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The Best People-Watching Cafés in Paris

One of my favorite things to do in Paris is grab a glass of wine or a café crème at a café and watch the world go by. In Paris, I am constantly on my feet walking and photographing Paris and it is good to take a pause let my body rest. Below are some of my favorite Parisian terraces to people watch. I also included a google map so you can see where they are in the city in comparison to where you are staying. I hope you bookmark this post for your future trip to Paris and share this with friend’s for their own Parisian adventures.

Perhaps one is close to your apartment or hotel, one may be close to a museum or shop you are visiting. Don’t be shy about venturing out of your arrondissement comfort zone. It’s good to explore other neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a different feel and personality.

Café Charlot

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Located in The Marais, Café Charlot is a hot spot for brunch on Sundays. The terrace fills up fast for great people watching on Rue de Bretagne.

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Café Nemours

You can find Café Nemours tucked between Palais Royal and The Louvre. It has some of my favorite people watching and a great place to rest in between museums and site seeing in Paris.

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Café de Flore

This is a classic Parisian café that you should try at least once. I prefer to sit outside on the terrace even in the cold or rainy days. The inside has its own vibe that I could never quite bring myself to try. In the colder months, there is a covered terrace just before heading inside you can also try. The people watching here is really great, I saw Karl Lagerfeld here a few times. Tables outside can be hard to score so come at an off time or test your patience. There is a news stand just across the street where you can pick up a newspaper or postcards to write home.

Les Deux Magots

This is a classic Parisian café that is also on the must visit once list. The menu is pricey but you get prime seating and an experience. I would skip getting a meal here and stick to wine, coffee, or hot chocolate. This is just one block over from Café de Flore and on a busy people watching corner. Hemingway, Julia Child, and Picaso all have a history of visiting Les Deux Magots. There is a jazz band that plays just in front of the church across from the café on weekends.

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Bar du Marché

This spot is located on Rue de Bucci and is a great location for an afternoon cocktail or glass of wine.

For tips on navigating a Parisian café, I highly recommend bookmarking this post.

Le Saint Regis

I fell in love with Le Saint Regis years ago while walking on Ile St Louis. This café is located at the end of île St Louis and has a perfect view for sunset looking at Notre Dame. The tables outside are limited but you can grab a seat at an off hour and stay for a while. This café is a good spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch, drinks or dinner. I have a lot of fond memories here solo and with friends. It would be hard to turn down an offer from a friend to meet at Saint Regis for a glass of wine and a catch up. When I get back to Paris, this spot will be on my list to return to.

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Le Bonaparte

Located on The Left Bank behind Les Deux Magots is Le Bonaparte. I have only sat outside solo and with friends. The people watching is fantastic and you can eat or drink here. The menu is on the pricey side but you pay for the people watching. Just remember, you can get one drink and spend an afternoon a the table without having the waiter bring you the bill.

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Au Petit Fer à Cheval

I discovered this café in The Marais back in 2012. I took a photo of it but never went inside until I returned in 2013. It was one of my best-selling photographs in 2012 and I was curious why it was so popular. I made friends with the bartender Didier and I have kept in touch ever since. He is always so happy to see me each and every visit I am in for a coffee or glass of wine. This will be the first café I will want to return to when I am back in Paris later in 2021. The restaurant had a kitchen fire that closed the place down and just as they reopened, COVID hit. This is a gem of a place. It’s small inside and outside. If you can’t find a spot here, you can check next door both right and left the cafés are under the same owners.

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Café Central

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Café Central has been a staple on Rue Cler for as long as I can remember. I found a photograph from my first solo trip to Paris in 2010 and I captured Café Central rain soaked café chairs on the terrace. I have heard only good things from readers and friends about Café Central especially solo female travelers. If you find yourself on Rue Cler, this is a great place to stop for lunch or a glass of wine.

La Palette

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La Palette is just off of Rue de Seine on The Left Bank. I love passing by this classic Parisian café to see who is sitting outside. Do you see the men right out front to the left? Their table is reserved just for them. I have only seen them sitting there time after time. If they are not there, the table is reserved and empty. The inside is what you would expect of a Parisian café from the movies.

This is also the café where Taylor Swift films the video for the song Begin Again.

Chez Janou

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This is a reader favorite located in The Marais. You can eat here for lunch or dinner but you can also take a drink at the bar which is a fun scene. You have to get there early to grab a seat. From my experience, a lot of the bar seats fill up for people waiting to be seated for meals. I was alone and found a seat at the bar and the bartender was happy to chat with me in French and English. The outdoor space is fun and great for people watching on a Sunday in The Marais.

Did your favorite café make the list? Comment and share below your favorite spot to people watch in Paris.

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  1. My favorite morning and apero cafe (and other random meals or times) is right next door to Au Petit Fer a Cheval (and owned by the same people): Les Philosophes. I have been there so many times the staff all recognize me and it’s a nice way to feel like I am “home” again.

    Directly across the street they also own the wine bar/bookstore, too. I went inside that one for the first time on my last visit to Paris. I think it is only open at apero time and afterwards, so it was always dark in the mornings when I would walk by it.

    My forever hotel is around the corner and so I really do feel like I am going home when I am in this ‘hood.

  2. Café Nemours is one of my all time favourite people watching, cafe and wine drinking spots in Paris. It’s actually the spot I was sitting at when filming the little video I posted and tagged you in last week. I love happy coincidences.

  3. Lovely cafes. I’ve been to all but three of them. It’s one of my top favorite things to do in Paris!❤️

  4. We love Le Bonaparte! The people watching is so great. The last time we went there, we saw this elderly couple (very much still in love) flirting shamelessly and it was just the cutest and most romantic thing ever. We’ll remember them forever!