Just how historic is La Procope? No less than Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte have eaten in this restaurant. Talk about historic! Sicilian chef Procopio Cutò opened La Procope all the way back in 1686 when France was still a monarchy. As such, it's the oldest cafe that still operates in Paris. At least, that's what many would argue. But the original cafe that the historic monarchs frequented actually closed down in 1872. It wasn't until the 1920s did it open again. So technically speaking, it's not the same cafe. But at the same time, since it has remained in the same spot on Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie in the 6th arrondissement, is it really any different?
Café Les Deux MagotsWhen talking about the most notable cafes in Paris, be they historic or not, none are as beloved as Café Les Deux Magots on Place Saint-Germain des Prés. Also in the 6th arrondissement, this is the kind of legendary hotspot that highlighted the lore of 1920s cafe society in Paris. Its list of patrons alone is a who's who of the most influential people of the early 20th century. From American writer Ernest Hemingway and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso to American chef Julia Child and French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, you couldn't get any more historic than that!
Café De FloreWhen talking about Café Les Deux Magots, you can't forget about Café De Flore. Located in the same neighborhood in Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the two were actually rivals back in the early 20th century. Both cafes battled it out in drawing in the most notable intellectuals and creatives in Paris at the time it even inspired Adam Gopnik to write an essay about their rivalry in his book, “Paris to The Moon.” And while both cafes attracted practically the same crowd, the one at Café De Flore was noticeably more philosophical. Among its many regulars included philosopher Georges Bataille, novelist Raymond Queneau, and poet Robert Desnos.
La PaletteRounding out the cafes in the 6th arrondissement on his list is La Palette, which is listed as a 'Historic Monument' by the French government. Why did it receive such an honor, you ask? Well, just like many of the other cafes in Paris, La Palette had an impressive list of regulars. It helps that it's located near Beaux-Arts de Paris, one of the finest art schools in Paris. Perhaps even in the entire world. Among the school's most prominent alumni include Pablo Picasso, Georges Basque, and Paul Cézanne. And where do you think they went for coffee during their breaks?
Le ConsulatIf there's one district in Paris that's pretty historic, it's Montmartre. Located in the 18th arrondissement, many of the cafes and bistros here have stood the test of time. Among the most famous is Le Consulat on Rue Norvins. This Instagram-worthy hotspot has been around since the early 19th century. The fact that it reached the 21st century is already impressive on its own. What more when you find out that the likes of Alfred Sisley, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec have all eaten here? And just like these legendary artists, there's no doubt you'll enjoy Le Consulat's French onion soup and Beef Tartare too!
Café de la RotondeIn the Montparnasse area, Café de la Rotonde is definitely the most historic cafe. Although Le Dôme Café, which is in the same area and just as famous during the early 20th century, had its fair share of notable patrons, Café de la Rotonde arguably had it beat. For one thing, this was where painters Nina Hamnett and Amedeo Modigliani first met, starting up what became one of the most famous friendships in the world of art. And in 1920, American art collector Peggy Guggenheim famously brought her whole party to Café de la Rotonde when Le Dôme Café didn't allow her to smoke.
AngelinaFinally, don't miss Angelina on the chic Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Though it has since opened up locations in other parts of Paris, the original cafe is the more historic one. After all, novelist Marcel Proust and fashion designer Coco Chanel were some of its many patrons. These intellectual and creative elites regularly came to Angelina and indulged in its famous hot chocolate and Mont Blanc dessert. Chanel, in particular, was perhaps the cafe's most famous customer. She never failed to satisfy her sweet tooth in this chic, Belle Époque-style hotspot.
You probably didn't know that a good number of cafes in Paris have a lot of history to them, did you? Though you may check them out for their coffee and ambiance, it's worth noting why these popular hotspots have stood the test of time.