Sometimes, traveling in Europe can seem like a constant struggle to find good Wi-Fi. Maybe you have to check your flight details, or plan the next leg of your trip. Maybe you need to upload some photos or just shoot an email to your family back home to let them know you’re doing great. Maybe you even need to get a few hours of work done while on holiday.
Either way, sometimes the crowded Starbucks in the center of tourist mayhem just won’t cut it—you need fast, reliable Internet service in a place where you can sit down comfortably for a little while.
Well, Cheapos, I may have found the perfect Wi-Fi spot in Paris. What if I told you there was a cafe where you were not only allowed, but encouraged to stay for as long as you like, staring at your computer while enjoying a high-speed Internet connection? What if there was also a coffee bar where you can get whatever kind of drink you’d like, as many times as you’d like without spending a fortune? And, what if I told you there was even a snack bar where you could grab chips, pretzels, cookies, even fresh veggies and hummus by the plateful?
Enter AntiCafé. This is a unique concept café that has recently opened two locations in Paris: Beaubourg and Les Halles.
Here’s the deal: When you enter, you’ll get a card to register your time. The first hour is €4, and each following hour is €3. A whole day is €14. So, instead of paying for consumption of goods (how many times have you ordered the cheapest thing on the menu at a café just so you can keep using the Wi-Fi?), you pay for your time. But that’s not all you get…
You also get access to the coffee bar, where a friendly bilingual barista is happy to whip up any sort of coffee drink you’d like. There’s a self-service tea bar with about 10 different types of tea to choose from (I actually made myself a London Fog, with Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, vanilla and cinnamon… yum!). There’s a snack bar with assorted munchies like crackers, nuts, some sweets and even some breakfast foods like bread, butter, nutella, granola and fruit. And lastly, perhaps my favorite part, there is even a fridge packed with delicious fresh squeezed juices, veggies and healthy dips like hummus, tarama and tzatziki.
Related: Where to find free Wi-Fi in Paris
So is AntiCafé a dream come true for travelers? Maybe. I’ve weighed the pros and cons, so you can decide if this shared space is right for you.
• Reliable Wi-Fi
• Lots of work space
• Unlimited food and drinks
• Plenty of outlets
• Convenient locations
• Big bookshelf full of books to borrow
• You can bring food from outside
• The unlimited coffee isn’t exactly gourmet
• The music and conversation can be distracting
• It can be hard to find a spot midday
• Food is limited to snacks
So AntiCafé might not be perfect, but it certainly has a lot going for it. Here is my Cheapo advice: Come to AntiCafé early in the morning, as to to avoid the crowds. This way, you can take advantage of the snack bar to make yourself a delicious breakfast of toast, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice. That’s probably more than you’ll get at your hotel for whatever ridiculous price they charge.
Now that you’re full and satisfied from your “unlimited breakfast”, you can use the Wi-Fi to do whatever it is you need to do, guilt-free. Want to print out a map or your plane tickets? They even have a printer/scanner available. You can even charge up your phone, iPod and laptop for the day. Feel free to continue helping yourself to the coffee, tea and juice, because you can. Let’s say this takes one hour. Congratulations, you’ve spent €4 in central Paris for unlimited breakfast, coffee, and Wi-Fi.
Now that’s a deal!
Beaubourg, 3rd arrondissement: 79 rue de Quincampoix, 75003 Paris
Louvre, 1st arrondissement: 10 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris