The best of Paris: Café

From Fragments to Ob-La-Di - the best coffee the French capital has to offer

Photo by Lea Brds

The world revolves around Paris - at least, mine always did. I first came to the city when I was seventeen years old before returning as a full-fledged college student to spend a semester in the ville de lumière. I slowly started to make a home of the city, one that was all my own, adopting all the ways of life so ingrained in the daily routine of a Parisian. One major aspect, transcending time, that goes all the way back to those of the lost generation (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein): cafés.

Cafés in Paris have always been a liminal space for writers - a place of transition, where time is neither here nor there, where the veil is thin. Take the Cafe de Flore, for instance: one of the oldest coffee shops in the city (located in the 6ème) that hosted a variety of greats, such as Picasso to Jean-Paul Sartre, the latter of whom reportedly spent so much time there he eventually had his own phone line installed. Many of your favorite books from French writers have probably been penned in cafés - that is the common thread they all share, in a world of so very few.

As a foreigner, I stumbled into these spaces and found small inklings of comfort and familiarity - they all carried the same scent of warm, roasted coffee beans and vinyl crackling in the background. It was a constant at a time where there weren't many. Time moves differently in these tucked away corners of Paris - not necessarily slower, but in a way that allows you to pause. A mindset very deeply embedded in French culture, cafés are the spaces where it's important to linger. Coffee is not the quick stop on the way to work - it's the destination. At any time of the day, you'll find people ever-presently scattered on the outside tables of rue du Temple, trying to absorb one more sip of their espresso before returning to work.

I invite you through the most magical coffee spots the city of Paris has to offer. Not only patrons of their craft, but spend enough time in these warm home-away-from-homes and Paris will become a part of yours, too.


via Fragments Paris instagram

via Fragments Paris instagram

via Fragments Paris instagram

WHERE: 76 rue des Tournelles, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 8AM - 6PM, except opens at 10AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: espresso 2.5€ - cappuccino 4€ - avocado toast 9€

HOW TO: 8 Line, Chemin Vert

CONTACT: Instagram

Located in the inner heart of Le Marais, Fragments remains one of the neighborhood's crowning jewels in all things caffeine and pastry. It is tucked away in a closed-off rue des Tournelles, before inviting you in to it's warmth curated by it's visionary and owner Youssef (the former owner of Black Market). The vinyl stacked behind the counter as well as the eclectic collection of artwork all create the atmosphere of home, something that will definitely tempt you to stay here with a good book for hours (if you do - don't forget to tip well!) The baristas at Fragments are never anything but kind, gracious and welcoming, even if your French doesn't go past a couple sentences. As I went to school a short ten-minute walk away, I would always find myself here after a long day with the promise of a safe space and espresso - I still consider it my most favorite spot in Paris.


via Ob-La-Di instagram

via Ob-La-Di instagram

via Ob-La-Di instagram

WHERE: 54 rue de Saintonge, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 8AM - 5PM, except opens at 9AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: espresso 2€ - latte 5€ - poached egg 9€

HOW TO: 8 Line, Filles du Calvaire

CONTACT: Instagram

Famous for their blue tiling that will surely pop up on your Instagram feed every now and again, the best part of Ob-La-Di is their locally-sourced coffee. The café uses Lomi beans and specializes in vegan/gluten-free products, so if you're a foodie looking for some organic goods this is definitely the place for you. Even though anything you order will be delicious, definitely try the avocado toast - using homemade purple potato bread, chimichurri sauce and pomegranate seeds, Ob-La-Di managed to create the perfect addition to your morning coffee. I always seemed to come out of here humming the Beatles song of the same name, too.

Café Oberkampf

via Cafe Oberkampf instagram

via Cafe Oberkampf instagram

via Cafe Oberkampf instagram

WHERE: 3 rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 (11ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 830AM - 430PM

HOW MUCH: espresso 2.5€ - americano 3€ - green eggs & feta 7€

HOW TO: 5 or 9 Line, Oberkampf

CONTACT: Instagram

A sweet little café in one of the hippest parts of Paris, Cafe Oberkampf is a eutopia of good shakshuka and dirty Chai coffee. The owners always have a smile on their face and are eager to help. The coffee roast changes every week, so every time you pop in here you're likely to enjoy a new selection to choose from. It is not the most notable coffee in Paris, but the atmosphere, baristas and people make it one of the warmest places to be. A tip: as the place is a little bit on the smaller side (as all things in France), we recommend going early if you wish to have a spot to do some work.


via @amazing.france / instagram

via @declancheuse / instagram

WHERE: 94 rue du Temple, 75003 (3ème arrondissement)

WHEN: 8AM - 6PM, except opens at 10AM on weekends

HOW MUCH: espresso 3€ - cappuccino 5€ - croissant 3€

HOW TO: 11 Line, Rambuteau

CONTACT: Facebook

The first of two Strada's in Paris (the other is located near the Sorbonne in the 5ème), this café has a bit more of an American flair than most but particularly cozy. The coffee is always freshly-roasted and always served with a smile. This is a prime study spot for me, whenever I need a little bit more peace and quiet to get things done. Strada is inviting and unassuming, which makes it a perfect fit for your every-day coffee needs.

For more in Paris, stay tuned for the next part of the series: museums. Turning away from the essentials for a moment (like the Louvre), we're going to bring to you the smaller gems you might easily overlook.

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.

Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).

Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!


So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—

Workaway Workaway

Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).


You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway

Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker