Free Wi-Fi on the road is not just a bonus but a necessity. Good internet connection in Paris is a challenge as FreeWiFi is a misleading name – it's, in fact, a French mobile carrier, which requires a login and password to use its internet. Our tip could be go to almost any park or square (thanks to city authorities), but unfortunately they have no plugs. So match work and fun – have coffee and use free Wi-Fi in numerous coffee shops.
Loulou Friendly Diner
Loulou is located in the most touristy part of Quartier Latin, where every house is home to a cafe or two, however, they are all tourist traps. Loulou is an exception and escape. While its exterior of a friendly diner is nothing special, it is just a disguise – otherwise it would be packed. Firstly, their waiters seem to be the best in town, very friendly and always ready for a chat, unless the place is full. Then, they have the most delicious burgers and bagels being cooked all day long – the thing appreciated by locals and tourists. Come in the morning when the place is half-empty to get a great coffee and breakfast, by noon there will be a crowd. Once you eat here, you will have an urge to come back again and again. They have vegetarian options – salads, vegetable bagels as well as yummy smoothies. Pancakes, meat and fish – everything is perfect. If it is warm, pick a veranda seat (a small tip for busy folks – the plug for your laptop is under the sofa at the left-most table near the façade). An ideal working space: the sun lit veranda, great food and coffee, free wi-fi and no hints that you should leave. As for dinners – at night, there are many tables so no need to book one. Loulou is great for any occasion, but avoid lunch time during the weekends, otherwise you will spend thirty minutes in a line.
Finding good coffee in Paris is a challenge but KB CaféShop is the place that has it. A small cafe with huge windows between Martys and Trudaine is almost always crowded with students with laptops, local bobo and English-speaking tourists. However, they will always find you a spot on a wooden bench outside or something indoors. Baristas are friendly and trendy and give tips which coffee to take. Music is lovely, prices low and sizes big. In hip SoPi (South Pigalle) it is an ideal breakfast spot though they have something for lunch – sandwiches, salads and soup of the day made at the site.
This bar opened in Marais in 2013 and lures in with great cocktails and small traditional meals. The place is a spacious and cozy wooden cocoon – ceiling, walls, bar counter and tables – everything is made of wood. Come here with friends or to make new ones – local folks are great. Choose a small corner table for a tête-à-tête or a huge white coach for a drink with friends. If you are alone, grab a cheese platter and a glass of white wine and climb a high table. And for a perfect weekend brunch go to their veranda bathing in the rays of lights.
Right by Le Bon Marché two gurus of the Paris coffee revolution have opened Coutume. This spacious well-lit place reminds of Tel Aviv and Brooklyn at the same time – ragged walls, wooden floors and white tiles – everything calling for coffee. And their coffee is great. Local hipsters flood the place for breakfast, some even cross the town to begin their day with coffee, granola or banana pancakes. By lunch all tables are taken by fashionistas, local girls instagramming their salads and cappuccinos and stylish business-women talking serious stuff. The best visiting time is a week-end brunch (from 11 to 3 for 25-30€) – it will give you the energy for the rest of the day – to walk around and to go crazy at night.
This small restaurant on the bank of Canal Saint Martin is never empty. Get a seat on a high bar stool by the window or outside, order a bagel and smoothie of the day and watch people passing by the canal. Works by young artists on the walls, nice music and staff keen on all modern art galleries in the neighborhood. The best option is their weekend brunch – a bagel, eggs, baguette with butter, home-made organic jams, smoothies, dessert and great coffee – everything you need on Sunday morning.
Paris has a problem with vegetarian places but Pinson is vegan's dream coming true. Frisco-inspired place has huge armchairs by the window, so grab a detox smoothie or a home-made lemonade and have a seat waiting for an original organic food (quite yummy, by the way). Most things on the menu are gluten and dairy free. Try them even if you don't care much about eating healthy just to see that vegan food can be delicious. And picky locals seem to really love it – recently the second cafe Pinson opened in the 10th arrondisment (58 rue du Faubourg Poissonière). And there are not that many 24/7 places in Paris.
Hollybelly is an ideal place not far from Canal Saint-Martin to have a bite and good coffee in beautiful interiors. Sounds like nothing special but Paris still lacks such venues. This one was opened by one of the contributors to Kinfolk magazine together with his girlfriend so the place often hosts their parties and sells magazines, of course. The atmosphere is great – welcoming inked baristas in beanie hats and the gem is their awesome coffee. If you don't want to spend thirty minutes in a line come to have breakfast on a week day. Music can be too loud but breakfasts and brunches are made of organic local produce and are perfect as well as coffee.
Lomi is located in not quite pleasant part of 18 arrondissement but lots of people risk their wallets every day to get to this place, so it is worth it. Inside it looks very industrial – bare walls, metal beams, high ceilings, old leathers coaches – so cozy. It is a place for everyone – managers from nearby officers, moms with prams and students who come to work on their laptops. Apart from great coffee (you can buy the one you like) they serve their trademark scones, salads, sandwiches and quiches. For dessert order a cheesecake or chocolate cake – they are marvelous. An absolute must visit if you are in the neighborhood!
Palais de Tokyo
Actually, the place has nothing to do with Japan and is no palace. It is a center for contemporary art and an absolute must visit. This place of power is opened from noon to midnight and has plenty to showcase, especially after the recent renovation. Over 20,000 square meters bring together creative people and host exhibitions that are too extravagant even compared to Pompidou. This “site de création contemporaine” hosts the boldest shows of modern artists – all of them are not to miss and some are even to be visited several times. Better come at night when the majority of museums are closed. Take your time to walk around, pop in their great bookstore have a dinner in Tokyo Eat or Monsieur Bleu and if you are lucky party hard in Yoyo.
La Gaîté Lyrique
This is the epicenter of Paris cultural life – behind a classic facade in Temple you will find a cutting-edge center for digital arts that used to be an operetta theater. Now it hosts installations, exhibitions, concerts, movie nights, shows and digital arts festivals – lots of interesting stuff. Its architect Manuelle Gautrand turned this 19th century building into a multifunctional structure flexible to accommodate any installation. At the same time two-century old decor doesn't clash with modern design and some eclectic exhibitions making for even more unique atmosphere. If you have some urgent work you can go to a café at the center – they have wi-fi.
Georges Pompidou rooftop bar is part of Costes chain of venues for posh leisure. Apart from Georges they have the eponymous restaurant at Hôtel Costes. Georges is a nice place to visit for its perfect Rivoli panorama. No matter what time of the year it is, tables are always decorated with red roses while coffee costs the same as everywhere.
Le Derriere is a cool place not far from Beaubourg. Its name means backyards and is a pun – it used to be the backyard of a restaurant that stood here before but now is among restaurant frontmen. It is the realm of eclectics – you will not find a single matching chair or table. Some people eat, some play table soccer. If you are alone, entertain yourself with books and art albums or go to the second floor to find yourself in a real apartment. Walk along the corridor to a wardrobe – it has a secret door to a smoking room (an impossible facility for a Paris restaurant) with stuffed animals and artistically lopsided shelves. Le Derriere is a good choice for dinner, lunch or Sunday brunch. Reserve a table via Reservez une table calendar on their website.
104 Le Centquatre
This ancient building used to house funeral and public services, a barber and a tailor shop, and is now an outstanding center to create and showcase all kinds of art. The management provides platforms for creative folks from all over the world engaged in visual and plastic arts, cinema, music, theater, circus and dance to create their projects with creative energy of this place and later demonstrate them right here. Organizers also wanted to put an accent not only on art projects, but on the process of their creation. Here visitors have a unique chance not just to look at art being created but also to discuss with artists their ideas, concepts and ways of bringing them into life. Come here during the weekend when life in 104 is boiling over: energetic guys from the neighborhood gather in halls to street-dance, jugglers rehearse in other, pizzamobil has excellent pizza and mini-salads, soups and fagottini - their own invention: half- fokkacha, half-calzone with tasty fresh fillings on crusty dough. They also sell excellent frozen yogurt. The Hidden Cafe (Le Café Caché) serves excellent breakfasts, and for lunch you can take salad or a cheeseburger. Thanks to a separate entrance from Rue d’Aubervilliers you can get here even when the center is closed. 104 also boasts a bookstore, a kid's center, and sometimes in the evenings its halls turn into a concert venue.
Sometimes you want more than just a yummy dinner but an experience. For lunch with the view go to the terrace of Kong futuristic restaurant on the sixth floor of Kenzo building. Designed by Philippe Starck, this fabulous mirrored roof offers stunning views on Paris roofs, Seine and Pont Neuf . You should visit it at least once, just don't forget to book a table and specify you need a veranda one, otherwise you will be seated a floor lower. A nice meal will cost you 30-60€ (they serve British, traditional Japanese and French food). Have a drink (happy hour is from 18 to 20) and make some great shots of Paris.
Les Pères Populaires
Locals shorten this Berlin oasis in Paris to Les Pères Pop’. During the day this spacious and well-lit place, which offers only a couple of meals (order anything – the chef is a genius), mainly attracts locals and students craving free wi-fi. The scene changes at night – the venue is crowded especially on Fridays when they have jazz concerts. Early comers get coaches and others – the tables. This is one of the cheapest bars in Paris with floods of booze and relaxed atmosphere. A must-visit in the eastern part.