7 inspiring cafés in Paris for writing a novel by Madeleine Wilson. Paris has inspired many noteworthy authors. From Hemingway to Stein, Sartre to Wilde, but where oh where did they feed and nurture their creativity? In the cafés of course! Perhaps all you need to get your creative juices flowing is a steaming cup of chocolat chaud, a resident cat that comfortingly curls up on your lap or quirky clientele that will give your literary characters that final je ne sais quoi element.
Here are seven inspiring Paris cafes that offer the budding writer everything they will need, from free Wi-Fi to an agreeable armchair…
1. Free Wi-Fi at La Fée Verte
Pronounced wee-fee in French, this café-come-absinthe bar in the Bastille area offers free and unlimited Wi-Fi. Just obtain the password from the waiter. Inside the 19th century decorated interior is never crowded and, if the words just don’t come to you, there is always the option to drown your sorrows and hang out with the Green Fairy! Another idea for free internet access is to choose a cheap Paris hotel such as the stylish and boutique Hotel De Rocroy which offers guests free wi-fi as well as a free breakfast and an onsite bar.
- Where: 108 Rue de la Roquette
2. Winter refuge at Café Delmas
With a choice of plush velvet or leather armchairs, this café on the Place de la Contrescarpe is perfect for a cosy writing sesh. Nestle in among the bookshelves and wonder away the hours imagining that your novel might one day work its way on to the rows alongside Duras, Balzac and Hugo. The café also offers Wi-Fi.
- Where: 2 Place de la Contrescarpe
3. Inspiring view at La Mer á Boire
Bag a seat outside on the terrace of La Mer á Boire, which boasts one of the most glorious vistas of Paris and overlooks the Parc de Belleville. It offers free Wi-Fi and, even if you end up indoors (sans view), you can enjoy the café’s second venture as a gallery featuring work by cartoonists and graphic novelists.
- Where: 1 Rue des Envierges
4. Late night light bulb at Le Tambour
Should the writers’ block lift at some godforsaken hour and you just have to this ‘gold’ down on paper, you might be twiddling your thumbs for a late-night Paris café. Le Tambour is modelled on a Paris café bistro but with a twist: it is stuffed with transport paraphernalia including old road and metro signs, station lamps and historic carriage seats. Writing is hungry work and you can enjoy late-night snacks of steak tartare, Roquefort cheese and onion soup. There is good banter from the punters en route home and the place is open 24/7.
- Where: 41 Rue Montmartre
5. Interesting clientele at Le Sancerre
Forget mingling with tourists in Montmartre. All sorts descend on Le Sancerre in the Abbesses neighbourhood. Open between 7am and 2am it is perfect for early or late risers with both indoor and street side seating. The scruffy décor and characterful customers ranging from students to transvestites, bemused (and probably lost) tourists to boho locals will surely inspire.
- Where: 35 Rue des Abbesses
6. Bohemian heritage at Le Select
The days of the Belle Epoque might be but a hazy memory, but Le Select did once welcome the likes of Hemingway, Picasso and Henry Miller. Little has changed since it first opened back in 1925, although the clientele does lean more toward tourists than happening bohemians. However there is still a sprinkling of students or locals to justify a laid back drink at this historic literary establishment.
- Where: 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse
7. A cat for company at Tea and Tattered Pages
When the words just won’t flow – or they do, but with more of a honey consistency than white water rapids – the resident cat, Ming Lung is there for comfort. Perhaps all you need is a quick cuddle from this fur ball to get you back on track. The tearoom inside this English bookshop also plays classical music which is sure to soothe an active mind.
- Where: 24 Rue Mayet
Madeleine Wilson is a travel writer and currently the editor of the HostelBookers blog. Armed with her laptop, she likes nothing better than to procure a cosy corner in a café and diligently refuel her creativity with caffeine.