7 Cozy Spots in Paris to Escape the Winter Cold


In these frigid January days, those of us in Paris are scurrying from place to place under slate-grey skies, scowling as the freezing air seems to slice through every layer of our clothes. On days like these, nothing is more tempting than finding a nice quiet spot to hunker down with a good book and a warming drink.

To get you thinking warm thoughts, here are our top 7 picks of cozy places in Paris to curl up with your French workbooks (okay – any book) and get away from it all for awhile.


The moment you enter Caféoteque, you’re struck by two things: the rich all- encompassing scent of roasting coffee beans and the palpable chalereux (warmth) of the place, which seems to take you by the hand and draw you inside. For coffee lovers, Caféoteque is the ideal place to hide out from the cold.

Founded in 2005 by Gloria Montenegro, a Guatemalan native, Caféotechque single-handedly changed the coffee scene in Paris from notoriously bad to a glorious specialty fit for a gourmand. The café features more than 20 different coffee beans, each from a different country, with descriptive profiles accompanying each variety. And the baristas know what to do with these beans, too: each has been carefully-trained in the art of roasting beans and preparing the perfect cup of coffee. The shop even offers an intense 50-hour course to coffee professionals.



















Even if you don’t know an espresso from a ristretto, the café is still a wonderful place to have a time-out. For a Parisian space, it’s surprisingly generous with three sitting rooms filled with a variety of chairs, pillow-strewn benches and battered café tables. The walls are adorned with central American artwork, and the back room (which includes a bar and piano) has one wall entirely devoted to their stock of unroasted coffee beans.

Caféoteque’s only downside is that is doesn’t have Wifi.  On second thought, that's not really a downside...it makes it the perfect place to escape from the constant buzz of world for awhile. The only buzz you get here is from the coffee.

Caféoteque: 52 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004



Just as Caféotechque is a haven for coffee lovers, Le Valentin is a tea-lover’s dream. This little salon de thé is tucked away in the beautiful 19th-century Passage Jouffroy, just a few doors down from the Musée Grevin, Paris’s wax museum. Here, you’ll find more than 35 different types of teas, from green to white to Rooibos, served in beautiful cast iron teapots.
















As appealing as the tea are the array of patisseries offered, which range from basic croissants and pain au chocolat to more decadent offerings, such as moelleux aux myrtilles, a kind hazelnut-blueberry cake and baba rhum, a rum-soaked cake topped with whipped cream.

The salon’s elegant downstairs is certainly pleasing but the lamp-lit upstairs room is where you should head for extra charm and quiet. Featuring an assortment of canapés (sofas), tapestries, padded benches and long wooden tables, you can easily pass an hour or two in comfortable solitude. Warning: the Wifi is free but wonky.

Le Valentin: 30-32 Passage Jouffroy 75009 Paris


That’s right – why not find some peace and warmth at an old-fashioned public library? Although this particular library might prove a little distracting: with its the phalanx of marble busts lining the halls, and ornate golden chandeliers illuminating the reading room tables, it’s easily one of the most dazzling libraries in Paris.

Created in the 17th-century based on the private collection of Cardinal Mazarine, the bibliothéque is housed in the left wing of the prestigious Institut de France – that rather intimidating-looking gold-domed building on the Seine’s Left Bank just opposite the Pont des Arts. It’s home to approximately 500,000 printed works, including a Gutenberg bible and some 2,000 incunabula (books and pamphlets printed with the earliest typography).

Prestige and grandeur notwithstanding, don’t be afraid of going inside: the library is open to the public. To sit in its reading room for a spell, you’ll just need some identification and a reading room card, which is available from the on-duty librarian. A non-renewable five-day pass is available for free; an annual pass is available for €15.

Bibliothéque Marzarine: 23 Quai de Conti, 75006 Paris


Shakespeare & Company may not be from the 17th century, but it’s a legend in Paris nonetheless. For those unfamiliar with this landmark, Shakespeare & Co. is an (mainly) English-language bookstore in the 5th arrondissement, a stone’s throw from the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Originally opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, the bookstore was a famous hotspot for renown expatriate writers, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. The shop closed during World War II but was resurrected in 1964 by George Whitman at its current location.

While the crammed bookstore itself is worth a visit, if you’re looking for a cozy spot to huddle up with your French notes for awhile, the upstairs reading room is just wonderful. Lined with books (not for sale) from floor to ceiling, the room offers comfy cracked leather armchairs, a slightly lumpy pillow-lined bench and assorted wooden chairs to while an afternoon away.

Shakespeare & Co: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris


It's a myth that everyone in Paris has the time to go wandering dreamily around the city or sit aimlessly in cafés. If you need to get some serious work done and need a non-distracting but congenial environment to do it in, pop into Café Craft.

Half-café, half co-sharing workspace, this modern minimalistic place is tucked away in hipster heaven near the Canal St. Martin. The front part of the café offers a space for people to chat or read the international press over cakes, cookies, quiche and truly excellent coffee (Craft proudly uses a Marzocco, the “Rolls Royce” of coffee machines, and the baristas are carefully trained to make a good cup).












The back part of the café provides a long table for co-working (with an electrical outlet for each seat!) and there’s a sectioned-off part suitable for group meetings. The Wifi is fast and reliable; the baristas friendly. It’s a great place to work when your tiny Parisian apartment becomes too confining.... or if you just happen to be in the neighborhood!

Café Craft: 24, rue des Vinaigriers, 75010


6.  Hotel St. James Albany

If you want to step out of the cold and into warm comfort and splendor, head to the Hotel St. James Albany. This luxurious hotel is located in the 1st arrondissement, just steps away from the Jardin de Tuilieries and glitzy shopping street, rue Saint-Honoré. Here, you find a wonderful lounge– plush and cozy – where you can order a variety of drinks and snacks, from a coffee to a club sandwich to a bubbling coupe de champagne.  Exclusive though it is, the waitstaff is attentive but discreet and will never rush you out.  We often hold private French lessons here – and during the summer months, in their stunning interior courtyard.

Hotel St. James Albany:  202 rue Rivoli 75001 Paris

7.  Bonpoint Concept Store

Now, this place is one of the best-kept secrets in Paris.  Bon Point is an luxury children's clothing boutique with beautiful, expensive offerings (a simple pair of baby socks cost about €15; sweaters run upward of €150). But never mind that – tucked away in the cellar of their sprawling concept store in the exclusive 6th arrondissement is a charming little restaurant/café that offers total tranquility.  Few people know it's there and no signs outside advertising it.  You just have to know where to go.   Enter the store, give a nice 'bonjour' to the friendly vendeuse (sales ladies), and head down one flight of stairs to the restaurant.  It's an especially great place to go if you have a small child – it's one of the few restaurants in Paris that has high-chairs.   (And if you're interested in children's baby clothes, check out the store itself: the elaborate décor will blow your mind!)

Bonpoint Concept Store: 6, rue Tournon 75006 Paris

FRENCH LANGUAGE TIP:  If you chose to escape to a café, here are some French phrases that might be handy:

• Bonjour, je voudrais un café noisette s’il vous plait  (Hello, I'd like an espresso with cream, please.)

 • Pourrais-je avoir du sucre ? (May I have some sugar?)

• Est-il possible de se connecter en Wifi? Quel est le nom du réseau et le code d’accès ?  (Is it possible to connect to Wifi?  What is the the name of the network and the access code?)

• Je vous remercie ! (Thank you!)

Where is your favorite quiet spot in Paris? Share with us below!

French Lesson at Hôtel de Ville in the Paris 4th



Click to listen to the French lesson on the Hôtel de Ville.

Location: 29 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris, France

Transportation:  metros lines 1 and 11 at Hôtel de Ville

Hours: Open 8:30am to 5pm Mon, Tues, Wed, and Fri; 8am to 7:30pm Thurs; 8:30 to 5pm Sat and closed Sun (reservations required one week in advance)

Admission fees: free

After your class at the BHV, continue exploring the nearby neighborhood with a French lesson at the Hôtel de Ville, the Town Hall for the City of Paris since 1357.

The maison aux piliers or house of pillars was erected on the site in 1357 as the city’s administrative headquarters. In 1533, King Francis I had the structure torn down and commissioned a larger, more elaborate building in the style of the Renaissance. This building was destroyed by fire during the Paris Commune or Fourth French Revolution. The current building, which you see today, was built between 1873 and 1892 and incorporates the original stone shell that survived the fire. The Hôtel de Ville’s façade is decorated with 108 statues, representing famous Parisians and thirty statues represent French cities.

Today the Hôtel de Ville houses the offices of the Mayor and city council of Paris. In addition to its administrative functions, it also offers regular art exhibits free to the public.

