On a visit to Paris it’s hard not to have a drink in a café that hasn’t got a fascinating history to it. From converted chapels and underground cellars to vaulted ceilings and famous customers, every waiter has a story to tell. We’ve rounded up our favorite brasseries (café/restaurants) that have particular historic importance. Because there’s nothing nicer than warming your hands around a chocolat chaud and listening to a good story!
I couldn’t talk about historic brasseries without mentioning the famous Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore, which were the places to be seen in, especially during the post-war years. Famous French intellectuals such as Sartre, Camus and Picasso would while away the hours chatting on the terraces. Nowadays the tourists outnumber the locals, but it’s still a good spot for people-watching on the chic Boulevard Saint Germain.
Les Deux Magots – 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006
Café de Flore – 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006
If you like the idea of drinking wine on the table where Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby (just one of the many writers who drank here), head up to the top of the Luxembourg gardens and order a drink at La Closerie des Lilas. Far less touristy than the previous two places, this brasserie is in a beautiful setting, but is very pricey.
La Closerie des Lilas – 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006
La Coupole calls itself “The most famous Parisian brasserie in the world.” It might sound brazen, but this art deco restaurant’s pillars and mosaics are listed as Historic Monuments, and the domed ceiling is simply stunning. Among the many famous faces who have eaten here are Breton, Brassai and Man Ray. Table 82 is where François Mitterand ate his last meal: a lamb curry. It’s in the center of the Montparnasse theater district, so is an ideal place to go for a pre-show drink.
La Coupole – 102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014
The Café de la Paix has been declared a historical monument by the French government. Dating back to 1862, this beautiful café has seen it’s share of wars, fires, revolutions and presidents. It was renovated in 2003 to provide a less cluttered perspective from which to admire the magnificent columns and frescoes. Come here after a visit around the Palais Garnier opera house.
Café de la Paix – 12 Boulevard des Capucines, 75009
If you’re after lesser-known locations with just as much history in their walls, head to the ninth and tenth arrondissements where you’ll find Chez Chartier and Chez Julien. Both are listed monuments, the former in the Belle Epoque style, and the latter an art deco masterpiece.
Chez Chartier – 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009
Chez Julien – 16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010