Paris cafes are the social lifelines of Parisians, where they come to meet their friends or business colleagues or sit alone to enjoy a coffee. It used to be that outdoor cafes would only open seasonally and shut down during the winter months, but in recent years, outdoor cafes are now open all year round with the advent of installing outdoor heaters. Now you can enjoy outdoor cafes throughout the year, and some Parisian cafes even offer blankets to ward off the cold.
We’ve gathered a list of outdoor cafes that have great views of the classic sites of Paris: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Opera house among them.
1. Cafe De La Paix, Opera Garnier
One of the most legendary and historic cafes of Paris, Cafe de la Paix has been a longtime fixture on Place de l’Opera. Opened in 1862 as part of the Grand Hotel de la Paix (now shortened to the Grand Hotel), it became associated with the extensive renovation and rebuilding of Paris, led by Baron Haussmann in the latter part of the 19th century. Grand Hotel de la Paix was the epitome of luxury and the Belle Epoque period of Paris, and Cafe de la Paix became well-known by international visitors during the 1867 World’s Fair. It became a magnet for the rich and famous in Paris society including guests such as Marlene Dietrich, Emile Zola, the Prince of Wales, Oscar Wilde, and Yves Montand.
Cafe de la Paix was renovated in 2002, and it’s still one of the most luxurious cafes in Paris. One side of the cafe faces the Opera Garnier, and you can marvel at the magnificent architectural details. The prices reflect the opulence of the cafe, so be prepared to pay 6.5 euros for an espresso, which is well worth the price for the view and decor.
2. Cafe Carette, Place Des Vosges
Relax and take in the glorious view of Place des Vosges at Cafe Carette. Place des Vosges is the oldest public square in Paris, built between 1605 and 1612 under the reign of King Henri IV. It was also the first example of uniform architecture, a series of large, connected townhouses with brick fronts inhabited by royalty and aristocrats including Madame Sevigne and Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables.
Cafe Carette serves a full menu with sandwiches, generously sized salads, French specialties such as onion soup and quiche, and house-made pastries. Their rich hot chocolate, served in an individual pot brought to the table, is some of the best in the city. Make sure you order it with their fresh whipped cream (no Reddi Whip served here!). Macarons are another specialty at Cafe Carette and include delectable flavors such as coffee, salted butter caramel, cherry, rose, dark chocolate, and mango passion fruit.
3. Cafe Kitsune, Palais Royal
Cafe Kitsune is a fashion brand that has found success in also opening a number of modern-day coffee bars throughout Paris and internationally. Popular with hipsters and the fashion crowd, the Palais Royal location is the most scenic. Cafe Kitsune prides itself on the quality of its coffee beans, which are imported from South America, and the rich, full-bodied taste they produce, which is a balance of strong but smooth flavors. The coffee menu offers espresso, americano, latte, cappuccino, macchiato, flat white, cortado, and mochaccino. They also serve fresh baked cookies and cakes.
The Cafe Kitsune Palais Royal is located in one of the most lush and beautiful gardens in Paris, the Palais Royal, which is surrounded by an enormous former royal palace, made of limestone, and built in 1639. The formal gardens have long rows of tall linden trees which are sculpted in a square shape, a fountain, benches, and flower beds. There are also covered arcades with designer clothing and accessory boutiques. The gardens of Palais Royal were featured as a location in the hit Netflix TV series Emily in Paris, and you can spot the bench where Emily sits when she meets her new friend Mindy from Cafe Kitsune.
Editor’s Note: See Richard’s picks for Emily In Paris filming locations you must visit here.
4. Cafe Tourville, Ecole Militaire
The elegant Cafe Tourville is located on the Left Bank of Paris near the Eiffel Tower. The outdoor part of the expansive cafe hugs the corners of two boulevards and the main view is of the Ecole Militaire, the military academy of Paris. Constructed between 1750 and 1762 under the rule of King Louis XV, Ecole Militaire was designed by the principal architect of the king, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who also designed other important structures in France including Place de la Concorde, and the Petit Trianon and opera house at Versailles. The massive Ecole Militaire, designed in a Baroque and neoclassical style, is a complex of buildings covering a vast acreage of land and also has a still-operating, outdoor horse track.
Cafe Tourville serves a full food and drink menu at all times of the day. For the health-minded, they offer smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices. They also have an ice cream, milkshake, and frozen yogurt menu with flavors such as mango and berry, Oreos, chocolate and nuts, and caramel dulce de leche.
5. Le Flore En l'Ile, Notre Dame Cathedral
On the western tip of the tiny, small island in the Seine, Ile Saint Louis, is Le Flore en l'Ile, a cafe with a sensational view of the back of Notre Dame Cathedral and the flying buttresses. In addition to the coffee and drinks, there’s a lunch menu and dinner with offerings such as duck leg confit, steak tartare, entrecote steak, and roasted chicken and potatoes. Their dessert menu features ice cream from Berthillon, the best ice cream maker in Paris, and includes decadent cold treats such as chocolate ice cream, salted butter caramel ice cream, and lemon sorbet with vodka, plus nougat, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, currants, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, and caramel sauce.
As you are indulging in your ice cream delights, you can watch the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral, which was badly damaged in a tragic fire in 2019.
6. Cafe Lateral, Arc De Triomphe
Cafe Lateral is a cool, contemporary cafe with an eclectic menu, and the big plus is that it has a spot-on view of the Arc de Triomphe.
Their appealing breakfast menu offers a croissant and a baguette, served with butter and fruit preserves, a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and your choice of a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for 11.90 euros ($14.50 USD).
The Arc de Triomphe was built between 1806 and 1836 under the order of Napoleon Bonaparte. The massive structure is based on a neoclassical Arch of Titus in Rome and stands at 164 feet high and 148 feet wide. Eight streets protrude from the Arc de Triomphe, including the Champs Elysees.
7. Cafe-Restaurant Louis Philippe, The Seine River And Ile Saint Louis
On the Right Bank in the historic Marais quarter, the Cafe-Restaurant Louis Philippe has two-sided views; one is of the Seine River and the Ile Saint Louis, and the other is a charming, cobblestone alleyway with the Baroque and gothic style Saint Gervais Church, one of the oldest buildings in Paris, dating back to the early 1300s.
Cafe-Restaurant Louis Philippe still resembles a turn-of-the-century cafe and the menu of traditional French dishes, such as beef bourguignon, onion soup, country pate, frog legs, snails, and creme brulee match the decor. Check out the antique zinc bar and winding staircase inside.
8. Cafe Bonaparte, Place Saint Germain
Located in the heart of Saint Germain des Pres on the Left Bank of Paris, Cafe Bonaparte with a red, white, and blue striped awning and matching color, wicker cafe chairs, looks like it came straight out of a French film. Rub elbows with the chic residents of Saint Germain des Pres while enjoying a coffee or a glass of rose wine.
Cafe Bonaparte sits across from Place Saint Germain, and you’ll have views of the oldest church in Paris, the Saint Germain des Pres church, built in the 1300s, when the Left Bank was still a swamp and mostly underwater, and the famous Cafe Les Deux Magots.
9. Cafe Du Trocadero, Eiffel Tower
Grab a table at Cafe Du Trocadero, which is just across from Palais de Chaillot, a cultural complex with two museums and a theater, and you will be rewarded with an unbeatable view of the Eiffel tower. The pleasant Cafe Du Trocadero has an Art Deco-inspired design, and its appealing menu has French and Asian dishes and a crepe menu for dessert.
Pro Tips: If you go at night, time your visit to the cafe on the hour so you can witness the twinkle lights that go off on the Eiffel Tower. And, for inspiration beyond Cafe Du Trocadero, consider Alison Browne’s Where To Find The 9 Best Views Of The Eiffel Tower In Paris.