To help you prepare for your visit to the Hôtel de Ville, here is a short French text and vocabulary list:

Étienne Marcel fait l'acquisition de la « maison des piliers » au nom de la municipalité en juillet 1357. C'est là que, depuis lors, se dresse le centre des institutions municipales de Paris.

Hotel_de_Ville_Paris_Hoffbauer_1583La « maison des piliers » est remplacée au XVIe siècle par un véritable palais style renaissance dessiné par l'architecte italien Boccador. Sa construction, interrompue par les guerres de religion, débute en 1533 et s'achève en 1628.

L'incendie allumé par les Communards en mai 1871 réduit le palais en cendres. Le bâtiment est reconstruit entre 1874 et 1882. La façade, de style renaissance, s'inspire largement de celle du bâtiment disparu.

La place de Grève, rebaptisée place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville 1803, a souvent été le point de ralliement d'émeutiers, insurgés et révolutionnaires : La place de Grève sous la Révolution où est utilisée pour la première fois la guillotine.

Les ouvriers sans travail vont prendre l'habitude de s'y regrouper à l'aube à la recherche d'un employeur. Il s'agissait d'une main-d'œuvre sous-qualifiée et instable qui échappait au système des métiers réglés. Ainsi, la place de Grève est à l'origine du mot "gréviste".

 (un pilier : a pillar ; municipal : local ; achever : to end; une cendre : ash ; un émeutier : rioter ; une guillotine : guillotine ; une aube : dawn ; s’agir : to be about ; une main d’œuvre : work force)

Interested in private French lessons in Paris? Call or contact us to organize a lesson at the Hôtel de Ville or at another site “off the beaten path.”

Private French Lesson at the BHV in Paris

Photograph by Paris Perfect, luxury Paris apartment rentals.

We’ve helped you buy a refrigerator for your dream Parisian pied-à-terre. Now suppose next you want to hang a picture or add a bookcase to one of the walls, you are going to feel rather silly pantomiming screwdriver (un tournevis) at your neighborhood hardware store. A French lesson at the Bazaar de l'Hotel de Ville or the BHV, as Parisians call it, can help you avoid this embarrassment!

The second oldest of the grands magasins, the BHV has an extensive hardware and home improvement section in the basement.

Location: 52-64, rue de Rivoli, 75001

Transportation:  metros lines 1 and 11 at Hôtel de Ville

Hours: Open 9:30am to 7:00pm and Wednesdays until 10:00pm

Website: http://www.bhv.fr/

BHVTo get you ready for your trip to the BHV, here is a history of the department store in French:

C’est en 1852 que Xavier Ruel, quincaillier entreprenant, vient tenter sa chance à Paris et s’installe dans le quartier de l’Hôtel de Ville. Il rachète un stock de sous-vêtements et ouvre un magasin rue de Rivoli.

En 1901, le Bazar commence à vendre de la Mode mais reste fidèle aux comptoirs à prix fixe qui ont fait sa réussite. Le personnel bénéficie d’un jour de congé tous les dix jours.

Le développement du BHV ne s’exprime pas seulement en termes de surface de vente. L’offre de la Nouveauté va être considérablement élargie et va se développer dans tous les magasins : à partir des années 70, le BHV va orienter sa stratégie en fonction des nouveaux besoins des clients : des magasins spécialisés dans le bricolage et la décoration voient le jour.

Click here to listen to the text and vocabulary list read in French. SpeakerIcon

un quincaillier : hardware store owner ;tenter sa chance :  take a chance ; un sous vêtement : underwear ;  fidèle : faithful ; un service clientèle : a customer service; le bricolage : handy work )

For your shelf (étagère) project, here is a list of vocabulary words to get you started and to review with your French tutor:

une perceuse - drill; un  fôret - drill bit; une cheville - expanding wall lug or anchor; une vis - screw; un niveau - level; un tournevis - screwdriver; un mur – wall; le béton - concrete; le plâtre - plaster; la brique - brick; la pierre - stone; un escabeau - step ladder; une échelle - ladder.

Ready to make that pied-à-terre in Paris happen? Start by booking a series of lessons to learn how to speak about and purchase French appliances, furniture, homeware, house plants, and hardware. Call +33 (0)6 66 10 53 64 or contact us at [email protected].

