Scroll through the #paris filter on Instagram, and it’s almost certain you’ll spot this cute little café among snaps of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. So my question today is: is Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole the best cafe in Paris?
Well, for starters the café is located very centrally- barely 100 meters away from Notre Dame to be precise. And it’s in one of my favourite ‘quartiers’, le Marais. You’d think that this central location of the café and its obvious pleasing aesthetic would mean that it was always really busy, and therefore hard to get a table at.
However, I’ve never seen it too busy, although often people will turn down the street to take a quick snap! It turns out that Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole is yet another of Paris’ ‘well-kept secrets‘. It’s a refuge from the usual hustle and bustle of Île de la Cité…
Nestled at no. 24 on a little street named ‘Rue Chanoinesse,’ formerly known as ‘Rue des Marmousets‘, a step down this street is like heading straight into the very underbelly of medieval Paris. Spared the massive overhaul of Haussmann architecture in the 19th Century, you’ll wish that walls could talk when you walk down this road.
Perhaps rather macabrely, the café is situated right next to a courtyard which is paved with repurposed gravestones. But then again, you’re never far from history in the city of lights and Number 26 Rue Chanoinesse is no exception. The gravestones were taken from a nearby church after it was pulled down in the 18th Century to make way for the iconic wide boulevards that line the city today.
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole: A History and the best cafe in Paris?
If you’re looking for a true Parisian experience, then there are few cafés like it left in the city. Plus, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole is as old as its name suggests! Constructed in 1512, around the same time Notre Dame cathedral was completed, the building was once home to the Canon of the nearby cathedral. By the 18th century, it had been purchased by a private citizen and was turned into a wine bar. It has remained a place for Parisians to congregate to eat and drink ever since.
Today, the best cafe in Paris is a great place to stop, sit and have a glass of wine. I’ve been told that the food is quite good too! Oh, and if you love photography, then there is wisteria throughout the spring and summer, and always a good Christmas display in the winter! The wisteria is a rare exception in the city. At 7 meters tall, the mayor’s office of Paris has given the café a special permit to allow it to carry on growing the impressive plant.
So is Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole the best cafe in Paris? In my opinion, it’s a resounding ‘Yes!’