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Ordering coffee w/o meal at fancy cafes (Deux Magots, etc.)

Is there a good time to go to a cafe/restaurant if one is interested in only having coffee in Paris?
I am assuming that 12-2 and 8pm weekdays upwards I will not be seated if I just have coffee - is this correct? (I am thinking specifically of the fancier well known cafes). Saturdays/Sundays?

Posted by
1455 posts

Graham, any time is good. Last week around 5 pm we pased Deux Magots and 90% of the patrons were outside drinking their wine, beer, etc. and no food.

If you just want a cafe creme and people watch, there's no reason why you should have to dine at a specific time.

Posted by
852 posts

Hi Graham,
... the above web site will probably interest you, particularly HANGING OUT and EATING (unless you've seen this already). In Tom's Guide, he mentions his favorite (in all the world) restaurant and advises when is a good time to be seated... If you still have question(s) you might click on CONTACT ME and send email to Tom... bon appétit P

Posted by
360 posts

If you stop at a cafe at mealtime, don't select a table that has a table cloth on it. Those tables are reserved for people who are having a meal. The tables with no covering are OK for those just wanting a drink.

Posted by
242 posts

"2 Maggots"?

Sorry, y'all. Couldn't resist and don't tell me YOU didn't think of that, too! :)

Sounds like a place R Lee Ermey might like! ;)


Posted by
264 posts

For two weeks this June I had coffee (only) in Paris every day around five o'clock. By the way the best coffee is not found at any of the Grands Cafes like the one you mentioned. Go there once just to say you did! The best coffees I found were in the cafe's around the Place Des Beaux Arts (off St. Germain near the fountain at Place St. Michel.)

This is where you can have coffee (only).

1) Cafe - Any time
2) Brasserie - Some times
3) Restaurant - Never

Posted by
506 posts

Just to add to the post - "never" is not how I would word this.

Typically, if you as for a seat to have "boisson" and even better "et dessert" you can be seated in any of the locations. It is not uncommon in Paris that each location will have tables set aside for "drinks only" .

Timing of course is the key. They can "refuse" to serve - which happens , just move on the next option. Main meal times is when this occurs. With cafes and brasserie - look for tables without a table setting (napkin, fork, wine glass etc) table cloths may or may not be relevant.

Another option is for aperitif - have a glass of wine or a beer. :o)

Enjoy !

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you all for your advice -

but is the protocol the same for Saturdays and Sundays?

I would like to go to Cafe Marly (which overlooks the Louvre) for coffee, but they seem to have a menu all day (Sat/Sun) so I am not sure whether I can sit down and just have a coffee (even though I would be comfortable doing so
during the week).

Posted by
360 posts

As I understand it, a menu is posted because you can get a meal at any time unlike a restaurant which serves only at mealtimes. Just take a seat at a table that's not set for lunch/dinner & you'll be served a drink. I've been to Paris many times & don't remember that being a problem.
one time we stopped for lunch at what appeared to be a cafe only to be told that they had just stopped serving lunch. We just moved to another cafe. I've never been refused a drink at any cafe but one time the waiter explained about certain tables being reserved for meals - tables are set with cloths/placemats, silver, glasses, etc. Tables without settings are for those who only want a drink. I don't think you can go too wrong.
The well known cafes have even more tourists, so I'd not expect that they'd be any different. I wouldn't worry about something like that. If you happen to hit a cafe that for whatever reason doesn't serve just drinks, they'll let you know & I doubt they'd be rude about it.