Dining on Les Terrasses in Paris
Nobody watches the world go by better than the French.
The outdoor terraces that spill out of Paris’s countless bars, cafés and restaurants are the city’s lifeblood — a front-row seat; a place to see and be seen. It’s been this way since the café society of the roaring ’20s, when writers such as Jean Cocteau, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald strolled the Paris pavements, and the café culture still thrives today.
Moreover, the latest al fresco venues are reconnecting with those heroes of the past by transforming Paris’s historical locations into lavish new terraces — at iconic swimming pools, classic cinemas and grand old train stations.
For example, Piscine Molitor recently reopened, having once been the city’s finest poolside terrace, built in 1929. The venue now hosts the city’s hippest and most luxurious parties, including a new Dive and Drink event on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s an extraordinary sight, when come rain, hail or shine, the poolside lifeguards teach the beautiful people “the art of diving.”
Alternatively, for something even more elevated, visit the Paris rooftops. Le Perchoir has three lush rooftop terraces in different corners of the city — the newest sits on top of the historic Gare de l’Est train station and is an impressive neo-industrial glasshouse filled with abundant green foliage. Le Perchoir’s other terraces are located in Menilmontant (the childhood home of Edith Piaf, with 360-degree views of the city and an unmarked “speakeasy” street entrance); and Le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, whose views feature the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.
And finally, for the hipster elite, or those who appreciate an Egyptian vibe, go to Le Louxor — the oldest cinema in Paris and the only one with a bar. Its exotic terrace has spectacular views of Sacré Cœur, but with one small catch: you need to see a film to gain entry. Just make sure it’s a vintage black-and-white one.