In the capital of café culture, good coffee is surprisingly hard to find. But La Fontaine de Belleville stands out thanks to its roaster ties.
When you think of best Parisian cafes, what do you picture?
Perhaps a corner spot with small round tables and wicker chairs facing the street. Or maybe friends chatting over wine, or a lone writer with a notebook, sipping coffee. But do you ever wonder if that coffee is any good?
If the café happens to be La Fontaine de Belleville in the 10th district, it sure is.
One of the best Parisian cafes
While the French have perfected pretty much everything related to food and drink (we know you won’t leave Paris without trying the wine, cheese, and/or pastries), the quality of coffee remains questionable.
Luckily, the coffee revolution is indeed happening, thanks to local roasters such as Belleville Brûlerie, owners of La Fontaine.
Belleville is the nearby neighborhood that’s the home of the Brûlerie, a roasting and cupping facility. What it means for you is that beans at La Fontaine are roasted just a few metro stops away, so you’re sure to get fresh coffee prepared by well-trained staff.
The only hard part: what to order. If you like cappuccino, try a similar café crème. Prefer an americano? Ask for a café allongé. Just be sure to enjoy whatever you order with their homemade sablé, or shortbread.
A modern take on the French bistro
While you’re there, don’t forget to grab some food. La Fontaine de Belleville is a bistro, after all, so the menu is full of modern versions of beloved French classics: think croque monsieur, ham-and-cheese baguette sandwiches (veggie options available) and cheese and meat plates. Their weekend brunch is a hit, too.
If you come in the early evening, do an aperitif or apéro, French-style: order a shared plate of crusty bread, dips, and veggies. And don’t forget the wine.
Since the Belleville folks took over a few years ago, not much has changed at this iconic spot, besides coffee and a bit of freshening up.
Luckily, the place hasn’t become too bobo (bourgeois-bohemian; think yuppie meets hipster) and still feels like a traditional Parisian café. There are floor-to-ceiling windows that are kept open during the summer months, large mirrors on the walls, tiled floors, wood furniture you might see at your grandma’s place, and newspapers on a stick hanging from the curvy comptoir. And of course, there’s a terrace, with those quintessential round tables and wicker chairs facing a little square.
In a nod to the area’s jazzy past, La Fontaine de Belleville hosts live shows every Saturday from 4:30–7:30 p.m. The rotating lineup includes musicians mainly from France and the United States (Paris-based Kansas City native trumpeter Hermon Mahari is a regular).
There’s no cover charge, though between sets you may see musicians or staff making rounds with a hat, collecting tips. Still, it’s rare to find a place in Paris where you can enjoy live music for the price of an espresso. So go ahead, grab a seat by the counter, and get your jazz fix.