Take a trip to 1920s Paris via these historic cafés.
See (and taste) Paris authentically through the eyes of an artist. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Picasso are just a few of the now famous creatives that became regulars at several Parisian cafés during the jazz era. Here is your complete list of these cafés and where to find them during your trip.
Les Deux Magots
6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006, Paris, France
Perhaps one of the most famous cafés in all of Paris, Les Deux Magots is located in the trendy Saint-Germain district. Once a novelty shop named after the two Chinese statues perched inside, the café has an abundance of history within its walls. Today, it’s best known for its famous regulars from Sartre to Picasso who used to spend time there in the 20s, marked by the breakfast options named after the artists who ordered them. Stop by in the morning and get Le Petit Déjeuner Hemingway: fried eggs with bacon or ham, bread and butter, fresh juice, and a plain yogurt or fruit salad. The café is often host to various literary events and even created its own Prix des Deux Magots award, a French literary prize for more unconventional works. Red vinyl booths and a terrace with views of the historic neighborhood surrounding make Les Deux Magots a cherished Parisian landmark.
Café de Flore
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006, Paris, France
Café de Flore opened in 1887 and quickly became the home base for countless creatives throughout the years. Artists and writers alike would spend entire days here, working and talking until after dark. Known as the birthplace of Surrealism and existentialist philosophy, Café de Flore comes with a great deal of cultural significance. This is a place where the ultra-famous mingle with the unknown and the “regulars” don’t consider going anywhere else for their daily dose of pastries and people watching.
La Closerie des Lilas
171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006, Paris, France
Referred to as the “Hemingway Bar,” due to his tendency to hole up in a quiet corner to write, La Closerie des Lilas is a gourmet restaurant with a rich history. Since its opening, the bar has been a famous meeting place for artists due to its classy ambiance and greenery. The restaurant’s low lighting reflects on the mahogany bar top, where you can enjoy a cocktail and some live music. Explore the private lounge on the first floor or order some delicious fresh seafood in the bright and open dining area. Don’t forget to look out for engraved names the of famous people who always sat at specific tables if you sit down to eat!
Harry’s New York Bar
5 Rue Daunou, 75002, Paris, France
Starting out in New York City, Harry’s New York Bar was disassembled and moved to Paris due to prohibition laws in the United States in 1911. From then on, it became a meeting spot for creatives like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. With over 400 cocktails and tons of unique flavor combinations, Harry’s New York Bar is a must-visit in Paris. Many popular drinks were invented here, like the Bloody Mary and the SideCar, exemplifying the bar’s motto, “be traditionally inventive.” This piano bar with an impressive whisky collection makes for the perfect place to have a drink and enjoy some live music.
Café du Dôme
108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014, Paris, France
Known as “the Anglo-American café” due to its large amount of Scandinavian, German, and American customers, Café du Dôme is the oldest café in Montparnasse. The casual and unassuming atmosphere inspired a lot of collaboration between the artists who frequented the café, often referred to as Dômiers. Among this group was Hemingway, who mentioned the café in several of his works. Grab a seat outside and order some sorbet to help you cool off during the summer months.
102 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014, Paris, France
Considered a historical monument, a step into La Coupole can transport you back to 1920s Paris with its art deco décor and traditional French cuisine. The columns spanning the café were painted by students of Matisse, and there are dancing rooms downstairs, where locals used to dance the night away. La Coupole is known for its fresh shellfish platters, among many other classic dishes on the menu. Spend happy hour in the old dining room for an elegant night in the jazz era.
15 Place Vendôme, 75001, Paris, France
Located in the Ritz Hotel where Hemingway used to stay lies Bar Hemingway, a bar with antique décor in an elegant atmosphere. With only 25 seats in the bar, you’re sure to feel like a VIP. Named “best head barman in the world,” Colin Field has worked at the establishment for 25 years and is always happy to make any drink you may desire. Try the world-famous cocktails and delicious snacks at the full-service bar or sink into a comfortable leather armchair with good company at Bar Hemingway.
105 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006, Paris, France
La Rotonde was founded in 1911 by Victor Libion, who gave starving artists a place to sit and often let them pay with drawings when they couldn’t afford their bill. For this reason, the café walls are covered in art from now famous artists. La Rotonde has also appeared in many works of art, including some paintings by Picasso, who was a frequent customer. The café’s velvet seats, red and gold color scheme, and large wine list make La Rotonde the place to be on Montparnasse.
99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006, Paris, France
Le Select Montparnasse is the epitome of 1920s aesthetics and authentic Parisian cuisine. The café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as 50 whiskies and various cocktails. Well-known writers would come here to write in the jazz era, such as Hemingway who called Le Select “the soul of Montparnasse.” The café is located near the Luxembourg Gardens, giving the terrace a laidback atmosphere. Although it isn’t quite the creative hub it used to be, many famous people such as Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson still frequent the café to this day.
Shakespeare and Company
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005, Paris, France
Shakespeare and Company is an independent bookstore opened by George Whitman in 1951. Sitting on the bank of the Seine, you can find shelves packed with rare old books to new releases and a café connected to the bookstore, where you can grab breakfast and coffee while reading. The store was first named Le Mistral until the founder changed it in honor of the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore founded in 1919, where Hemingway and other writers like him used to meet. Today, the store serves as a famous landmark in Paris for all to enjoy.