We’d like to let you in on these Paris secrets now that summer has finally checked in. Our first list reveals the top five terraces on which to catch some sun on the left bank and ranges from frilly to funky. If there is one thing to keep in mind throughout the summer in Paris, it’s that a sunny day should never, ever be squandered.
Le Café de l’Hôtel de l’Abbaye
10, rue Cassette, in the 6th Arrondissement. 01 45 44 38 11.
Experience the sun in all its splendor at one of the most luxurious Paris secrets. As you enter the café at l’Hôtel de l’Abbaye, a neo-Victorian sunroom unravels into a sunny courtyard upholstered in a green layer of ivy and strewn with pompous furniture. This spot seduces the inner hedonist, making an afternoon of lounging alfresco impossible to resist. The well-rounded list of spirits features a cocktail du jour at 14 euros. Alas, even the espresso rings in at 5 euros, but the splurge is definitely worth the opportunity to unwind in one of Paris’s most refined settings.
43, rue de Seine, in the 6th Arrondissement. 01 43 26 68 15.
Open Mon–Sat, 8 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sun, 10 a.m.–2 a.m.
Just off the boulevard Saint-Germain, this lovely café beckons passersby onto its perky little terrace. One could easily spend the entire afternoon soaking in the sun’s rays and watching the waiters weave in and out of the animated swarm. A former hangout of Cézanne, Picasso and Hemingway, la Palette continues to draw aspiring artists from the nearby École des Beaux Arts. As the workday ends, a bourgeois crowd begins to replace the casual visitors who veered off their path between the Seine and Saint-Germain.
Le Café Maure de la Mosquée de Paris
39, rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, in the 5th Arrondissement. 01 43 31 18 14.
Open daily, 9 a.m.–midnight.
Steaming Moroccan mint tea, arabesques, lush plants, mosaics, colorful water pipes—bref, an image befitting a Matisse painting. The best part: you don’t even have to leave the city center for this exotic experience. This Maghrebi paradise inconspicuously occupies the southeasternmost corner of the lovely Mosquée de Paris, in the heart of the 5th Arrondissement. Plan your visit early on weekends, as this Paris secret is out, and the café’s divine terrace draws gallivanters by the dozen.
32, quai d’Austerlitz, in the 13th Arrondissement.
Terrace open daily, noon–2 a.m.
The innovative space at the Cité de la Mode et du Design flaunts one of the city’s most impressive riverside terraces. The venue exudes a Brooklyn vibe, reinforced by tasteful hip-hop beats, a Manhattanesque view of the handful of riverside “skyscrapers” in the 12th Arrondissement and hipsters as far as the eye can see. As is common in boboland, the drinks are overpriced and a too-cool-for-the-room attitude percolates from the crowd. We advise that you literally just look the other way and enjoy the sunlight and panorama views that this one-of-a-kind space has to offer.
58, rue des Cinq Diamants, in the 13th Arrondissement. 01 45 80 15 08.
Open daily, noon–2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.–11:30 p.m.
What good is a terrace if it’s flooded with people, noise and exhaust fumes? Sometimes the whirlpool of city life overwhelms even seasoned urbanites—Parisians being no exception. Fortunately, the city’s inhabitants and visitors alike can retreat into the quaint Butte aux Cailles neighborhood, which has remained one of the biggest Paris secrets. Because of the neighborhood’s remote location, a village like feel dominates its winding, cobblestoned alleys and cute squares. So grab a table at les Cailloux’s petite terrace to give your senses a break from the overload of traffic, people and asphalt.
L’Hôtel de l’Abbaye
Le Café Maure de la Mosquée de Paris