10 Exquisite Parisian Cafes, Let Them Eat Cake

Clare McVay

In a city where fine dining rules; finding somewhere for a humble coffee and cake can be challenging. Paris is known for its fine patisserie however; here is our selection of the best places to cozy down and get your cake on.

Sweet Perfection

1. Ladurée

Bakery, Patisserie, Pastries

Small Pleasures
© Louis Beche/Flickr
With its cornucopia of frosted swirls, sugar colors, and perfect towers of delicacies Ladurée was established in 1862. There are now several chains throughout Paris, the rest of France, and beyond, but the original shop is situated on Rue Royale. Initially a bakery, it began developing into a patisserie during Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, and is now one of the most famous sellers of macarons in the world. No trip to Paris is complete without buying a box of these little puffs of air, and while there you may as well stay for tea and something else. Even before you consider the taste of these edible jewels, the photographic opportunities are reason enough in themselves, no instagram filters necessary.

2. Au Petit Versailles du Marais

Bakery, Pastry Shop, French

Beautiful Boulangerie
©Julian Walker/Flickr
This beautiful shop is an award-winning bakery first and foremost, but with the addition of a coffee machine and a few tables, has become a popular café. Just off the busy Rue de Rivoli, many choose to linger here, soaking up the calm atmosphere and the free wifi. With incredibly high standards for a neighborhood bakery, friendly staff, and beautiful old glass murals, the bakery will not stay off the tourist trail for much longer. Most of the day sees a steady stream of customers, with long queues forming only at lunchtime, as the working crowd flocks in for sandwiches to take away. With beautiful pastries that could rival the more famous brands, this is somewhere to go for a touch of class without the big price tag.

3. Boulangerie Coquelicot

Bakery, Butcher, French

Chocolat Chaud
© Pixabay
This is primarily a comfortable bakery. Nestled on the cobbled slopes of Montmartre, Boulangerie Coquelicot is somewhere to sit and let your feet rest. With modest seating inside and out, stop and refuel here with coffee and a cake, or one of the popular brunch options. The Poppy Bakery, as the name translates, has served the slopes of Montmartre since 1978, and is committed to traditional and authentic produce. Hot drinks are served in great big bowls, meaning that you can dip and swirl your croissants in your chocolat-chaud without fear of judgment.

4. Le Boulanger des Invalides-Jocteur

Bakery, Cafe, French

Pretty in Pink
Courtesy of Clare McVay
Le Boulanger des Invalides is easily recognizable by its hot pink interior, and the mountains upon mountains of pastries. Named because of its proximity to Les Invalides, which once housed injured soldiers, this is one of a handful of bakeries throughout France belonging to Monsieur Jocteur. It is an unusual thing to find a small successful chain without pomp and excessive pricing. But while the success of his business proves the quality of his produce, Jocteur keeps things simple, delicious and accessible. As with most bakery-cafés there is limited seating, but for a quick repose, this cheery setting will revive you in no time. While popular for its brioches, be sure to try the pain au chocolat aux amandes.

5. Le Loir dans la Théière

Tea Room, Tea

Tarte au Citron Meringuée
Courtesy of Clare McVay
Trust the Marais to come up with a tea-room just that little bit over-the-top. Translating to The Dormouse in the Teapot, this café seems to have taken inspiration from Alice in Wonderland in more than just the name. With a mishmash of chairs, imaginative wall décor, and waiters hopping from place to place, this is somewhere for your senses to be overwhelmed. In a popular part of the Marais, expect to queue before being seated, and then guard your not quite finished cup of tea until you want to leave. The price is what you would expect for a fashionable place in the Marais, but cakes are big enough to share. Try the tarte au citron meringuée; it just cries Eat Me.

6. Salon de Thé de la Grande Mosquée de Paris

Restaurant, Tea Room, French

Thé à la Menthe
Courtesy of Clare McVay
This tea room must be seen to be believed. Inside the walls of Paris’ great mosque is a secluded, shady courtyard. Although there is a constant bustle, an overwhelming sense of calm pervades here. Perhaps because many customers have just visited the mosque’s hammam, or perhaps because of the hookahs, there is something undeniably special about the atmosphere here. For main meals there is a wonderful restaurant inside, but most snacks are taken in the courtyard. Buy some baklava, or turkish delight from the counter, then take a seat. Soon a waiter will appear carrying a tray of beautiful little glasses, the steam apparent even in the warm air. The mint tea, unlike any you will have tried before, is a must for every visitor. Be careful relaxing too long here, or you may never want to leave.

7. La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Patisserie, Pastries

Salon de thé at Rue de Longchamp
Courtesy of Pâtisserie des Rêves
While some might say that the most famous patisseries are growing stale in their comfortable position as Parisian institutions, La Pâtisserie des Rêves is concocting something of a revolution. In 2009 a dream was born when Philippe Conticini, a famous pastry chef and pioneer in modern cuisine, began to work with Thierry Teyssier, creator of the successful and altogether magical events firm, Maison des Rêves. Their main aim is encourage children to really get excited about classic patisserie, rather than fast food or plastic wrapped e-numbers. They do this by reviving classic French patisserie, such as the Paris-Brest. Aware that patisserie holds for them, and most French adults, a sensory key to their own childhood, the pair wanted to create the same strong emotions for today’s children. So whether you want to unlock memories from the past, or to create lasting memories for your own little sweeties, be sure to stop by and let your mind drift.

8. Sugarplum Cake Shop

Cafe, Tea Room, Tea

A rather magical and cozy coffee shop
Courtesy of the Sugarplum Cake Shop
Just as wondrous as the name suggests, Sugarplum opened in the spring of 2010, the enterprise of two Americans and one Canadian, and has since gathered world-wide press coverage for its quirky creations. The shop specializes in North American baking, and current owner Alison Novic is keen to prove there’s more to these recipes than just sugar and butter. The small team makes personalized cakes to order, with flavors ranging anywhere from your classic sponge to pumpkin chocolate chip. What’s more, these bakers have an artistic flair, creating just about anything from cake; from a black cat wearing a red beret to an overflowing bowl of spaghetti, nothing is impossible. If you want to celebrate on a smaller scale however, escape the cold and head into their cozy coffee shop. Indulge with a piece of best-selling carrot cake, accompanied by a cup of pumpkin spice flat white (with homemade syrup).

9. La Maison des Tartes

Restaurant, French

La Maison des Tartes
This little café’s unassuming shop front can be found jostling for space amongst the many catering establishments on Rue Mouffetard. For those who happen to pass right by its window however, the array of glistening tarts on display makes it stand out as somewhere different. La Maison specializes in home-made sweet and savory tarts, for very reasonable prices. This is because everything here is basic, in the most wholesome of senses, providing you with a slice of Provence. The interior is small, but if you can find a seat, this is the perfect place to sit down and escape the occasionally tiring glamour of Paris, and really relax.

10. Angelina

Tea Room, Coffee Shop, Patisserie, Tea

© Bob Hall/Flickr
Angelina was founded in 1903, and perhaps as famous for its hot chocolate as its patisserie. The décor has been maintained from when the salon first opened, and is typical of Belle-Époque extravagance, with a grace and style that mirrors its sweet creations. Understandably, Angelina has seen regulars such as Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn grace its doors, but more than providing glamour, salons such as this were also places where women could socialize outside the house without supervision, and thus played their own part in the women’s liberation movement. In the name of progression, men are now equally welcome at this establishment, as well as its chains throughout the city (as long as they behave).

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