The French are known for spending their time eating croissants and sipping coffee, so if you’re planning to study abroad in Paris, you might have expectations something like mine.
I was prepared for adorable coffee shops on every corner, endless free wifi like you’ll find in the U.S., and more of my favorite brewed coffee than I knew what to do with. Upon arriving in Paris, however, I quickly learned that none of these things were true.
Yes, there are a lot of cafes around, but not nearly as many that specialize just in coffee as you’ll find around American college campuses. Free wifi is a rare treat, and if you’re thinking about grabbing a quick cup to go on the way to class, you might get a few funny looks if you ask for your caffeine fix “à partir” rather than choosing to sit and enjoy it.
And for my brewed coffee? That simply, and strangely, does not exist in Paris. You can get all the espresso your heart desires and be bouncing off the walls for the following few hours, but if you’re looking for a regular light roast, Paris is not the place. I’ve adopted the Americano as my go to drink order, but I for one will be very happy to be reunited with my coffee beans and drip machine when I’m back in the U.S.
For a college student who’s used to spending a huge portion of my time studying in coffee shops, this was a huge change, and not one I was expecting. But some friends and I soon made it our mission to explore Paris by the coffee shop and, slowly but surely, have narrowed down a list of the best places for study abroad students to go to find that homey coffee shop atmosphere, or to, you know, occasionally do homework.
This quaint little coffee shop, located near the bustling shopping area of Rue de Rivoli and very close to Hôtel de Ville, definitely deserves rave reviews for atmosphere. It’s made up of several small adjoining rooms, all filled with a mismatched collection of comfortable sofas, chairs and tables.
Caféothèque offers a huge selection of drinks, from my personal go-to Americano to elaborate lattés with artfully designed whipped cream, as well as a variety of pastries and snacks.
On the downside, there is no free wifi available, but the cozy atmosphere more than makes up for it and has made Caféothèque a go-to spot to meet with friends, as it’s centrally located, and chat over a warm cup of coffee.
Location: 52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
Hip and modern are possibly the last two words that come to mind when I think of the typical Parisian coffee shop, but this place is certainly both of them.
It’s clearly geared toward college students: it’s full of long tables with outlets for laptops and has been crowded and buzzing with talk every time I’ve visited. The walls are covered in artwork that resembles notebook-doodles and an eclectic mix of paintings and decorations. For a study abroad student, it’s the perfect work environment, and even offers free wifi.
It’s pricing system, though, is a little strange, though really not too bad for what you get out of the deal.
The large buffet-style table in the center of the upstairs is packed with simple snack foods and there are baristas waiting to make whatever drink you request. The catch is, for the first hour you’re inside Anti-Café, you pay 7€ for unlimited food, drink, and wifi use. For every hour after, it’s an additional 3€, but if you stay for the entire day and work, it’s only 12€. While that price may seem a bit steep, if you’re really planning on getting in a full day of work, you definitely get your money’s worth with all the extra food and drinks.
Location: 79 Rue Quincampoix, 75003 Paris, France
Even though it’s only been around for a few years, Coutume is making it big in Paris, and elsewhere in the world: it now has four Paris locations, as well as one in Tokyo. The coffee definitely deserves the hype: the coffee is great, even by American standards, and they serve fresh juices as well, along with a menu of brunch choices and small meals.
With its minimalist décor and menu abbreviations that look like elements from the periodic table, this café definitely has a look of its own. While the prices might not be the cheapest (it’s located in the 7th arrondissement, a notoriously expensive area), it’s definitely worth a visit.
Location: 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris, France
Located in one of my favorite neighborhoods, the cool and gritty Canal St. Martin area, Craft is another go-to for study abroad students looking for wifi and a comfortable workspace. Craft is divided into two areas: the workspace in the back, a long table equipped with power outlets and lamps, and the more casual mixture of couches and tables for two in the front.
If you’re there to work, you pay by the hour. It’s a 3€ minimum, but if you buy drinks or food, that can take the place of the charge for using space. So you can basically buy yourself free wifi and a great working environment in hours worth of good coffee and homemade food, which smelled ridiculously delicious. The staff are friendly and helpful (and speak English!), and have no problem explaining the system or recommending drinks.
Location: 24 Rue des Vinaigriers, 75010 Paris, France
This café successfully hits the balance of cozy coffee shop and work environment. With free wifi and rows of electrical outlets for those of us that carry our computers wherever we go (guilty), DOSE is the perfect spot for a study session or for a lazy Sunday brunch. The baristas are friendly and the drinks, especially the lattés, are delicious.
My friend Emma, who’s a huge fan of DOSE and basically Parisian at this point, said it best: “DOSE is on the incredibly cool Rue Mouffetard with outdoor seating onto a quieter side street. It’s super chic, and has an amazing latte (and a very cute bartender).” So if that doesn’t convince you to stop by, I’m not sure what will.
Location: 73 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France