There are quite a few internet cafés in Paris. They spring up like mushrooms all over the place, and of course many of them have withered away. The competition is fierce—although there are plenty of locals and visitors desperate to get on-line, there’s also a very social side to Paris’ cybercafés.
Where are they? You can find listings for internet cafés on Paris-Anglo.com, though none have been reviewed. The Internet Café Guide [archive link from Wayback Machine] also lists a fairly large number of cybercafés all over France. Best thing would be to call or e-mail to find out in advance if a place you’re looking for is still open. Most internet café staff speak enough English (if they aren’t indeed Anglophones themselves) to help you out.
Some of my favorites Long before I had moved permanently to Paris, I had been a regular visitor to the few internet cafés that were around at the time. My favorite was the High Tech Café up on top of the Galeries Lafayette next to Montparnasse. It has passed on to its next life as a restaurant, but just to give you an idea of how the French interpret an internet café: the computers were lined up on one side, with a dining room and bar on the other side, a big dancefloor in between with a disco ball. I could order food and drinks while sitting at the keyboard, and on Friday nights I could barely type out my e-mails because the karaoke was too loud. Maybe that’s why they’re gone, but quite a few have filled the gap. The oldest cybercafé in Paris is the Café Orbital across from the Jardin de Luxembourg. It’s always a bit packed, with computers upstairs and downstairs, a small bar to sit at while waiting. They have a nice website to explain all of their tarifs, classes, services, and events, and offer AZERTY or QWERTY keyboards (when you’re paying by the minute, why get slowed down by an unfamiliar keyboard?).
The Web Bar next to République quickly became my favorite cybercafé, and I still like to stop in for the entertainment. It’s a very large space, three levels for the bar and restaurant, computers, and an art gallery. They have quite a few events here, from Tango lessons to plays to concerts and films. It’s a very comfortable place to surf around, but avoid the early afternoon (when the students all arrive), and if you think you’ll go back, get the abonnement (subscription) to save a few francs. They’re open all day until the late evenings on the weekend.
Check these out if you have time I’ve read about, seen, or heard of a few other internet cafés and internet ‘spaces’ around town, but these are unverified, so I’d be happy to hear any feedback if any of you go and check them out. Clickside is another one, but with an ugly website, over in the 5th at Maubert-Mutualité. Cyber Café Latino is near the Panthéon, and is open until 2am (convenient for students) and seems to have a Latino spin to it. The Satellit Café seems to be a more branché version of the Web Bar, up near trendy Oberkampf neighborhood. The web site is only in French at the moment. I have seen a few ‘internet spaces’ at places like the hip clothing store The Shop (next to Lina’s off Etienne Marcel and rue du Louvre), and at the grande magasin Galeries Lafayette. A few libraries have installed internet computers as well, but access is usually a long wait because it’s free.
On the Ouaibe As much as the French try and frenchify all of the Anglophone words that come attached to the computer, there are few French people I know who use the word ‘Ouaibe’ instead of ‘web’. A computer may be called an ‘ordinateur’, and many French companies have their own ‘site internet’. They might refer to e-mail as ‘courriel’, and a chat forum as a ‘tchatche’, but in general, the French have just taken the Anglophone models and translated them. Check out http://www.yahoo.fr if you don’t believe me. Same format, different words. If you’re stuck with a French AZERTY keyboard, don’t panic, almost all of the letters are in the same place, except you’ll need to press ctrl+alt+0 to get the ‘@’, and you’ll need to use the shift key to get a period. Cybercafés are usually full of foreigners, so if you’re having trouble, and there’s no staff person to help out, ask around the others who are there. And before you start, be sure you understand the tarifs, if they include any printouts (some charge per page), and if there is a minimum fee for usage by the minute.
The newest addition to the internet scene in Paris, EasyEverything.com, a huge, 24-hour web café with 375 computers. In the center of Paris at 37 blvd Sabastopol, Metro Chatelet.
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged.