Working at a café goes totally against French nature. Cafés are for socializing, for relaxing, for having apéritifs after a long day of work. For dipping croissants in café crèmes so the crumbs don’t get stuck to your sweater. Cafés, historically, are the antithesis of work.
Alas, my friends, I have a thesis to write.
Finding cafés in Paris where laptops aren’t frowned upon/wifi is readily available* is hard. Many of the cafés on my list are actually called “coffee shops”, a distinction typically marked by coffee that is roasted somewhere nearby (if not on-site) and shops that are much more of a riff off Australian coffee shops than French cafés (hence the anglicism). I wouldn’t dare take my laptop to an actual café, lest I have my carte de séjour swiped and I banished from Paris.**
TL;DR? Don’t worry, I made a map.
DOSE and its baristas will be in the acknowledgements for my thesis (I am sitting there as I type this). They make a perfect almond milk latte, have an endless supply of “sexy water”, and a bar for workers to feel less guilty about hogging a whole table at lunchtime (once the rush is over, we all promptly return to the tables). They also have a carte de fidelité, something which is necessary for students on a budget.
Le Cairn is a combo mini-health shop and coffee shop rolled into one. They have gluten-free treats and a good lunch selection, plus a mother-and-son team behind the counter making all the juices and drinks. They are right next to the Eiffel Tower, and are so kind to the many students who come in and tourists who stop while sightseeing.
The first time I stepped into Bleu Olive, I was totally enamored by their bright teal walls and yellow beehive accents. I wanted to live there, or at least make my apartment look exactly like it. For now, visiting them and admiring the décor will have to do.
Right off rue des Martyrs (the only street in Paris), KB has a large outdoor seating area and a cozy inside. I love their red tea, and always hope to sit by a window to watch the crowds walk past, or admire the square with the carousel. It’s particularly picturesque around Christmas!
Fun fact: This is the first place Clotilde and I met! It is a nice coffee shop up in Montmartre, with a chic interior and comfortable seats perfect for working. They also have a bar for solo workers, though I’ve never had a problem getting a table.
I tend to gravitate towards the areas in which I live, go to school, and work. For more geographic variety, I asked a few friends where their favorite places to work are. Here are their choices!
Les Petites Gouttes (18e)
Les Petites Gouttes is a comfortable bar/restaurant with big tables inside and out. During the day, it’s a comfortable place to work with great food and free wifi, then it’s happy hour and fun!
It would be easy to miss the Café Curieux when wandering around the 5th arrondissement of Paris. With it’s black exterior and barred windows, this café certainly lives up to its intriguing name. The interior is full of eclectic pieces; mismatching sofas, vintage TV sets, and old boardgames fill the room, giving a rather cosy home-away-from-home feel. I love sinking back into a retro sofa, with a latte and my laptop, and working in a completely unique environment that doesn’t have an impersonal, even sterile feel that often emanates from co-working spaces.
Abby also recommends Liberté (20e) and says they have good brunch too!
Located in the Marais right next to the Seine, this warm and cozy spot is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon with your laptop or a good book. La Caféothèque brews their own coffee and even sells fresh coffee beans at their shop in front. You can choose from comfy couches (often hard to find in Paris) or colorful wooden tables in the back room. There’s free wifi and plenty of wall plugs. Accompany your coffee with a delicious slice of cake and you’ll be happy for hours.
Les Pères Populaires is a grungy haven that’ll transport you all the way back to Seattle circa 1995. The interior looks like it could be the inside of a converted school bus; with a plethora of mismatched chairs and dusty old books. It conveniently serves up a healthy variety of food and drink options in addition to offering free Wi-Fi to its customers. Catering to the freelance scene by day and beer enthusiasts by night, it’s the perfect spot for those who live by the motto ‘work hard and play hard(er)’.
*There are plenty of Starbucks in Paris; I am loathe to add them to the list. (But I end up going on Mondays since that’s when many coffee shops are closed, and Abby says the one at Opera is nice.)
**That said, I think some cafés are more lenient about it now. Some.