There is nothing better for soaking up the Parisian ambiance than sitting in a voguish café.
Here are four of the best the city has to offer. Why not visit them all?
Café de Flore
What an amazingly rich history you’ll find at the lovely Café de Flore at 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain – the birthplace of surrealism in 1917. At the end of the 19th century Charles Maurras wrote his book, Under the Sign of Nature here. French poet and writer Guillaume Apollinaire took up residence at the place, transforming the ground floor into a newspaper office, publishing Evenings in Paris. From then on, the café became a gathering place for intellectuals, artists, and writers. In the 1930s, Jean Paul Sartre wrote, “We settled down there completely: from nine in the morning until noon, we worked there, we went for lunch and came back at two o’clock and then we talked with friends we made until about eight o’clock. After dinner, we met the people we had appointments with. This may sound strange for you, but we were at home in the Flore.” In the 40s, Arthur Koestler, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote and Lawrence Durell were all regulars. The new wave of the 60s brought with it cinema, fashion, more writers and their muses. It was a favorite of Jane Fonda, Bridgette Bardot, Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Paco Rabanne, to name a few. Today, Café de Flore is as popular as ever – one of the most chic, exclusive and classy venues still frequented by members of high society, actors, musicians, poets, writers, painters, photographers, dancers, film producers, directors, editors, et al. There are play readings on Mondays and philosophy debates in English on the first Wednesday of each month, at 8 p.m. If you fancy chocolate, order a classic hot chocolate: an intensely-flavored carafe of thick, hot cocoa. No fanciness, no extra cream – just pure decadence and we have it that it’s the best in the city.
Les Deux Magots
The iconic Les Deux Magot is right across the street from Café de Flores. Apparently, the two cafés were rivals in more ways than one. Les Deux Magots was frequented by those who leaned to the left politically, while Café de Flores, enticed right-leaning intellectuals. The film industry has often featured the café in film scenes. The souls of poets hover in its seats, its waiters in black and white set the mood for a Saint-Germain respite. Sit for a while and take in the Parisian dance of city lights and silhouettes. Sip on a cappuccino or get a little more energy with a double espresso. If you get a bit peckish, try the mixed charcuterie board filled with an assortment of fine cheeses, dry sausages and cured ham. When in the City of Light, staying in one of the most luxurious residences is a must. Townhouse Amanda on Ile Saint Germain on the banks of the river Seine, is an opulent Parisian paradise. This stunning home will have you feeling ultimately pampered – exactly how you should feel in one of the world’s most beautiful cities!
Le Procope Brasserie
Le Procope is old. Very old. The plaque hanging on the outside of the building indicates 1686, however, the venue closed in 1872 to reopen in the 1920s. Originally, Le Procope saw the patronage of the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson. Women weren’t allowed back then. Found at 13 Rue de L’Ancienne Comédie, the oldest café in Paris is teeming with history and is where some of the greatest writers and intellectuals met (Rousseau, Diderot, and Verlaine, among others). You can enjoy traditional French cuisine such as Coq au vin and Tête de veau. If you have a brave palate, go for the calf’s head in a casserole as offered in 1686! There is a healthy wine list along with a myriad of cocktail offerings and of course, various types of coffee. We recommend the double organic Massaya espresso. The five-bedroom Apartment Tibault is the ideal place to call home in Paris. A combination of luxury and style with abundant amenities including a private elevator, fireplace and a beautiful terrace to enjoy the view.
Café de La Rotonde
The creative crowd apparently didn’t like staying at home. When they weren’t whiling away the hours in heated discussion at Flore or Deux Magots, they were at the Rotonde. In Montparnasse, the café retains its original 1911 charm. The proprietor back then was generous with starving artists allowing them to sit all day on one cup of coffee. He’d look the other way when they would flee with the end of a baguette. He also let them pay with their paintings when they were low on cash. Stay for dinner and try the beef tenderloin heart in pepper or béarnaise sauce with gratin dauphinois (a combination of potatoes soaked with garlic-infused cream then slow-cooked and topped with Gruyere cheese).
If you would like to experience the rich cultural history of Paris by doing a little café hopping, we can certainly get you a prime table in these exclusive venues. LVH has only one desire – to give you the best vacation experiences possible. Say the word and we will begin planning!