There are times when the crowd in the café is as crucial as the beans in the coffee. Sometimes its absence is the sweetest thing of all. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or catch up with a friend in Paris, give one of these low-key places a try. Off most tourists’ radars, you’ll find the best brews, breakfasts, brunches, and lunches in town.
Tucked down a side street of one of the coolest addresses in Paris, Café Oberkampf is the spot to head to if you need to retreat from the world for a while with some great coffee and seriously delicious food. As well as creative breakfast and lunch options, you can enjoy their all-day brunch menu until three o’clock. A tartine or toasted sandwich comes in at approximately €9 and a plate of their shakshuka (eggs poached in a tomato sauce with peppers, onions, spices, and harissa) is a treat at either €7 or €12.
It can sometimes seem like a diehard love of all things coffee has become mandatory to successful, or even acceptable, modern living but lukewarm feelings towards home-roasted brews shouldn’t preclude anyone from leading a normal, happy life or enjoying a great coffee shop. Enter Blackburn. The coffee is brilliant, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s also a juice bar for those for whom it just doesn’t do the trick. The health food menu is a mixture of French and vegetarian dishes and, in the summer, you can sit outside in the sun.
The secret about Belleville being Paris’ coolest neighborhood is well out in the open by now. (Though, if you didn’t already know, you didn’t hear it here first!) On one of its most remarkable streets, the sensationally graffitied Rue Denoyez, is Le Barbouquin, a gem of an establishment that is part coffee shop, part bar, and part library and bookstore. The welcome is always warm and the menu is equally reliable with its all-day selection of scrumptious dishes. Like all the best secrets, you’ll be torn between keeping this place to yourself and blabbing about it to all your friends.
La Caféothèque has been around for a decade already but, still, it retains its charm and pull among the locals of the Right Bank. What makes this place special is the depth of its team’s passion for and knowledge of coffee. Inside the café, there is a store selling beans and other products as well as a school training the next generation of coffee aficionados. There is a lot worth sampling on the menu (it may require multiple visits to get through it all) but you have got to try their matcha cheesecake at least once in your life.
The last spot on our shortlist, the Grande Mosquée de Paris, is one of the French capital’s lesser-known treasures. Its significance as a place of worship, historic landmark, and architectural wonder aside, its courtyard café (really it’s more of a salon du thé) make it somewhere that every Parisian, permanent or visiting, should head when they’re in need of some refreshment and reflection. The tea is sweet and orange-scented, the pastries and cakes are sticky and delicious, and the sound of birds chirruping and fountains trickling somehow drowns out all the noise of the bustling city.