Watch the French Open from the Middle of Paris

parvis de l'Hotel de villeDid you know you could be watching the Roland Garros Tennis Grand Slam in the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville? From today, May  30th until Sunday, June 9th between 12pm and 7pm the matches will be projected on giant screens in the Paris 4th. Watch the best matches for free while still being within close walking distance of the city's main tourist attractions!
Need help with the French vocab? Here's a few words to get you started:

le tennis = tennis
simple messieurs = men's singles
simple dames = women's singles
double messieurs = men's doubles
double dames = women's doubles

More information can by found on the city's website. Photo from Paris.fr website.

French Lesson at the Hôtel-Dieu in the Paris 4th



Open to hear a description of the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris in French and then read the full-text with highlighted vocabulary below.

Private French lesson at Hotel-Dieu_de_Paris_(2007)Location: 1, place du Parvis Notre-DamePublic

Transportation:  metros line 4 at Cité or line 1, 4, 7, 11, or 14 at Chatlet

Hours: Open twenty-four hours everyday, but be respectful that this is a functioning hostpital

Admission fees: free to visit the gardens


The Hôtel-Dieu or "Hostel of God" is one of the oldest still operating hospitals in the world. Located next to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Hôtel-Dieu was founded in 651 to offer food, shelter, and medical care to the poor. For many centuries it was the only hospital in Paris and it AncienHotelDieuParisMarvillehad a terrible reputation. In the 1700s, there was often one bed for every five patients and a quarter of the patients who entered the hospital died of diseases they caught there. The hospital was damaged numerous times throughout the centuries by fire and war.  Baron Haussmann moved the Hôtel-Dieu to its current location during his transformation of Paris in the mid-1800s.  The present structure was built in 1877 and with its construction the quality of care also improved. (It also helped that other hospitals opened in Paris.)  Today Hôtel-Dieu is still the first casualty center for emergency cases in Paris and it has approximately 350 beds (with one patient per bed).

While most Parisians only visit the Hôtel-Dieu for medical emergencies, you can explore the building and its beautiful gardens without the excuse of a broken leg or painful ear infection.  To access the gardens enter through the front entrance of the hospital on the square of Notre Dame, then make a right down the corridor, and a left to the garden entrance. The park benches located along the colonnaded walkways are a perfect place to quietly study your French verb conjugation or relax after noisy day of sightseeing.

You can also stay at the Hôtel-Dieu even if you are not sick. The Hospitel hotel occupies the top floor of the hospital.

To help you prepare for your visit, here is a French text on the Hôtel-Dieu:

Situés en général à l'ombre de la cathédrale et dépendant de l'autorité de l'évêque, les premiers hôtels-Dieu font leur apparition en France au VIIe siècle. Ils servaient à héberger les pèlerins et à évangéliser les voyageurs mais, petit-à-petit, cette fonction hospitalière se transforme d'une part en hospice et d'autre part en hôpital qui accueillent principalement les vieillards, les malades et les pauvres.

Contrairement aux autres hôpitaux parisiens d'Ancien Régime, l'Hôtel-Dieu n'était pas spécialisé et acceptait même les lépreux qui étaient toutefois immédiatement transférés dans une dépendance de l'Hôtel-Dieu en banlieue, la léproserie. Ainsi, voyageurs, femmes enceintes, enfants abandonnés, pauvres, vieillards, blessés ou malades étaient tous admis. Par principe, l'Hôtel-Dieu ne refusait personne, et il fallait entasser les paillasses des malades jusque dans les couloirs en cas d'épidémie ou de disette.

Ancêtre des hôpitaux parisiens, l'Hôtel-Dieu garde une aura exceptionnelle pendant tout l'Ancien Régime.

un pélerin = a pilgrim ; évangéliser = evangelize; petit-à-petit = little by little ; un hospice = hospice; un vieillard = old person ; un lépreux = leprous ; une léproserie = leprosarium; une paillasse = straw mattress ; une épidémie = plague ; une disette = scarcity

Interested in a private French lesson at the Hôtel-Dieu? Call or contact us to organize a lesson here or at another site “off the beaten path” in Paris.

Photo Credits: A view across the square in front of the Notre Dame, looking towards the Hôtel de Dieu by Les Hutchins from Berkeley, California. Photograph by Charles Marvill between 1875-1868 of the previous structure before it was demolish by Haussmann. The colonnaded courtyard inside the Hôtel de Dieu.  The Pont Notre-Dame and the Hôtel-Dieu.