Jul 31st, 2022, 08:00 AM

Cafe De Flore vs. Les Deux Magots

By Lily Pike
Image credit: Sydney Brooke
Do these two rival cafes live up to the hype?

Paris is known for being home to hundreds of aesthetic cafes, each with a special take on the classic dishes. Out of all of these, the most well known of these being Cafe De Flore and Les Deux Magots which are neighbors on the bustling boulevard of Saint-Germain des Prés. The two have been rivals since the 1800s, and to this day they continue to draw in huge crowds of both tourists and celebrities alike.

Since their opening both coffee houses have been popular destinations for famous writers and intellectuals, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus. Over the years the debate on which cafe is superior has been raging on, with no consensus in sight. 

Known for both their ambiance, status, and delicacies, I was very excited to discover which does it better. The only fair way to dictate this was to sample identical dishes at each cafe and see which one did it best.

Both are famous for their hot chocolate, which I decided would be the perfect indicator of the winner. In order to fairly assess both cafes I have decided that I will base my judgments on the taste and quality of the hot chocolate as well as taking into account the atmosphere of the cafe itself.

Image credit: Lily Pike

When I first approached the cafes, Les Deux Magots immediately drew me in with its prime location, allocating more space to outdoor seating and most importantly the line to get in. The sun perfectly hits the cafe in such a way that its patrons are more inclined to sit outside, and I was hopeful that I could be among one of them.

Since it was a rare cloudless Saturday in Paris, the line was long. It took approximately 15 minutes before I was seated, which wasn’t long at all compared to how much time I thought it would take. We were given the choice of where to sit, and of course couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sit outside and bask in the sunlight.

The menu offered two choices of hot chocolate, Viennese style or old fashioned, and I had to go with the old fashioned for this experiment. Upon arrival, you receive an empty mug and a pitcher with the hot chocolate, which you must pour for yourself. The excitement was high, and after the first sip of my freshly poured hot coco I immediately logged a few things.

First off, it was not as hot as I had imagined, coming in at a lukewarm temperature at best. Secondly, the drink was very rich, which definitely added to the experience and made me feel very expensive. However, I was unable to even finish my entire pitcher due to the flavor and richness of the chocolate, and overall it was not as pleasant an experience as I expected it to be.

Image credit: Lily Pike

Moving on to Cafe De Flore, there were many more tourists taking photos of the cafe itself. This was not surprising to me because this coffee shop is definitely the most famous of the bunch, and the exterior was very aesthetic in its design. There are plants grown onto the building and surrounding the cafe’s name, the greenery adding to the appeal and drawing many people in. Although Cafe De Flore is arguably in a less open location compared to its rival, with less seating outside, this doesn’t stop people from lining up to get a taste of what they have to offer.

I waited in line for only ten minutes before being seated outside, per my request, with a less than ideal view. However, the seating was nice and slightly spread out so that you are not pressed up against everyone else which I liked. After ordering their version of the classic hot chocolate, nicknamed the “special Flore dark chocolate” I was ready to begin judging. I was offered whipped cream for no extra charge, and couldn’t turn down such an offer. The hot chocolate arrived swiftly and was still steaming hot, and the flavors were the perfect combination of rich, creamy, and overall just decadent. I could not come up with a single complaint against the drink, or the cafe itself.

Image credit: Lily Pike

The obvious winner based on location alone would be Les Deux Magots, as they are situated in the most optimal spot and have more space for customers. However, in a surprise turn of events I would have to name the overall winner to be Cafe De Flore. It seems that all the attention and love that they receive is based on fact, as everything about this little cafe was both satisfying and more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 

While I went into this experiment with somewhat of a bias towards the seemingly over-hyped Cafe De Flore, I now understand that all the rumors about it are true and it is 100% worth the money and the time.