where can I study comfortably in Paris at night?
July 5, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a place in Paris where I could comfortably study/read/work late at night, like one can do in coffee shops in the US and elsewhere in Europe?

I've been living in Paris for a few years, and this is one aspect that I really miss about the US. Sometimes I would like to leave my apartment and study/work in a public place (preferably where other people are studying/working/reading as well). In the US, there are plenty of places where one could do so: coffee shops, diners, and even certain bars.

In Paris there are bars and brasseries that are open late, but the noise, lighting, and atmosphere would not be conducive to studying, and it would really seem strange to do so since you'd be the only person doing it. I'm thinking that there must be at least a few places in such a large city, and I just haven't found them yet.

There are plenty of places like this open in the daytime. I can also study at Starbucks until 22:30 (when the last one at Odéon closes) but I often want to study/work until 1:30 or 2.

Note that I'm not necessarily talking about something available in July, given that school is out. Something that's only available during the school year would be fine.

Any ideas?
posted by helios to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried la Bibliothèque publique d'information (BPI)? (english version here). It's the perfect place to read, write and study. And you'll be amazed by the variety of people coming here. It goes from the kids preparing their exam to the old immigrant reading news from his native country. And... when you want to change your mind just take the elevator and go to the Centre Pompidou!
posted by OrangeCat at 2:49 PM on July 5, 2010

OrangeCat, that closes at 10PM.
posted by floam at 3:20 PM on July 5, 2010

I also had this problem and don't have much of an answer, except a stove top Italian coffee maker.

La Cafeotheque is one of the best coffee shops in Paris for just hanging out and having GOOD coffee and doing a bit of studying, but aren't open super late.

It may be a cultural thing, like how many things are closed on Sundays, or after 19:00.
posted by alex_skazat at 4:11 PM on July 5, 2010

McDonald's / Quick / KFC in Paris are open until midnight (sometimes until 1 am on the week-ends). Some McDs offer free wi-fi too. I often seen people use laptops there so I guess that atmosphere is quiet enough after the rush hour, at least outside tourist zones. BTW this site may help.
posted by elgilito at 4:15 PM on July 5, 2010

The Shakespeare & Co library, just across Notre Dame, closes at 11. There's a table upstairs where you can study or play Backgammon. I'd live at that place if I could.

La Caféotheque is fantastic but closes at 7:30 :(. Go there for breakfast.

The Virgin Megastore on the Champs had a coffee shop at the top of the stairs that closed late, but I don't know whether that's still the case.
posted by stereo at 4:27 PM on July 5, 2010

I think the US is an outlier in this. I've lived in England, Germany, and France for long stretches, and you just don't have people studying in public places late in the evening. The evening is for drinking, eating, dancing, talking with friends, etc. If you need to do serious work you stay at home. The exception is in collegiate universities like Oxford and Cambridge, where you'll often find students studying late in their college libraries. But then, the library is home for them (although some of the rooms in Oxbridge colleges are bigger than some of the apartments I've lived in in Paris!).
posted by brianogilvie at 4:30 PM on July 5, 2010

Elgilito is right, there's at least Mc Donald's at Oberkampf that closes at two.
posted by stereo at 4:31 PM on July 5, 2010

I've tried studying in McDonalds, it just doesn't work out. They are usually really dirty, the floors, the tables, etc. They also tend to be full at all hours, and people are often bumping into you and knocking over your stuff because it's so packed. And starting around midnight, it's full of nothing but wasted people coming back from bars. Not really the warm, cozy, comforting atmosphere I'm looking for.

In any case I'm going to check out La Caféotheque for my daytime studying as soon as I get a chance.
posted by helios at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2010

I went to sleep wondering if a good answer to this would come, thinking about if I had an answer. brianogilvie hits upon what I was thinking at the start — the culture just does not seem to support the existence of such a place. I know a night owl here in Paris and I will ask them when I next see them.

The only thing I could dredge up from my brain was a quiet pub — but even that relies on so many variables that finding the one to fit the bill would be a rare thing indeed. I once frequented a pub that had a room upstairs which was rarely used and the population of the entire joint was usually not more than 10. Half or more of that would be downstairs at the bar and shooting darts so the upstairs was a quiet refuge. As you might imagine, the economics of this operation made it unsustainable (especially when the bartenders would also be drinking and darting). We would even zip out for a bite only to return for a couple of pints — it was more like drinking at someone's house than a bar. God I miss that place.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:00 AM on July 6, 2010

Check out small Hotels bar/lobby, they never closes. You should check with the clerk if you can stay there for a long time despite the fact that you're not a client. Usually they don't mind.
posted by SageLeVoid at 5:20 AM on July 6, 2010

I'm also interested in the other answers, but I have become pretty complacent camping out in the McDonald's at Denfert-Rochereau. The wifi's free, you can use the plugs, there aren't a lot of bars nearbym and there are plenty of tables and space. Even when it's full, it doesn't seem that way. Also this one is open until 2am.

In fact, that's where I am right now.
posted by whatzit at 12:12 PM on July 6, 2010

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