Paris’ Left Bank, once the epicenter of intellectualism and the artist class, has long since been eclipsed by the Right Bank, with anyone in search of the bohemian lifestyle rarely crossing the river. Mention Left Bank and you think mostly well-heeled Parisians with little dogs as opposed to struggling artists writing their manifestos with a carafe of red wine at a corner bistro. This Right Bank vs. Left Bank dichotomy has certainly been true in the specialty coffee world, with almost all of the city’s coffee scene concentrated within a small perimeter north of the Seine. But not to worry dear Paris visitor, there are still good times to be had on the Left Bank, and for anyone bumming around postcard-perfect Saint Germain, there is coffee to be had.
One of the first players on the Parisian scene, Coutume has been holding down the fort on the Left Bank for several years. While a bit off the beaten path for most Left Bank visitors (unless you’re making regular appearances at the National Assembly), it’s worth the trip. There’s a monthly special—a unique coffee concoction created by one of the baristas. For example: rosemary, lemon, and mint syrup blended with a coffee from Mpanga, Uganda, and served on ice. Woah. Coutume also has a slow bar in the back, dedicated to the art of pour-over.
Closer to Saint Germain and the university hub, you’ll find Coutume Instituutti, a collaboration between Coutume and the Institut Finlandais, the Finnish cultural center. If there’s one thing to know about Scandinavian countries, they drink a lot of coffee, and that makes the Institut Finlandais the perfect spot to have a space devoted to coffee. With its huge windows and lots of light, as well as the streamlined Scandinavian aesthetic, it has become a popular place to work, so you’ll often see people cranking away on their Macbooks. Fortunately, the first three tables are computer-free zones, reserved for people just there to enjoy their drink.
Dose Dealer de Cafe
Rue Mouffetard is often cited in guidebooks, as it’s a lively street home to many restaurants and grocers, referred to by Hemingway as a “wonderful, narrow crowded market street.” While nowadays you’ll find many places selling mediocre crepes with Nutella to the tourist crowd, Dose Dealer de Cafe is not to be missed. You can snag a coffee to go from the street-facing coffee window, or take a seat inside or at one of the tables protected by the covered archway. A little play on words, these coffee “dealers” are happy to get you your fix, made with beans from Caffè Cataldi.
Strada Café started on the Right Bank, its first location on Rue de Temple in the Marais. This Left Bank location is the perfect spot to get some afternoon studying in. The corner spot on Rue Monge is light and spacious, the high ceilings giving it a very open, unrestricted feel. Coffee comes from l’Arbre à Cafe and in the summer, they are full believers in embracing cold brew season. There are also fresh pressed juices and a selection of cakes.