Where to Get Your Sip of the Best Coffee in Paris
Things to Know Before You Go
If you don’t already know it, there’s something you should know about Paris: It doesn’t exactly have a reputation for great coffee.
We wouldn’t say that unless we knew that wasn’t the case anymore, or of the best places for coffee in Paris. In fact, many coffee shops in France have joined the third-wave coffee movement, meaning they carry beans of higher quality and from ethical sources.
On the other hand, you probably already know that you can’t really describe French culture without discussing Parisian cafés and bistros.
So, how does a place with historically [just decent] coffee become so famous for its cafés?
That lies in the French art of freshly baked pastry and its attitude of slowing down amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life. Simply walk out onto the streets of Paris one morning or afternoon, and I’ll bet you find plenty of this outside the coffee shops:
Well-dressed locals sipping coffee from a tiny cup, alongside their book, baked pastry, newspaper, and (likely) some friendly company.
Here’s what you shouldn’t expect: Extravagant latte art, a bunch of coffee bean connoisseurs, and to-go cups. You could expect hot chocolate, since France does love chocolate, after all. Read our guide on how to find a good coffee shop, in case there are some closer to your hotel.
In fact, we hope that if you haven’t already done so, you’ll forever ban the ‘X’ from espresso for two reasons:
- “Ex-presso” is not how you say the word for the dark and stout beverage we’re talking about (and we’re not sure if it’s in any lexicon, although it’s a common mistake for English speakers);
- And when you come to Paris, you should forget everything the US taught you about express coffee.
In Paris, one of the world’s busiest cities, coffee and milk might mix sometimes (more on that later), but coffee and rush certainly do not. You’ll encounter lots of espresso, but you won’t— we hope you won’t— down it like a tequila shot.
[For help ordering, we’ve got a great list of French café vocabulary and some etiquette at the end of this article.]
To understand and appreciate French café culture, it helps to know a little something about its history.
For Coffee [History] Lovers
France’s coffee culture actually starts in Venice (or, well, with some Venetian merchants who brought it over into Marseille, France).
However, it didn’t really take off until King Louis XIV popularized it. A powerful Sultan came to visit him, bearing the dark, bitter elixir. You can think of Louis as a 17th-century version of what we call an influencer since history remembers him as curious and highly influential to the rest of the nobility.
Eventually, the love of— or, perhaps, the addiction to— coffee spread throughout the French kingdom. It stuck around through plagues and revolutions, but it never quite developed like it did in Italy.
In fact, many French people will look at you confused if you use the words cappuccino and latte. Those are Italian beverages. The art of drinking coffee itself, however, did develop in France.
If you’re interested in sipping some history, check out these historical Parisian cafés:
If you happen to visit Saint Germain-des-Prés, it might be hard to avoid this place. We mean that endearingly, though.
Les Deux Magots has been there since the 19th century, and it’s historically served as a community for creatives and ex-pats. It’s one of the most iconic coffee shops in all of Paris, and here’s the custom for when you go there:
Enjoy a coffee beverage and freshly baked goods (perhaps, even a breakfast); however, then, at the end of your meal, order an espresso to slowly sip on and turn your chairs outwards.
It’s a Parisian custom to sip espresso and face the busy streets, watching people and the time pass.
Saint Germain-des-Prés has lots of ex-pats and intellectuals to spot.
This boasts that it’s the oldest coffee shop in Paris, despite the that it close for 50 years in the late 1800s but opened back up in the 1920s.
It originally dates all the way back to 1686! Nowadays, it’s technically a brasserie.
The best time to come here is springtime since it’s named after the Roman goddess for Spring and flowers.
This cute coffee shop was the major rival to Les Deux Magots since it’s just a stone’s throw away. Another fun fact about Café de Flore: There’s a movie about it with the same name (2011)!
Without further ado, we’re spilling the beans on where to find the best coffee in Paris.
