What is more typically Parisian than a café? In Paris you’ll find a café on every street, many ranging in quality and price. What’s great about the cafés in Paris is that you can linger for as long as you want. Sam has actually spent entire afternoons in some cafés with only one single cup of coffee to show for it. What’s not so great about cafés is that the price varies depending on your neighborhood and Internet access is often shoddy at best.
The Iconic Cafés
There are a few famous cafés in Paris, including: Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots, Café de la Paix, La Coupole, and the list goes on…?These spots all have made cameos in novels, films and popular culture. With all that recognition, these places have become pricey and sought-after by tourists. This is not to discourage pilgrimages to these cafés. If Midnight in Paris is your favorite movie, then by all means, check out Les Deux Magots– but know that everyday Parisians rarely go to these cafés.
Indeed, you’ll probably end up going to the café closest to your home or office, or the place with the cheapest coffee, or with a bunch of free papers.
Bars and Pubs
As far as the bar and pub scene is concerned, it is pretty much a given that Paris’s urban cousin London is the reigning champion. This being said, it’s very easy to find a place to enjoy a glass of wine or a demi (half-pint) with friends in the evening. Just about every café or brasserie has a bar, but if you really want a pub experience, there are some Anglo transplants that are quite popular, most notably the various FrogPubs which have sprung up over Paris.
Unlike many bars in the States, happy hours are not that widespread (this may be because they have come under some regulation) however, some can be found. The bar scene isn’t really as developed in Paris as it is in the Anglo world, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…
Even if the cocktail scene in France can’t hold a candle to New York’s, most bars do serve the ubiquitous mojitos and whiskey cocas (the drink synonymous with 17 year olds and house music, if you ask us). However, if you fancy yourself a cocktail aficionado, drinking top-shelf bourbon and sipping drinks like salty dogs, rusty nails and gimlets, then you might run into some trouble at a run-of-the-mill outpost. Do not despair, places like Harry’s Bar and the Ritz Hemingway Bar have excelled in the art of cocktails for as long as people have been drinking them. For more innovative places (read: places where a bartender is referred to as a “mixologist”) then bars like the Experimental Cocktail Club and their various franchises (Prescription) and Le Carmen should be up your alley. Props are also in order to La Famille, which according to Sam and Brenna has the best and most delightfully surprising mojitos in Paris. Of course, it almost goes without saying that if you want quality cocktails, expect to pay up.