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When the weather’s nice, Parisians seek out the best restaurant terraces for soaking up the sunshine and people-watching. What makes the perfect terrace in Paris? There is no science to it. It’s a mix of location, ambiance, and offerings that all lead to a good experience. This summer, while every café and its brother pours out onto the street, go a bit further to check out these five terraces that are just a little more special than the rest.
A newbie on the café scene this year, La Fontaine de Belleville opened under the direction the Belleville Brûlerie. That means excellent coffee. The terrace is the place to be this summer, just up the street from the Canal Saint Martin.
Everything about this place screams Parisian café, right down to the hand-painted tables. Grab a cappuccino and a slice of French toast in the morning, or go for one of their limited selection of cocktails in the evening with a tapas plate. Either way, it’s a win.
31-33, rue Juliette-Dodu Paris 75010. Tel: +33 9 81 75 54 54. Open every day.
On this little sun-drenched street in the Marais, L’Ebouillanté has some of the best tables for outdoor dining and drinking. Head here in the afternoon for a coffee, Perrier, juice, or one of their other drinks that sets them apart from the standard café.
Lunch is simple and affordable, with a slight Tunisian vibe visible in the brick served daily. The real draw is the location, tucked away on a pedestrian street just behind the Saint Gervais church. No cars, no bikers, no noise – just pure, unadulterated, terrace bliss.
6 Rue des Barres, 75004 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1-42-74-70-52
The Berges de Seine is the place to be when the weather decides to cooperate. The sun-soaked terrace of Faust, just next to the Pont Alexandre III, is one of the most solid options. Kick back with a bottle of rosé or Champagne and celebrate the summer.
Faust serves up some light food in addition to having a restaurant under the bridge if the sun becomes too much for you. Head here early in the morning for a café or later in the day for drinks, just be prepared to fight for a seat when the sun shows itself.
Invalides, 75007. Tel: +33 (0)1-44-18-60-60. The restaurant is open every day except Sundays and Monday. The terrace is open from noon until 2 am on Thursday and Friday.
Along the river to the east, in the shadow of the Bibliothèque Nationale, the riverfront becomes one giant terrace. Pop up restaurants and bars line the water for the summer, serving pizza, charcuterie, and of course drinks as the sun warms everyone up in the afternoon and evenings.
To get away from the crowds, hop aboard the Bateau El Alamein, moored on the banks. Sure, there are concerts that go on underdeck, but stay up top on the terrace, among the flowers and plants, and sip drinks all evening long.
Quai François Mauriac, 75013 Paris, at the foot of the BNF. The salle opens for concerts at 8 pm, but you can sip a drink on the deck starting at 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and from 5:30 pm Tuesday-Friday.
L’Orangerie at the Four Seasons
For a bit of elegance, skip the streets and head to the Four Seasons. The newly opened restaurant, L’Orangerie, features seating spilling onto the marble courtyard. Secluded and calm, it’s the perfect oasis.
You probably won’t just stop in for a coffee – but the 95 euro three-course lunch seems like a fairly decent bargain, considering the venue. It’s open every day from breakfast to dinner, when you’ll need to choose from the 2200 wines and Champagnes on the menu. Reserve now before everyone else starts to discover it and tables become impossible to get.
31 avenue George V, 75008. Tel: +33 (0)1 49 52 70 00
Lead photo credit : courtesy of La Fontaine de Belleville