Since their advent on the European continent during the 17th century, coffee shops have fueled ideas, philosophies and the exchange of information. It was, in fact, at the café de Foy on the rue de Richelieu that Camille Desmoulins galvanized his compatriots on the brink of revolution with the famous “Aux armes, citoyens!” While most cafés in Paris today have lost their role as political and philosophical hotbeds, a modern-day equivalent, the Internet, is becoming an omnipresent side to many a café crème.
You don’t need to be the next Voltaire to appreciate the combination of a reliable Wi-Fi connection and a good cup of coffee. Whether you’re deliberating the next revolutionary idea or just looking for a place to hunker down for a work session, check out our favorite cafés on the rive gauche, featuring free Wi-Fi, good coffee and tables with some room to spread out.
Le News Café
78, rue d’Assas in the 6th Arrondissement. 01 43 26 68 44.
Facing the southwesternmost corner of the Jardin du Luxembourg, le News Café provides a lovely tableau of the gardens just across the street. Take a seat at one of the spacious window tables or sip on a 1.60 euro espresso at the bar. If you need a break, the friendly service à l’ancienne invites a chat. Why not follow in the footsteps of some of history’s greatest philosophers with an inspirational stroll through some of the park’s tortuous paths?
47, rue de Babylone, in the 7th Arrondissement. 01 45 51 50 47.
As the third-wave coffee culture continues to sweep the world, it has left a noticeable trace of new cafés in Paris over the past year or so. The movement’s driving force is a fresh approach to coffee making as a craft. The result is avant-garde java joints like Coutume Café, serving gourmet coffee defined by nuances in preparation and flavor like never before. The industrial-meets-shabby-chic interior packs in the patrons who pop in for lunch or a work session, often bearing laptops and books. The Anglo-inspired food menu provides a yummy selection of study snacks. If you’re itching for something sweet, we adore the carrot cake, decadently spiced with cumin and cardamom. Be sure to consult with the baristas on the best dessert-coffee pairings!
57, rue Lacépède, in the 5th Arrondissement. 01 43 36 82 88.
Just off the lively rue Mouffetard, la Contrescarpe boasts some of the comfiest setups on the rive gauche. Sink into a sumptuous sofa-chair in the library-like interior, with wood molding, bookshelves and reading lamps. Don’t mind the snappy servers—once you’re settled in, they’ll leave you to work away in your little mahogany world. If you’d rather work en terrasse, expect an increase in coffee prices and a downgrade in table size, in exchange for the view of the oh-so-cute Place de la Contrescarpe, of course.
14–16, rue de la Butte aux Cailles, in the 13th Arrondissement. 01 45 65 19 82.
Because of its convivial nature, this dive-ish and laid-back bar likely bears the closest resemblance to the Paris cafés of times past. Whether patrons come to talk politics or congregate to watch sports matches, there’s always conversation to be had at Sputnik. Thanks to the spectacularly low prices, even an espresso enjoyed on the terrace rings in at a mere 1.50 euros. A propos the terrace, its particularly large tables make it the perfect spot to catch some rays even when you’re buried under a mountain of work.
Editor’s note: Have you heard about the GG2P Travel Club yet? There are three levels at which to join—and the first one is free!