• 5 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris France, near Canal Saint Martin
• Their menu.
• Why We Love It:
• Three words— All. Day. Breakfast.
Holybelly is routinely busy in the mornings, so you want to arrive early and prepare to wait a bit. Paris locals and outsiders alike flock to this cafè for their all-day breakfast.
This café packs high energy, yet feels laid back and simple. You can expect a hip crowd of weekend brunchers, daily regulars, and tourists. People usually order pancakes with bourbon butter and maple syrup, fried eggs, and bacon.
To many of us travelers from North America or Britain, especially, we can describe this breakfast as familiar but with a French twist.
The owners trained the management to have open and kind service (it’s actually warmer than the average service in Paris).
If you’re feeling indulgent in the afternoon, you can’t go wrong with the bourbon-spiked wine and king cake. You might swear you mixed up your flight and landed in New Orleans.
As far as French-style coffee, they’re known for their excellent espresso and filter coffee. However, they also serve lattes and fresh juices.
Overall, Holybelly is great if you want some familiar (and not to mention hearty) food, but also some high-quality French-style coffee. Their variety is full of alternatives, though.
• 3 ter Rue Marcadet, 75018 Paris, France
• Tuesday—Friday: 8:00am—6:00pm
• Saturday: 9:30am—6:00pm
• This one is easy— the coffee and lattes!
• For something sweet, they have scones, croissants, cookies, parfait, fruitcakes, and more, depending on the time of the day.
• If you’re wanting something a bit more savory, try the café Fromage (espresso with blue cheese on the side).
Why We Love It:
Lomi has pulled French cafés into the 21st century, and since 2011, they’ve earned their right to celebrate.
As of 2011, this French cafè is an award-winning café for its latte art. We think it ought to win a passion prize, as it’s probably one of the most passionate coffee businesses we’ve come across in France.
For one, Lomi is more than a café— it’s its own coffee brand, roaster, and supplier. It’s located pretty high up, in the Montmartre neighborhood. If you’re a creative or an intellectual, we think you’ll fit right in at their café.
Because of its casual and relaxed atmosphere, you’ll usually find locals and students with their nose in a book, newspaper, or computer.
Lomi imports and sells organic whole coffee beans, largely from South Americas and African countries.
They have a signature coffee blend that translates to “I Have Two Loves,” (“J’ai Deux Amours”). The “two loves” refers to the origins of the coffee, and people seem to love this blend.
“J’ai Deux Amours” has aromas of milk chocolate and fresh hazelnut, with round and fruity flavors.
Lomi has extensive barista training, within its own coffee “school.” For those wanting to learn more about this coffee-making art form, you can discover more here.
It’s no wonder Parisians consider this some of the best coffee in Paris.
Le Peloton Café
• 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004
• Monday—Friday: 9:00am—5:30pm / Weekends: 9:00am—6:00pm
• Coffee, waffles, and… Bicycling!
• If you’re a banana bread fan, it won’t disappoint, either.
Why We Love It:
Can you think of anything better than filling up on some of the best coffee in Paris and stacks of Belgian waffles before riding around the Marais in a fleet of bicycling coffee enthusiasts.
Yeah, we can’t either.
You can call this a niche cafe, as people come to such a specific and unique experience. You can rent bicycles and ride alongside a group. Don’t worry— they have everything from social rides to heavier, endurance rides.
Bicycling is such an integral part of Paris, so this could be a great idea to experience both café and recreational culture on your trip to France.
At the café, their menu is on the smaller side. It knows its specialties, and it keeps them special.
This coffee shop, too, has a blend of traditional French coffee with Italian-style favorites and…not to mention…of the world’s favorite exports from Belgium— Belgian waffles.
These waffles here are homemade, though. People come and enjoy them with kombucha or juice. Then, they follow this sweet, filling meal with a cup of straight espresso, taking their time before a bike ride.
