When the sun finally comes out in Paris, it’s time to move your déjeuner or coffee break outside. In this city, you don’t need to bring along a book, magazine or something else to entertain yourself – the busy streets and the people are plenty of material for distraction. But where are the best place to indulge in this simple, basic pleasure?
Le Deux Magots & Café de Flore
I don’t think of these two very famous cafés, as clichés (as I’m sure many other people do), I like to think of them as classics. Whether you think of them as clichés or not, no one can deny their amazing location and how fantastic they are for doing some serious people watching. Since both cafés are so famous, their clientele is always extremely diverse – you’ll see everything from tourists with their sun visor caps and maps at the ready, to women covered in designer clothes and expensive jewelry – and everything in between.
…If you’re getting rashes just thinking about these places, the lesser-known Café Le Bonaparte just a few steps away, with an equally strategic location but perhaps a tiny bit less tourists.
Jardin du Luxemburg & Jardin des Tuileries
The most relaxing way to indulge in people watching, in my mind, is from one of those green chairs you can find in the Jardins all over Paris. Bring something to nibble on, drink and sit back and enjoy. People are always passing by and there’s nothing more peaceful than letting your eyes feast on the local fauna strolling by while listening to birds chirping.
This little island gives me the chills when I think about the massive crowds I need to dodge whenever I pass through here, especially during the evenings and weekends. The Île Saint-Louis can get absolutely jam-packed with people and, at first glance, it can seem too touristy to be able to enjoy a square foot of solitude anywhere near it. But I’ve learned what to do – get a table at one of the cafés located near the Pont Saint-Louis (my favorite is the Café St. Regis) to observe the people and the lively, vivid area. There are so many things that will catch your attention!
Stop by celebrity favorite L’Avenue for a little sneak peek into the luxurious lives of the guests staying at hotels like the amazing Plaza Athéene or the fabulous Four Seasons George V. Here you can observe not just people, but their purses and jewelry that are probably worth more than most people’s cars. It’s a fun and harmless indulgence, but be sure to come prepared – the menu is pricey and you are just as likely to be watched in turn!
If you want to get a more “unpolished” look of the city you should head to this famous Parisian street. The street isn’t too long but it’s filled with cafés along the way, so you can have your pick. Watch the street vendors sell everything from seafood and vegetables to cheese and fruit, or let your eyes wander between the people filling up the street.
Rue Saint Honoré
I always enjoy looking at the people walking up and down this well-known street. I actually think that this is one of the best places to indulge in some yummy eye candy, although the only problem with this neighborhood is the lack of cafés and outdoor seating possibilities.
Paris’ hip and young Marais neighborhood always deliveries when it comes to people watching. When the rest of the city is empty and closed on Sundays the Marais area is more buzzing and happening than ever. Find a nice café with yummy treats, outdoor seating and a good location (Les Philosophes does the trick) and sit back to take in everything that’s happening around you.
Written by Carin Olsson for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Carin Olsson. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.