15 Famous Paris Cafes You Should Visit in 2022
Want to check out the crème de la crème of the famous Paris cafes? Each of the Parisian cafes on this list has a claim to fame that makes it worthy of a visit. Visiting can be a walk by, a photo opp, a coffee, a meal, a pastry, or whatever you like. Although I encourage you to explore the must-try foods in Paris, and, of course, seek out the best desserts, don’t feel like you need to eat at all of these famous cafés. You may go broke! Soak up the ambiance and dive into the history just like you would the Eiffel Tower or any other Paris landmark.
The café culture in Paris began in the late nineteenth century. Artists, intellects, philosophers, writers, and political figures convened at Paris coffeeshops to discuss pretty much anything and everything. Most of the famous cafes in Paris have extraordinary histories. They boast the birth place of books, philosophies, art movements, and even war treaties. And, of course, the most famous Paris cafes have a red-carpet list of emblematic clientele. It’s hard to imagine that the people watching in those days was even better than it is today!
Before we get started, let’s discuss some cafe terminology. French for cafe is “café” (both are used in this article). However, a French café may differ from those where you come from as they usually serve alcohol and full meals in addition to coffee, which is also called café.
French café menus are similar to those of brasseries (breweries) as are café hours which are usually all day. Some cafés, brasseries, and restaurants have changed their designations over time, so you will see a mix on this list. To learn more about the specific differences, read WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? BRASSERIE VS BISTRO VS RESTAURANT VS CAFÉ.
1. Le Procope
It’s hard to believe there weren’t always french cafés in Paris. In 1686, Sicilian chef Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, founded Le Procope, the oldest café in Paris. At the time of its opening, coffee in Paris was considered an exotic beverage from Asia and the Middle East.
Like many Parisian cafés that followed, Le Procope became a preferred meeting place for many of history’s most famous figures, like the French leader Napoleon.
Adding to its clout as an esteemed historical Paris cafe—Benjamin Franklin wrote an important treaty here, and exchanged revolutionary ideas with Thomas Jefferson.
Some have questioned if Voltaire’s prolific writings were fueled by the 40 (not a typo) cups of coffee he allegedly drank at Le Procope Paris in a day.
Filled with antiques like Voltaire’s desk, stepping into this historical monument (literally) feels like eating in a museum. And nowadays, this is one of the famous french cafes that requires you to eat, no more lingering all day over a coffee.
Le Procope’s Claim to Fame:
The Oldest Cafe in Paris
Order: Coq au Vin, Soupe a l’Oignon, Special of the day/Menu Procope
Address: 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 6th arrondissement
What does Les Deux Magots mean? Luckily it has nothing to do with insects, and translates to “the two Chinese figurines,” which by the way, you can still see in the indoor dining area. The name gives a nod to the old fabric shop at the same location that preceded Cafe Deux Magots when it opened in 1885 in Saint Germain des Prés.
Many consider Les Deux Magots the most famous cafe in Paris. At worst it comes in at number 2. It has also earned a reputation as one of the best cafes in Paris, so, even during the off-season it can be difficult to nab one of the sidewalk tables.
Since its inception, the tables of this Paris cafe have seated a long list of the most talented minds of art, history, and philosophy. In addition to the two names most likely to be patrons of famous Parisian cafes, Hemingway and Picasso, the Cafe Deux Magots’ roster of famous guests includes James Joyce, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, James Baldwin, and Gertrude Stein.
This Saint Germain Mecca for the brightest writers even started a prestigious literary prize in 1933 for new writers. The prize continues to be awarded today.
Les Deux Magots’s claim to fame:
One of the Two Most Famous Cafes in Paris
Order: Croque Monsieur, Quiche Lorraine, Truffle Omelette
Address: 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 6th arrondissement
Founded in 1887, Café de Flore can be found right across the street from Les Deux Magots in the popular 75006 Paris cafe zip code. The proximity and history of the two Saint-Germain cafes have instilled a life-long rivalry between them, both claiming to be the most famous café in Paris.
Indeed, many of their famous clientele used to frequent both of these iconic Paris sidewalk cafes.
Philosophical power couple, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir lived around the corner to this Parisian cafe. It wasn’t the fabulous French food or drink that they first came for. In fact, it was the heater in the center of the room that first won Simone over to this Paris coffee shop. Soon Le Flore became their preferred workplace and home away from home.
“We got completely settled here: from 9am till noon we worked here, then we went for a lunch at 2pm, we came back and talked with friends till 8 in the evening…After the dinner, we arranged meetings with friends here. It can seem strange, but we are at home at Café de Flore.” —Jean-Paul Sartre
The flowers blooming over the Café de Flore sign makes it one of the most instagrammabble spots in Paris.
The ambiance of this historic cafe remains similar to its World War II Art Deco-style with big red booths, mirrors, and mahogany wood.
Not to be outdone by its rival, Café de Flore instituted its own literary prize.
Café de Flore’s claim to fame:
The Other Most Famous Parisian Cafe
Order: Café Pot (coffee comes in a pot) and the house wine, Ladoucette
Address: 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th arrondissement
In the hub of the Saint Germain cafe corridor lies the most famous Brasserie in Paris, Brasserie Lipp. Founded by Léonard Lipp in 1880 when he fled from the Alsace to Paris, Brasserie Lipp’s hearty portions and fine beer quickly became very popular. The beer is why Lipp called it a brasserie instead of a cafe.
Some of the original popular dishes are still on the menu today like the Alsatian sausage and sauerkraut dish, Choucroute Garnis. Decorated with exotic mosaics and belle époque chandeliers, the art deco decor is worth a gander. If not sitting outside, try to sit in the first or second room, upstairs is where they seat the tourists.
Located across from Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore, this famous Paris brasserie decided it too needed its own literary award. Likewise, literary notables such as Proust and Camus were known regulars, and Hemingway wrote his pre-war dispatches at the Lipp.
More recent celebrity clients include President François Mitterand, President Jacques Chirac, Harrison Ford, Gérard Depardieu, Jack Nicholson, Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, and Sylvester Stallone.
Brasserie Lipp’s claim to fame:
Most Famous Brasserie in Paris
Order: Choucroute Garnis, Beef Tartare, Beer
Address: 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th arrondissement
The famous cafes of Paris have a few key cluster locations and Montparnasse, where you’ll find La Rotonde, remains a hub of cafe culture.
Since the time of its opening in 1911, La Rotonde, at the intersection of Boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse, became the most popular cafe in Paris for starving artists. The owner, Victor Libio, allowed them to linger for hours over a single cheap cup of coffee. When the artist didn’t have the funds, Libio accepted drawings on napkins in exchange for payment.
This practice made La Rotonde the preferred hangout for now famous artists like Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Diego Rivera, and Cocteau.
The importance of the role that this Paris cafe played in the lives of these artist can be seen in paintings like Picasso’s “In the Cafe de la Rotonde.”
Not to be left off of a famous Paris cafe’s clientele list, Hemmingway also frequented La Rontonde, and mentions it The Sun Also Rises.
La Rotonde’s Claim to Fame:
Historically the Best Cafe in Paris for Starving Artists
Order: Homemade Foie Gras, Oysters, Quenelle
Address: 105 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 6th arrondissement
6. Le Dôme Café
Although it too is at the crossroads of Raspail and Montparnasse Boulevards, its address lies in the 14th arrondissement.
Le Dôme Cafe claims to be the first of the Montparnasse cafes to woo the intellects and artists when it was founded in 1898. The “in crowd” even had their own name, “Dômiers,” who delighted in discussing the 1905 Fauves Exhibition at the Salon d’Automne.
The ‘Académie Matisse’ was founded at Le Dôme Paris. It was where the photographer Man Ray met his muse, Kiki de Montparnasse. And, where Swiss artist Méret Oppenheim first discovered Surrealism when she met Alberto Giacometti.
Other Paris elites who enjoyed the lively debates at Le Dôme include Wassily Kandinsky, Amedeo Modigliani, and Anaïs Nin.
Le Dôme’s Claim to Fame:
First Famous Montparnasse Cafe
Order: Seafood Platters, Oysters, Bouillabaisse
Address: 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 14th arrondissement
7. Le Select
Another stomping ground of both Picasso and Hemingway, Le Select is across the street from Le Dome and almost next door to La Rotonde. And although Le Select was the last of the three Montparnasse cafes to open, it almost instantly became one of the most popular cafes in Paris.
Its hook? It was the first Paris cafe with continual 24 hour service (currently closes at 2 am). One could find Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, and Giacometti working and discussing at Le Select at all hours of the night.
This famous Paris cafe provided a comfortable atmosphere where intellects, artists, and literary minds could spend hours at a time while spending very little money.
Le Select Montparnasse prides itself on keeping the original 1920’s style and the traditional French foods which draws current celebrities. Rumor has it Scarlett Johansson loves the roast chicken and Bill Murray always orders the Croque Monsieur.
The book “Paris Café: The Select Crowd” discusses the allure of Le Select Paris in the past and present day.
Le Select’s claim to fame:
The First Paris Café with Continual 24 Hour Service
Order: Roast Chicken, Croque Monsieur, Duck Confit
Address: 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 6th arrondissement
8. La Coupole
A few doors down from Le Dôme, La Coupole opened its doors during the roaring 20’s with the goal of becoming the best brasserie in Paris. Careful attention was paid to the decor and a group of artists called the Montparnos painted frescos on the columns in the huge main room. Notable contributors include Marie Vassilieff, Matisse, Léger, and Kisling.
At the time of its opening, La Coupole was the largest brasserie in Paris and even had a dance hall downstairs. The art and literary crowd were ready to party, and boy did they! Reportedly 3,000 people showed up and drank 1,200 bottles of champagne on opening night. They were so rowdy, the police were called.
The Lamb Curry at La Coupole is just as legendary as the parties, and is still one of its most popular dishes. I bet you didn’t see that coming from one of the most famous French cafés in Paris!
La Coupole’s claim to fame:
The Place to Party in the 1920’s
Order: Lamb Curry, Seafood Platters
Address: 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 14th arrondissement
Once a popular meeting place in Montparnasse for French and American writers, La Closerie des Lilas safely secures a place as one of the most famous Parisian cafes.
As homage to the notable historic regulars of La Closerie des Lilas, the cafe etched the famed names on brass plates to denote their favorite tables. See where Paul Cézanne, Oscar Wilde, Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire, and Emile Zola once sat and perhaps conjure your own inspiration.
The king patron of famous Paris cafes, Hemingway, wrote about La Closerie des Lilas in A Moveable Feast where he called it “one of the best cafés in Paris.” And it was here that F. Scott Fitzgerald first shared The Great Gatsby with Hemingway.
With a gorgeous outdoor terrace teaming with lilacs, this is also one of the most beautiful cafes in Paris. Today, the property also offers a gourmet restaurant known for famous French dishes like quenelle with crayfish sauce, beef tartare, and fresh oysters.
La Closerie des Lilas’s claim to fame:
One of the Best Cafés in Paris per Hemingway
Order: Hemingway Steak on the brasserie side
Address: 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 6th arrondissement
10. Le Café Tournon
A major historical hotspot for African American writers and musicians, Le Café Tournon, can be found in the 6th arrondissement between the famous Paris cafes of the Saint-Germain-des Pres and Montparnasse areas.
Legend has it the Paris jazz scene began when Duke Ellington and his band first played at this Parisian café.
In the 1950’s James Baldwin, Chester Himes, Richard Wright, and William Gardner Smith congregated at Le Café Tournon daily to socialize, drink coffee, play pinball (true story), and discuss anything from art to racism.
If you find yourself near the stunning Luxembourg gardens, stop in for a reasonably priced snack and a history lesson. The servers here have been known to share the cafe’s old celebrity photos.
Le Café Tournon’s claim to fame:
The Favored Café in Paris for African American Writers of the 1950’s
Order: Croque Monsieur, Cheese Plate, Salads
Address: 18 Rue de Tournon, 6th arrondissement
While the building itself dates back to the 16th century, La Bonne Franquette Café in Montmartre didn’t open until 1925. Prior to then, "Aux Billiards en Bois,” or Wooden Billiards occupied the space, and had one of the most impressive lists of artists as customers. In fact, it reads like a room at the Louvre—Van Gogh, Renoir, Pisarro, Degas, Sisley, Cézanne, Monet, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec!
Additionally, outside in its garden, Vincent Van Gogh painted "Guinguette" aka “Terrace of a Cafe on Montmartre” between sips of absinthe.
Years later, Edith Piaf filmed a movie at this Montmartre cafe in the 40’s and discovered the French singer, Charles Aznavour who lived upstairs.
La Bonne Franquette’s claim to fame:
The Montmartre Café in Vincent Van Gogh’s "Guinguette"
Order: Soupe a l’Oignon, Escargot, Duck Confit
Address: 18 rue Saint-Rustique, 18th arrondissement
12. Le Consulat
Just a stone’s throw away from La Bonne Franquette, on its own little island, sits another one of the best cafes in Monmartre, Le Consulat. And, since they are so close, Le Consulat served many of the same distinguished artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and, of course, Picasso.
Today Le Consulat Cafe is known as one of the cutest cafes in Paris. Located in the heart of a very walkable area of Montmartre just steps from Sacre Cours, Le Consulat Paris also holds title as one of the most instagram-worthy cafes in Paris.
However, since its on our list of famous Paris cafes, it’s not a secret, so, arrive early in the morning to get your crowd-free photo. This is also one of the best cafes in Paris with a view of the busy Montmartre streets (and La Bonne Franquette). If you are planning on having a drink or a meal at Le Consulat Paris, the earlier the better to get an outside table as well.
Le Consulat’s claim to fame:
Cutest cafe in Paris
Order: Steak Frite, Croque Madame
Address: 18 Rue Norvin, 18th arrondissement
In a quieter area of Montmartre, Café des Deux Moulins arrived at celebrity more recently than most of the other famous cafés in Paris when it appeared in the French hit movie Amélie in 2001.
In the film, Audrey Tautou waited tables at this now well touristed and famous coffee shop in Paris. Movie memorabilia adorns the walls and a ceramic dwarf hides in the restroom.
Fans of the film should order the Goûter d’Amélie: a crème brûlée with a hot drink (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate).
Café des Deux Moulins’s claim to fame:
Parisian Cafe Featured in Amélie
Order: Crème Brûlée
Address: 15 Rue Lepic, 18th arrondissement
14. Café de la Paix
You may have noticed that in the early days, many of the best cafes in Paris tended to cater to the up and coming artists, writers, and intelligentsia. So, Cafe de la Paix stands out as one of the only famous coffee shops in Paris that actually started out swanky.
It has one of the loveliest views of all the street cafes in Paris— the opulent Paris Opéra Garnier. With its ornate decor and fancy location, there was no question that Café de la Paix would become a hit with the French elite when it opened in 1862. And it remains the best cafe in Paris’s theatre district.
Declared a historic site in 1975, some of history’s most accomplished literary figures often dined at this grand Parisian cafe. Émile Zola, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Guy de Maupassant, Victor Hugo, Sergei Diaghilev, and even Ernest Hemingway made it to the right bank for numerous visits.
Café de la Paix’s resume includes accolades from every kind of media as it has been featured in films, music, novels, poetry, and paintings.
Café de la Paix’s claim to fame:
Upscale Paris cafe with a view of the opera house
Order: Breakfast Pastries, Coffee and 3 Mini Desserts
Address: 5 Place de l’Opéra, 9th arrondissement
15. Angelina Paris
Just steps from the Jardin des Tuileries, an Austrian confectioner opened Angelina in 1903 on Rue de Rivoli. The elegant room and decadent desserts caught the attention of the most fashionable woman in Paris, Coco Channel, and Angelina has been a Paris institution ever since.
I know I said you don’t have to eat at all of these famous Paris cafes, but if you like chocolate even just a little bit, I urge you to sip Angeline’s Chocolat Chaud L’Africain. When I am away from Paris for too long, I actually crave this rich thick hot chocolate. And I am not a chocoholic by any stretch! You can balance it out with the signature Angelina pastry, the Mont-Blanc.
An assortment of breakfast pastries at Angelina Cafe is also a great way to start your day! Stop in their shop for some of the best gifts from Paris to take home with you.
Angelina’s claim to fame:
The best hot chocolate in the world
Order: Mont Blanc, Chocolat Chaud L'Africain
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement
While many of the cafes Paris has to offer are truly neighborhood gems with great values, most of the famous French cafés in Paris come with a steeper price tag, especially when it comes to beverages. Because they really are special to the history and culture of Paris, they can charge more, it’s like paying extra for Eiffel Tower views. But, like I said, you don’t need to eat or drink at every one, or even any of these! At least pick a few and go for a gander!