One thing I have embraced lately while traveling is finding places to do the things I like to do normally, but on the road. This means board games! As a solo traveler, I enjoy bonding with locals over shared interests when I travel. Board games create an easy environment to interact with others, whether it’s with the employees talking about the latest additions to their shop or meeting new friends over a game.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Paris, and on my trip in early 2023 I was excited to see the sheer number of board game shops throughout the city in contrast to when I lived there in 2018. Whether I’m in Paris for an extended period of time and using gaming to build my community, or just visiting for a week or two but looking to find games that I can’t get in the United States, I’m all about finding the best board game cafes and shops to spend some time.
Read on to learn about my top three board game cafes in Paris and why you should visit them!
Aliyah’s favorite board game cafes in Paris
One of my favorite board game cafes in Paris is Cafe Meisa, located in the 10th arrondisement at République. Open every evening and all day on weekends, you can access their basement full of modern board games for just 4€/hour, or included if you purchase food and drinks from the cafe upstairs. Be sure to try an ice cream sundae! When I lived in Paris, I went to an English-speaking board game night there every week. This still appears to be running weekly on Tuesday nights, so visit the English-speaking Board Gamers of Paris Meetup group for all the details on this event and others throughout the city!
Another board game destination in Paris is the Oya store, located near Gobelins in the 13th arr. Oya is a publisher and distributor of board games, so you can often find French versions of international games at this shop. You might recognize them as the publishers of The Mind or the distributor of one of my new favorites, Wandering Towers. (Note, they’re cash only, but there is an ATM on the same block.) There are also copies of their games available to play in the store, and ample table space. Although I never played in here myself, the tables were packed several evenings every week!
Hidden in the 2nd arr. between Bourse and Sentier, Les Grands Gamins is another board game shop and cafe combo. I liked finding a mix of localized/translated versions of games that are available the States, as well as games that are unique to France such as the Unlock! Short Adventures (these I picked up on my last visit). Of all the board game cafes mentioned here, Les Grands Gamins certainly had the largest selection for sale. It was quiet when I visited on a weekday afternoon, but I was told it fills up with gamers in the evenings – and I’m not surprised, considering it is located in a very cool neighborhood for food and drinks right in the center of the city.