Where: (3 locations)
• 10th Arrondissement: 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010
• 11th Arrondissement: 17-19 Rue Breguet, 75011
• 6th Arrondissement: 53 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
• Weekdays: 8:30am—7:00pm; Weekends: 9:00am—5:30pm
• Definitely try the coffee & espresso, bread & baked goods, and lunches!
Why We Love It:
Something that goes well with coffee but can be enjoyed at a table— coffee and freshly baked bread. Ten Belles is known for its amazing sourdough bread and baked goods. It’s also known for making a statement:
On it’s blackboard, you’ll read (in French), “Drinking Coffee is sexy.” We can’t disagree. The owner, Thomas Lehoux, started off as a barista before he opened Ten Belles in 2012.
Now a chain of 3, Parisians have surely loved his homemade sourdough goods and coffee. Adding to its quirkiness, you’ll find English-inspired meals on the savory menu since the chef is English.
Here, too, you can buy fresh coffee beans in the shops.
Not only is this some of the best coffee in Paris, but it’s also some of the best spots for sourdough baked goods. Many folks come for the coffee and return for the bread.
République of Coffee
• 2 Bd Saint-Martin, 75010
• Weekdays: 8:30am—7:00pm; Weekends: 9:00am—7:00pm
• Coffee: espresso, long black coffee, hot chocolate, or café crème
• Eats: Mexican cuisine and healthy, vegan-friendly dishes.
Why We Love It:
You can definitely call this a hip and trendy joint. It’s one of Paris’s most well-known coffee shops.
You’ll see that it’s more than a coffee shop, though. You may not have thought about going all the way to Paris for the Mexican food there, but food and filter coffee attracts many travelers and locals alike.
You’ll find Mexican food that’s healthy— and much of it is vegan or vegetarian.
Chef Mario Flores whips up artisan burritos, quesadillas, and guacamole; however, he also takes care of small details, such as homemade chipotle sauce and something the locals swear by— the California bowl.
There’s also seasonal organic fruits and veggies everywhere, too. That doesn’t mean everything is light, though. Don’t miss the pumpkin bread, cheesecake, and chai lattes!
Diners all recommend you follow this grand meal with an espresso. Either way, whether you’re inside or out, this is an ideal café for street and people gazing.
If you can handle the hustle and bustle, you and your favorite book can join the students and digital nomads who tend to congregate here.
Stay Near Coffee in Paris
Take your trip planning a step further. There are some great specialty coffee shops sprinkled all over Paris, but we found somewhat of a golden triangle of coffee on our last scouting trip. That triangle lies where Le Marais and the 10th Arr. run into the edge of Canal St. Martin. If you find a hotel near here, you’ll have several great options at your doorstep every morning. See our top picks for hotels in Le Marais.
How to Order at a Coffee Shop in Paris: Some Pro Tips
Essential French Café Vocabulary:
|Small espresso||Café, un café espresso, un petit café, un petit noir, un espresso|
|Espresso with a splash of milk||Noisette|
|Espresso with water (Americano)||Café allongé|
|Espresso drink with milk (cafe au lait)||Café crème|
|Double espresso||Grand espresso|
|Glacé||Cold / iced|
|S’il vous plaît||Please|
|Tabac||Cigarettes & lottery tickets store|
A Few French Coffee Shop Customs
- When ordering, always (and we mean always) end your order with a, “S’il vous plaît” (pronounced see-voo-play). You’ll come off rude otherwise. Example: “Un café crème, s’il vous plaît.”
- Don’t treat espresso like vodka. Sip it slowly, and, in fact, use it to follow a breakfast or other afternoon meal while you watch passerbyers.
- Milk coffee beverages (like lattes) are only ever a morning thing in France. Ordering a large cappuccino in the afternoon is considered strange.
- Don’t be surprised if they don’t have takeaway cups. For the French, coffee is meant to be savored. It’s not just some battery to plug into yourself on your way to work.