People-Watching: A Parisian Pastime


Paris draws an eclectic crowd with its undying charm. Cultural landmarks, chic boutiques, and quaint coffee shops offer plenty to see; even the comings and goings of any Parisian street is a sight to behold. The city has elevated the usual stroll to an art form that local poet Charles Baudelaire documented and named its wanderers—”le flâneur.” Thanks to the nature of hangout spots around Paris, you’ll be able to see much of the flâneurs just by lounging alfresco. Collect dialogue for your next novel or real-time references for your sketchbooks. Let the ebb and flow of the Parisian crowd inspire your inner artist (or writer) for a few scribbles!

Updated a year ago

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Les Deux Magots

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Les Deux Magots stands just under the shadow of Église de Saint Germain des Prés, a historic church and major tourist attraction at the heart of the Saint-Germain quarter. It takes the street corner, boasting an impressive view of Saint-Germain’s major intersection. Observe patrons as they delicately drink their coffee, while cars and pedestrians criss-cross throughout the day. A glass-encased patio extends the cafe’s seating onto the wide cobblestone sidewalk. The space is tightly packed, so prepare to get cozy with the locals. When conversation runs dry, you’ll always have the next table’s chit-chat to entertain you. It’s all part of the charm!


6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, Paris, France

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Café de Flore

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Just one block down from Les Deux Magots, you’ll find Café de Flore. The two have gone head to head since the late 1880s, with Surrealists, poets, and philosophers hopping from one Saint-Germain café to another. These days, you’ll mostly catch modern-day celebrities when you visit. Take a seat by the windows and split a coffee pot with a friend. Before you know it, the hours have piled onto the small round tables in the form of empty pastry plates! They also serve alcohol, in case you want something stronger while you people-watch. Try a glass of their white Ladoucette, the house always recommends it.


172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, France

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Café des Deux Moulins

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Paris has a bunch of old artists haunts by the droves, especially in the Montmartre district. Historically, the neighborhood was stomping grounds to the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso. Nowadays, you'll mostly find tourist and discerning cinephiles at Café des Deux Moulins. A quirky French girl named “Amélie” (portrayed by actress Audrey Tautou) worked there in a film of the same name. The café looks much like a retro diner outfitted with red neon lights. Head inside to explore the memorabilia, then proceed to the outdoor seating. Quality and service are a mixed bag these days, so keep the order simple—like a hot cup of coffee with Amélie’s Crème Brûlée. Rue Lepic is Montmartre’s central shopping street, so there’s always plenty to see.


15 Rue Lepic, Paris, France

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Café Saint-Régis (Le Saint-Régis)

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Tourists in the know and locals on their day-off are the main pedestrians on Île Saint-Louis. While everyone else is queued for the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (which is an island away), people are kicking it back here in Saint-Louis. Café Saint-Régis is dab smack in the middle of the island’s intersection, where Pont Saint-Louis (Saint-Louis Bridge) branches off into four roads. There are chairs set up outside the café, so lean back and witness shoppers flow onto Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île (the island’s main thoroughfare). Switch from coffee to cocktails easily with its varied menu, but don’t forget save room for an ice cream cone from down the road at Berthillon!


6 Rue Jean du Bellay, Paris, France

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Les Philosophes

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Enjoy an authentic French meal at Les Philosophes! Here, they serve traditional bistro fare with a commitment to freshly prepared ingredients. Their menu is encyclopedic, so you’re spoilt for choice whenever you feel like splurging on a full-course meal. Savor every spoonful of the Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée (onion soup topped with melted cheese), as you peer out onto the narrow streets where shoppers are always looking for their next purchase.


28 Rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France

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Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Make your way to Fouquet’s and spoil yourself with three things: a front-row seat to Champs-Élysées, degustation designed by a Michelin-veteran chef, and a historic venue! Once you’re here, you’ll notice that the lane of shophouses is only a breath away, and the famous Arc de Triomphe is just down the road. Plop down on lush upholstered seats inside or relax at the enclosed outdoor seating area—you’ll be surrounded by luxury, wherever you choose to sit. At Fouquet’s, chef Pierre Gagnaire pays heed to classic French dishes in a way only he can. He also earned his Stars through an innovative hand at French and fusion cuisine, so expect a legendary meal and a fabulous time!

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Café Marly

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

The Louvre is one of Paris's most visited attractions. Little do people know, there are actually two cafés overlooking the courtyard of the Louvre Pyramids. Café Marly is the one on the ground. Some days, chairs and tables spill onto the stone courtyard, enticing tourists for a drink or two. The prices are understandably premium, but a little indulgence goes a long way here. Get a pot of coffee to stretch out this once-in-a-lifetime moment. In between sips, watch visitors from all over the globe cheerily flock around for a photo with the iconic Louvre.


93 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France

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Jardin des Tuileries

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

The Jardin des Tuileries is situated a few hundred meters down from the Louvre. Lounging around the green garden costs next to nothing at all, as yard chairs circle the entire perimeter. Pull one up wherever your heart desires, and you’re set for the day! The day’s scene: ducks gliding on the water, statues dotting the manicured lawns, and people just going about life. You’ll also see flirting couples and sketching artists, maybe even a few napping locals. Bring a book, a journal, or a sketchbook with you—inspiration is just waiting for your watchful eye.

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Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Perhaps you’d prefer something a little more quiet than the Louvre—Jardin du Luxembourg offers the same charms. Statues, shrubs, and trees flank the garden in all directions. Instead of a glass pyramid rising over the greenery, it is the Palais du Luxembourg. It houses a kid’s playground and a basketball court, so feel free to count the whole family in during your people-watching excursions!


Rue de Médicis and Rue de Vaugirard, Paris, France

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Place des Vosges

Paris, France • Recommendation • 27 July 2018

Place des Vosges is a beloved secret for those who stumble upon it. A row of classic buildings encloses the park, away from busy intersections. Here, you’ll find parents running after their children, strangers dozing off on the grass, and couples cuddling on the bench. The fountains bubble tirelessly as it all happens, while a wild assortment of trees stretches up to the sky. Find your place amidst the human life in progress, and embrace the simple joys.

Le Marais, Paris, France

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