Virtual Road Trip: Paris Walkabout to Stunning Starbucks Cafés in 10,000 Steps

Paris is the city of art, culture and fashion. Café culture sits at the heart of French social life, the café is where people meet to get together, talk and debate.

Agnes Mandeville, design manager for store design and concepts in Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, describes the company's approach to creating store environments in Paris.

"Our approach is always respectful to the surroundings," Mandeville said. "We re-use French materials and finishes when we can. We try to keep alive and celebrate original Parisian architecture, while making each store unique."

Mandeville takes us on a virtual 7 kilometer (4.3 miles) walking tour of some her favorites.

Victor Hugo

Our first stop is a popular neighborhood Starbucks® store on Avenue Victor Hugo, just blocks from the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées.

Here, students from nearby universities mix with tourists and locals in the warm, inviting space with a residential feel. The store features a reverse queue, which helps make the customers’ first interaction with the barista, who can welcome customers with a moment of connection.

At the font of the store, classic cement tiles with a graphic design harken back to the tiles of the traditional Parisian Haussmann buildings in the area – while bringing a bit of a modern twist.

"The design goal was to embrace a residential and classic approach to creating a third place, with paneled wainscoting, warm lighting and framed botanical prints," she said.

Avenue l’Opéra

An hour's stroll will take you to the first Starbucks store in France. First, a 20-minute walk down the Rue Boissière will bring you to the Seine River. Snap a photo of the Eiffel Tower just across the Pont de l'Alma bridge to the right, before turning left and walking downriver alongside the "bateau mouche" excursion boats. Turn left at the Place de la Concorde and head up another 15 minutes to the Avenue de l'Opéra.

The Starbucks store was the first one to open in France in 2004, and was remodeled in 2011 to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary.

Much of the design and décor is inspired by the elegance and theatricality of the nearby Opéra Garnier, embellished with velvet curtains that recall the beauty of the plays performed there. The tables and chairs were made in France and renovated by local artisans, as well as lighting and decorative elements from French flea markets.

Galeries Lafayette

A short 10-minute walk north on Avenue de l'Opéra takes us to Boulevard Haussmann and the heart of the Parisian shopping district.

Paris’ Galeries Lafayette flagship department store spans across three buildings. The space was designed uniquely for its location on the third floor balcony with a spectacular view of “La Coupole.” Crafted with French oak, French marble and Starbucks espresso cups, the coffeehouse takes its inspiration from the world of fashion that defines Galeries Lafayette.

"We try to offer customers the unexpected through art, finishes and details," she said. "Our main focus is to surprise customers with new stories and experiences."

Place du Tertre, Montmartre

Walk north another 30 minutes to Montmartre Butte, the highest point in the city. (The short-of-breath can avoid the steep climb at the end by taking the Montmartre Funicular up from the base at Place Suzanne Valadon.)

Montmartre's bohemian Place du Tertre in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, is one of the most iconic squares in Paris. With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the place for impressionism and modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many struggling painters including Pablo Picasso and Maurice Utrillo were living there.

The Starbucks store is situated just off of the main square, in an 18th century building on the quiet cobblestone Rue de Norvins that was the site of a cabaret restaurant for many generations.

"Several of the paintings in the space that had been traded by local artists for food and drinks were retained and remain displayed in front of the store," she said. "The design team also renovated and refreshed original features such as the stone walls, pebble floor and wooden paneling."

Take your beverage to go and walk a few blocks to the steps of the white travertine Basilica Sacré-Cœur, and reward yourself with one of the most spectacular views of the city.

Tips for Finding Vintage Treasures

Starbucks designers find vintage pieces in eclectic Parisian flea markets, or marchés aux puces and brocantes. Mandeville shares some of her favorites.

  • Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen: One of the world’s largest flea markets, just north of Montmartre, features an exceptional variety of jewelry, furniture, art, collectibles and gifts.
  • Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves: Savvy shoppers arrive early in the morning at this 14th arrondissement weekend market that features 350 merchants.
  • Marché d’Aligre: This open-air market in Paris’ 12th arrondissement features seasonal produce, seafood and flowers alongside booths with books and antique treasures.

Did You Know?

  • Paris gets its moniker “City of Light” (La Ville-Lumière) for its distinction as a cultural center during the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century. The nickname became even more apropos in the early 19th century when it became one of the first cities to install gas street lights.
  • At the Galeries Lafayette store the design team used 7,400 espresso cups stacked to cover parts of the walls and to build the counter to reflect the Starbucks mission to uplift and nurture the human spirit “one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.”
  • The funicular railway of Montmartre ferries two million people every year up and down the Montmartre hill. The one-way journey takes less than 1.5 minutes.

For Your Travels

For a taste of Paris at home, enjoy a brewed cup of Starbucks® French Roast, Starbucks darkest roast known for its intense smokiness. Available as packaged whole-bean and ground coffee, Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew, and K-Cup® Packs.

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