Parisian Cafes That Offer You A Calm Oasis In A Busy City

Paris and cafés go together like hand-in-glove, like salt-n-pepper, like mother and child. This city is as much about its cafés and café culture as it is about the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. When you’ve only just arrived, often the first thing you want to do is go for a walk and stop in at a café, preferably one that has sidewalk seating, or cozy indoor alcoves, and order an espresso. Sitting in a café, leisurely, is one of the best ways to acclimate yourself to Paris.

The cafes you'll find on this list have been chosen mostly for their idyllic peace and quiet. While many Paris cafes are boisterous affairs, there are a number of them that offer a peaceful haven of relaxation, just what your inner, wiser traveler prescribed after a hectic morning or afternoon of sightseeing and/or shopping. 

But it is also worth following in the footsteps of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, too, and indulging in one of the pricey café crèmes at St. Germain des Prés’ Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore. It’s one of those things you have to do at least once and the people watching there in the heart of this once-bohemian neighborhood is like live street theater where your coffee is included with the price of admission.

Once you’ve done that, though, then try out any of these cafés here on this list, curated for their idyllic locations and peaceful ambiance.  Also, ones you pass on your strolls through Paris are sure to give you a glimpse into local life. One of the newer cafés in town that didn't make this list is the Shakespeare & Co. café, serving Lomi coffee and snacks, too. If it strikes your fancy, why not stop, rest your weary feet, and order an Orangina or a "petit noir", an espresso and something tasty to go with that? 




4ème Arrondissement
Le Flore en l'sle
Photo courtesy of Le Flore en L'Isle Café on Ile St. Louis photo copyright Paige Donner 2014


This café serves traditional favorites such as quiche Lorraine, soupe à l'oignon gratinée (onion soup), Berthillon icecream and a selection of coffee and tea. It's a favorite with both locals and tourists because of its direct view onto Notre...  Read More

9ème Arrondissement
Cafe de la Paix
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2016


The venerable Cafe de la Paix began serving patrons in 1862. Its location within the Intercontinental Grand Hotel makes stopping in for a coffee and an afternoon sweet an experience worthy of the surroundings. Soaring columns, sumptuous...  Read More

6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche


There are so many lovely, even ecstatically delicious, pastry shops in Paris but not so many that invite you to come in, sit down, and enjoy that fresh berry crumble with a hot chocolate or a pot of tea. Even fewer are hidden away in a...  Read More

8ème Arrondissement


The kiosk cafe, while a staple in many modern cities, is still something of a rare bird here in Paris. Put an even bigger emphasis on the rare part when you further define that to the area of Paris in and around the Elysee, rue Fbg. St. Honore...  Read More

1er Arrondissement


Most hipsters know this brand mostly for their clothing shops. It's a brand especially popular in both Japan and Paris. But if there is another thing (in addition to fashion) that the Japanese seem to do just as well as the French, it's coffee. ...  Read More

6ème Arrondissement
Le Procope
Photo courtesy of Le Procope Paris Saint-Germain-des-Prés photo by Paige Donner copyright 2014


Since 1686, this historic cafe has welcomed a who's who of history, literature, art, and politics, including Balzac, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Robespierre and even Benjamin Franklin. It remains a sophisticated place to dine, and patrons, while they...  Read More

3rd Arondissement - Marais


She is known as the Queen of American Cheesecake in Paris and this is her brunch time outpost (just TRY to get a seat on the weekends). Come here for Jack Daniel's marinated, smoked chicken salads; excellent baked goods, kale and pear and...  Read More

1er Arrondissement


Talk about a view that is both inspired and inspiring. The Louvre's main courtyard and I. M. Pei's glass pyramid are visible from the terrace and windows of this favorite haunt of impossibly chic Parisians. The tall columns, high vaulted...  Read More

6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche


This cafe not only has the honor of being the closest cafe to the Pont des Arts, Rive Gauche, it also can claim that it's been open for over a hundred years - since 1900 to be exact. Here you'll find housemade desserts and a lunch menu that...  Read More

1er Arrondissement


This little square in the heart of Paris has long been a favorite of Parisians. And once you discover it for yourself, you instantly understand why. And once you discover it for yourself, you instantly understand why. All the many times you've...  Read More


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige