Cafés and brasseries are at the very heart of French culture. There are thousands all over Paris, but for the uninitiated, there are some a lot better than others. Brasseries offer a more complete menu than cafes, but both serve food and alcohol, along with tea or coffee. It is an unwritten law that once you have purchase your espresso, you can sit for a long as you want, to admire the view on a sunny terrace or to shelter from the weather on a rainy day.
Les Deux Magots
Les Deux Magots on the Left Bank is one of the most famous cafes because of its former clientele. Jean Paul Sartre used to come here with Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus was a visitor along with Ernest Hemmingway and Pablo Picasso. The café has become a rather elitist institution, but it is still possible to sit with a coffee and a croissant and watch the world go by.
Café de Flore
Just on the other side of the road is Café de Flore, which has changed little since World War II. The décor is traditional with red booths and wide mirrors, but it now seems to attract a lot of upwardly mobile clients rather than the students of past times. Café de Flore was also visited by Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and served as an alternative location for their passionate debates. It is well worth a visit, just to soak up the ambiance of post war Paris.
Brasserie de l’Isle St. Louis
On the Right Bank, the Brasserie de l’Isle St. Louis on the Isle St. Louis has a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. Serving traditional menus, it is unpretentious and friendly, offering a wide range of food and wine. Located just off the Pont Louis Philippe, it is well situated to catch the afternoon rays on a sunny day. The terrace looks out over the Seine and to Notre Dame and is a great meeting place in a beautiful historic setting.
Café de la Paix
The Café de la Paix is situated just around the corner from the rue Montorgueil, the site of the oldest street market in Paris. It looks out over the Place de l’Opera and the café is part of the Grand Hotel built in 1858 by the same architect who built Opera Garnier. It has incredible ornate frescoed interiors and there is a splendid winter garden in the hotel. Rather like Les Deux Magots, it was a famous meeting place for other well-known writers such as Guy de Maupassant and Emile Zola. It is such a famous café that the legend has it that you are sure to bump into a friend on a visit here.
Le Frog and Rosbif
The Frog and Rosbif may not actually qualify as a brasserie, but it serves the same functions in that it offers a good selection of food and drink in a less formal setting. The only difference is that it is an English pub with a micro brewery in the cellar. It is a great place to come and watch live sports and experience a more international atmosphere. It is good for brunches and all things English set against a backdrop of traditional French culture.
Paris is a wonderful place to explore on foot and we at Worldwide Accom have a number of Paris apartments for rent in central Paris, meaning you are never very far from a café or brasserie, where you can stop and enjoy a drink in one of the most unique cities of the world.