaire mixed his coffee with chocolate and drank forty cups of coffee a day at Procope.
Café de la Paix
The Café de la Paix is a famous café located next to the Place de l’Opéra in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
It is said that if one sits at the café, one is bound to run into a friend or acquaintance due to the café’s popularity and reputation. Its proximity to the Opéra attracted many famous clients, including Jules Massenet, Émile Zola, and Guy de Maupassant. During the Belle Époque, visitors to the Café included Sergei Diaghilev, and the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.
Le Dôme Café
Le Dôme Café or Café du Dôme is a restaurant in Montparnasse, Paris. From the beginning of the 1900s, it was renowned as an intellectuals’ gathering place. It was frequented by the famous painters, sculptors, writers, poets, models, art connoisseurs and dealers. Le Dôme later became the gathering place of the American literary colony and became a focal point for artists residing in Paris’s Left Bank.
La Coupole is a brasserie in Paris located in the Montparnasse district, in the 14th arrondissement. The painter Alexandre Auffray painted pillars that were later classified as historical monuments, as well as a plaster sculpture overlooking the bar.
La Coupole brasserie was frequented by many tourists in search of the spirit described by Hemingway in Paris is a feast. Aficionados included Picasso and Edith Piaf among others.
La Maison Rose
You won’t miss La Maison Rose with this attractive distinct pink color on your way to Sacré-Cœur. Pablo Picasso used to hang out here too.
Paris cafés are beautiful in design and were frequented by well-known writers, artists, actors and political leaders. Earnest Hemingway, Émile Zola, Pablo Picasso and Oscar Wilde were the best-known ones.
This is one of the many reasons that make Paris cafés so special. While appreciating their artistic design, that goes back to centuries ago, you’re instilling a rich literary spirit in yourself. Paris cafés are not just “old”; they preserve the literacy and culture of their nation.